May 19, 2017
After spending some hours with Keith and his folk art in his Hillbilly garden we were off to our next quirky destination: Metropolis Illinois, the hometown of Superman. In order to celebrate the fact that they are officially living in the hometown of Superman the people of Metropolis put up a large Superman statue and a museum dedicated to the man of steel. This obviously was enough to steer us on a six hour detour to visit this statue.
Of course, after finally arriving at the statue and being all prepared to take a magnificent photo of Superman we ran out of luck. Out of all the days in the year they could have picked, today was the day they decided to give the guy a new tan. The short moment of disappointment was however swiftly gone after we visited the museum. A true paradise for anyone who ever read a comic book or watched any of the Superman TV-shows and movies.
So far we had been pretty amazed with most cities we had visited; Asheville, Charleston, Savannah, Nashville all cities we would love to visit again in the future. Memphis? Not so much. Maybe we just didn’t know where to go and were looking in the wrong areas, but downtown Memphis was a huge disappointment. Whereas in all previous places the atmosphere was always friendly, welcoming and relaxed in Memphis we never really were at ease. The best example of this is well-known Beale Street, the main street for live music and bars, starting 8:00PM the entire street went on a complete lockdown meaning that around a hundred police officers blocked all entrances and everyone who wanted to get in to the street was frisked.
Still, visiting B.B. Kings Cafe was an amazing experience where we learned to better appreciate Blues.
With our new found appreciation of the Blues we embarked on a drive to Clarksdale, Mississippi; the place where blues legend Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul to the Devil. Although we can’t confirm whether he did sell his soul, we can attest to the fact that Clarksdale is a place where one can have unexpected encounters.
While enjoying some live Blues in a random bar in Clarksdale (Population 17.000) we were shell-shocked when all of the sudden a familiar face appeared. A childhood friend of Annemarie, and an old high school class mate of us both, walked into the bar with his girlfriend. After getting over the fact how weird it was to meet each other in a random village in Mississippi after not having seen each other for at least ten years we decided to celebrate this unlikely encounter with beer and whisky. Of course the evening would only get weirder as more people started to join our little celebration. We had 70 year old Diana join us, who lived in Florida but came to the Inn we were staying twice a year to get drunk and high on weed, and who took that very serious as evidenced by the amount of drugs she was carrying with her. Retired teacher Joop and his wife joined to share a never-ending supply of stories and a, fortunately, ending supply of half-litre beer cans. The next day I was left with a headache, an empty bottle of whisky, and more mosquito bites than I could count.
After the Country/Americana/Folk of Nashville, the Blues of Memphis and Clarksdale we got to the last stop of the music focused part of our road trip. The birthplace of Jazz, New Orleans.
New Orleans very quickly moved to the top of our “favourite city so-far”-list. It combined the things we liked about previous cities we visited turned it into something better. The beautiful streets to just stroll through and tons of affordable art-galleries from Charleston; the amazing live music from Nashville and the laid-back, drink-on-the-street atmosphere of Savannah. Add to that the amazing food on every corner, maybe the best Word War II Museum we ever visited and you are left with our favourite city so far.