Courageous Travels: Memphis, TN

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5

Day 1

Good Evening Courageous Travelers,

Surprise!! I am leading this trip after all! Melissa was not doing well, so I told her I would jump right in and fill in. I hope you get better Melissa!

As soon as I knew I was going to Memphis, I was super excited since my good friends would be on this trip. I’m talking about the Courageous Travelers. This group is amazing and has so much energy and fun! I’m looking forward to writing these blogs, because our group really loves to have fun!!

The first checkin was at Camp Courageous where we picked up traveler Sara and volunteer Dalton. We said our good byes and we were off Marion. We stopped at Walmart and checked in Ben and Kevin! We then made our way to the McDonalds in Coralville, picked up Lynn, Brent, Chad, and volunteer Shannon.

Our final checkin location was at the Culver’s in Davenport! Where we picked up Aileen, Dennis, Tracey, Dan, Bill and volunteer Nila!! It is great to have everyone on board!

We ate lunch at Culver’s and then made our way to Missouri. We stopped twice, once for restrooms and gas.

The traveler’s watched many moves and before we knew it we were at Lambert’s, home of the thrown rolls! The traveler’s loved eating some great food and catching the rolls! It was a great way to end the drive

We made it to our hotel, close to Lambert, and are all resting. Tomorrow is another full day! So stay tuned to more fun!


Courageous Travels


Day 2

Good Evening Courageous Travelers,

Did you know that, “Birds in flight don’t flap their wings up and down. They actually swing them in a forward and backward figure eight motion.” This was many awesome quotes that were displayed at the Memphis Zoo.

The traveler’s and staff left the Holiday Inn Express around 9am and made our way to Memphis, TN. The trip to Memphis was 2 hours. When we arrived, we ate early, so we stopped by Burger King and grabbed a bite to eat.

I chose Burger King because it was so close to the zoo. It was actually a mile away. When we got to the zoo, I dropped off the traveler’s, checked in and received our tickets for the zoo.

Once I parked the bus, I met up with the group and we entered the zoo. We split up into two groups and went on our way through the zoo.

Memphis has a nice zoo, with tons of animals at every corner you turn. Each traveler said they were excited to see their favorite animals. Chads favorite animal is the hippo, Bills favorite is the alligator, and other loved the elephants, giraffes, and big cats.

It was a good time. Such a nice day to be out at the zoo. I believe it got up to the 70s with a cool breeze. Ideal for our group. We tried to see every animal, but we were short a few.

Once we were done exploring the zoo, we made our way to the gift shop. The traveler’s really bought some cool souvenirs.

After we shopped, we made our way to the bus and headed for dinner. It was at a Mexican restaurant called Freda’s. It was very good and the traveler’s had plenty to eat.

Once we were done, we made our way to our new hotel for the week. Fairfield Inn and Suites. We settled in early and everyone is out! It was such a busy day that most people fell asleep early and others stayed up to watch the Olympics and/or wrestling.

It was a great day and it is great to be in Memphis!


Courageous Travels



Day 3

Good Evening Courageous Travels,

Do you know what a Narwhal and a Unicorn have in common? “The Narwhal is a small whale around five feet long weighing approximately 200 pounds. It’ s home is in the far northern Atlantic.” This is one of the many facts we learned about while visiting the Pink Palace Museum. I’ll talk about this museum a little later.

Since we arrived back to the hotel early last night, the group had a lot of time to sleep in, and it was much appreciated. They were exhausted. So, when I gave them a big “Good Morning!” The group was excited and happy!! They were ready to take on the day. We left the hotel, right after breakfast and made our way to Beale street. A famous street in Downtown Memphis. This particular road is closed off, because at night, people are roaming the streets to the different gift shops and restaurants.

I dropped off the group in front the FEDEX Stadium. Connected to the stadium is the Memphis Rock ’n’ Soul Museum. I told the travelers yesterday, that everyday this week, we are going to experience Elvis in some sort of way. Sure enough we experienced Elvis and other famous singers. A BIG THANK YOU goes out to the Memphis Rock ’n’ Soul Museum for donating these tickets to our entire group. They really enjoy having our group come out, that they were very welcoming when we arrived. They brought us in their theatre area, where we sat and watched a 12 minute video about soul music and how it was founded.

After the movie, we grabbed audio players and listened to the history of blues music. The travelers did an awesome job pressing the numbers on the key pad and listening to all the history. The best part of this tour, was all the music we could listen to. From Johnny Cash to Elvis. From all famous music artists. Aileen was dancing to all the music that was playing. Ben kept on saying how much he loved the museum. Dennis kept on pointing to Elvis and making the awesome gestures that Elvis makes. I asked Dennis today, if we had a Memphis trip every year, would he go on it? He Nodded YES!! He LOVES Elvis.

