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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cold Souls: Iced In in Memphis

This isn't the greatest weekend to visit Memphis. Most flights in and out of Memphis International Airport were canceled Friday, the Memphis Zoo was closed Friday and today, The Orpheum Theatre's performance of "Jersey Boys" was canceled Friday, Graceland – Graceland! – closed Friday, and galleries and museums ranging from Memphis Brooks Museum of Art to National Civil Rights Museum closed their doors for part or all of the weekend. At least the Grizzlies NBA game versus New Orleans is still on for tonight, although it will be interesting to see how light the crowd will be to see one of the league’s hottest teams (Memphis, not the Hornets).

I’m not going to get into the whole “why the South shuts down for snow argument” other than to say we don’t get snow. We get ice, the kind that weighs down tree limbs and drops them on power lines during the night.

I am curious what travelers in Memphis – and any other locale hammered to various degrees by this winter storm – are doing to make the best of their trips. I don’t have much advice to offer in these types of situations; I’ve never traveled somewhere only to see many of the sights I had hoped to see shut down because of weather. (A tornado warning while on a trip to Springfield, Ill., last March did force us into our Downtown hotel’s basement as we were checking out instead of making a quick visit to some of the shops and galleries near the new Lincoln Presidential Library before heading home.)

At least things seem to be thawing out pretty well here. Hopefully those who were able to get a flight into the city have been able to make the best of their time in Memphis.

Not that anyone should plan lodging around the what if’s of being stranded, but to me it’s one more reason to pick a hotel in the heart of the action. And in the case of Memphis, that’s Downtown, where I know several bars, clubs and restaurants remained open Friday night, some even offering specials. This also can be a good time to get to know the people in a city, namely those servers and bartenders. Those conversations, experiences and new relationships built among other “iced-in” patrons and workers can make a forgettable trip a memorable one.

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