Oh my gosh! I made it! I’m finally in Memphis and back at Graceland and in the Guest House where I belong! This was the first of seven days celebrating the life and legacy of Elvis Presley, who died 40 years ago. Today was a great first day, but it certainly did not start off that way.
I left my house at 6:30am est Friday August 11th. I was at the airport in Baltimore just before 7am with my two suitcases full of clothes and books. I brought books to autographed and left room for books I know I’ll buy while in Memphis. I never ever check my bags, but this time I had to. I thought no big deal, I’ll just check them with the sky cap outside. Well, we pull up and there is only one (our of two) curbside check in open for Southwest and the line is wrapped around. So I figure inside had to be better because there was more than one counter checking bags. Well I am not sure if it was better, but there were several kiosks to self check your own bags.
It looked like the day before Thanksgiving in that airport. I had to wait in line at the kiosk to get the tags for my bags, then wait in another line to actually give my bags to someone, then I had to wait in line at security. There are three security lines, but they only let us in one of them even though the other two had shorter lines. Even with all the people and all the waiting in lines, I was able to get my water and snacks and be at my gate by 7:20am for my 8:15am flight.
While in line to board the plane, three ladies behind me were touring Graceland but had no idea it was Elvis Week. One of them said, “Who knew?” I replied, “Everyone!” I easily boarded the plane and got the front row, but the window because both aisle seats were already taken. The lady sitting on the aisle in my row told me today was her 90th birthday. She was going to Memphis to celebrate with her son. Some woman with a kid spilled a drink on a man seated while they were walking by then a woman a few rows back from jumped up and pushed her way up front to the bathroom screaming she was going to be sick – this is while everyone was still boarding.
Of course the last person to board was a women wider than myself. She squeezed herself in the middle seat in our row and proceeded to put her arms on both armrests further pushing me toward the window. I had to hold my arm up and over because her arm was pushing into my side. So with my arm up in the air and crossing over my body I watched Wild in the Country (my 2nd favorite Elvis movie) on my fire tablet. We lifted off 8:45am est (a half hour late), but landed in Memphis at 9:45am cst (five minutes early). I quickly got off of the plane and went to retrieve my bags – after making a quick call to the Guest House for the shuttle to pick me up. Luckily my bags made it to Memphis, but one was all wet on the outside and smelled like perfume. I jumped in the shuttle and was at the Guest House by 10:30am, but of course my room was not ready. But at least I saw Dick Grob in the lobby, so maybe my luck was changing. I gave my 2 suitcases (plus all my snacks and bottles of water I bought in the airport) to the concierge to hold for me while I toured Graceland.
I jumped on the shuttle and was inside my beloved Graceland by 11:15am (after waiting 20 minutes for the VIP shuttle). I had no make up, my hair was a mess and I hadn’t eaten but I was in the happiest place on earth! As crowded as it was, I got to spend some alone time in my favorite room, the living room, as tours just passed me by. I quickly made my way through the rest of the house to the very crowded Meditation Garden. Since I had the VIP tour, I decided to come back at the end of the day.
At 12:15pm cst, I was finally eating lunch! Back at Vernon’s with their five side platter for $9 and of course I added banana pudding and got my free refill of sweet tea in me Elvis Week cup I bought back in March. The macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes and gravy were good, but the collard greens were not as good as they were in March and the bbq spaghetti was spicier than I remember. (If you’re only counting four sides, that’s because I got double mac n cheese!) Caroline and her friend Kristy (who would become my friend too by the end of the week) happened to be eating at Vernon’s too, so I joined them. It started raining by the time I left for the Elvis Fan Reunion across the way in the Sound Stage. Luckily I got inside before the downpour started.
The first Elvis Week event, the Elvis Fan Reunion, started at 2pm. The Sound Stage was set up with round tables of eight. The guests on stage was Memphis Jones, Argo, Joey Sulipeck, Dean Z and Tom Brown. They all told stories about they started loving Elvis. Then Tom Brown interviewed Elvis artist Betty Harper. There was a game of trivia, which we did not win but we had the best name ever “Jerry’s (Schilling) Girls!” Tom Brown then interviewed James Burton – for about 10 minutes.
At 4pm, I toured the Sam Phillips museum because it was not open yet in March. And at 4:30pm, I was back up at Graceland – and it was much less crowded. I actually saw everything this time and instead of getting on the shuttle to go back, I went back through the front door just to spend some more alone time in the living room and foyer and then I left and tour the museums until about 6:30.
I took the shuttle back over to the Guest House to have dinner at my favorite EPs Bar & Grill. It was not crowded, so I decided to sit at a table rather than at the bar. I had the famous Memphis Burger (which is two patties with cheese, a fried green tomato, a regular tomato, bacon and special sauce on a buttery bun) and french fries, which are amazing! SO yummy – both the burger and the fries. I was finally in my room by 7:30pm, unpacked and organized all my stuff for the week.
To see all of my photos from Day 1 of Elvis Week 2017, please click here.