King Me

Home Sweet Home
Home Sweet Home
ticket
I’ve got a golden ticket!

On a recent cross country road trip I grew giddy when I discovered I’d be passing through a must see city on my list, Memphis, and was sure to stop to see its local treasure, the hallowed home of Elvis. It was even apropos that my visit to Graceland would fall on Easter weekend to take in where the King of kings once lived.

 

With my AAA card I got a discount for the Platinum Tour which included a tour of his 2 planes and his beloved car collection.

planes sign

 

Daddy’s little girl, Lisa Marie, got a plane named after her. And what a nice ride it was. My dad gave me the keys to the family station wagon to borrow once in a while and later the spare Hyundai we had parked in the driveway growing up. This was definitely a different kind of dad.

LM plane
Now this is flying First Class

 

 

 

 

 

 

TSA Elvis style
TSA Elvis style
You ain't nothing but a Hound Dog II, but still nothing to sneeze at
You ain’t nothing but a Hound Dog II, but still nothing to sneeze at

 

 

 

There was plenty of leg room on the Lisa Marie luxury liner. The couches and chairs were plastic wrapped for their protection from the public, as well as his bed. And oh what a bed. Would you expect anything less than a blue suede bed for the the man who sang about blue suede shoes?

Blue, blue, blue suede bed
Blue, blue, blue suede bed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A friend whose young daughter, Zoe, who was the same age I was when I first fell for the King had just discovered him and wanted to know if it was true Elvis had died on the toilet as she’d heard. I told her I didn’t ask but I did get her a photo of his bathroom on the plane.

A leather padded throne fit for a King
A leather padded throne fit for a King in the on board bathroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In order to tour Graceland you take a shuttle bus you board across the street where you are given a headset device which talks you through the home, room by room, and throughout the total Elvis experience. It was lightly raining that day (or was it the angels shedding tears for the King?) as we drove through the gates and up the driveway to the entrance, decked out with lion statues, naturally.

Home sweet home
Home sweet home
lion
A noble lion king for the King

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What was surprising was how in comparison to today’s celebrity homes and suped up cribs of those with lifestyles of the rich and famous how much smaller Graceland is than I had imagined, but what was lacking in size was made up for in the grandeur of decadence as only Elvis could do. Upon entering the residence you are greeted by one of 3 nearby chandeliers. chandelier hall
Off to your right is the peacock themed living room housing a 15 foot couch and a grand piano in the adjoining room reminding you of the music that built this palace.

Pretty as a peacock
Pretty as a peacock
That is one long lounge
That is one long lounge
Art featuring the artist
Art featuring the artist
Dear ol' mom and dad
Dear ol’ mom and dad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The upstairs is off limits, as Elvis preferred his privacy and out of respect for that (and for the fact that may very well be where the bathroom is that he passed) you are kept to the first floor and below. (Sorry, Zoe, I couldn’t get close enough to find out.)

The bedroom his parents stayed in is on display just down the hall.parents

 

 

 

 

 

The one love Elvis and I share is for TV, and he loved to have one in almost every room, including his formal dining room.
tv

 

Gourmet peanut butter and banana sandwiches, anyone?
Gourmet peanut butter and banana sandwiches, anyone?

 

 

 

 

As Lisa Marie informs us on our recorded headset presentation the kitchen was the central core of the home with ’round the clock meals thanks to there being so many guests and friends over and was a favorite hangout area and has been left intact as it last was actively used and decorated in its current 70’s tone. It was rather homey vs. luxe, and there is a TV there too.

Order up
Order up

 

 

 

 

 

 

And speaking of TV, again, next up is the downstairs, where you descend a mirrored wall staircase to discover Elvis’ triple threat of 3 TVs on a wall, which we’re told he had airing the 3 different networks at the same time so he could keep up with what was going on just like world leaders and newsmen of that day as he’d heard. Decorating another wall of that room is a lightning bolt, an image he became associated with during the 70’s and liked to have emblazoned on items and clothing. The monkey sculpture is funky and strangely makes sense in that setting.

3 TVs are better than 1
3 TVs are better than 1
Bam!
Bam!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pool table in the adjoining room, where the walls are covered in cloth vs. paper, still has a tear on the tabletop where one of his buddies messed up a challenging pool shot as he tried to shark the King.

rip tear by the far back right pocket
Rip tear by the far back right pocket
Oh so quilty
Oh so quilty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you ascend back up another staircase you encounter the jungle, or rather another popular hang out room and recording space, The Jungle Room. Complete with tropical wood carved furniture, a waterfall wall, animal prints and the ever classic floor to ceiling green shag carpeting, it was inspired by Hawaii, one of Elvis’ favorite vacation spots. Talk about a man cave, this is about as groovy as they get.

