2006 Logo

May 13 - Minnesota Twins vs. Chicago White Sox, Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
May 15 - Iowa Cubs vs. Salt Lake Bees, Principal Park
May 16 - Burlington Bees vs. Lansing Lugnuts, Community Field
May 17 - St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Mets, Busch Stadium
May 18 - Memphis Redbirds vs. Portland Beavers, Autozone Park
May 19 - Memphis Redbirds vs. Portland Beavers, Autozone Park

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Part One: "It's all about the web site"

2006 Logo

We normally take three things into consideration when deciding where to go on Two Guys trips:

1. Ballparks we haven't been to.

2. Other culture of interest to us in the city. These excursions have taken us to many museums, art galleries and historical sites along the way.

3. Places with people we can sponge off of - if there is a free couch or a spare bedroom available, we are there!

Usually the ballparks outweigh the other considerations. In 2006 we managed to do all three in equal measure. Despite the fact that we saw six games, there was less emphasis on baseball than on any previous trip. We packed more culture than usual into this one and for Dave it was a time to visit with many close friends and family members.

DC had moved to the Washington area the year before, the first time since 1981 that we both lived in the same area. His son Dan (the "Mapholder" from our 1998 and 2000 trips) was also in town, having just completed his sophomore year at George Washington University. On Saturday May 13 the three of us went to the airport together; Dan headed back to his home in Vermont while we hopped on a flight bound for Minneapolis.

We had quite the combination of baseball and culture on this trip - our "Official Two Guys and a Map 2006 Tour" t-shirts included the Minneapolis skyline; Busch Stadium and the Arch in St. Louis; Sun Studio, Stax Studio and The Lorraine Motel (site of The National Civil Rights Museum) in Memphis; as well as Mark Twain, Elvis, Buddy Holly and The Field of Dreams.

Dave has several close friends and a cousin living in Minneapolis. We drove from the airport to Sharon and Bill's house - Dave and Sharon have been close friends since they were in chemistry class together in high school. After we settled in, we headed out with Sharon, her daughter Becky and Becky's friend Lisa for the first game of the trip.

Our first stop was the Cardinal Tavern, where we met up with Molly. She and Dave had met at a Bruce Springsteen concert in 1984, during Dave's first visit to the Twin Cities. Molly had come up to Dave's wife Bobbi to compliment her on the Little Steven and The Disciples of Soul t-shirt she was wearing and they have been good friends ever since. We arrived at the Cardinal and found Molly already there with her two month old baby Sara, who was about to experience her first baseball game. Sharon's husband Bill joined us there as well. DC and Bill hit it off right away when they determined that both of them had grown up up rooting for the miserable New York Yankees teams of the late 1960s and that they are possibly the only people other than Roy White who know that Roy White holds the record for sacrifice flies in a season.

DC had been insisting that we document practically everything from the moment we got on the plane - "That'll be great on the web site! We should do this for the web site!" - both Sharon and Molly picked up on this right away and for the next three days "It's all about the web site!!" became our rallying cry. While there are far more pictures of this trip on this web site than any other to this point, only a fraction of those taken are actually displayed.

At the Cardinal, we were introduced to a Minnesota tradition - the Pull Tab. It is basically a slot machine on paper, a gambling game used to raise revenue. You pull the three tabs on the paper and if the picture underneath each tab matches the other two, you win.

DC experiences Pull Tab:







Then it was off to The Metrodome. We rode the new Minneapolis light rail system, which got us downtown in about ten minutes. Outside of the stadium (this one is definitely a stadium, not a ballpark), we met up with the rest of our group. Dave had recently discovered that a childhood friend of his was living in St. Paul. While in town the year before they got together for a visit and on this night, Robert brought his wife Sue and son Isaac along, bringing the Two Guys group up to a total of eleven (including baby Sara.) Prior to this, the biggest group we'd had was when Dave's father-in-law joined the Two Guys and a Mapholder Y2K Southern Tour for one game in 2000.

Sara's first ballgame

(left) Molly and Sara. This was Sara's first ballgame ever!

(right) That's Dave's friend Robert's chin (black sweatshirt), his
wife Sue's torso in the pink and their son Isaac on the right.

