Tuesday, April 8, 2014

All the Way To Memphis

"Well, it’s a mighty long way down the dusty trail."  Having just driven across the deserts of west Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico, I now appreciate that line by Ian Hunter (aka Mott the Hoople).   As I left Amarillo, my DEF alarm went off indicating I had driven another 3,600 miles.  It didn’t seem that long ago that I had just filled it up.  But, then again I had just got done driving across Texas, New Mexico, Arizona to Las Vegas and then back again.  It was a lot of miles and I thoroughly enjoyed the tree less desert terrain.

East of Amarillo, the terrain remains flat until you get to Oklahoma City.  Then the gentle rolling hills start, more trees appear, and more development appears.  By the time we got to Arkansas, the high plains are gone and we’re back in Anywhere Rural USA.  The terrain is flat pasture/farm land with houses, and trees.  It looks just like it could be Alabama, Missouri, Louisiana, South Carolina, or Virginia.

We took two travel days to get across Oklahoma and Arkansas boon docking at Camp Walmart and a Camping World to save on camping fees.  It’s now been 3 months since we left home and I’ve been anxious to get back.  But there was a key stop on the itinerary and that stop was Graceland in Memphis, TN.

I have never been a big Elvis fan, but I had heard that Graceland was a worthy stop.  It proved to be true.  We stayed at the Graceland RV Park right across the street from the Mansion.   It’s mostly an RV parking lot with hook ups that sits behind The Heartbreak Hotel.  It’s a little pricey at $35/night but you can walk to Graceland and all its attractions.  Graceland is a tourist trap, but you get a really good glimpse into the extraordinary life that was Elvis Presley.

At Graceland, I learned a couple of new things about Elvis.  He was born a twin. His brother, Jesse, came out first and died in child birth.  Elvis started singing and performing at the age of 10.  His elementary school music teach told him she didn't think he had any potential as a singer.

Elvis's Gold and Platinum Records
Elvis blasted onto the music scene in 1956 when he was 21 years old with his #1 hit “Heart Break Hotel”.  For most artists, to have a #1 hit, a #1 album, or a Grammy nomination, would make a successful career.  Elvis had thirteen #1 hit singles between 1956-1959 and seven #1 albums between 1956-1961.  He sold over 1 billion records - more than any other artist in the history of recorded music.  He had fourteen Grammy nominations and won three.  He also starred in thirty one movies. 

Elvis was one of our most accomplished entertainers whose career burned bright for a short 20 years. At Graceland, there’s a gallery of all his gold and platinum records and awards.  Its impressive.  There’s also many of his trade mark jump suits that he wore on stage on display.

Elvis bought Graceland in 1959 when he was 23 yrs old for about $100,000.  It’s decorated the way it was when he died there in 1977.  The tour covers the first floor, basement, and the grounds.  It’s not a large house by today’s standards.  But it is interesting to see the way he decorated it, especially the Jungle Room.

The Jungle Room
In addition to the mansion, there’s Elvis’s auto museum, airplanes he owned, special exhibit galleries, and his grave site.  We thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

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