Prior to this week, my experience in Memphis, Tenn. was limited to changing planes at the world’s busiest cargo airport, which is home to FedEx as well as Northwest Airlines. But, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship‘s annual General Assembly is meeting here June 20-21, providing the rich opportunity of visiting the city where the spirits of both Elvis and Martin Luther King remain strong, and the smell of barbeque sauce is around every corner.

The city helps visitors get around via a charming and efficient trolley system, but the drivers must be underpaid, because everyone we met was rude and short-tempered. Other hosts, thankfully, have been more helpful.

Beale Street, the Memphis version of New Orleans’ French Quarter and Nashville’s downtown honky tonk district, features blues, bars and barbeque joints with names like “Pig” and “Miss Polly’s,” where the motto is “Love, peace, and chicken grease.” It’s just a few blocks up from the Mississippi River, where bridges and barges share space with riverboats and city parks.

I’ve enjoyed the city so far. The trip won’t be complete, however, until I’ve had a chance to do more than just smell the barbeque.

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