A Day in Tupelo

The forecast for Tuesday was clear and cool, a great day for a car ride 60 miles north to Tupelo Mississippi, the birthplace of Elvis Presley.

I have to preface this by saying that when we researched Elvis’ birthplace there were some negative comments. Our findings were that visitors enjoyed the area, but were let down on the customer service and the amount that was charged to enter the home, museum, and church. Because of the negative comments we just about decided to skip going. I am glad we went. It was easy to get to, just a few minutes off Interstate 45 with signs marking the way, and we enjoyed our visit.


Birthplace Map helped us keep our bearings.

We had decided to check out the Events Center complex first, and see the movie about his early childhood before making the decision to pay for entry to the exhibits. The Movie was a local production, not like the Elvis movies of the 50 and 60’s, but well done and informative. What really caught my attention was during the ending credits, an Elvis song that I was not familiar with, played. Many of the audience sang along. These are “hard core”, Elvis fans.


This couple was on a tour from Memphis, seeing all the Elvis spots.

Cynthia, my wife “Dearest”, and I walked the grounds and took in the views. From the movie we saw what the house and church interiors looked like and did not pay the extra $17, $14 for seniors, to enter.

Elvis Presley was born on January 8th, 1935 in a two room house built by his father Vernon, with help from Vernon’s father, Jessie, and his brother, Vester, in 1934.

Vernon had borrowed $180 from his employer to finance the building, which had a single light bulb in each room.

A fact that isn’t publicized is the Presley family only lived in the house about 3 years. Vernon couldn’t make the payments and had to move into a different part of town. That move may have influenced a young Elvis even more, because he had to walk through a part of town called “Shake Rag” that had honky-tonks, and it was there that he was introduced to Blues.

Embedded into the walk around the house are stone carvings that contain facts about each of the 13 years that Elvis lived in Tupelo.


Elvis at 13

The statue of “Elvis at 13” was created by the sculptor from pictures and measuring the brick and mortar to make it life-size.


Cynthia in front of the Assembly of God church doors that the Presley attended.



Left this picture large so you could read the information in front. Elvis did NOT sit here.

Something else that I found interesting was the fact that the original home has not been moved. It is on the location it was built. In 1957 Elvis donated the proceeds from a concert in Tupelo to help purchase the area and create a park for young people. The story is that as a young boy Elvis and his friends would play in this area. Statues at the top of the overlook depict Elvis as a young boy and a guitar and then the larger than life Elvis the entertainer.


Elvis larger than life.

As we were getting ready to leave the birthplace we stopped to ask where we should go for lunch. Both the ladies behind the counter said “Johnnies”.



Just a couple blocks from Birthplace Park is Johnnie’s Drive-in. It’s a local burger joint and as we walked in Dearest asked me “Do we just sit or wait for them to seat us?”. The gentleman that was behind us said “Just find a spot. They’ll take care of you.” We did and as the waitress was taking our drink order she also said “Would you like to sit in the Elvis Booth? I just cleaned it and it’s open.” We said sure, and moved to the spot that Elvis would sit when he ate there. The special was called a Doughburger. A mixture of flour and meat that extended the meat. This has been a staple since the opening of Johnnie’s in the 1940’s.


Left to right Miss Christi (the owner) Cynthia (Dearest) Mikey (cook) Amanda (our server, she was great) Savanna (cook)


Dearest and I in the Elvis Booth


Lots of pictures and memorabilia around the cafe.


After a great lunch we headed into town and stopped at Tupelo Hardware. A real hardware store that has something for everyone. It’s where Gladys Presley bought Elvis’ first guitar as a birthday present. I stood on the spot Mrs. Presley stood when she purchased that guitar. We also found some items that we could use on the boat.


First try wasn’t quite right.




Perfect fit


It was a great day and a lot of fun.

Some of the information I used in this blog was taken from the Elvis’ Birthplace visitors guide, and the Tupelo Visitors Guide.


Moving on up

We are currently in Grand River, Kentucky at Green Turtle Bay Marina/Resort. While here at the dock and around the area we’ve met and talked with many people. We’ve also passed out quite a few boat cards. When handing the card to someone I tell them that our blog site is on the back side of the card, however, I have not been too diligent about updates but plan to add more soon.

Now I am keeping my promise.


Heading out of Turner Marine meeting some others that are heading north also


We are now heading UP river.


