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 Ode to BBQ

Along with the adventures we’ve embraced on the road, one of the mottos I live by is to “taste life” and there is no better time to do that than when meal time rolls around.  Pizza is a pretty perfect food item. Growing up on the East coast I tend to prefer the flat crust New York style pie whereas Jenn, a Chicago gal, goes for the deep dish.  But our explorations of the West together have increased our exposure to the cuisine of BBQ.  On a trip I once took to Texas I attended the BBQ Cook-Off at Rodeo Austin. My initial goal was to kiss a cowboy, which I accomplished, (just a little cheek action) but I then topped that by kissing a clown. Those actions were soon overshadowed by the Cook-Off and the assortment of barbecue available including dry rubbed cuts of beef, smoked sausage rolls wrapped in tortillas, and BBQ brisket Frito pie.  For a girl who grew up in New England with grilled chicken brushed with barbecue sauce from a bottle counting as BBQ I soon tasted what I had been missing out on and it created an appetite for more.

In California Jenn and I took off for a day in Pioneertown.  The town originated as an Old West set and even includes a mock gunfight by the local re-enactment performers. After taking in the gunslingers (Pew! Pew!) we popped into Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace to get some grub.  On the way in we were greeted by the BBQ smokers out back and a cast of characters inside- a mix of locals, tourists, cowboys and bikers- who were even more entertaining than the shoot-out show on the street.We preferred to pose rather than draw our pistols A jukebox fills the air when a band’s not on stage, pool tables are available for a game to pass the time, although we didn’t play this time around, and drinks come served in mason jars. The friendly staff makes you feel at home as you indulge in an assortment of Tex-Mex tacos loaded with thinly sliced tri-tip, baby back ribs smothered in tangy sweet BBQ sauce, savory homemade chili poured over pinto beans and mesquite grilled chicken capturing the smoky spicy flavors of the Southwest.

Now if you want the true taste of mesquite then you have to go there, so we did. Mesquite, Nevada was a pit stop where we found a pig roast fresh off the spit. Jenn sticks with chicken and I’m partial to a slab of ribs slathered in sauce but at The Smoke Shack I opted for the pulled pork. The pig on the table might be enough to make most cringe, and I apologize to my PETA peeps and those of the vegetarian persuasion, but even Charlotte would have climbed down from her spider web and chowed on Wilbur too, if she knew he tasted this good. The Shack is focused on the food. You order up at the counter, grab a seat in the dining area to enjoy your BBQ which is simply served in a basket. After lunch if you’re feeling lucky head on in to the attached casino.

In a sea of strip malls in Phoenix, Arizona we discovered Bobby Q, offering up both tasty BBQ and an adjoining nightclub, the Q Lounge. After consuming some super creamy mac n’ cheese, pecan coleslaw, roasted corn or ranch beans among the side choices you can select to accompany one of their great big barbecue platters you can shake it all off as you dance next door. You’ll need to once the sugar rush hits from the fresh warm complimentary donut they serve you to complete this mega meal. And if dancing’s not your thing you can play some beer pong or get bottle service in their VIP section and be a voyeur as the smoke machine and laser lights create a pseudo-Vegas styled atmosphere as the patrons hit the floor.  We even made some fun new friends before finally succumbing to the food coma and calling it a night.

Other BBQ breaks we’ve enjoyed include The Smoking Apple, an unexpected Utah treat in Lindon, the Toll Road Restaurant in Death Valley where I got a rack of ribs and afterwards Jenn racked up the points playing me in pool at the Badwater Saloon next door and in case you think that BBQ can’t be classy well the Wild West Cowboy Steakhouse in Buckeye, Az serves up barbecue along with suggesting that you keep up the art of meal-time conversation thanks to their guide posted at each table.

This is just the beginning of what I sense to be a long-term love affair with true barbecue and there are so many regions yet to travel to and try. Bring it on and any suggestions for some future finger licking good places we should go to.  Mmmmmmmmm!

-Sara

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