Thursday, 24 April 2014

Elvis has left the building....but he left his cash box behind.

The two days back to nature in Millwood State Park, Arkansas were very relaxing.  This nice park reminds me of the provincial parks in Ontario except there are alligators in the water here, the worst thing at home is maybe a leach.  It's a small park on a big lake that would be great for fishing and camping if we had time to stay.  But we were too excited to see Graceland to stick around for some big ol' bass.

Homesteadin' in Arkansas

We couldn't wait to join the 600-700 thousand people that walk through the home of the King every year.  We stayed at the Graceland Rv Park and Campground right across the street from the mansion.  It is nothing fancy but you don't come here for the park.  Call in advance if you want to stay here, they were full on Thurs. night and it isn't the busy season yet.  This place is right behind the Heartbreak Hotel and is owned by the corporate behemoth that is Graceland.  You walk through a gate from this park straight into the Graceland parking lot saving parking fees to boot, it couldn't be more convenient.

We checked in and the girl was explaining lots of stuff and then... she pulled out...THE PINK PAPER! 

" This, " she said "is a restaurant down the street called Marlowe's, it was featured on a show called Diner's, Drive-ins and Dives...I don't know if you have heard of it?" 

 "Oh, I might have seen it while flipping channels." I said trying to hide my excitement.

She went on, "If you take this menu they will give you 10% off your bill."

At this point I was feeling a warm glow coming over me,  "Really, that's great." I said elation welling up in my heart.

"And," she went on,   "if you call them they will come and pick you up and return you to your site in a pink limousine for free."

 At this point, I'm sure I felt Elvis's hand on my shoulder and a soft voice saying,

 "Your welcome, Your welcome very much."

I snatched up my pink paper and ran outside, and bounced up into the truck like a child on Santa's lap and looked over at Detra.

She looked at me and said... "What's up with you?"

"Forget the burgers, we're going out!"

Our Pink Cadillac with blue velvet interior, Elvis would be proud.

Dive straight into Elvis memorabilia.

Mississippi Delta Catfish and Southern fried steak at a BBQ joint?
Oh Boy! It was good.

Marlowe's like everything else close to Graceland is full of Elvis pics. and plaques.  It also has tons of awards from BBQ competitions.  We had done our own ribs the night before so we went with good ol' southern cookin'.  Both meals and service were very good, but when they walked by with ribs on a platter, I thought I had made a big mistake.  Boy, their food looks good!

Friday we were up early and humming Elvis tunes before we even brushed our teeth.  Detra has always loved Elvis and was itching to finally see Graceland.  I have watched my fair share of Spinout, Blue Hawaii and Roustabout movies over the years and still enjoy them no matter how many times I've seen them.

The Graceland experience is split in two by Elvis Presley Blvd.  Subdued Graceland on one side and over the top merchandising on the other.  You buy your tickets and take a bus across the street to the mansion, all the while you have an excellent audio tour playing in the headsets provided.  At first I thought the ticket price was expensive, but after the tour you feel it was well worth it.  There is a set route through the house and you don't see upstairs where Elvis never allowed visitors to go.  What you do see gives you a real sense of how he lived.  The audio tour explains what you are looking at and has clips of interviews that Elvis did over his career which give plenty of insight.

Elvis bought this house at 22yrs. old and spent most of his time here until he died.  The house is smaller than I would have imagined and made me feel he must have had a humble side to have stayed here when he could own any place he wanted.  

Living room

Piano room


TV room in the basement

The Jungle Room 
Trophy Room

Original movie scripts.

Elvis sat and played at this piano for friends the morning he died. 

Detra at his grave.

This is an emotional tour if you are remotely an Elvis fan and I think most would find this an interesting place to visit.  There is a sense of loss and what could have been, when you end the tour at the gravesides of his parents and Elvis himself.  This was well done and I have a little more respect for the man and what he accomplished in his shortened life.

After the tour, it's back on the bus to cross the street to see the cars and planes he owned which are interesting also.  Every rapper or rocker after, have Elvis to thank for how to live and travel as a superstar.  He was flying in his custom planes and cars at a time when few other stars were at that level. 

Inside one of his planes.

Elvis's favourite chair on the Lisa Marie.

Lisa Marie had her 9th birthday party on the plane.

This side of the road is where you will get merchandise overload.  Elvis is alive and well in plastic, books, every possible bit of clothing, glassware, jewellery, CD's, Blueray, statues, coasters, guitars, fly swatters, pens, photo's, replica suits, and anything else you slap an Elvis name or likeness on.  By the time you walk away you have seen enough to put you shock.  They do keep the mansion and this stuff separate which is very nice, there is no sales of anything on the grounds of Graceland.

Elvis is still "TCB" (Takin' Care of Business...his motto in the 70's)

All this touring made us hungry and this is Memphis,  which means no shortage of DDD restaurants.  Leonard's Pit Barbecue is one of the original BBQ joints in this town.  When we sat down they had a choice of menu or buffet and we both went for the latter.  It was good with plenty of selection meats and salads along with excellent desserts.

Not much to look at but it's what's inside that counts.

While  eating our meals we noticed the armed guard in the parking lot watching over patrons vehicles while they ate, which was a first for us, and a little unsettling. 

We started chatting with a man (Oliver) and woman (Cindy) at the next table who were very nice. They are best friends for years, whether her husband likes it or not.  Cindy has a son working in Canada and 5 other kids to talk about, along with the food, a bit about our travels, it was a nice conversation. 

At the end of our meal the bill came and before we could move Cindy had grabbed our tab and paid for it.  We protested but she would have none of it, it was a very generous gesture that we thanked them for until we parted in the parking lot along with their friend Bob, the security guard with the huge gun and bullet proof vest, standing by.  They said we were welcome for the hospitality and that we should get in our truck and get out of this part of town as directly and quickly as we could.

Cindy and Oliver

Our bellies and hearts full we headed for Beale St.   Home of Blues music, Juke joints and a colourful history of great musical artists and black businessmen and women starting up shops along the street.  Nowadays it is mostly clubs with live music featuring up and coming talent of blues and soul music.  You can walk the street beer in hand and listen to the music through open windows to see if it appeals to you.  Once you walk the street, which also has a wide range of musicians playing on the sidewalks, you can go back to the ones you enjoyed.  After Elvis all day, we ended up at Jerry Lee Lewis's club to listen the energetic group playing the namesake music.  It was an excellent way to top off our time here in Memphis.    

We had a ball...........A great ball...........of fire, that is.

We hit the road to Chicago to see Detra's brother, Brian and family before we make the last run back to Canada for the summer.

Blind Fingers Bailey,
aka Scott

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed the tour of Graceland. You are so good about showing us through your photos.
    I'm sure you both will miss all the Diner's Dives and Drive-ins when you are home.
    I could feel your excitement as you described it when discovering another one.
    What a wonderful gesture of Southern Hospitality from Cindy and Oliver.