At least we got most of Isaac's face in the picture. Even though it's all about the web site, we
failed miserably at getting a shot of the entire Two Guys and a Map Minneapolis entourage.
There were actually eleven of us. Our apologies to Robert, Sue, Sharon, Bill, Becky and Lisa.

Us at The Metrodome

With the demise of Olympic Stadium in Montreal as a major league venue, the The Metrodome may be the ugliest place to see a game in all of organized baseball. It is a huge, round, concrete stadium (strike one) with a roof (strike two) that is held up with blown air. Inside it has artificial turf (strike three) and a large plastic bag covering the wall over the right field fence. There are huge banners of the Twins who have had their numbers retired - Rod Carew, Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbeck and the late, great Kirby Puckett. The number 34 is also painted on the field in honor of Puckett, who died earlier in 2006. Dave had been to the Metrodome before, for Games 6 and 7 of the 1991 World Series and remembers those as the loudest events he's ever attended (even louder than a Ramones concert) - those games were incredibly exciting but it is still not an esthetically pleasing place to watch baseball. However, we got a very exciting game - the Twins fell behind 4-0 early but came storming back to beat the defending World Champion Chicago White Sox by a score of 8-4. We had a great time watching the game and hanging out with the various members of our "entourage". Exiting the Metrodome is kind of amusing - because of the system they use to hold up the roof, fans are literally blown out the door, pushed by a strong gust of air.

Sunday was a day for socializing - we hung out with Sharon and Bill, visited Dave's cousin Marcy and her family, then went over to Molly's house for dinner with her and her husband Jon.

Metrodome Outside

Metrodome Inside

DC Blown Out of The Metrodome

The Metrodome, inside and out. DC may have embellished the force of the air pushing him out just a little bit.

Part Two: "We May Be Lost But We're Making Good Time" (Yogi Berra)

When this trip was being planned, Dave had written to the Iowa Cubs for information on how to purchase tickets. He mentioned the fact that we would be on a baseball trip and got a reply with the information he asked for along with the message "By the way, I've penciled your group in to lead the singing of 'Take Me Out To The Ballgame' during the seventh inning stretch." Dave's mother has a very nice singing voice - unfortunately, he has inherited his father's. Not so good. So he politely declined, then wrote to DC and other friends and family - "Hey, look what they wanted us to do, ha ha ha." This unleashed a torrent of emails telling us we MUST do this as well as one from Dave's brother-in-law Steve saying that if we did, it would be the nadir of Western Civilization. Dave tended to agree with Steve so he kept saying no.

The reason DC had moved to the Washington area in 2005 was to be with Mary Beth aka MB. Mary Beth had made her presence felt in a big way on our previous trip. She would have an even bigger effect on this one. We were all over at Dave's parents' house one night and Mary Beth kept saying that we should sing at the Cubs game, that it would be fun. That's when Dave made his fatal mistake. Knowing full well that she'd never do it, he dared Mary Beth: "If you come to Iowa for the game, we'll do it." Silly Dave. By the time he got home that night, she had already emailed him her itinerary.

Dave is a man of his word so he emailed the Cubs and told them we'd do it. Sharon agreed to tag along from Minneapolis to sing with us and offer moral support.

Which brings us to the most dysfunctional day in the history of Two Guys and a Map - and one of the most fun as well. On Monday May 15, Mary Beth flew into Minneapolis. DC and Dave were there to meet her and after doing so, promptly got lost trying to get from the terminal to the parking lot. Molly lives near the airport and had invited us over to kill some time before we had to meet Sharon. This was not the first time Dave had driven to Molly's house, but it was usually from the other direction. We got off the highway at the wrong exit but recovered quickly and hung out with Molly and Sara for awhile, then headed to St Paul to meet Sharon near her workplace.

Mary Beth Arrives

Mary Beth arrives for her Two Guys and a Map guest appearance.

Us at The Metrodome

Sharon and Mary Beth sample the Twin Cities' best matzo ball soup at Cecil's Deli in St. Paul.