It took us about over an hour and half to go through the museum. It would have taken us longer, if I didn’t stop us. We did a little shopping and then we made our way to lunch. We ate lunch at a burger place, called Dyers Burgers, that was not very good. Wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

After lunch, we made our way to the Pink Palace Museum founded by Clarence Saunders, founder of the Piggly Wiggly. Today, was free Tuesday after 1pm. So it was a perfect opportunity to explore the whole museum at no cost! The museum also has Clarence Mansion and some other houses, but they were under construction, so it didn’t work out. It was pretty neat museum. It was a Natural History Museum. Lot’s of animals, artifacts, special rocks and gems, memphis history, and much more. It took us all afternoon to explore and it was fun. The people at the museum were very nice and welcomed our group to the museum. The museum also has a planetarium and a 3D IMAX movie theatre. We didn’t get to watch a show this time around.

Before we knew it, it was time for shopping. So we made our way through their gift shop. Guess what, some of our travelers found some Elvis items. So they were very happy!

After we visited the museum, it was time to head to dinner. For dinner, we made our way to Corkey’s BBQ. IT WAS AWESOME!! Such a wonderful place to have dinner. They sat our group right away, had fast and caring service, and the food was delicious. So if you all ever visit Memphis, go on down to Corkey’s! You won’t regret it. They even had Elvis pictures. So of course it was a hit!

It was a great day in Memphis. Two great places to visit and a delicious place to eat. We met some great people and saw some great items. Tomorrow we have another packed day in Memphis. Stay tuned to more fun.


Courageous Travels

Day 4

Good Evening Courageous Travelers,

Did you know that Elvis and Johnny Cash knew each other? Or that BB King lived a few houses down from Elvis? That’s right, a lot of great artists came from Memphis, and we learned more about them today.

This morning we made our way to the Memphis Hall of Fame Museum. The Museum opened up 15 minutes early for our group. The Hall of Fame Museum and the Rock ’n’ Soul Museum are connected, so they donated tickets to this museum! Thank you so much for donating the Tickets!! The travelers had such a fantastic time at the museum. There was so much to see at the museum, but the only thing the travelers wanted to do, was sit back and listen to Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis music! There was this dance floor with a big screen at the wall, with all types of information about the music artists in the Hall of Fame. But the only ones, the travelers were interested in was Elvis, Cash, and Lewis. When we pressed a new song, Aileen, Sara, Dan, Kevin, Lyn, Ben, and Dennis, were on the dance floor dancing away. Especially to the Elvis songs. They have been asking about him all week!! They are ready to head to Graceland! After our dancing party and exploring some more of the museum, the group made it’s way back downstairs to shop at the Hard Rock Cafe store. They bought some cool souvenirs.

When we were done, we made our way to the Peabody Hotel. Why to the hotel you ask? Well, the Peabody is well known for a particular animal that comes down the elevator and walk to a swimming area. Have you guessed the animal yet? Well, it’s the Peabody Ducks. That’s right DUCKS!! At 11am everyday the ducks come down from there penthouse on their personal elevator, and walk on a red carpet to a fountain of water! Six hours later, they head back on the red carpet, up the elevator and to there penthouse. That happens everyday!! So of course, we had to witness this! We had to experience the Peabody Duck walk! Or should I say Waddle, HAHA! It’s a free activity to watch, so if you ever get to Memphis, check out the Ducks. They also have guided tours for a cost, so next time we come, we will take advantage of that. After our visit, we made our way to the Peabody gift shop and did a little shopping. A lady helped us out and showed Dennis and Tracy a book on Elvis and the owners of Lansky who gave Elvis his first clothing line. So that was pretty cool to see.

Once we were done, we made our way to lunch at the Blues City Cafe. Melissa called ahead of time to get us a reservation, but not only that, we had a chance to order our food ahead of time, so when we got their, we only had to wait a few minutes and our food was at the table. This place has some very yummy food! Check-it out when you come to Memphis.

Lunch was delicious and it was time to jump on board the Backbeat tours bus. We took a Mojo Bus tour of downtown Memphis and learned the history of blues and rock n roll in Memphis. It was a great tour. We had an awesome driver and our tour guide, had her guitar and sang to us as she told us history of the city. We all even participated in the music, by shaking plastic eggs and had tambourines. It was a great time! The travelers loved singing to the Elvis songs, she sang and danced along to any other songs she welcomed to the group. It was an awesome tour.

After we jammed out, we arrived back on Beale Street, where we began the tour, and made our way to 3 gift shops. The travelers were really looking forward to this shopping day. They wanted to buy more Elvis items, CDs, and some cool souvenirs. A lot of them couldn’t wait until this day and they definitely can’t wait until tomorrow when we shop at Graceland.

