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Thursday, 9 January 2014

The Glebe in the USA 2013 - Memphis - Graceland

N.B. Here's a footnote to avoid confusing some readers. I am getting feedback that there are some of you out there who think this is a live ongoing post, it isn't !  I travelled out to the U.S.A on the 25th of November 2013 and returned to the U.K on the 11th of December 2013. It's just taking me a while to upload these posts. I apologise if I've confused you.
Thursday Night
After my drive up from Birmingham and visit to Sun Studios I'm tired and hungry. I haven't had anything since after my shower when I had a small microwave chicken and rice dish. Ryan tells me that just around the corner on Madison is a Cashsaver where hot food is served, or a pizza restaurant close by. I didn't fancy going to a restaurant so opted for Cashsaver. (I spent a few dollars in there over the weekend.).
Some of the food looked a bit too cajun and spicy for my liking but I opted for a meat pie (I think it may have been a  Natchitoches) and hot potato salad. I soon dashed back to my digs and got stuck in, it was delicious. I thought by the size of the portions I wouldn't be able to finish it, but it was too tasty not to.
After a short while on my Kindle and watching TV I was ready for bed. Not a great weather forecast for Friday, all sorts of weird cold weather moving in.

Friday Morning
A very comfortable and good night sleep I'm up eating cooked oats and fruit with coffee. 
I say cheerio to Ryan, he may not be here when I get back. He's off on a family visit, flying up to Chicago assuming the weather doesn't cause his flight to be cancelled.
I've got the directions to Graceland so I'm off.
There's heavy sleet as I drive down Dr Martin Luther King Jnr Express-way, but I'm soon turning off the ramp onto Elvis Presley Boulevard.
After fuelling up I soon find Graceland and pay my $10 at the parking kiosk.
 There's very few cars here at the moment.

It's a very cold rain and leaves are already developing icicles.
(On the TV, the weather forecasters were talking of ice storms, so I guess this may be part of that weather system)

I make a quick dash to get under the tarpaulin. There are outdoor exhibits, but it really is lashing down.

Inside Graceland Reception the queueing posts and tape aren't needed at the moment.

A visit to the gents gets me mischievous enough to snap my reflections.

After buying my ticket I head out the front. 
Graceland itself is on the other-side of Elvis Presley Boulevard, and although it's only a short distance visitors must take the minibus across. These run regularly every few minutes so there's no waiting.
Once in the minibus we're all given a headset and console for the audio guide and narration to the house. It's an easy enough piece of equipment to operate and we're told we can pause it any-time we wish.

My best picture of the house front from a wet minibus.
There are guides and security strategically placed all throughout the house, and we're soon heading through the front door.
I switch on the audio and listen. A deep baritone voice begins to explain the self guided tour and where we start. I learn during the tour that the narrator is Lance Legault who played Colonel Decker in the A Team. He was a friend of Elvis and appeared in three of his films. He passed away September 2012. I guess at some point they'll have to update the audio with a new commentator.

The Living Room
I could get really comfortable in here !
So as I'm looking and listening to the commentary, the same folk on the bus as me are already heading off following the direction instructions coming over the headset. As the day and my tour goes on there are people passing me intent on keeping up with the narration. Why come to a place like Graceland if you haven't the time to press the pause button ?
(It would take me a month of Sundays to upload all the pictures I took in Graceland so I've been selective with what's on this post)

Vernon's bedroom.
These first four rooms are all off the main hallway. It was Priscilla who opened the house to tours in 1982.   

The Dining Room
I'm regularly pausing the commentary to closely study the rooms. As well as Lance giving out historical facts, as the tour goes on I hear recordings by Priscilla, Lisa Marie and Elvis himself. 

The Presley Silver Cabinet

 A crystal chandelier and more silver.

I get my photograph taken with Priscilla and Lisa Marie.

The plush carpeted stairs to the second floor are cordoned off. The stairs are only accessible to close family. However there is a webpage which declare it's pictures to be genuine. It's here at Linky Dinky.
There's also a new book due to be published sometime in 2014 by the last love of his life and fiance Ginger Alden. Elvis and Ginger will set the record straight she says. 

The Kitchen
Everything in here is original. The appliances and dishes are those used by Elvis himself.

There's no shortage of mirrors in Graceland so as I head downstairs I take a couple of 'Selfies'

The stairs lead to the T.V room. 
Elvis was copying Lyndon B. Johnson with the three T.V sets. He'd heard that the president liked to see what was on the three news networks at the same time.  

If it isn't mirrors there's always something else reflective !

The Pool Room
The lights shades are stained glass. I love the look of this room, I'll bet there are a few hardcore fans who will have copied it.

Now, it's back upstairs to the Jungle Room.
For a panoramic 360° view visit the Jungle Room Page on Elvis.Com

The Jungle Room
With green shag carpet on both the floor and the ceiling, Elvis recorded the album "From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee" in this room.

Now the audio directs me outside.............

.............and into Vernon Presley's office. 
There seems to be quite a few painted canvases of Elvis in here. I wonder how many portraits there are of him throughout the world.

Outhouse once used as a firing range.

Smokehouse and paddock............

............leading to
The Trophy Room

The next seven or so images and collages were all taken in the trophy room.
I must have spent at least an hour in this one area alone. I was just fascinated by all the platinum and gold adorning the walls. I had to read and view so many of the exhibits. 

There may seem to be very few people around, but by this time a few coach tours had arrived and as often as not I waited till they passed by before taking pictures.