Welcome to the jungle, baby
Welcome to the jungle, baby
A "wild" room
A “wild” room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just outside is a brick enclosed space once used as a smokehouse by his dad, Vernon, and then later converted into a firing range so the King could get off some shots.

Smokin'!
Smokin’!
Bang bang!
Bang bang!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Along with his passion for karate Elvis also took up a love of racquetball and oversaw the building of his own personal court and leisure space, including a piano, for that pastime.

Fun and games
Fun and games
Personalized space
Personalized space
The piano he last played before he passed
The piano he last played before he passed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The court has now been converted into a space to showcase his performance wardrobe and several of his many awards.

It's the suits that made this man in his later performances
It’s the suits that made this man in his later performances
Stylin'
Stylin’
Best dressed
Best dressed
A wall of accolades
A wall of accolades

Another whole room on the premises, The Hall of Gold, has been built to house the King’s gold, his extensive gold record collection and other outfits that marked his well lived life, including his wedding attire and his G.I. uniform.

The Holy Grail Hall
The Holy Grail Hall
Give it up for Heartbreak Hotel
Give it up for Heartbreak Hotel
Here comes the bride
Here comes the bride
Paisley for Groom Presley
Paisley for Groom Presley
He had those hup, two, three, four occupation G.I. Blues
He had those hup, two, three, four occupation G.I. Blues

 

 

Presley enjoyed a little poolside time and an area to relax with the Meditation Garden right next to it. Today fans can pay their last respects to where the King now rests alongside his parents.

Splish splash
Splish splash

Med Garden

A tranquil setting
A tranquil setting
Long live the King
Long live the King
An eternal flame for an eternal talent
An eternal flame for an eternal talent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elvis has left the building
Elvis has left the building

Last stop on my tour was the Elvis Presley Automoblie Museum.
Quite a roomful of classic cars.
Rolls
cool car
Purple

Priscilla's sweet ride
Priscilla’s sweet ride
Now that's a classic car
Now that’s a classic car, and for his mom. What a sweet mama’s boy.
Elvis' car he last drove through the gates of Graceland
Elvis’ car he last drove through the gates of Graceland

 

 

 

 

 

 

After all of that Graceland gawking it was time to go get me some good eats. As I was in Memphis there was only one thing on my menu: some good ol’ Memphis barbecue! And luckily just down the road was a sweet spot to go get some.

I pulled up to Marlowe’s Ribs and Restaurant.
Just look for the Pink Pig and you’ve found it.

Oink oink
Oink oink

 

 

 

 

If you’d like, they’ll even give you a little Southern hospitality via their VIP service and pick you up in one of their pink limos.

VIP, the P is for pink
VIP, the P is for pink

 

 

 

 

 

I opted for their pink drink, called the Pink Cadillac of course. As you can see, even Elvis is a fan.

Pretty in pink, even better to drink
Pretty in pink, even better to drink

With its Elvis-themed kitsch adorning the place, in case you didn’t get enough at the Graceland gift shop, Marlowe’s is a tourist’s delight, but that doesn’t take a thing away from its BBQ. In fact I was in for a tasty treat, and award winning at that. The scent of rich smoky goodness envelops you as you walk through the doors courtesy of the barbecue pit in the kitchen.

I ordered the 2 entree combo plate featuring my two BBQ favorites: ribs and pulled pork, accompanied by coleslaw and corn fritters and the most delightful fried bread concoction. At first I thought they were just larger corn fritters but they turned out to be dinner rolls, if you deep fried them like a donut, lightly crispy on the outside but with soft warm delicious bread baked inside. I’m more of a sauce gal vs. a dry rub when it comes to my meat but they feature both and I was not let down. My plate came served up with some of the best sauce that has smacked past these lips. Their sweet tender pulled pork was a delight and the ribs had a deep dense smoke flavor that went beyond the pit and straight on into the bones themselves. I’ve never tasted anything so smoked through and through and it could darn well set off a smoke detector if it too had a tongue to take a taste.

Mmm mmm Memphis BBQ
Mmm mmm Memphis BBQ
A little somethin' on the side
A little somethin’ on the side

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With my belly blessed with some BBQ and my everything Elvis experience checked off my list I hopped back in my Honda, as no King ever got me a plane or a personalized Mercedes, but Memphis had loved me tender and it was time to hit the road.

-Sara
Elvis sign

An Encounter With Dinosaurs and an Old Buzzard

Putting our best feet forward

Day 1 of our epic cross country adventure- This trip we left from LA, heading East as I would eventually drop off Jenn in Chicago for a visit with her fam before I headed on to friends in Massachusetts. With previous trips that started out as a 4 day excursion but wound up with us still on the road 2 weeks later roaming and discovering where we might end up next, we were well prepped for these travels.

It’s so big

First up, the world’s tallest thermometer located in Baker, the Gateway to Death Valley, because if you can’t find a ball of string big enough in these parts a thermometer embodying all that is grand about Americana culture will do.