Because Sharon was going to return to Minneapolis while we continued on through Iowa, we took two cars to Des Moines. DC and Mary Beth were in one, Dave and Sharon in the other. Since Sharon has lived in the Twin Cities for over thirty years, we forsook the maps and had her lead the way. We got lost. Really, really lost. After we'd been driving around for awhile, Sharon said "They're going to think I'm a real ditz." Dave said "Oh, they probably don't even realize we're lost yet." Meanwhile, in the other car Mary Beth was asking "Is this how all Two Guys trips go?" Soon after, Dave's cell phone rang - it was DC, whose first words were "There's a reason it's called Two GUYS and a MAP!"

We finally got on the highway and headed out of Minnesota, into Iowa and drove down to the town of Clear Lake, where we got off to make a quick stop at the Surf Ballroom, the site of Buddy Holly's last concert. We made it to within 150 feet of the Surf Ballroom - and made a wrong turn. This actually turned out to be a nice mistake - if we had gone the right way, we wouldn't have seen downtown Clear Lake, which is a lovely little town. After getting directions from the friendly folks at the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce, we walked over to the Surf Ballroom. We took some pictures outside, then discovered the door was open so we wandered in. It was rather eerie - the lights were off in the ballroom but we could see that it looked the same as it had back in the 1950s. The person in the office graciously turned on the lights so we could take some pictures.

The Surf Ballroom

Onstage at the Surf

The Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, IA. The Surf is still a live music venue.
It was right after a show here that Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper got on a small plane at a nearby airport.

Then it was off to Des Moines - naturally we made a wrong turn getting off the highway to go to our hotel, then got very lost in downtown Des Moines trying to find the ballpark (There are two Third Avenues in Des Moines - we chose the wrong one.) Sharon's daughter Becky had just completed her sophomore year at Iowa State in Ames, which is just 30 minutes from Des Moines. We called Becky and she got us headed in the right direction. We finally arrived at the ballpark - to our credit, despite the mistakes, we did get everywhere we wanted to go at approximately the time we wanted to be there.

Principal Park, the home of the Chicago Cubs Triple A team, is a very nice little ballpark. It opened in 1992 and has already had one major refurbishing. The view out of the park is quite impressive. Des Moines is the capital of Iowa and the state capital building can be seen sitting high up on a hill beyond the centerfield wall. We had great seats, courtesy of the Cubs and saw another good ballgame. The Cubs pitcher, Ryan O'Malley had a perfect game for the first five innings before surrendering a single, the only hit he gave up in eight innings of work against the Salt Lake Bees.

Principal Park

Principal Park, home of the Iowa Cubs in Des Moines, IA. The building with the golden dome on the hill in the background is the state capital building of Iowa.

As the game went on, we wondered if they'd forgotten we were supposed to sing. But during the top of the seventh, a Cubs employee appeared and asked "Is one of you Dave?"

We were on! At the end of the top half of the inning, DC, Dave and Sharon climbed up on the dugout while Mary Beth manned the video camera. We were handed a microphone and belted out a ragged but energetic rendition of the old classic. The crowd was very nice to us - it was actually a lot of fun (and whenever discussing this, Dave is now required to say "Mary Beth was right.")

Take me out to the ballgame

Take me out to the ballgame

Take me out to the ballgame

... and it's one, two, three strikes you're out at the old ballgame!

After our moment in the spotlight, we settled back in to watch the rest of the game. It was a tight contest until the Cubs broke it open with five runs in the bottom of the eighth, thanks to the Salt Lake pitching staff hitting two batters and uncorking three wild pitches. After the 6-0 Cubs victory, Sharon headed back to Minneapolis. Amazingly, the rest of us made it back to the hotel without getting lost.

Part Three: "Like a Well Oiled Machine"

On Monday we had either gotten woefully lost or made a wrong turn six different times. We attribute this to having traveling companions (read: scapegoats) - when left to our own devices, we are usually pretty organized, punctual and on target. Tuesday morning we bade farewell to Mary Beth (she caught a flight home a few hours later) and headed off across Iowa. From this point forward, the trip ran like a well oiled machine. Iowa is a rather pretty state - farmland stretching out as far as the eye can see. It was too early in the season for the corn to be very high, but it was nice nevertheless. DC, having spent 24 years in rural Vermont, felt right at home (although Iowa is much flatter!) A few hours after leaving Des Moines, we arrived in Dyersville, the site of the filming of the movie 'Field of Dreams', a movie about baseball, dreams and family that we are both very fond of (although there is no doubt that the best baseball film ever made is 'Bull Durham.')

