Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Vacation 2010: We're going to Graceland, Graceland...

It had been 19 years since I'd stood in front of this famous gate.

It was such a thrill to share this place with my own family all these years later!

After driving most of Monday and spending the night in the Elvis-crazy hotel, we were REALLY ready to see Graceland! (Listening to songs by and about Elvis on the drive up didn't hurt, either.)

When I visited Graceland back in 1991, guides led tourists through the house. Now, with the massive crowds that go through the mansion, audio tours keep guests informed as they roam from room to room, building to building.

We got our Acoustiguides and boarded the shuttle to go across the street and behind the wall to see this:
The bulk of the tour photos are in the slide show at the end of this post, but here are the highlights:

Music room
That custom couch on the right is extra-long to accommodate a large number of guests.

The stairs to the second floor
Elvis always kept the upstairs rooms private, entertaining guests only on the first floor and in the basement. When the home was opened for tours, the family chose to respect his wishes and keep the upstairs area closed.

The dining room

The kitchen
You just have to wonder how many peanut butter and banana sandwiches were made in there!

The basement stairs
Everybody always says the house is smaller than you'd think, and I guess by "mansion" standards, that's true. Still, Brett decided that he could definitely see himself living here. Quirky rooms, plenty of darkness in the basement... Yep, that'd work!

Media room
Elvis was inspired by the three TVs in the White House's Oval Office when he designed his TV room. With three sets, he could watch all three major networks at once. Can you imagine how many TVs he'd need these days to keep up with all the major media outlets?

That lightning bolt is a motif Elvis used in several places. It represents his slogan, "Taking care of business in a flash."

Billiards room
The walls and ceiling of this room are covered with 350 yards of fabric.

The jungle room
With shag carpeting on the ceiling as well as the floor, this may be the most famous room in the house. Because of the excellent acoustics, Elvis recorded an album in this room. Elvis chose furniture for this room that reminded him of his beloved Hawaii.

Vernon's office
Back behind the house is this office where Elvis' father ran the business. Playing on an old TV over on the filing cabinets is an interview conducted with Elvis close to that very spot.

The backyard

The path to the trophy building
This building is incredible because it houses many of Elvis' awards, gold/platinum records and costumes from his concerts and films.

Most of the pictures from this part of the tour are in the slide show below, but I had to include the gold lamé suit. This suit is what inspired "our" Elvis' costume when we renewed our wedding vows in Vegas.

It really is an incredible buildling, but not all of the displays are there. Some are across the way in the old racquetball court:

From that building we were led to the meditation garden where we saw the graves of Elvis, his parents and his grandmother. (There's also a marker to acknowledge his twin brother who was stillborn.)

It was moving to see the tributes that are there and to imagine the millions of people who have walked past this spot to remember the incredible musician who changed the entertainment world.

Back across the street, we visited the other exhibits that were part of our ticket price.
Several photos in the slide show are from the automobile museum. We enjoyed seeing the different vehicles and watching the short film about Elvis and cars.

We also toured the two airplanes on the premises, the Lisa Marie and the Hound Dog II, and stopped by the fashion, '68 special and movie exhibits that were in different storefronts. We learned so much about the musician and the man. (For instance, Priscilla said that the successful Elvis never wore jeans. He said he'd worn them so much when he was poor, he didn't ever want to wear them again.)

After seeing the exhibits, I also made my family go back across the street so we could take care of some business (yes, in a flash).

We walked along the wall in front of Graceland, seeing the thousands of messages that have been written on those stones. (We're talking layers of graffiti here. Almost all of the notes were dated 2010.) It was there that I fulfilled a friend's request. Pam is the biggest Elvis fan I know, and she asked me to add her name to the wall.


While the Sharpie was out, Brett also added his own tribute:

This American pilgrimage was a great way to kick off our vacation, but our day in Memphis was just beginning!

Here are more images from our day at Graceland:

1 comment:

PB said...

I think this could be the best post you have ever created. :) Thank you again for putting my name on the wall. Seeing these pics makes me want to get there...PRONTO!!!