Monday, June 24, 2019

Twenty-four Hours in Memphis part 2—Graceland

When I was around 11-years-old, my dad came home from a business trip with presents that changed my life—2 Elvis Presley albums. Now, I don’t remember if I was a fan of his yet, but I do know I fell in love with him listening to his songs. I spent hours cranking up the volume on “A Little Less Conversation,” “Suspicious Minds,” “Return to Sender,” and “Don’t Be Cruel,” all the while pretending to be one of his backup singers. To this day I can still sing those harmonies should one of his songs stream on my phone.

So, of course, during my 24-hour Memphis stay, I had to visit Graceland. In fact, they were gracious in giving me a free pass to all the exhibits, and it was a surprise how huge the entire complex is to tour!

My first stop was Elvis’s house, which you get to via a small bus from the ticket office. It is an iPad tour narrated by John Stamos! The house is on the smallish side for a celebrity mansion but was probably considered pretty large for Memphis back in the 1950s and 60s.

I loved the living room…

And the TV room. You’re not allowed to go upstairs since that area is considered private and still used by his family.

In an exhibit area, I was thrilled to learn Elvis loved to read!

The meditation garden was lovely, with people leaving mementos at his grave.

Other exhibits at Graceland include one building dedicated to Elvis’s cars, including this cool pink Cadillac!

Another had his stage costumes and gold records.

I also took a tour of the Guest House at Graceland. Don’t be fooled by the name—this is a 400+ room hotel with restaurants, a huge theater, and numerous amenities.  You don’t have to visit Graceland to stay here. In fact, many companies hold business conventions at the property.

My favorite amenity was the peanut butter and jelly bar they offer each night between 10 and 11 p.m. Guest can go make their own PB&J with a wide selection of toppings! Since I love peanut butter sandwiches, I’d be there every night!

Before leaving, I had a BBQ lunch at Vernon’s Smokehouse on the property. This was the BBQ Sampler with brisket, sausage, chicken, ribs, and pulled pork. Yum!

My Graceland visit was amazing! Even though I’ve marked it off my travel bucket list, I plan to return when I have more time to explore even further!

Next stop…New Orleans!  

Disclaimer: While Graceland hosted me for this visit, the opinions in this blog post are entirely my own. They did not pay me to make this post.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Twenty-four Hours in Memphis Part 1

Riverfront and Skyline: Andrea Zucker / Copyright © Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau 2011 All Rights Reserved. Used with perission.

I’m not a morning person, as you know.

When my traveling companion, The Captain, and I planned our drive to New Orleans for a Carnival Cruise, leaving a couple of days early to stop in Memphis on the way seemed like a good idea.

However, when my alarm went off at 5-o’dark am, I had second thoughts. But I knew we would only have about 24 hours in Memphis before heading to NOLA. Somewhat on autopilot, I rolled out of bed, threw on the clothes I laid out the night before, and fired up the Krueg to fill my travel mug. By 6-o’dark, we were on our way.

Number one on both our bucket lists for this trip was a visit to Graceland, which we planned for the next day. However, we are both history buffs, so our goal was to get to Memphis in time for a visit to The National Civil Rights Museum.

Though it is located at the former Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, this museum’s scope reaches way beyond his life and mission. Our visit started with the A Culture of Resistance: Slavery in American exhibit. As I read about the almost 400,000 slaves brought to the United States and saw drawings and replica of the conditions aboard slave ships, I started to cry. Add to that the statue in the middle of the room showing a woman and baby being auctioned as if they were livestock, and my heart broke.  I kept thinking, “How did we ever come to think slavery was okay?”

I guess once you dehumanize a race of people, it becomes easy.


As I continued through the museum, there was an entire section dedicated to the Brown versus The Board of Education, which made this Topeka, Kansas resident proud. 

And there was a great exhibit on the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955, with an actual bus and a figure of Rosa Parks.

And yes, there was plenty to see about Dr. King. The museum featured his work throughout the civil rights movement, ending with a viewing of the room where he stayed before his death. Across the street is the Legacy Building inside the boarding house where James Earl Ray was staying and fired the fatal shot. Exhibits also show the legal case against Ray and a number of conspiracy theories so visitors can decide for themselves what might have actually happened.

Elvis Presley may have drawn us to Memphis, but this museum is a gem and shouldn’t be missed.

After our museum visit, it was time to find a place for dinner. Of course, when you think of Memphis, you automatically think of barbecue. However, since I live in the heart of Kansas City-style smoked goodness, I wanted something different. After a Google search, we wound up at Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken.

This restaurant was featured on Guy Fieri’s "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives" on the Food Network, primarily because of Uncle Lou’s Sweet Spicy Love sauce. Uncle Lou was right there to make us feel welcome.

We ordered our chicken homestyle because The Captain didn’t want any sauce, but I got a container of it on the side to try. While the chicken was fried perfectly, the sauce makes all the difference. If you go there, order your chicken with the sauce. Trust me!

Check out this short clip of Guy's visit to Uncle Lou's.

After dinner, we settled in at our hotel to rest up for the next day’s main event—Graceland!

Stay tuned…

Hernando DeSoto Bridge at Dusk: Justin Fox Burks / Copyright © Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau 2011 All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.