The movie was filmed on two farms located outside of Dyersville. The plot revolves around a man who cuts a baseball field out of his farm land and the mystical events that occur because of his action. After filming was completed, the farmer who owned the land on which the diamond was built decided to keep it intact. His name is Don Lansing. He owned the infield, the house that the Kevin Costner character lived in and right field. Left field and center field are on his neighbor's property.

The neighbors disagreed on how to best make use of the land - they have differing philosophies on how much to commercialize the property. Both have souvenir stands but thanks to Don Lansing's efforts, that is the extent of the commercialization. We actually bumped into him as we were wandering around and had quite a long chat - he's an engaging guy and we got to hear his side of the story in great detail.

Field of Dreams House

The farmhouse from Field of Dreams - "Is this heaven?" "No, it's Iowa."

Field of Dreams House

You gotta have a catch at The Field of Dreams! Right after we got there, a busload of kids on
a field trip pulled up. One of them not only took this picture, she also loaned Dave her glove.

Then it was off to Burlington, Iowa, home of the Kansas City Royals Class A team, the Burlington Bees. We had chosen Burlington because the Bees were the closest baseball team to our next destination, Hannibal, Missouri. We arrived in town a couple of hours before the ballgame and wandered downtown. Burlington is a town in decline - there were 40,000 people there in 1985, when we were there the population was down to about 26,000. There wasn't a whole lot going on downtown but we did discover that Burlington is the site of the crookedest street in the United States, a very steep road called Snake Alley. Naturally we had to drive down it and then we walked around. One of the nice things about Two Guys trips is the little surprises we encounter along the way - one of the few businesses that was open was a CD and gift store called Weird Harolds. We went in and looked around. In the back of the store was a bin of used records - not CDs, not tapes, actual vinyl records, which you seldom see anymore. There was a sign that said "More Records Upstairs" so we went up. Suddenly we found ourselves in a huge room - the entire width and length of the store below - filled with 30,000 vinyl records. Dave and DC met in a record store (Dave met his wife in one too), we are both longtime music geeks and each still have rather large vinyl record collections so we were in heaven (no, it was Iowa.) However, the difficulty in carting around a bunch of vinyl records while traveling kept us from indulging.

Snake Alley

Snake Alley, the crookedest street in the U.S.

Community Field

Community Field, home of the Burlington Bees

We headed over to Community Field. It was originally built in 1947, then burned down in 1971. It was rebuilt and re-opened in 1973. While there is nothing particularly distinctive about it, it's another nice little minor league ballpark where everyone is close to the action. On this night that was particularly true. There were all of 86 people in the stands for the Bees - Lansing Lugnuts game. Dave was walking to his seat and saw someone in a Washington Nationals cap - he stopped and commented on it (after all, we were in Iowa!) and discovered that the man wearing it lived in Arlington, Virginia - ten minutes from where Dave lives. He was originally from Iowa and it turned out he was also on a baseball trip, with his brothers who still lived there. The Bees won 4-1.

One highlight came when a Lansing coach got kicked out of the game. As stated earlier, we both feel that the greatest baseball movie ever is 'Bull Durham.' There is a scene in that film where the lead character, a minor league catcher named Crash Davis, is ejected from a game for uttering a rather profane word. Then one of the other characters, shown listening to the game on the radio, says "Crash must have called the guy a {expletive deleted}." Imagine our delight when the coach exited the dugout with a very loud "See ya, {same expletive deleted}!" to the umpire. (Even if you're not curious as to what the word was, if you've never watched Bull Durham, do so - it's a classic!)

We try to sample the indigenous foods of the various cities and towns we visit on these trips (for instance cheese steaks in Philly) but we just couldn't seem to convince ourselves to try a genuine Iowa corn dog (hot dogs coated in batter, deep fried and served on a stick.) So on our way back to the hotel, we indulged ourselves in what seems to be Iowa's most popular chain of restaurants - Dairy Queen. The Blizzards hit the spot, bringing our adventures in Iowa to a close.