Back outside I now headed towards the Racqetball Building, I thought I'd seen all the gold and platinum. 
Black and white umbrellas were freely available for use between buildings which was a boon since the rain and sometimes sleet poured down relentlessly.
I sneak in another picture of myself. I'm the far side of the pinball machines !

On the morning of the day of his death he'd been playing the piano above.

Now I head down the steps into what was the racquetball court.

 Here there's more gold and platinum discs as well as some of his glitzy suits.

There's a T.V playing some of his concerts and interviews.
I took a partial panorama in here, but after seeing some of those already uploaded I decided I couldn't compete. Here's an amazing 360° view from Jason Shivers 

Back outside again I couldn't get in any decent position to get the swimming pool. (I was holding the brolly to try and keep my camera dry while trying to take pictures, almost impossible), so this is me using artistic licence by fiddling with a couple of pictures.

Now I'm moving on to the Meditation Garden.
After Elvis' death on August 16, 1977 security issues (I seem to remember that someone had been attempting to steal Elvis's remains) at Forest Hill Cemetery where he was originally buried led to his reburial here on October 2nd, 1977. The large marble monument also came from the Presley family plot at Forest Hill. 

This may come as a surprise to some folk, but Elvis was a twin. His brother was stillborn 35 minutes before he himself was born. This stone is in memory of Jesse Garon Presley.

It's beautifully laid out.
 I didn't take the photograph of the lady getting soaking wet with her eyes closed and obviously transported to a higher plateau. I must admit to feeling vibes myself. 

 An eternal flame burns in a hexagonal glass shade at the head of Elvis's headstone.

 Elvis' mother Gladys was reburied here around the same time as Elvis himself.
Elvis' father Vernon was buried here in 1979.

 His grandmother Minnie Mae Presley was reburied in 1980.

I've been here a few hours now and decide I'd better get moving so I catch a minibus back to the otherside.
I'm going to take a look in at the Tupelo exhibition.

There's a lot of stuff detailing his schooldays.

There's a twenty minute video where a ghostly girl takes a visitor around Elvis's old haunts.

There's lots of old and original posters.............

.....................and there's a timeline.
(This is just about readable if opened in a new tab and magnified)

A door leads off the Tupelo exhibition into the gift shop where I make a few purchases.
Now I'm in a bit of a dilemma ticket has tear off sections for Airplanes (I did get a quick glimpse of the Lisa Marie on my way in) , Car Museum, Elvis Hawaii, 68 Special and Sincerely Elvis. 
There's barely an hour left till closing and the weather is decidedly getting worse.
A news TV Channel is reporting ice problems on the Interstates and major routes............  
.............reluctantly I decide I'd better get back. I don't fancy writing off my hire car. I never even found out if my ticket stubs could be used on another day ?

Back towards the car the icicles are already getting bigger and my back windscreen's already half frozen. 
After defrosting the car I'm soon back down the street and back onto the Expressway and the Interstate. This was probably the worst I had it on any of America's roads during my trip. Half the problem was the amount of heavy vehicles throwing up whatever had been laid on the roads to counteract the ice. Once I turned off the ramp onto Union Avenue I was OK, but that was the closest I'd come to feeling a little apprehensive. Later on the TV news I saw that a lorry had skidded and lost it's load of grain just north of where I'd turned off so maybe I was lucky to come off when I did.

Back at North Willetts Street I'm soon warming up a nice Roasted Red Pepper Chicken Breast meal.  I don't remember the label, but if Sainsbury or Aldi sold it, it would be in my freezer. Very tasty ! 
I follow the chicken with this delicious (what else could it be here in Tennessee), Blueberry Pie.

So, time to get wrapped up and head out for a walk. The woolly hat and gloves I bought in Nashville are getting plenty of use.
I should have taken a picture earlier of this bush, as I left in the morning the ice was just forming.

Icicles are now forming on everything.

Christmas is approaching.

Although it's a collage above, the size of the top advertising hoarding is roughly correctly proportionate in size to the pictures below. The Scoop the Poop people certainly want to get their message out.

A friendly reveller gets a picture of me outside the Minglewood Plaza. I very nearly gatecrashed a private 80's themed party. 

Had I been dressed differently I think they may have allowed me to stay.    

No worries though, once I got over onto Madison Avenue I wandered into the Lamplighter Lounge and a refreshing Budweiser. It was very quiet with only a couple of guys playing pool and the barman. Apparently they have some great music and they do get busy later in the evening. Nine at night is early in Memphis.
My pictures didn't come out, but it's a cosy kind of pub. I don't know why I didn't go back.
I also learned from the barman that I could have had a drink in the Minglewood Plaza at the Oasis Hookah Lounge. After learning from him it's a $6 dollar a year smoking club (you join at the door), I'm glad I didn't. I wonder what the smoking laws are in America ?

Back outside it's very cold.
I'm used to ice living in Scotland, but it's the strange way it seems to envelope the plants that's different.
The images seem quite magical to me.

Over at the Interstate, people have been heeding the weather forecast, there's hardly anything moving. I've walked about three miles tonight. Time for bed.

I'll be heading to downtown Memphis tomorrow.
It's been another full day in the frozen waste of Tennessee !


  1. The icicle images were really, really pretty Jim. Shocking weather there for a while! Well done, you captured the images that daughter hadn't been able to. Between the two of you I shan't have to go myself now! I just knew it - a gate crasher no less! ;) Sounds like the freezers provided you with some pretty tasy cuisine too!

  2. Just as well you came back to Scotland when you did Jim or you could have been stuck in all that snow and arctic weather.
    Never realized 'Gracelands' had so many other attached buildings and exhibits as I assumed it was just a garden and large house.


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