Goodbye, Jake

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Today, we had to be put Jake to sleep. We were privileged to take care of him for over 16 years.

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Jake was unquestioningly loyal and protective.

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A wizard with the frisbee, as a young dog, he could leap over 5 feet in the air and run faster than we could throw it.

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Jake was a healthy dog, up until his final year. Even when ailing, though, he always lived up to being our best friend.

We’ll miss him.

7th Annual Memphis Walk

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On Saturday, October 19th, Richie, Robert, and I completed our 7th annual Memphis Walk, where we start at the cobblestones in downtown Memphis, at the Mississippi River, at sunrise and walk in a general direction (usually east-ish) until sunset.

The day started off cloudy, cool, and a bit rainy, and it stayed cool and cloudy most of the day. By the afternoon, the sun started to break through the clouds, and we finally started warming up a bit.

This year, our route took us from South Main to Germantown, largely following Barron St., which turns into Rhodes, which turns into Quince. We ended up on Poplar Pike, entering Germantown. Highlights included the (finally open, maybe) Beale Street Landing, safety warnings from firemen near Foote Homes, walking through Orange Mound on Barron Ave., crossing the MUS campus, and finally leaving Memphis.

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Beale Street Landing has been under construction since at least our 2008 walk, and it seemed that they would never finish the project. In fact, they haven’t, as half of the site is still construction. Why it has taken 5 years to get this far and still not be finished is a mystery to me. The whole project smells like a boondoggle, but the views from the grass top of the main building are impressive.

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Beale Street Landing is supposed to be a dock for passenger riverboats that travel up and down the Mississippi, but the use of the structure is very light right now.

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We traversed some old downtown underpasses on our way to our traditional coffee spot on South Main, Bluff City Coffee.

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We turned east after the Tennessee Brewery, ever the eyesore with enormous potential.

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The vacant lot beside Ernestine and Hazel’s is now partially an art installation, with a grassy yard in the back that, strangely, meets the original tile floor.

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Walking down Mississippi Boulevard near Foote Homes, a fireman called out to us and asked us what we were doing there. Apparently, he thought we were lost tourists, wandering through a bad neighborhood. After showing off their bulletproof wall in front of the fire station, he (perhaps only half-jokingly) asked us to write our social security numbers on our forearms for identification. We ignored him and strolled on.

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Within a few blocks on or just off Peabody Ave., you can find older Victorian-style homes in various states of decay near stately homes only slightly newer but in much better shape.

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While not as interesting as Summer Avenue, Lamar Avenue always holds lots of interesting sights, such as the old Lamar Theater, which appears to have a newly painted sign.

We discovered a cool entrance from Lamar to Glenview Park, under the railroad tracks.

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To me, Barron Ave. was a real surprise. For all of the time I’ve been in Memphis, I’ve never traveled down the street, with runs through the southern part of the Orange Mound neighborhood. We ended up walking the length of the street, as far east as Ridgeway, watching the city transition from a troubled, working-class neighborhood to East Memphis homes and finally ending up at high-end, exclusive private schools, a real contrast.

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When Neil’s in Midtown Memphis burned down a couple of years ago, we wondered where he relocated. We found his new building by accident at Quince at I-240.

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I had never been on the Memphis University School (MUS) campus, so we strolled across it. The athletic fields reminded me of Rhodes College.

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Balconies without doors or windows to access them, anyone? Another example of East Memphis architecture run amok.

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By the time we reached the Germantown city limits on Poplar Pike, we had walked about 18.5 miles.

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6th Annual Memphis Walk

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Robert Bell, Richie Trenthem, and I completed our 6th Annual Memphis Walk on December 15th, 2012. As in previous years (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011), we met at the cobblestones of the Mississippi River in downtown Memphis at sunrise and started walking in a general direction. This year, we kept an almost due-east track, ending up at Wolfchase Galleria and catching a bus for the trip back downtown.

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It is getting a little harder to find an original route when we head east, and we tried to stay on different streets from previous walks while trying to take in a new perspective when traveling over streets we often see while driving.

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Some highlights:

  • While crossing Danny Thomas near Jefferson, we used a pedestrian crosswalk that was open on one end but barricaded and locked on the other end. We were able to get over the barricade and make it through, but it wasn’t clear why it was closed off in the first place or why there wasn’t a sign warning pedestrians not to try to use that bridge.CameraZOOM-20121215071704952
  • We discovered the stone marker for Edison Park, a city park that was decades ago essentially taken over by the Edison Park Apartments, near Danny Thomas and Jefferson. I never realized that there was originally a park dedicated to Thomas Edison there, due to the fact that he lived in Memphis in 1865-1866 as a telegraph operator. Nothing really remains of the park today, except for the marker, because it was turned into a parking garage for the nearby apartments.CameraZOOM-20121215080227400
  • We walked through the area south of Poplar Ave., near Cleveland St., that was demolished to make way for a shopping center development, featuring a Target, that never happened, probably use to the Great Recession of 2008. The area is marked off with fencing that is full of holes and seems ready for a grand building project, like the Mall of Memphis area. Instead of heavy construction, it has the feel of a park the public isn’t allowed to enter, a pleasant, empty area, with trees and grass, bisected by city streets, covering 4 or 5 blocks.CameraZOOM-20121215121435330
  • We walked the northwestern regions of Shelby Farms park, finding a pleasant lake behind trees, hidden from the I-240 and I-40 interchange. The entire area is crossed by bicycle trails, but we didn’t see anyone else, as we walked from the Greenline through the woods to Summer Ave.

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The total mileage on the walk was 20 miles, but despite some on-and-on rain, the weather was warm and pleasant, especially for December. I’m already looking forward to next year’s walk.

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View all photos of the 2012 Memphis Walk here.