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Memphis, Tennessee

October 7,  2019

Dear Family & Friends:

I had been looking forward to October 1 for weeks since my wife, Sharon, my daughter, Amy, and two of my grandchildren, Mitch and Ava, were planning to meet me in Memphis.

After departing the sandbar, I rounded a bend in the River and the Memphis skyline came into view. I arrived in the morning and found a marina to park and lock my canoe. As I pulled into the marina, I saw Steve parking his green Walmart kayak at the same marina. Steve was staying with River Angel Dale Sanders who has the distinction of being the oldest person to canoe the River from Source to Sea. We enjoyed lunch together and Dale dropped me off at the famous Peabody Hotel.

Sharon, Amy and Ava arrived at the hotel at 5 pm, just in time to watch the parade of ducks depart from the fountain in the lobby of the hotel, march to the elevator and ride the elevator to their rooftop “Duck Palace.” Mitch arrived the following morning.

The five days from October 1-5 were the best days of my trip. We had a fabulous time in Memphis. We visited Graceland, Sun Studio, the Rock & Soul Museum and the National Civil Rights Museum. All of these venues were special and memorable.

Our favorite entertainment venue was Sun Studio, the birthplace of Rock ‘N’ Roll. So much history was made there. Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins (the “Million Dollar Quartet”) got their start at Sun Studio after auditioning before the legendary Sam Phillips.

Our meals at Capriccio Grille, Arcade, Rendezvous, Pearl Oyster Bar and Gus’s were delicious.  At night, we visited the many restaurants and bars on Beale Street and enjoyed lots of rock-and-roll, soul and blues music.

Sharon & Ava returned home on October 4. On October 4, Amy, Mitch and I visited the National Civil Rights Museum. We were deeply moved by this Museum which recounts our nation’s history of slavery and racism and the struggle of African Americans for civil rights, leading up to the assassination  of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis in 1968. The hotel has been converted into the Museum. We spent over 3 hours touring this great Museum. A trip to Memphis is justified just to visit the Museum.

Mitch left in October 5 and Amy and I travelled to Dale Sander’s home in the suburbs of Memphis where I signed his “Wall of Fame.” For years, Dale has been collecting signatures of Source to Sea paddlers on his Wall of Fame.

Amy returned home on the morning of October 6. My plan was to depart Memphis on October 6 and resume my journey down the Mighty Mississippi. However, the forecast was for heavy thunderstorms starting at noon, so I stayed in Memphis one more day. Good thing. The thunderstorms arrived in full force in the afternoon and lasted all night.

I departed Memphis in the morning on October 7. I will soon exit Tennessee and enter Mississippi on the left bank with Arkansas on the right bank. According to my maps, I will not encounter a city for several days. So, I’ll be tent camping a lot on the River over the next few days. The good news is I am closing in on my goal, with just over 800 miles to the Gulf.


Steve, Dale & Bill

The march of the ducks at the Peabody

Dinner at the Capriccio

Breakfast at the Arcade

Dinner at the Rendezvous


My beautiful daughter Amy


Sun Studio

Sun Studio & the Million Dollar Quartet

Sun Studio

Sun Studio

Sun Studio

Sun Studio

Sun Studio

The National Civil Rights Museum

Beale Street

Mitch jamming with the band

Beale Street

Beale Street

Beale Street

Signing the Wall of Fame

Bye, bye Memphis Blues