Some of you might know this, but I think far more of you have no idea. When I was little, I had a small (huge) love for all things having to do with Elvis Presley. We don’t know how it started, what it stemmed from, but there was an undeniable love and respect from the age of about seven onward between myself and Elvis. One year for my birthday, I even received an Elvis beach towel and Barbie doll. I loved his music and his movies and I think I might have even had Elvis trading cards at one point.
Fast forward sixteen years. Our cross country road trip has long passed but it culminated in a visit to Elvis’ home in Memphis, Tennessee.. the one and only Graceland. I remember reading about Elvis’ home and all of the wonderful things inside, wondering if I would ever get to see it for myself. Years passed and the Barbie doll got put away, the trading cards were probably sold at a garage sale along with the movies. But whenever I would hear one of his songs, I’d laugh to myself as I remember my eight year old self belting lyrics and finishing with a bow and “Thank you, thank you very much.” Our visit to Graceland was the last major stop on the roadtrip, as we had to get back home in just under a week from Oregon.
It was one of the hottest days of the trip and we literally felt like we were in an oven as we stepped out of the car to check out ticket prices. We didn’t do much research and I was surprised when I found that we had to pay a pretty steep ticket price and then be shuttled to the home itself. It all makes sense now as I look back; with millions of visitors year in and year out, its a tourist mecca and needs to be kept as closed off to prying hands as possible. I was a bit skeptical about paying the price but Dad said “Hey, we’re already here. When else are we going to do something like this?” A smart man.
We skipped the cheesy tourist photo-op and climbed aboard the Elvis Express. (It wasn’t really called that.) We literally took the shuttle across the street and up the drive to Graceland, which sits atop a little hill under the cover of grand old trees. I loathe headphones and audio tours, but I sucked it up for Elvis. We were whisked through the front door and it was like you could expect Elvis to come down the stairs at any minute.. the house has been preserved to look exactly as it did when Elvis passed. Shag rugs were abundant, we heard stories about entire albums recorded in the Jungle Room, why Elvis had installed three separate TV’s in his basement and where he spent his time with his friends and family. We were able to see all of his awards, stage memorabilia, clips of interviews, his father’s office and his stables. While overwhelming, as I saw each new room and walked through Graceland, I remembered how much fun I had singing his songs and realized why so many people across the world adored him. The tour finished with the viewing of the burial site of Elvis, his twin brother Jesse and his parents. While you can look at the tour of Graceland as a tourist trap and very gimmicky, I felt a strange sense of peace as we left the grounds of the estate. Something like the eight year old in me taking a deep sigh of contentment. What a trip.