The next day we hit the road early, heading for the home town of Mark Twain, the man considered by many to be America's greatest author. We were of course, running like a well oiled machine at this point and we pulled into town right around the time the various Twain attractions opened. These included the house he grew up in, his father's place of employment, a museum and a couple of other sites. It's a nice town - they have certainly taken advantage of the Twain connection and while there are some cheesy tourist traps, it could be much, much worse.

Welcome to Hannibal

Mark Twain's hometown

Tom Sawyer's Fence

Wait, wasn't Tom Sawyer a fictional character?

Sea Captains Carousing In Surinam

The classic 'Sea Captains Carousing In Surinam'

After doing the Twain tour, we headed for St. Louis. Dave's parents were both born and raised there and many members of his family still live there. We arrived at the home of his Uncle Bernard and Aunt Wilma (an apartment with a spectacular view of downtown St. Louis.) Bernard was still at work and Wilma, who is a piano teacher, was heading out to give a lesson. We had a little time to kill so we headed across Forest Park to the St. Louis Art Museum.

Dave was particularly anxious to see one item in the museum's collection, a painting by John Greenwood called 'Sea Captains Carousing In Surinam.' This is his father's favorite piece of art, mostly because of the whimsical name (and the depiction of a captain whose coat is being set on fire at the same moment he is throwing up - c'mon people, that's art!) As it happened, 'Sea Captains' wasn't on display - it had been loaned out to another museum and, while it was back in St. Louis, it hadn't been re-hung yet. We were surprised to find that many members of the museum staff have a genuine affection for it. One of the people at the information desk, a woman named Muriel, actually walked us down to the museum gift shop on a lower level and found a set of gift cards depiciting the classic piece of artwork.

For some reason DC decided to snap a picture of an empty display case and we were immediately set upon by a guard informing us that we couldn't take pictures of the art. Yes, an empty glass cube was a piece of art. We thought this was somewhat ridiculous until we wandered into the next room and came upon another interesting piece - a blue fluorescent light bulb. That's it, just the lit bulb. Dave was somewhat taken aback by this, realizing that he has made several installations of art in his basement over the years.

After Bernard got home from work, we headed over to Dave's cousin Debbie's house. She is the sister of Marcy, who we visited in Minnesota. DC was doing a good job of keeping track of all the friends and relatives he was being introduced to and at Debbie's house he met several more - her father Herb, her husband Jon and their kids Ben and Mike. They cooked up a wonderful dinner of salmon steaks for us and then we headed to the ballgame with Bernard and Ben while Jon went to pick up their daughter Evie, who would join us at the ballgame as well.

This was the inaugural season of the new Busch Stadium. It's very nice, a vast improvement over the previous Busch. However, while there was nothing to dislike about it, Busch wasn't as nice as we'd hoped. Maybe it's because St. Louis is such a great baseball town and the Cardinals have such a great tradition. Maybe it's because we'd been going to the park that set off the retro ballpark craze, Baltimore's Camden Yards, for years. For whatever reason, Busch wasn't as spectacular as we'd hoped it would be.

But we got a great ball game - the Cardinals won a 1-0 squeaker. Both starting pitchers were terrific. Mark Mulder started the ninth inning for the Cardinals but faltered, loading the bases with one out. Their closer Jason Isringhausen came into (as one of the Cardinals said after the game) a REAL save situation - and nailed down the win.


Bernard, Dave, Ben

Dave with Bernard and Ben

Busch Stadium

Busch Stadium

Bernard, Dave, Ben

All new ballparks have statues. Here's Stan Musial.

Part Four: "That's How I Got To Memphis" (Tom T. Hall)

Up to this point, this had been a very different type of Two Guys trip - normally it's just the two of us wandering around but on this tour, we'd spent a great deal of time with friends and family. On Thursday May 18, the 2006 trip became more like previous trips. That morning we hit the road again, driving out of St. Louis towards Memphis, Tennessee - the final destination of the Life On The Mississippi Tour. We drove into Arkansas, the first time either of us had been in that state and where, at a rest stop, words never before heard on a Two Guys trip were uttered - "Watch out for that snake." (We didn't bother him, he didn't bother us.) Memphis is an easy drive from St. Louis - Highway 55 all the way (no getting lost on this leg of the trip!) but by the time we pulled into our hotel parking lot, we were ready to stop driving and start walking. We'd put over 1200 miles on our rental car since picking it up in Minneapolis five days earler.

