All Shook Up

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Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Monday, February 25, 2008

We left the tranquillity of Hot Springs and headed for the bright lights of Memphis, Tennessee (our 29th state and probably the last "new" state this trip). It seemed a straight forward journey, east through Little Rock (not so little!) then the Interstate 40, a little "jiggle" south round Memphis and we had picked a campsite on, Elvis Presley Boulevard - yes we were off to see the king's palace, Graceland.
It all started off ok, the road was busy for a Sunday, all those trucks and only two lanes for most of the way,
 
 








I am used to that now but had forgotten a certain road condition. I think I said on our last travels about the concrete roads (usually long bridge crossings) that are built in sections, each one "humped" in the middle. Bree's wheelbase seems just right so that as the front rises up the back dips down, the longer this goes on the more violent the up and down motion gets and as toad follows he joins in and seems to help the back of Bree to go further up on the up and lower down on the down. All this has the effect of trying to flip me up and out of the driver's seat whilst trying to hang on to the steering wheel, keep between the white lines and miss the trucks. Couple all this with a few potholes about as rough as the Interstate 10 that I had a moan about last year when we approached Houston travelling West, well maybe you get the picture - "All Shook up!"
 
It's no wonder we missed the turning for E P Bvd. It was then Betsy's turn to get all shook up with me politely asking for new directions whilst we headed towards Memphis airport. Think she thought I was complaining about her navigation skills so between the raised voices (I know, not like me) I thought I would be "Lonesome Tonight" and have to stay in the "Heartbreak Hotel" whilst Betsy tried to calm her "Wooden Heart" maybe I just deserved a bit of "Jail House Rock"
Oh well, we made it to the campsite and it was only a few yards down the road from Graceland.
After a calming beer we decided to pull on our "Blue Suede Shoes" and explore. The Graceland experience is big business and it starts across the road where you can purchase tickets that include; the house tour, audio guide, auto museum, aeroplane, a stage costume hall of his jumpsuits and displays of his GI days in Germany (where he met Priscilla). There are, of course, many souvenir outlets linked to these too, plus restaurants; the Chrome Grille and Rockabilly's diner as well as the 50's style Shake Split and Dip. There is also the Heartbreak Hotel where you can stay - honest! Check it out yourself: www.elvis.com We boarded the shuttle bus to take us across the road to the Graceland mansion - no, you can't walk - this is America (think it may be a security thing too)
 
 you get the talk at the door about how Elvis purchased the "farm" when he was only 22 for a cost of just over $100000. We entered with our audio tour headphones on to freely wander (under the ever watchful eyes of security, both physical and camera) through the hallway, looking at the guest lounge and formal dining room










- we loved the white sofa, amazed that it had been used for 20 years (we feel some restoration may have taken place). There was the bedroom resplendent with purple covered bed - this was his parents' room. Behind all this was the part that Elvis used most, the kitchen complete with TV that was always on and on down into his "Jungle Room" The basement/den had a bar/entertainment area tastefully decorated in blue and yellow with a mirrored ceiling and three TV's - he watched three stations at once (think I would have got on well with him) and I did quite like the décor too.
There was his pool room down here and a return staircase back up to the "jungle" this staircase, the walls, floor and ceiling of the jungle room were all covered in green shag pile carpet - well it was last decorated in the 70's - now I really do think we would have got on.
 



Outside, past the carport and on to his office where his fan club was run, then back circling the yard with a swing that Lisa Marie played on  
we entered an outbuilding containing early stage costumes, gold discs, film memorabilia, pictures and tributes.
 On from this was his racquet ball court, the entrance was a bit of a game room and it was here that he last played the piano the morning before his death.
 
 The racquet ball court itself now contains many more of his costumes and awards. The path through the gardens took us past his final resting place. Returning back over the road we viewed his two private 'planes and more displays of stage wear, his GI days and the Elvis Auto museum - he loved his toys - I should really have met him...

We have now all left the building - completely shook up :)

Betsy and I are not particularly Elvis fans but this visit seemed such a part of our being it's hard to explain. Everyone knows Elvis and I think he somehow had an effect on everyone that grew up during any part of the Elvis years. However quirky it may sound I think we could have very easily felt at home in Graceland and can truly see why Elvis loved it so much. I think we came away with a little bit of the magic spell cast by the king himself.
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