Back to Tennessee, Graceland

We got the coach serviced and ended up going back to Tiffin for another issue that we thought was fixed but wasn’t.  They did a good job of fitting us in and getting the job done, no cost and a year’s warranty on the work.  We didn’t want to hang around the area any longer so we decided to drive up to our next planned stop which is Memphis, Tennessee, to see Graceland.

We are staying at an RV park called Tom Sawyers and it’s right on the mighty Mississippi river.  We sat out by the river last evening and watched the tugs pushing massive barges up river.  The muddy river is fast flowing and swirls like a freshly stirred cup of hot chocolate.

 

The Mississippi runs down from converged rivers that flow out of the great lakes and is fed by snow melt up in Canada, and of course any rain along the way.  The river can be unforgiving in it’s journey to the Gulf of Mexico and when it rises it takes many natural and manmade structures with it.  There is a massive dead tree trunk in the campsite that has been washed up and it looks like it was put there by a giant!  This campsite is actually on the river side of the levee.  The management warn that when the river gets to 31 feet in flood  you have to get out.  We’ve seen footage of them kayaking through the campsite.  There are markers around showing the flood level in 2011.  This photo below show the RV park sign that is as high as our coach way up their driveway under water during the 2011 flood!

 

We are in Memphis to go to Graceland, home of Elvis Presley.  We had a 20 mile drive into the city to Elvis Presley Boulevard today.  There are many tour options you can buy, the most expensive being US$174 pp.  We bought the house and aeroplane tour option which was about $50 pp.  Once you have your tickets, you queue up to be taken over the road by shuttle to the house, there is Elvis music playing around this area and some great huge photo’s of him.

 

The house is not as big as I thought it would be, not a mansion, but it is a very big house.

 

You have to queue to go through the front door, then everyone files through the house in a logical order whilst listening to an audio presentation with visual info on an ipad.  The upstairs is off limits as some family still stay there,

 

but the rest of the house is open.  It’s very much as if the Presley’s still live there except it’s stuck in a 1970’s time warp and it’s full of tourists!  The old TV’s, stereo gear, toasters, furniture, décor colours all look so old fashion, but then it is 50 years old!

His lounge, very stylish:

 

The house is very nice inside, it has a great family feel.  Elvis moved his parents into the house and you can see their bedroom downstairs.

 

The house has a basement with lounges,

 

a pool table etc, I loved the pool room:

 

The Jungle room was very cool.  The far wall in the 2nd photo below was a waterfall when he lived here.  When he used to go on tour his hotel rooms where changed to resemble the Jungle Room so he felt at home.

 

It seems Elvis always had a big entourage around him and it must have been such fun back then.  Graceland sits on 13 acres of land and when Elvis bought it in 1957, aged 22 he paid $102,000 for it.  Back then it was on the edge of the city.  Now the city has sprawled around it and it’s oddly a country like farm house with Burger Kings and Walmarts etc pretty much next door!

The outer buildings include a racquet ball/gym building which was impressive. You can see the office where a couple of women used to open all the fan mail:

 

…and there are other outer buildings that house information about him-below is a replica of the house he was born in, in Tupelo Mississippi in what is called a ‘Shotgun Shack’, which means you can sit in the back of the house, fire a shot gun through the front door and not touch anything-a small simple house:

 

His gun:

 

…and some nice paintings and photo’s:

 

Elvis loved horses, especially Tennessee Walking Horses, which I also love and had paddocks on the property.  There was lots of footage of him riding, he looked pretty cool on his Palomino, Rising Sun!  The paddocks still have horses grazing on them.

This is the back of the house:

 

There’s a nice outside swimming pool and meditation area, and this is where Elvis’s grave is.  Its’ a lovely spot, beside his mother, father, grand mother and his still born twin brother.  I felt quite teary at the graveside.  He died in 1977, 42 years ago yet still people had recently left cards, messages and flowers at the graveside.  It’s amazing that one person touched the lives of so many and that he is still so loved and remembered today.

 

Graceland is the 2ndmost visited house in the USA, second to the White house in Washington DC.  When Elvis died he didn’t leave much money, his daughter inherited only $1 million and between her and her mother Priscilla there wasn’t enough money to maintain and keep the house and pay the taxes on it, so Priscilla turned it into an open home for Elvis lovers and it’s made her and Lisa Marie a small fortune.  What a shame Elvis isn’t alive to enjoy it all.   Over 20 million people have been through the house.

There are lots of memorabilia shops on the grounds but all the merchandise is very expensive, like $35 for a T Shirt, $12 for a mug.  As you enter the Graceland property, they take a photo of you with the white Graceland gates as a backdrop.  I thought that would be a free souvenir, but the photo’s cost $35 each-too much.  If you don’t buy your photo it will go in the bin, why not give them away?  The whole commercial complex across the street from the Presley house is a huge cash machine!

We had a look onboard his two planes.  The bigger plane, a Convair 880 was impressive with it’s bathroom sink with real inlaid gold flakes.  The seatbelt’s were gold plated, the seat covers and all material were velvet in 70’s colours.  It looked very comfortable, and Elvis had his own full bedroom down the back.

 

The little plane was less glamorous.  Both planes were mostly used for him when touring.

What we didn’t pay to see was Elvis’s car’s and motorbikes and other personal effects he owned.  That would have been interesting.  Elvis music plays throughout much of the centre which we really enjoyed and we had lunch at an all American diner that had one of his Cadillac’s in it.

 

The grounds have multiple exhibition center’s and one was showing motorbikes through history which we had a look through, and finally a Muhammad Ali exhibition.  He was also a really great guy.  Like Elvis he touched the hearts of so many people.  He was before my time and I don’t like boxing but I’ve always thought he was such a great man, promoting Islam, knocking racism, and the way he believed in himself was amazing.  There was footage of the way he moved his feet when he boxed, it was really fast and he was quoted as saying, ‘I’m so fast, when I hit the light switch,  I’m in bed before the light goes out’!