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What a Trip: Two sisters love Tennessee tender

Correction: A previous version of this article placed a replica of the Parthenon in the wrong city in Tennessee. It is in Nashville, not Knoxville. This version has been corrected.


Graceland, the inspiration for Cathy Alifrangis’s and Maureen Perkey’s vacation across Tennessee. (Cathy Alifrangis)

Our readers share tales of their rambles around the world.

Who: Cathy Alifrangis (the author), of Herndon, Va., and her much younger sister (by 14 years!), Maureen Perkey of Pittsburgh.

Where, when, why: While my sister and I were chatting, I mentioned that every time I listen to the Elvis station on Sirius radio, I get the itch to see Graceland. She said, “Let’s do it!” We spent June 20-28 traversing Tennessee, hitting all the major cities and tourist spots.

Highlights and high points: Who knew that Tennessee had so much to offer — and such varied activities? There was music (Elvis and the Grand Ole Opry), history (Civil War, Andrew Jackson and Martin Luther King Jr.), nature (the Great Smoky Mountains) and such diverse attractions as a replica of the Parthenon in Nashville, Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede in Pigeon Forge and the Memphis Rock ’n’ Soul Museum. And we couldn’t overlook the Jack Daniel’s and Bush’s Beans factories, plus lots of Southern food.

Cultural connection or disconnect: The National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel where MLK was shot was remarkable. I grew up during the movement, and each exhibit was a reminder of those days. The burned buses, the replica of a lunch counter sit-in, the newspaper headlines, the timelines of milestone events, the films and oral histories kept us quietly engaged for hours. The museum store sold mugs and T-shirts that embodied our wish: ERACISM.

Biggest laugh or cry: Two quirky stops and two Segway tours added elements of fun and chuckles. For the stops, we visited the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum in Gatlinburg, which featured more than 25,000 salt and pepper shakers, and we watched the famous ducks make their way down the red carpet in Memphis’s Peabody Hotel. We rode Segways in Memphis and Franklin. I am now addicted to them.

How unexpected: We did it all for less than $1,000 each! We were up and out early and to bed late. We brought bathing suits for the hotel pool but never used them. We didn’t want to miss anything. We could easily have filled another four or five days.

Fondest memento or memory: That sister bonding. Maureen and I traveled well together. The trip was, in many ways, easier because we weren’t trying to balance men’s interests with ours. We had plans but could be spontaneous. We were comfortable talking for hours or could sit silently watching the scenery. We looked forward to our ice cream treat every afternoon. We discovered that we both love cemeteries and spent time walking through several old ones. Yet when we shared our pictures afterward, we realized that we often highlighted very different aspects of the trip.

To tell us about your own trip, go to www.washingtonpost.com/travel and fill out the What a Trip form with your fondest memories, finest moments and favorite photos.

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