Dave had been in Memphis once before and loved it. This was DC's first time there. Memphis is a hugely important city in the history of American music - it's impossible to catalog all the great rock 'n' roll, soul, country, jazz and blues songs that were recorded there. It's the city where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Otis Redding, B.B. King, Howling Wolf and many others made their first (and in many cases their best) records. So it's a dream spot for people like us, who love this type of music.

Our first stop was The Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum, located at the corner of Beale St. and Highway 61. This is the only permanent display of the Smithsonian Institution that is housed outside of the Washington D.C. area. It's a very well done overview of the music of Memphis and the huge influence it had - a good introduction since most of the rest of the music sites we visited were more focused on specific areas.

We then wandered up and down Beale St. This area had been the hub of Memphis nightlife from the 1920s through the 1950s but had gradually decayed. In the 1970s the city of Memphis began redeveloping the area as an entertainment district and it is now one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state of Tennessee. One place that never left the street is the A. Schwab dry goods store, which has been in business since 1876. If you are ever in Memphis, stop by - it's the sort of place that seems to have no rhyme nor reason to the way the wares are displayed but the employees can walk you right to whatever it is you're looking for, be it pants, kitchen goods or voodoo powders. The interior (and some of the merchandise) hasn't changed in years - it probably looks the same now as it did when Elvis shopped there.

Beale Street

Beale Street in Memphis. Note the A. Schwab dry goods store on the right.

Autozone Park

Autozone Park in Memphis, TN

Then it was off to the ballgame. The Memphis Redbirds are the Triple A team of the St. Louis Cardinals and are also the only baseball team that is a not-for-profit organization. All operating profits are put back into The Memphis Redbirds Baseball Foundation that funds youth programs in Memphis.

Autozone Park is located in the heart of downtown Memphis. It's comfortable, with an old time feel, good sight lines and an open outfield so you can see into the city - a very nice park. On this night, the Redbirds were taking on the Portland Beavers. It was a close game for awhile but Portland put it away with three runs in the top of the ninth, to win 8-3. Former Washington National Terrmel Sledge pounded two home runs for Portland. He was just one of several former major league players in this game - Portland also had Manny Alexander, while Memphis suited up Junior Spivey, Brian Daubach and Andy Benes, among others.

Friday was a very full day for us. We began by walking down to The National Civil Rights Museum. It is located in the building that used to be the Lorraine Motel, the site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. The first thing you see when coming around the corner to the museum is the balcony where Dr. King was standing when he was shot - it's kind of unsettling but that's probably the intended effect. We highly recommend visiting this museum if you ever go to Memphis - we spent about three hours there, tracing the history of racial prejudice and the civil rights movement from the earliest days of slavery in this country up to the present time.

After we completed the tour of the Civil Rights Museum, we lightened the mood somewhat. We caught the shuttle outside the Rock 'n' Soul Museum and rode it out to Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley.

If you go to Memphis it's practically a legal obligation that you must visit Graceland but this was actually our least favorite attraction there. Graceland is about lifestyle as opposed to the other music attractions in town, which focus more on the music itself. But it's a must see and we did.

Lorraine Motel

The National Civil Rights Museum, housed in the Lorraine Motel.
The wreath marks the spot where Dr. King was standing when he was shot.


