I thought that staying at the Aaron Presley Boulevard RV Park might make a good story, but I hadn’t anticipated this one.
I called the Aaron Presley Blvd RV Park Sunday morning. There was no answer. I didn’t leave a message and figured I’d call them later. A minute later the phone rang, and it was the guy from the RV park, saying that he’d missed the call. He said that if no one was at the office when I arrived, to just park wherever I wanted and he’d find me. It sounded like a cool, laid back place.
I arrived in Memphis around 4PM, did a drive by on the RV park, and headed to Beale Street. I had a Golden Monkey at the Flying Saucer, a chain, but one with lots of good beer, and A/C, and free WIFI. Did I mention the A/C? As it turns out, June is a little warm in Memphis. I strolled around a bit, heard an old white guy playing some classic blues tunes in an outdoor park, and then had some fine-tasting ribs at The Pig on Beale.
When I arrived at the Elvis Presley Blvd RV Park, it was about 7PM. There was a note on the door to the office, saying “out back” and a phone number. I called the number and talked to the guy, he said to park wherever I wanted. I did a spin around the place and noticed that nearly everyone seemed to be a long-term resident, rather than a traveler passing through. I found a nice grassy spot in the shade, popped the top, and headed for the bath house. It was locked. I called the guy and he said that someone would bring me a key shortly. And so he did. I used the facilities and took a shower. There were some great signs that I regret that I didn’t photograph. One, for example, said not to smoke in the bath house, as it’s “NOT A HONKY TONK!” (emphasis in original).
After a cool shower I got the power plugged in, started charging the laptop, and set up the chair outside where it was a bit cooler (must head North!) and started playing guitar. Next thing I know, I get a frantic textual message from a friend: “Are you there? My friend M says that where you are staying is UNSAFE. She says to relocate and she will feed you” (emphasis in original).
I’d already eaten and was pretty settled in. Sure, this wasn’t the most upscale RV park that even I had seen, but it didn’t seem dangerous, in spite of the housing projects that were a few hundred yards away. The frantic messages continued. M’s daughter, S, called to tell me that she had been a police officer in that area and that she would highly recommend that I leave there, ASAP.
Sure, I had set up camp, but who was I to turn down hospitality? It was now a bit after nine and quite dark. I unplugged the power line, threw the chair in the back, pulled the top down, and moved my Jameson on the rocks to the front seat. I got loaded up, stopped at the office, dropped the key into the drop box, and peeled out. (OK, there really isn’t any peeling out out with a 1.9 liter VW, but my grandmother taught me not to let the truth interfere with a good story.)
About twenty minutes later I got a call from my soon-to-be host saying that they had gone to bed, but they’d leave the door open for me. This begs the question, what kind of person thinks it’s a bad idea for me to sleep in this RV park, yet thinks nothing about giving her address to a stranger and leaving the door open?
I arrived at what Google thought was the correct address a few minutes later. After I triple-checked that the address on the house was the address that I’d been told to go to, I started collecting things I’d need for the evening and was about to figure out just how one enters the house of strangers, when M came out to Walden in her robe. She welcomed me and told me to come on in.
We got to know each other, and I learned, for example, that she had never actually met our mutual close friend in the flesh. They had known each other for fifteen years, but the relationship was strictly electronic. A while later, a friend of M’s daughter came in. She’d planned to go have a drink with T (actually, both of M’s daughters are S’s, but that’d be too confusing) who still hadn’t arrived.
Eventually T arrived and we all ended up staying up until S, the former cop who’d been asleep, woke up to get ready to head out for her shift as a ninja. (I don’t think she’s really a ninja, but she dresses in all-black and works some kind of security detail at an undisclosed location.) That was an indicator that it was time for bed.
I awoke in the morning and there were biscuits and bacon in the kitchen. There was no Diet Coke, but I accepted a Dr. Pepper from T. When in Rome, drink as the Romans, I always say.
Waking up in an air conditioned house in Memphis in June is a pretty good thing when you live in a van. Or really bad, I suppose. Memphis is really a bit hot right now for van living. I didn’t leave left the house until I had to leave to stay with my friend who told me that one is never more than six weeks from being fit. Six weeks? We’ll see.