Friday, August 24, 2012

Elvis is in the House!

In Search of Elvis Etcetera: Day 4
Monday, August 19, 2012
Memphis TN
The inspiration for our trip, the acme of our tour, the day we have anticipated for many miles now has finally arrived--we are at Graceland, the Mecca of all Elvis fans.  The hard core fans left yesterday, the end of Elvis Week, commemorating the 35th anniversary of the King’s passing, and the grounds are strewn with countless wreaths, posters, and sentimental mementoes of undying world-wide devotion.  From Japan to Ireland, to Bolivia, to Czechoslovakia, to Wisconsin, love of Elvis springs eternal, and after our visit, we have more appreciation for why this is so.

Elvis sold over a billion records world-wide, and had 149 singles on the Billboard top 100.  We watch films of his performances and realize Michael Jackson stole his dance moves, including his moonwalk, from Elvis. The Elvis Tribute Exhibit is filled with signature items from rock and roll greats who recognize Elvis as their inspiration. 

 Given all that success, Elvis had lots of disposable income, and he loved to spend it on showy stuff.

We tour a car museum filled with his custom luxury cars--the pink Cadillac, of course, but also a much more luxurious Cadillac with diamond-dusted exterior paint and 24 karat gold-plated interior amenities, including the television.  He also had some more “tasteful” cars--a Ferrari, a Rolls Royce, and a six-door custom Mercedes limo to name just a few.  And he had a lot of motorized toys, including snowmobiles that he converted for lawn use, since Graceland didn’t get much snow.

 We tour his private jet, the Lisa Marie, which is a lot like the Air Force One we toured at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Museum, only Elvis’s plane is more luxuriously appointed.

But, of course the highlight of our visit is our tour of Graceland, his big kitschy play house decorated in flamboyant seventies style.  We can take all the non-flash photos we want, so we will let them tell the tale.

mirror-lined rec room with 3 tvs
exotic fabric-covered billiards room
After we thoroughly tour Graceland, we head down Elvis Presley Boulevard to Marlowe’s, a classy burger and barbecue joint featuring  a lots of Elvis memorabilia in its eclectic décor. Out in the parking lot, we search for a geocache that involves finding the combination to the cache’s lock on this little piggy’s nose. Joyce finds the combination, Fred finds the cache, we sign the log and count it as ours, and we are on our way.

We get back to downtown Memphis just in time for the Mojo Tour--an hour and a half bus ride around Memphis highlights with narration provided by a singing tour guide. We learn lots of interesting facts about the birthplace of the blues and rock and roll as we accompany our guide’s songs with our little gravel filled plastic egg rhythm instruments, and stop by the first apartment where Elvis’ parents moved when they came here from Tupelo (not far from where B. B. King lived at the same time), Stax Records, Sun Studio, the Lorraine Motel--where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, and lots more.   

The bus drops us off at Beale Street at the end of our tour, and it is an easy walk to the Peabody Hotel, where the famous Peabody ducks march through the lobby from the elevator to the fountain every morning at 11 a.m., and march back to the elevator every evening at 5 p.m.  We grab a table near the fountain in the lobby bar, and wait for the spectacle to begin, as huge crowds start gathering at the edges of the ducks’ red carpet.  The Duck Master (this is a real job!) provides a ten minute speech about the proud history of the Peabody Hotel and its over 70-year-old duck march tradition, then the actual duck march takes about fifteen seconds. 
Afterward, we ride the elevator up to the roof to see the ducks in their penthouse and take in panoramic views of Memphis. 

 Then, finally, we all trudge the couple blocks back to our hotel. We can’t stuff another activity into this very busy day.  We are too worn out for another loud and lively night on Beale Street.  We decide to just head down to dinner at the restaurant in our hotel, Bleu. We eat out on the patio, where the music from Beale Street wafts over at a perfect background volume, and our food is beautifully prepared and presented--a welcome contrast to the beverages in plastic cups and food in plastic baskets being served over on Beale Street.  

We turn in early--and it’s a good thing we do, because tomorrow will be an even fuller day.

No comments:

Post a Comment