My dad had big dreams for our short stint in Memphis so we left Nashville on Saturday night so we could spring into action in the morning. We woke up on April 6 in a Super 8 outside of the city. Sam had his first experience with Waffle House ("the Starbucks of the South" as I like to call it) and soon we were on our way to Graceland.
Now, my mom and dad never played Elvis when I was growing up but I still knew who he was and could list a few songs of his by the time I was in kindergarten. As I grew older I started to appreciate him a little more but I don't own an Elvis album or anything. So I was looking at a Graceland tour as more of an "American experience" rather than visiting a key musical milestone (this is the way Sam views visiting Disney World).
So we drove to Graceland and it sure came up quick! We saw a disappointingly bland looking Heartbreak Hotel (I am a total sucker for kitch and had hoped heartbreak hotel would be doing it up) and were suddenly staring at the nose of a jet. We made it to Graceland 8 minutes after if opened but the lot already had at least 50 cars in it. We got our super fancy all-access tickets and headed to a shuttle bus. There was a photo op on the way and we decided to make very disappointed faces and if it hadn't cost $25 for a copy you can bet we'd be posting one right here.
So we load into the bus and strap on our audio guides so we could learn how to press play and pause and what not. We also learned that Elvis bought Graceland when he was 22 (I suddenly had nesting-envy) as we drive across the street and up the driveway.
We arrived, were given a "no flash photos, no turning back on the tour so take your time going through the house" speech. At this moment my experience began to differ wildly from that of my family.
Elvis had amazing taste in interior decorating. I would love to have a house that has such punchy colors and strong textures. I loved it all. My family used terms like "wild" and "WEIRD" while shaking their heads and giggling. Sam expressed that he would have reconsidered asking me to marry him if he thought I would decorate our house like Graceland. That's his loss! We can paint everything taupe for the sake if the marriage.
We headed on to Sun Studio, the birthplace of rock and roll. En route, a gentleman in traffic handed us a "Memphis Music" bumper sticker across the lane. Thanks kind stranger for the shwag. It currently resides on the dash in front Leilani (our hula girl). For a few minutes or so it seemed like we wouldn't get a tour before we needed to bring my dad and Cheryl to the airport, but then a big group didn't come in so we made it by the skin of our teeth. Sam was outside taking these photos so he missed out on the scarcity complex that was going on.
The studio tour was the most entertaining and informative tour I think I had ever had and it was the icing on the musical appreciation cake that my dad had been cooking up for us throughout the weekend. I would say it is a don't-miss for anyone going to Memphis.
We were short for time before my dad and Cheryl's flight, so on the way to the airport we drove past the Lorraine motel and new civil rights museum (someplace I would love to tour if we had the chance) and then took a bridge over the Mississippi into Arkansas just to say we saw the river, though we'll see it at least twice more on this trip.
After we said goodbye at the airport we headed to the Pilgrim House hostel. It was the only hostel in Memphis and their rates were great, but I was nervous that they were located in a church. It turned out to be a really cozy place with tons of room and it felt pretty organized. They ask that guests perform a small chore while they are there and ours was to sweep their stairs. Sam totally rocked it and at the end it was clear he had done the most thorough sweeping those stairs had ever seen.
I finally got to try ribs at Central BBQ before we headed to a cold, wet, and rainy Beale St. We heard a blues cover band and a 17 piece big brass band before calling it a night. Whew! Memphis sure was great.
Random Statistics from our time in Tennessee:
- Whitney's preferred rib style: dry rub with the sauce on the side.
- Number of TN businesses that mentioned the Fire Marshall: 5, apparently, they're very strict with enforcing fire code.
- Rough number of hours Sam has listened to country music prior to the road trip: 20
- Rough number of hours Sam has listened to country music since the start of the road trip: 36
- Rough number of TN traffic fatalities (this year): about 200, makes you wonder why you see so many people crossing five lane roadways against the light or why there are no sidewalks.