I’m not a rabid Elvis fan (although I do appreciate some of his early work) but when in Memphis, visit Graceland. It was smaller than I thought it would be but otherwise perfectly met my gaudy, ostentatious expectations. What I didn’t expect was to find out that Elvis was such a nice, down to earth guy. He apparently ran around paying off the hospital bills of strangers and driving golf carts on his front lawn. He even bought the house partly to fulfill an early promise to his parents that he would get them a nice place to live. The tour was a little different than my usual experience. I bought my ticket ($36) across the street and got in line for a shuttle to take me to the house. While I waited, someone handed me an iPad and a set of headphones, and John Stamos became my tour guide. The iPad was interesting at first, each room had commentary, there were photos, videos, interviews, and 360° views of places that weren’t visible from the viewing areas. The problems arose when they packed the house so full that it was impossible to stand in one place long enough to explore each section. I ended up having to sit down in a random spot for awhile and just go through all the stuff I’d missed. There’s a couple of outbuildings besides the house itself that hold a lot of his awards and more flamboyant costumes, plus horses on the grounds and of course the graves of Elvis, his parents, and his grandmother. All in all it’s an interesting (if somewhat overpriced) place to visit.
While I was in town I wandered down Beale Street, with it’s bar-b-que restaurants and blues clubs, and made a quick stop to visit the famous ducks of the Peabody Hotel. I drove by the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. It’s now the National Civil Rights Museum and they keep a huge white wreath on the balcony where he stood. It poured rain for a half hour or so and mist started rising off the Mississippi.