Elvis Presley's home Graceland

After we finished up at Graceland, we hopped back on the shuttle bus and rode it to 706 Union Avenue. This is the site of Sun Studio, a company founded by a man named Sam Phillips. He opened the studio and started Sun Records in the 1950s to record blues, country and anything else that caught his interest. Sun Studio bills itself as "The Birthplace of Rock 'n' Roll" and if any one spot can make that claim, Sun is it. The record considered by many to be the very first rock 'n' roll record, 'Rocket 88' by Jackie Brenston was recorded there. Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Howling Wolf, Roy Orbison, Rufus Thomas and B.B. King all recorded for Sun Records. Of course, the biggest name to come out of Sun was Elvis Presley, who wandered through the door in 1954. The tour is short but fabulous. Dave's been there twice and each time the tour guide was extremely enthusiastic. Each one put his own stamp on the tour - it's probably never quite the same any time you take it. The first part of the tour is a room with history and artifacts from Sun's heyday, then it ends up in the studio itself. The studio is still active - tours go through during the day, music is recorded there at night. While the control room has modern equipment, the room where the musicians stand is much like it was back in the 1950s. Sam Phillips always placed the musicians in the same spots so there is an X on the floor where the vocalist stood, allowing you to stand on the exact spot where Elvis sang 'That's All Right'. Bob Dylan never recorded there but the story is that he came into the studio, kissed that X and then left.

Sun Studio

Flush from the success of our Des Moines singing engagement, we decided to record
'Take Me Out To The Ballgame' at the Sun Studio.

The session is cancelled because of a mysterious noise in the studio.
It is later determined that the noise is Sam Phillips rolling over in his grave.

Inside Sun Studio

Then it was off to The Peabody Hotel for an unusual Memphis tradition. Sometime in the 1930s, the hotel manager and a friend went hunting. They apparently spent more time drinking than hunting and upon returning to the hotel, decided it would be fun to put the live ducks they used as decoys into the hotel lobby's fountain. The hotel guests liked the ducks, so there have been ducks in the fountain of the Peabody Hotel ever since.

Each day at 11:00 AM, a red carpet is rolled out, the ducks take the elevator down from their residence on an upper floor of the hotel, march across the lobby and enter the fountain. Six hours later, they go back. People begin gathering in the lobby over an hour before each march to watch it. When we got there, it was mobbed but we managed to work our way to the front. At 5:00 PM, after much introductory bluster by a hotel employee, the ducks paraded down the red carpet, onto the elevator and went upstairs. The whole thing took about thirty seconds.

When we're on these trips we eat a lot of meals on the run or at ballparks. It's become a tradition for us to have at least one sit-down meal in a nice restaurant so after the ducks marched, we ate dinner at The Capriccio Grill, located just off the lobby of the Peabody. After an excellent meal we walked across the street to Autozone Park where we saw the Redbirds get whupped by Portland again, this time by a score of 11-0. Since this was our last night in Memphis, we felt we had to see some live music so we headed down to Beale Street. You can buy a wristband that gets you into most of the clubs on Beale so we barhopped up and down the street for awhile. It's very touristy but still fun and almost every bar has a rockabilly, blues or soul band playing. We checked out all the bands and decided that James Govan and The Boogie Blues Band was our favorite so we headed back to the Rum Boogie Cafe, where we drank Blue Moon Beer and grooved to Govan for awhile.

The next morning we headed over to McLemore Ave, to The Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Along with Sun, Stax was THE great record label of Memphis. Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Booker T. and The MGs, Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas, Isaac Hayes, Johnny Taylor, William Bell, The Staple Singers, Albert King and many others recorded for Stax. In addition, the studio was used by many musicians of record labels other than Stax - for example, Wilson Pickett, who was an Atlantic Records artist, recorded 'In The Midnight Hour' there.

The original building was torn down in the 1980s but was rebuilt to house the museum a few years ago. It is amazing how much incredible music was recorded on this spot - 'Green Onions', 'Try a Little Tenderness', 'Hold On, I'm Coming', 'Walkin' The Dog', 'Gee Whiz', 'Mustang Sally' - the list goes on and on and on. The museum is beautifully done and the studio has been faithfully recreated complete with Booker T. and The MGs instruments (they were the house band at Stax and play on practically everything that was recorded there.)

The Peabody Hotel ducks

The Peabody ducks go marching out

The Stax Museum

The STAX Museum

Then it was time to go. We had enough time to get our indigineous food fix (DC had barbeque, Dave had catfish) and then it was off to the airport. We'd had a blast - we love all our trips but because he'd gotten to see so many loved ones, this was Dave's favorite Two Guys trip yet.

Next up? We've got some ideas, but we aren't sure yet. Mary Beth floated one suggestion. If we're feeling adventurous, she may be right again. Stay tuned!

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