Next stop, Las Vegas. Leave it to us to treat Sin City as a pit stop and a place to “do lunch”, but we needed to refuel, which we did at The PBR Rockbar on the strip.

We took the bull by the horns at Rockbar

 

 

 

We didn’t need to dance ‘til dawn this time around- been there, done that a dozen times – although we did miss our usual poolside service with cocktails topped off with toasted coconut at The Cosmopolitan, but this day we dined outdoors, beneath its looming exterior, remembering its glistening chandeliers, at the appropriately named The Chandelier bar and morning-after recovery brunches at Wicked Spoon, which we were wickedly tempted to try again, but were more than satisfied by our bold bar food selections and our sidewalk patio setting, watching the variety of people Vegas has to offer on display passing by. We skipped drinking PBR’s and stuck with root beers as it was back on the road for us following our meal.

The next test for us was to pass through the Valley of Fire without being burned. No problem for these two pros as we safely entered Utah, but only temporarily were we secure, for next up was an unexpected encounter with dinosaurs!

 

 

 

 

Run, Sara, run!

The Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm in St. George. Containing some of the best preserved tracks and fossils, which were discovered during a real estate project to level some land, and dating back more than 195 million years, this gem is a true Jurassic Park to treasure, and just as much fun for us to be let loose in.

That dinosaur sure is lucky it was protected from Jenn by that glass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beaver would be where we would settle that first night, but not before we let off a little restless energy at Renegade Lounge.

What lies beyond the red door?

This one stoplight town, and one bar, thanks to some sort of grandfather clause, as told to us the last time we were there by the guy whose grandfather owned the place, is the local hot spot. That’s right, this wasn’t our first time in these parts and served as a familiar go-to drinking hole, as it did for the other patrons passing through or seasonal workers stationed there.  As soon as we arrived, Toto, we realized we weren’t in Los Angeles anymore. A group of friendly guys chatted us up, invited us to join them, bought us drinks and even offered up the delivery pizza they had at their table. (Those looking for a light bite can help themselves to the popcorn machine on the bar top.) Not one asked us if we were in the biz, or even what biz for that matter. There was simply actual human interaction and conversation taking place. And they were ever so much more interesting than any A-list celebs I’ve met.  These guys weren’t just delightfully social, turns out they were death defying. I’ve had my share of crappy day jobs, from working for a pent up office manager who wanted me to decorate all of her binders with pretty patterns of wallpaper cover sheets and stylish font styles when labeling them to a high powered portfolio manager with unmanaged anger, who couldn’t make eye contact but could scream at you from down the hall and an office away. His former assistant quit in tears. I stuck it out amused by his issues. But unlike our new acquaintances, I had never risked my life by going below ground, surrounded by deadly gas at a geothermal plant drilling for hot water. Cade, who had tempted us to their table with cheesy bread and dipping sauce accompanying the pizza, (yeah, we’re very high-end and hard-to-get when we’re on the road) showed us video of them on his camera phone suiting up in tactical gear and gas masks as they prepped for their next shift. And I thought my ill-fitting tuxedo pants I got at a thrift store for my uniform during my catering days were bad. I just had to make sure I had my comfortable shoes and a wine opener on hand versus hoping I didn’t inhale anything toxic in order to make it through a shift.

Old Buzzard and Funny Shit sharing a laugh

We shared tales of cheating death and our taste for adventure. The crew was as colorful as their job description. Hector and AJ restocked the rounds as I was introduced to their boss man they affectionately called “The Old Buzzard”. He in turn nicknamed me “Funny Shit” as I made him laugh. He then tried to make me dance. Boys on the road, especially in the West, sure do like and look for any opportunity to two-step.  We both soon learned I do not, and really can’t. The Old Buzzard who had suffered his share of challenges as a former bronco rider on the rodeo circuit, including a broken hip that caused him to limp, soon gave up on me declaring after a turn on the dance floor, “You keep leading. You don’t know how to follow!” Such is the curse, or benefit, depending on your dance partner, of being an independent woman. We returned to our stools and swapped stories of adrenaline rushing activities we enjoyed. I told him how I had jumped out of an airplane, he told me to top that I needed to ride a bull.

So you think you can dance?

He then took Jenn for a spin and got her to two-stepping after she had wrapped up a freestyle session blowing it out with Cade in a dance-off below the pulsating disco lights.

 

 

 

 

 

Swing your partner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tired from the day’s long drive we took our bows for the night and trekked back to our hotel, the Best Western Butch Cassidy Inn, where we had comfortable beds waiting and a complimentary breakfast the next day before hitting the road, well rested and refreshed for the journey ahead.

Vroom, vroom!
-Sara

© 2012 Dart and Map All Rights Reserved – Copyright notice by Blog Copyright

3, 2, 1, Blast Off!