Once we were done with all our shopping, we made our way to dinner. It was at the Kings Palace Cafe. It was a pretty good restaurant and they had big portions, so we were pretty well off.

It was a busy day, but it was fun! The travelers sure loved all the activities, loved all the shopping, the tours, and the food! So it was a pretty good day! One thing I didn’t mention, it had been raining all day, but we kept pretty busy, that we didn’t let the rain slow us down.

The travelers are now resting and getting ready for their favorite day of the week! GRACE-LAND!! Stay tuned to all the fun we are looking forward to.


Courageous Travels

Day 5

Good Evening Courageous Travelers,

The last time Courageous was in Memphis, was a little over two years ago. In that time, Graceland had a make over! A HUGE makeover. “The new Graceland, is now the “Disney World” of Elvis.” That’s what one of the guests stated at this newly built attraction. Graceland is so much better then it has ever been, so much more to see and experience. We spent the entire day at Graceland, we definitely saved the best for last.

We started off the day a little later. In the past, it didn’t take us all day to do Graceland, so we had time to spare and had us meeting at Graceland around 10am. We ate our breakfast, got ready, and then… THE LIGHTS WENT OUT!! The entire hotel lights, the whole BLOCK. Some how there was a power outage and we were in the dark. Well, in some places of the hotel, but we had the natural light coming in so we could see to get around. Right before we left at 9:30am, the lights came back on. You could hear all the travelers and hotel staff cheering.

We had so much fun with this, but it was time to have more fun at Graceland. All week the traveler’s were asking about Graceland! Especially Tracey and Dennis! When we arrived we were all amazed by how different the outside looked. There are more parking spots, there is a whole new face on everything. It was pretty cool! Everyone was SUPER excited!

We entered the new building and were blown away from all the things that were changed. New ticket area, gift shop, and they now have a introduction movie they play right before you go on the bus for the mansion tour. It was so exciting, that Dennis stood up to dance right in front of the movie! It was hilarious. Aileen was also dancing in her seat. It was a cool video all about Elvis.

The video was awesome, we then moved on to the audio tour of the mansion. We hopped on the mini bus, headed straight for the mansion and toured the Elvis home. There wasn’t much difference about the home, but it is still pretty cool. We toured the main floor, his basement, and the rest of the grounds. There is always something new to see every time one visits. The whole tour you could listen to on audio and video recording, told by John Staemos. The travelers toured the whole house listening to John and one thing we learned, on Full House, John’s character Jessie, is a tribute to Elvis twin brother Jessie.

After we toured the house, we made our way back to the main facility and went for lunch at Glady’s Diner. This was a smaller diner at one point, but now it’s huge with a lot more food options. So we had lunch and continued our tour of Graceland. The groups split up and went out on their own at their own pace exploring ore of the attraction. We experienced Presley’s Automobiles, his career museum(new), Presley’s Cycles Exhibit (new), Icons: The influence of Elvis Presley Exhibit (new), Mystery Train (new), Elvis Tupleo (new), Hollywood Backlot (new), The Marty Stuart, Private Presley Exhibit, Archives Experience, Elvis Fashion Exhibit and Graceland Soundstage A, all NEW!! They still had his airplanes which was pretty cool and finally they had a HUGE screen where they played Elvis movies all day. So much stuff!! I didn’t plan to be there all day, but it took us all day. We laughed, danced, Dan danced by using his Elvis leg every time he saw an employee, and we sang every time we herd an Elvis song. It was such a fun filled day. So many things that got all the travelers excited. Ben and Chad kept on saying how much they loved touring the exhibits.

As I mentioned, we didn’t plan to being there all day, but we did, so we ended up eating dinner at Vernon’s Smokehouse. We are glad we did, because the food was very good and the employees were so nice to our group. They helped with drinks, food, and talked with our travelers. It was a great visit all around and it was sure a great way to end our week in Memphis.

The travelers were grateful for this experience and loved every minute of it. Counselor Dalton volunteered to lifeguard for Aileen, Brent, and Tracey who really wanted to swim, so thank you Dalton for lifeguarding.

Tomorrow we head back to Iowa and we cannot wait to be back in the cold ;)! Just Kidding! We drop off travelers in Davenport, Coralville, and Marion. With dinner in Bettendorf at the Pizza Ranch. See you tomorrow Iowa!

After a great night,

Courageous Travelers

2 Responses

  1. leanne mayhew says:

    glad you had a good time

  2. Nancy Baldwin says:

    Sounds like you are having a good time! Hi Kevin! The pictures of you are great! Hope you are enjoying your day at Graceland!