Campervannie Update! We’ve had another Mari-cle! Seemingly out of nowhere the refrigerator appears to have begun working. At this rate I may actually start to have something of a functioning motor home!
But enough beating around the bush. Yesterday was primarily about one thing-visiting Graceland-former home of Elvis Aaron Presley, the King of Rock N’ Roll.
Acting on some sage advice provided by my homegirl from the Peabody Duck March, I arrived 5 minutes after the 9AM opening. And the parking lot was already filling up. Of course, this could have been partly due to it being, unbeknownst to me, “Scout Day at Graceland”. That’s right, literally THOUSANDS of little rugrats were going to be swarming the place, adults were constantly going to be shouting and herding them, dozens of demonstration booths were going to block the already crowded walkways, and I would constantly find myself in a line I had no business being in. But, I had some business to be takin’ care of, so I persevered. Onward. The first thing you should know is- since Elvis originally purchased the property in the 1950’s, suburban sprawl has crept out and surrounded what was once a bucolic farm property with some pretty seedy housing and retail elements. The area around Graceland is kind of an eyesore, and that, combined with its modest appearing size from the road, makes it seem a little shabby. The second thing you should know is that you have to immediately fork over $10 to park, on top of the wildly inflated prices you will later pay to actually tour the property. The third thing you should know is it is all WORTH IT!
So I muscle my way through the teeming masses, fork over my hard earned Benjamin (OK-it’s not THAT expensive-I just like the word), pose for the opportunity to purchase a $35 souvenir photo at a later time (I didn’t have Annie Butler with me, so it hardly seemed worth it), was handed my fancy shamancy new iPad audio tour doohickey (or ePad as I called it), and was at last allowed to board the shuttle to ride . . . across the street.
Imagine my delight when the ePad informed me that JOHN STAMOS was going to be my virtual tour guide! JOHN STAMOS! I’ve had a crush on him since I was 13, and, as some of you know, he is on my “list.” He’s like my own personal Elvis! And Stamos did not disappoint-his mildly flirtatious narration was entertaining and informative-and really told the story of Elvis the man and the entertainer along with the story of the house. Now, this being Graceland, he skimmed over the drug use, divorce, and the fact that Priscilla was fourteen when they started dating. There’s not much I can tell you here that you probably don’t already know (other than that Elvis’ mom personally designed poodle wallpaper for her bathroom), so I’ll just share some, for once non-selfied, photos of the rooms:
I ponied up the extra ten smackers to tour Elvis’ plane and jet (along with the car museum) – which was well worth it.
So, Elvis had a full size bed on his plane. Not like, a chair that folds down into a bed, like a bed you would have in your home. Of course, if you have a full size bed in your home, you probably don’t have FAA mandated seatbelts on it. And if you did have FAA mandated seat belts on it, the buckles probably wouldn’t be plated in 24 karat gold. This is why you’re not Elvis. Elvis goes big when he goes home.
The final stop on the tour was the Meditation Garden. It’s a tranquil little spot Elvis had designed to chillax in when he was alive, and where he and his parents are now chillaxing for eternity. But here’s what struck me as odd. There is a large marble cross which had originally marked Elvis’ Mom’s grave when she was first buried in a public cemetery in Memphis (Elvis was also in the Dead Mom Club). But the cross is now adorned with a giant statue of Jesus. Which, apparently one of Elvis’ pals had given him as a gift one year? As you do.
After Graceland I was WIPED OUT. But I decided to carry on with my planned itinerary of touring historic downtown Memphis. Where there was not a soul to be seen on a Saturday afternoon. I paid a visit to one of three remaining Planter’s Peanut stand alone shops, which has been fresh roasting peanuts in a (now antique) roaster since 1949. Side Note: did you know Mr. Peanut has a name? It’s Bartholomew Richard Fitzgerald-Smythe. I also learned that Happiness? Is a Peanut.
I had hoped to dine at The Little Tea Shop, which has been serving lunch in Memphis since 1918, but it is apparently a weekday only option. Note that their own rating system only assigns the place three out of four stars. That’s humility.
I was growing increasingly tired, and the few people I seemed to see on the streets were sketchy looking to put it mildly, so I decided to call it a day and head home. But then I realized I was parked only two blocks from Beale Street, and it seemed criminal not to at least give it a look. And then I found out where everyone in Memphis had been hiding. While you could shoot a cannon down Main Street and not harm a fly, Graceland was packed with the blue hairs (and scouts), and Beale Street was rocking with college students and random drunks. Music was blaring from every doorway, and folks were literally drinking out of fishbowls. Now, while I recognize Beale Street has given us some of the greatest American blues, and I’m sure much of it is wonderful, I’m really more a Nashville sound kind of gal, and plus I was dead tired, so after a short perusal, it was back home to my best girl.
Also, apparently this is what one wears to walk all over Memphis on a chilly March Saturday at three in the afternoon:
Two last thoughts. If you’re ever in Memphis, you MUST visit Muddy’s Bake Shop for amazing cupcakes and pies:
We’ve been staying at a cool and funky Air B&B rental in the hip, artsy Cooper-Young district, composed primarily of houses from the1920s:
Oh, and this is how Annie Butler spent her day: