Thursday, January 24, 2013

Memphis Part 2 = Grizzlies NBA game

I was going to combine this post with Graceland pics from the following day, but I took way too many.  Next post!  In the mean-time, here's an ignorant fan's impression of an NBA game between the Memphis Grizzlies and Denver Nuggets.

One quick aside before the basketball game = On the drive back to Memphis, and still in Arkansas, we noticed that the moon was a vibrant blood red.  Very eerie.

I've been to many sports stadiums / arenas, but I don't think any of them are as spectacularly located as the FedEx Forum, right on Beale Street (a half block from the action).  

My brother-in-law and I arrived a bit late, and had to buy tickets at the office, so after getting food and beers, the second quarter had already started.  Lame, but as Kurt Vonnegut used to say, so it goes.

An approximation of our true view from the rafters.  

#5 Marreese Speights was traded to Cleveland just a few weeks after this game.  He led the team with 10 rebounds during the game.  Also pictured are #11 Mike Conley and #22 Rudy Gay, the team captain.

Halftime entertainment = "the German Wheel."  More impressive than it sounds.

Back to action, with a free throw.

Injury = Quincy Pondexter of the Grizzlies, with a knee injury.

Legendary boxer Roy Jones, Jr. happened to be taking in the game, and was apparently wrangled to pump up the crowd before the fourth quarter.  It worked.

Grizz's orders.

Still a very close game, with the Grizzlies having to make up for sloppy play in the first half.

The game was tied at 68, when Memphis (especially Rudy Gay) charged ahead with 10 straight points, sending the crowd into a frenzy.

Chutzpah, or just team pride?  

Memphis wins!

Final score.

The arena is literally one block (and a very short block) to the left of where I shot this photo, on Beale Street.

W.C. Handy statue in W.C. Handy Park, on Beale Street.

Street entertainers are the norm on a Saturday night.

We hunkered down at a corner bar to listen to an excellent rock cover band.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Arkansas = Hot Springs National Park and the Clinton Presidential Library

Day 2 in Memphis actually didn't include too much of Memphis. Instead, we crossed the Mississippi River and headed deep into Arkansas... because it was there (and because it was one of just four US states that I hadn't been in).  Here's what we did.

The Pyramid Arena in Memphis, as we approach the Mississppi River.  Apparently it's being converted into a Bass Pro Shops megastore.

Woooo, a new state!  It's been awhile since I've been to one of those.

See my intensity?  

Eastern Arkansas was merely cold.

Central Arkansas was frozen over, due to a blizzard that tore through the state just days before we arrived.

The road to Hot Springs.

Almost there...

The Hot Springs Rehabilitation Center, looking over Hot Springs (and the national park).

Suz was used to the freezing cold.

I, on the other hand, am a California sissy.

Hot Springs National Park is not only the smallest national park in the United States, but it's also the only Congress-created park that lies in an urban area.  

"Hey babe, could you pose for a picture with the hot springs fountain?"  "Why?"  "Just do it please."  "Ooooookaaaaaaaay..."

Rehabilitation Center with the hot springs fountain.

The Lamar Bathhouse houses the temporary visitor center.

The Buckstaff Bathhouse (which was closed by the time we arrived) is one of two operating bathhouses on Bathhouse Row.

The more you know...

The defunct Ozark Bathhouse.

The Quapaw Baths, the other active bathhouse.

I'm so brave...

The approach to a nice walkway that goes by some of the exposed hot springs.

Suz and I were having fun.

A look across the street (which was not in the national park) and the hill beyond it (which was in the park).

My brother-in-law on the walkway.

Remnants of snow.

An exposed hot spring.

We descend the trail back into town...

...and into the Arlington Hotel, which was decked out for the holidays.

They even had a large gingerbread dollhouse.  

The Arlington Hotel exterior.

Many baseball notables visited the Arlington Hotel, which was a fair ways away from any major league baseball city.

A final look back up the trail.

The only disappointment of the day = McClard's Bar-B-Q was closed for the holidays.  Poop.

We went to Stubby's Hik'ry Pit Bar-B-Q instead.  

Decent grub.

The drive from Hot Springs back to Little Rock was less than an hour.  We went from Bill Clinton's boyhood town to his presidential library, within sight of downtown Little Rock.  

The building itself is quite a modern structure to behold.

Clinton's Cadillac Fleetwood limousine, one of three that were built.

You can read more here.

You could have bet the farm that the Arsenio Hall gig would have its place in the library.

Buttons galore...

Expect the gender reversal of this in 2016.

And this one too.

Almost looks like a poor man's Vatican.

The single neatest attraction within the Clinton Library is their perfect recreation of the Oval Office.

You can't actually walk through it, but there are many viewpoints set up so you can inspect the room relatively closely.

Another part of the library focused on gifts to President Clinton.  Yitzhak Rabin gave this extraordinarily ancient artifact as a symbol of friendship between Israel and the United States.

Meanwhile, Japan sent a Discman.

There are several floors to the library.

This bridge was dedicated as a pedestrian bridge by the former president himself.

The bridge crosses the Arkansas River.

Billy's high school diploma.

It pains me in every way possible to admit this, but 18 year old Hillary was quite a looker.

Another highlight to the Clinton Library was their recreation of the West Wing's Cabinet Room.

Hillary's Grammy Award for "It Takes a Village."  

Matryoshka dolls featuring world leaders.

Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Boris Yeltsin...

...Margaret Thatcher, Francois Mitterand, and (wait for it) Saddam Hussein.

Another shot of the Arkansas River bridge.

The exhibits were exhaustive.

I wondered if Monica Lewinsky would be mentioned.  While it's fairly white-washed, it's not hidden.

We were curious about downtown Little Rock, so we went exploring before heading back to Memphis.

I believe this is the Old State House.

This is obviously the state capitol building.  Very D.C.-like.

All in all, not a bad day in The Natural State.

Coming up = more of Memphis, including an NBA game (that same night!) and Graceland (not the same night).  Stay tuned.