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

Roaring it up in Big Bear

Big Bear was the next big stop on our trip.  Jenn, the savvy one (I lean towards sassy) found an online deal and scored a weekend at a bed and breakfast in this lovely lakeside location.  We arrived during dusk, just in time for happy hour as our gracious hosts checked us in and poured us each a glass of wine to celebrate our arrival at The Inn at Fawnskin.  What’s not to like?   The charming log cabin home was the perfect place to settle down for the weekend and even has a teepee.  We stuck with the home and the benefits of indoor heating and plumbing as well as a DVD collection to play on your room’s TV. I can only rough it so much. (We attempted to view Strange Days later that evening after a night on the town but it only seemed stranger a decade-plus since its release so we switched to late night talk shows instead.)

Facing dinnertime, our innkeepers recommended a number of local hot spots and we shipped ourselves off to The Captains Anchorage known for its “fine dining and cocktails since 1947” and a friendly ghost named George.  Sadly George was playing shy and didn’t make an appearance that evening so we made our way to the salad bar before digging into that fine food.  After dinner we headed into the bar for a nightcap and chat with the bartender in their Andy Devine Room.

 

The next morning we were greeted by a gourmet breakfast and a get-to-know-you session with our fellow guests seated around the dining room table.  This was a far cry from the usual granola bar Jenn and I grab while on the road and eat in the car.  We learned that innkeeper Nancy was a professional jazz singer and performer and soon realized it was her delightful voice filling the room from the speakers as innkeeper Bill beamed when asked if that was indeed her. There are several things I enjoy about men but nothing more than when one lights up about his lady.  He informed us we could even pick up a copy in their gift shop. Gotta love an honest plug. I would have continued to inquire about her career had it not been for soon discovering more about the woman seated across from me. She and her husband were in town to enjoy some antique shopping and oh, by the way she used to be a writer for The Love Boat. Hold the presses! Stop the jazz CD! Say what?!  I wanted; no I needed to know about all things Love Boat. Working for television icon Aaron Spelling, the coochie coo guest appearances by Charo and the behind the scenes stories about Captain Stubing, Julie, Doc, Isaac and Gopher.  I think I surprised her, and myself, along with the rest of the table, with my sudden obsession as I steered the conversation strictly to the fictional antics of the high seas that highlighted TV during the 70’s and early 80’s.

I worked out my excitement after breakfast when Jenn and I hiked Castle Rock Trail. Then it was time for some bear sightings. No real ones on this trip but they had every other kind from carved to quilted all around the town. We even captured this video of a bear carver in his natural habitat.

We walked around the lake and stopped into an ice cream parlor for some frozen treats. To her utter delight (which bananas is number one on that list for those who don’t know) Jenn not only was treated to a banana but a chocolate dipped one at that. Double the pleasure.

That evening we indulged in some divine Indian food at Himalayan Restaurant recommended by a fellow guest then hit the town to try our hand, yet again, at pool at Chad’s Place. We did better posing than fulfilling our pool shark ambition. The next morning we went for a jog and some photo ops before another sit-down breakfast, although sadly The Love Boat writer had set sail and was not there to discuss the made-for-TV movies of the show I was looking forward to. Pretty soon it was time to pack and set sail ourselves… onto our next stop.

-Sara

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

Lounge time in Las Vegas

After escaping the Valley of Death and rising from the ashes it only seemed appropriate our next stop should be Sin City to celebrate. Off to Las Vegas we went. We checked into Luxor and scored a room with a jacuzzi tub with a view thanks to the off-season rates. The lure of its perks soon wore off later that night when we realized we could hear the romantic endeavors of our neighbors in the room above enjoying theirs until the wee hours as they splashed around overhead.

Once we checked in we grabbed a flight of tequilas at T&T to start off the night. To cool things off we made our way to minus5 Ice bar for some polar cocktails in the icy interior, adorned in faux fur of course. The thought crossed our minds to hit a club back at Luxor, thanks to the free VIP wristbands we were given in the lobby by an overzealous promoter but the post cocktailing munchies called instead and we found ourselves eating a mediocore meal in the all-night diner and catching a rerun episode of Sex and the City on TV as we passed out to the sounds of the rub-a-dub-tubbing going on in the room above.

The mild weather brought us out during the day to take in a little pool time, in jeans and sweaters as it was January, but the sun worshippers in us would not be denied. We found time for a walkabout on the Strip and some shopping of the local fashions before heading out for night 2. First stop The Cosmopolitan for a little glamour to go with our happy hour. Jenn had a Chicago friend now living in Vegas so back to Luxor we trekked for a mini-reunion and some more cocktails before topping our meal from the night before with some surf and turf at Tender. Don’t let the name fool you, we savagely attacked those entrees and a dessert, but managed to contain ourselves by simply making eyes at the yummy waiter.  A delicious way to end the night before heading back out on the road the next day. But not before a family reunion was had as Jenn’s brother flew in that morning for his own vacation and we met up over at Mandalay Bay for one last bite at Border Grill. Thankfully there was a gym at our hotel which we utilized each morning to balance out all the sins of this city. It’s all about balance after all.

Vroom vroom!

-Sara

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