Walkin' in Memphis: Touring My Hometown (Part 1)

I spent part of Labor Day weekend inside the home of royalty.

Graceland. Castle of the late “King” Elvis Presley.

Just in case you are one of the two people not familiar with the devilishly handsome, slick-haired, pelvis- gyrating rocker who made women of all ages shed their bloomers and shamelessly wave them in the air, here’s a sample of his work:

Thousands of people from all over the world head to Memphis,Tennessee every year to visit the place where Elvis lived and died. In fact, the home is so popular that it is considered one of the “1000 Places to See Before You Die”.

I grew up in Memphis. I was raised in the Whitehaven community, where my parents still live; Graceland is just a five-minute drive away. (Make a left on Winchester Road. Hang another left onto Elvis Presley Boulevard. Pass the Heartbreak Hotel. Boom. You’re there.)

With that said, allow me drop this bombshell on you: In 30-plus years, I had never visited the famous home.

Yep. That’s right. Pick your mouth up off the floor. People gasp in surprise when I say that, and then follow it up with a “WWWHHHHAAATTTT? WWHHHHHYYY?” as if the thought alone is blasphemy. Well, the answer is simple. While I always liked some of Elvis’ songs, I never really cared about seeing Graceland until I moved away from Memphis 17 years ago. I guess I just never appreciated it until I heard other people talking about the home’s quirks and coolness. They would say, “You need to see it at least once.”

Hundreds of people waited in the intense heat and humidity to catch
shuttle buses, which would carry them across the street to the mansion.

So, on the Sunday before Labor Day, I did just that. My mom came with me; she, too, had never been to Graceland. The site offered several levels of tours. We went on the Platinum tour.

We learned quite a bit about the “King” that day.

Elvis loved carpet. Lots of carpet in different colors and textures. On the walls. On the ceiling. In the kitchen. Carpet.

When it comes to decor, Elvis’ famous “jungle room” is not as bad as we thought it would be. Now, don’t get me wrong, it is not good. But it is not horrendous. Perhaps, I'm being too kind. Oh, carpet covered the walls in this room, too - except the wall where the waterfall was installed. 

Elvis traveled in style, and he made sure those close to him did the same. The car museum was my favorite exhibit! I love shiny, antique cars! Custom airplanes aren't bad either.

Elvis won a lot of awards. I mean, I know he was an international star, but the amount of awards on display throughout Graceland proves it. You have to see them in person because it is incredible how many awards this man collected in two decades.

And just think, before getting fame, fortune, and Graceland, he grew up in this:

I love “started from the bottom, now I’m here” stories!

Our trip to Graceland was 2 ½ hours well spent. We probably could have stayed longer, but my mom’s shoes started to hurt her feet. Perhaps she should have worn “blue suede shoes”. (Yes, I just went there.)

My tour of Graceland taught me an important lesson: You don’t have to go far to experience a great trip. Take the time to discover the treasures in your own backyard.

Question: Is there a place in your hometown you have never visited but EVERYONE talks about? Tell me about it.


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