Here’s what we’ve been up to;

Mid-April we left Turner Marine in Mobile AL, after spending the winter, and started North. Our first night we anchored in Bates Lake and had a couple tell us that when the tide went out it would be too shallow to get back into the river. So, up anchor, and back downriver a couple of miles to the Alabama cutoff. Now, many others anchor here and sing its praises, however, when we dropped anchor it would not set. After pulling it back up we realized that somehow our anchor chain had wrapped around a log. Cynthia kept the boat in place while I was tried to get rid of the log. Finally we got the log alongside the boat and loose. Now, we were able to set the main anchor. Then climb down onto the swim platform to set the stern anchor.  (Setting a stern anchor keeps the boat from swinging.) We were alone in the anchorage and had a pleasant evening. I was real tired and had no problem getting to sleep.

The next morning we pressed on up river and made it to the Coffeville Lock and Bobby’s Fish-camp for the night. An easy evening with dinner at Bobby’s and another early night.


View of Bobby’s Fish-Camp from the boat, It’s rustic.


From Bobby’s it’s 100 miles to Demopolis, the next fuel and dockage. We decided to stop in between. We passed a good anchorage at Bashi Creek before noon, but did not want to stop that early, so we pressed on looking for a another spot to anchor for the night.

We found Chickasaw Bogue and bumped our way across the bar into deeper water. We anchored in about 7 foot of water, but when the boat would swing the depth would vary. It was decided to set the stern anchor again, so back onto the swim platform and another toss of the stern anchor. While I was on the swim platform Cynthia noticed we were moving, the main anchor had not set properly.  With Cynthia at the helm we raised the main anchor and moved forward to make another attempt at setting the anchor. This time we let out extra chain and gave a good tug to make sure it dug into the mud. Then back to the swim platform and a toss of the stern anchor.  To set the stern anchor I went back to the front and pulled in some of the extra chain to set the stern anchor. This had us staying in one place and not moving too much.


Looking into Chickasaw Bogue


Checking the movement of the boat

Tired I sat on the back deck and watched a tree to make sure we were not moving. We were glad that we spent the extra time getting the anchors set because, later that evening a storm front passed through. The winds gave the anchor chains a good tug, but we moved some but stayed pretty much in the same place. That was our first Thunder Storm at anchor. Not something I would like do on a regular basis.

In the morning we reversed our anchor process to release the stern anchor then moved forward to pull the bow anchor. With Cynthia at the helm we started out of Chickasaw Bogue and promptly ran aground, and of course, here comes a Tow as we are trying to get off the bottom. I took over the helm while Cynthia contacted the Tow on the radio. With some extra reverse thrust we backed off the sandbar and with help from the tow captain we angled our way back out into the main river. Demopolis was our stop for that evening and the rest of the weekend.

I had developed a cough and told Cynthia that it was from breathing exhaust fumes while trying to set the stern anchor, she didn’t believe me.  From the beginning of our trip up river we had set our sights on Columbus, MS as a rest stop, because we both like the area and the people. Neither one of us thought our stay would last as long as it did.

The day after we arrived in Columbus Cynthia took me to an Urgent Care facility to figure out what was the matter with me. We found out we both had this seasons flu and bronchitis. Me about ten days ahead of Dearest. After lots of tests and armed with prescriptions we arrived back at the boat,  medicated, and went to bed, for a week.

Our first week in Columbus was gone before we knew. We put our heads out for short periods after that but for almost 3 weeks we stayed on the boat and tried to get over our sickness. Finally we started to feel better and thought of moving up-stream again.


Making waves again, it feels good.


From Columbus north, the Tom Bigbee river has plenty of marinas to make easy days of 50 to 60 miles. Allowing us to be in and tied up well before the sun has begun to set.  We entered Pickwick Lake through Wilton Lock and found the current changed direction and is now running  with us, adding extra speed for less fuel. We made Aqua Yacht Harbor in Iuka, MS our address for the next couple of nights.  

From Aqua Yacht Harbor we entered the Tennessee River,  Pickwick Lock and Dam took us off Pickwick Lake and continued the Tennessee River. Two 60 mile days have us at Pebble Isle Marina, and a great place to spend the weekend.

The last few days of travel has Cynthia having back pain, making it hard to move around and giving her problems while handling lines.  By the time we reached Green Turtle Bay on the North end of Lake Barkley she was in serious pain. Now, with chiropractic care and after a couple massages, she is on the mend, but we don’t want a relapse. Because of this we have signed on for a month here and will remain at Green Turtle Bay until after July 4th. That should give us time to heal.

In the mean time we are trying to figure out what to do, and where to go next. But that is another story.