If you’re seeking some relief from the Arizona heat I suggest a Cold War era flashback for a pretty cool pit stop. On our way from Tucson to Tombstone Jenn and I made a visit to the Titan Missile Museum in Sahuarita, Arizona.  This former top secret site is now a national historic landmark.  You, too, can take a tour underground to see the only remaining Titan II missile site open to the public up close, and even stand on its launch duct,

Jenn on top of the world and the launch duct

without any special clearance required, just a reasonable admission fee, and a hard hat if you’re tall like me. (Those beams are low and the walkways tight in these close quarters!)

Safety first for Sara

Following a brief film on the history of the site you are led by a tour guide to the formerly restricted grounds featuring exhibits of rocket engines.

Feeling the heat

Our tour guide was an engineer in this field, and like many others who work there, volunteers his expertise as he directs you past signs stating “Explosives”, “Safety First”, and “Danger RF Radiation” as you head to the access portal.  These, of course, are all leftovers of a bygone era as we were assured no nukes remained.  And to be sure of that we were told that due to agreements set in place post Cold War between the U.S. and former Soviet Union they are visited unannounced by our now comrades to double check. These former foes have even embraced the art of the American business trip, often showing up during the height of the golf season in Arizona to check the site and hit the links.

Going down

We descended 35 feet below ground into the missile complex, and of course captured a few fun photo ops. It’s what we do.

Who needs a hard hat when you have a cowboy hat?

 

Entering the launch control center is like stepping onto a sci-fi set from the 1960’s.

The oversized computer panels still stand and you can even hop into the command seat to re-enact a launch, or refrain if you prefer to avoid Armageddon.

What if I push this button?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The final stop is the missile itself, standing majestically in its silo.  For this part of the tour we were handed off to another expert, a bit more serious in composure, and I’m not quite sure he appreciated the glee Jenn and I emitted as we posed for more pics.  He seemed to be stuck in the Cold War mindset vs the appreciation of nostalgia we enjoyed as we took in its impressive anatomy decorated with the letters U.S.A.

 

 

 

 

 

 

But we got off our shots and gave it a salute, grateful it was never used, as we made our way back above ground.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

T minus zero.

-Sara

© 2012 Dart and Map All Rights Reserved – Copyright notice by Blog Copyright

 

Hitting The Bean & the History Museum in Chicago

It took living in Los Angeles a few years to really appreciate my hometown, Chicago.

IMG_0776
Mom told me to take this picture cause it’s cool.

Parking is crazy expensive in Chicago (Thanks, Daley!!!!), so my Mom and I took a train Downtown.

 

We hung out in Millennium Park. This place was not around when I lived in Chicago, so I had not been..  Mom and I checked out The Bean,    IMG_0730                                                          which is a giant bean shaped mirror.  Hmmm.  Okay?                                            The website boasts of how the bean (sorry, “Cloud Gate”) reflects the beautiful Chicago skyline.  It sure does. But you can also see the skyline by simply turning around and looking right at it.  HA! Yet, I seemed to really dig this mirrored sculpture since Mom and I hung out in the park for a quite a while and took a trillion pictures. The park offers concerts, art, exercise and well, a park. It is nice to have places like this within a city.  Just watch out for coyotes!

IMG_0783
My Dad is the photographer.

The next day, my Mom, Dad, Brother and I high-tailed it to The Chicago History Museum. I hadn’t been

IMG_1570
Nope.

there since I was a child. It definitely changed a lot.  Was extremely happy that they still have train.  They have interactive exhibits, which I always LOVE.       IMG_15691                                                                                     Children learn something from these exhibits, but I just want the pictures!!

IMG_1591Imagine my dismay when I found out, months later, that I could have taken a picture lying IN the hotdog. It would have been called a dorkdog.

 

The museum is definitely more PC now, as it strives to show how different groups of people are an integral part of Chicago’s development.

They didn’t mention the serial killer that was around during the World’s Fair.

Ah, Chicago History…IMG_1573

 

 

 

People think it’s funny that I loathe red meat, but am from a city known for slaughterhouses. (Oh, and corrupt politicians and gangsters!!)

 

When we were done at the museum, we walked across the street and dined at IMG_1596The Fireplace Inn. That was some good eatin’s! They have a patio and the view across the street was AMAZING! Jenn-Chgo-911-037                                                           I loved that it started to rain right before we ate, but that we still scored a window seat. Eat there.

There are 80 million things to do in Chicago and I will eventually tell you all about all of them! In the meanwhile.. I leave you with this picturesque shack…My brother is so awesome that he drove around until we found it because his bratty little sister wanted photos.shack

 

Out for now… Jenn

© 2012 Dart and Map All Rights Reserved – Copyright notice by Blog Copyright