June 12, 2007

SPT - As American as Apple Pie

This week, Lelly challenged us to look to our surroundings to find bits of Americana. Over the weekend, I took a fun little get-away to the birthplace of Rock-n-Roll. It doesn't get much more American than that!

Graceland Mansion

I have not spent much time in Memphis. I think I've been there 3-4 times throughout my life. It is honestly never high up on my list of places to visit. I have been wanting to go to Graceland for several years, but just never made it there... until now.

A few years ago, a photo from my childhood reminded me of my love of Elvis. As soon as I saw that photo, I was remembering the hours and hours I spent in my room listening to my Elvis records on my little record player. I would jump and dance around on my bed getting lost in the music.

My visit started by waiting in line for tickets. I was by myself, while Rich was playing in a golf tournament. As I was waiting, they made an announcement that there would be a 90 minute delay from the time you purchased tickets until you could take the shuttle across the street to the mansion. For a split second, I thought about leaving... I didn't want to spend my entire afternoon there, but I stayed and I am so glad I did. I purchased the Platinum Pass and convinced the person at the ticket counter to honor my $3 off coupon even though I had left it in the car.

My ticket gave me access to some other exhibits that I am really glad I got to see. First, I went to see the airplanes. The Lisa Marie was the larger plane and what he used to travel on tour. I walked through the plane. (Flash photography is not allowed in any of the exhibits on the property, so I have a lot of blurry photos). Lots of cool stuff in there... 24K gold plated seat belt buckles, one room with blue faux suede bedding.

From there it was off to the car museum. This was a really nice exhibit... definitely a walk down memory lane. I found two vehicles that instantly reminded me of Kristi C. I wonder which one she would choose? A little trivia about the Pink Cadillac... Of all of his car's that was the one his Mother loved best, so he never sold it.

1960's Willy's Surrey Jeep
Elvis purchased this Jeep on July 12, 1960. It was used
by they gate guards to drive around the property.

1955 Cadillac Fleetwood
One of the few cars Elvis kept from his rise to stardom.
He often referred to it as Gladys' car (his mother)
because it was her favorite.

The last exhibit to see had many of his be-dazzled stage costumes on display. My first reaction upon seeing them was my surprise at how thin he must have been. I have since read that even at his heaviest, he was around 250 pounds... which sadly, isn't much these days. Each of these were hand-made and the beadwork was really incredible. I couldn't believe how many different costumes there were - and they knew when they were worn and for what concerts. I wonder who was responsible for keeping up with that?

Surprisingly, it was time to head to the Mansion. It sits directly across the street from the rest of the property. They load about 20 people up on a small bus and away you go through the famous gates. From the other side of the street, the brick entrance looks like it had been painted and then sand-blasted, but as we drove through the gates, I could see that they had actually been written on with paint pens. Fans had written messages on the bricks. I wish now that I had walked down to the gates to get a photo.

I got off the shuttle, put on my little audio headset, and headed up the steps and through the front door, which is where I saw this photo hanging to the left just as you entered the home.

Seeing this brought things full-circle for me. Seeing the photo of Lisa Marie, hanging there - in the same place that her Father last saw it made everything real. This was about a real home, and a real man whose life came to a quick and early end nearly 30 years ago.

The second floor of the home, which has remained the same since he died, is not open to the public. I learned that Elvis did not allow guests onto the 2nd floor. He would entertain them anywhere else in the house, but the 2nd floor was his private area and they have kept it that way all these years since his death.

For the remainder of the tour, I tried to really take it all in. From the green carpet ceilings in the jungle room, to the mirrored ceilings in the TV room, to the walls lined with Gold Records, I was reminded one thing for sure. Elvis definitely had an interesting sense of style.

Yes, this really is the ceiling.
Can you believe that I picked this same color for my bedroom
when I was four? I blame it on the 70's.

Not wanting to be outdone by President Nixon, Elvis had
three televisions on in the TV room at all times... so he could
watch all three channels at once. My how times have changed!

Just a small glimpse of a few of the gold records that hang in the "Hall of Gold"

My favorite part of the tour was seeing this piano. On the morning of his last day in this life, Elvis sat at this piano and played and sang. Seeing this as I was hearing him sing How Great Thou Art was a powerful experience.

Final part of the tour is a walk through what Elvis called Meditation Garden. This is where Elvis is buried alongside his parents and other family members. Fans from around the world continue to bring and send flowers. What an incredible impact this one man had on our World!

If you are ever planning a trip to Memphis, and want to visit Graceland, here are some suggestions.

  • Look online to see if the Visitor's Bureau has any coupons.
  • Parking is $6 and they only take cash (I had to leave and go find an ATM)
  • Make reservations at the ticket counter - you bypass the long lines.
  • Definitely do the larger tour - otherwise you are stuck killing time in the half-dozen gift shops.
  • Prepare to spend at least three hours. You can take as long as you like on the tours.

See the rest of the pics here.

1 comment:

  1. WOW!! That is some Americana post! love your creativity.

    neat glance into Graceland. I have never been but so interesting to see. The LM pic was adorable!


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