I did what I set out to do. I was the last visitor in Graceland in 2017 (the last in the mansion, the last at the grave and the last on the grounds), AND I was the first one inside Graceland in 2018. My New Year’s Resolution was achieved! I had a great time at Graceland, the Guest House and in Memphis for three days over the New Year’s holiday – makes up for not being able to go to the Birthday Celebration this weekend.
SATURDAY DECEMBER 30, 2017:
SO excited about my trip and worried about the weather, I didn’t sleep at all Friday night. We left the house before 6:30am est Saturday December 30th. Thank goodness Dad was home to drive me to the aiport because the roads were a mess from the snow, but we made it in plenty of time for my flight. I was at the gate by 7:25am for my 8:25 flight. We boarded on time, but we had to de-ice so we didn’t actually take off until 9am. It was close to 10:30 cst by the time we landed and got off the plane. I got the shuttle to the Guest House and was eating at EPs by 11am because my suite wasn’t ready. I had the wonderfully scrumptious Memphis Burger and Fries with Sweet Tea of course – THE best sweet tea!
My TCB suite was ready by noon. I decided to treat myself since it was New Year’s – plus it was the same rate as a regular room during Elvis week, so not too crazy expensive. This was the first time I have not stayed in the South Tower, but I was still on the South Tower end of the Center Tower with a courtyard view. The TCB suite is fantastic with its retro decor, separate bedroom with tv and oversized chair and huge picture window, master bathroom with two sinks, living room with tv and sofabed and refrigerator and huge picture window and dining table and a powder room. The only thing missing was a microwave – and accessible outlets. And since the Guest House still is not showing 24-hour Elvis movies, I brought my Amazon fire stick for my own 24-hour Elvis movies. My favorite parts of the TCB suite was the sunburst mirror in the living room like the sunburst clock in the living room in Graceland and the bed with the tiger pillow, but the cool 60s mirrored coffeetable was also pretty great and so was the green jungle room like decor inside the master shower. That is why I love the Guest House so much – it parallels Graceland as much as possible. The front of the Guest House is VERY similar to the front of Graceland.
I unpacked, posted pics, read, watched Elvis movies and napped until 4pm. I decided to start the New Year by re-reading Priscilla’s Elvis and Me, the first Elvis book I ever read over twenty years ago. I watched Charro and Frankie and Johnny. At 4:30, my friend Tim picked me up and we went to Marlowe’s for dinner. It was Tim’s birthday, and he had never been to Marlowe’s before – and now he loves it. We of course sat in the Elvis room, which pretty much turned into the Iowa State room as they had just defeated Memphis by 1 point in the Liberty Bowl (the Guest House and Graceland was also a sea of maroon). We split the fried gouda, and I had the bbq beef brisket with macaroni and cheese and green beans. Marlowe’s has THE best bbq sauce! I am pretty sure their macaroni and cheese is made with that same gouda – SO good! I spoke with JoCathy a while and bought just two books: Sandi Pichon’s Elvis Poetry and Cindy Hazen and Mike Freeman’s The Best of Elvis, which was coincidentally signed and made out to DeeDee (that is sort of like Deena when people call me Dee).
We went back to the Guest House, and I showed Tim my TCB suite and gave him the tour of the Guest House, since he had never seen it. At 7pm, I went to the theater to watch Jailhouse Rock, just like I did opening weekend of the Guest House in October of 2016. Jailhouse Rock is one of my favorite Elvis movies. I love seeing the guys in it, like George Klein, Gene Smith, Lamar Fike, Scotty Moore, Bill Black, DJ Fontana and Mike Stoller. And I LOVE the 1957 clothes and decor! After the movie, I stopped in the gift shop and found a $2 cup (with lid and straw) with Elvis Week the 40th and Guest House on it. Then I found this great roomy, comfy hooded sweatshirt to wear around the house (since that is where I spend most of my time). During opening weekend of the Guest House, we were disappointed there were no dated items. This big, comfy sweatshirt had “Memphis, TN The Guest House at Graceland established 2016,” so I had to get it. The tag said $49., but it rang up for $19., so I got quite the deal! I was in my room by 9pm. I posted more pics and wrote in my journal while watching Double Trouble and The Trouble with Girls until about 11:30 when I got into bed, but I still couldn’t sleep.
To see all of my photos (over 50) from my first day in Memphis, please click here.
NEW YEAR’S EVE SUNDAY DECEMBER 31, 2017:
I slept maybe five hours after watching the 68 Comeback Special in bed trying to wind down (it didn’t work). I finally just put on the Graceland Cam and Elvis Radio and fell asleep. While getting ready and eating breakfast, I watch the beginning of Kissin Cousins. I got the 9am shuttle over to Graceland. By 9:25, I was inside the mansion. It was crowded then I waited for a few tours to pass, so I could be be alone in my favorite place – the living room! For the first time I got to see the restored music room with the white piano that just returned to Graceland. The Living Room is darker with the red curtains, since they are completely closed (normally the blue curtains are open around the windows). For the first time, I drank from the water fountain in the racquetball room – the same water fountain that was there when Elvis was there.
I walked through Presley Motors and was at Vernon’s eating lunch at 11am (since breakfast was just crackers and tea). I had the veggie plate (double mac n cheese, mashed potatoes, green beans, bbq spaghetti), sweet tea (in the free refill souvenir cup) and banana pudding. I bought a TCB scarf from the gift shop because it was SO cold! At 1pm, I went through the new Sun Records TV set exhibit. It was just SO cool. I know we can go to the actual Sun Studio, but this is the set from the tv show, and it is amazing how much it is exactly like Sun Studio. Also included in the set was the WHBQ Studio where Dewey Phillips first played Elvis’ records. Next stop was the Elvis Entertainer Career Museum, which is my favorite. Even though I have seen all the videos and concerts and movies many times, there is just something about seeing them in the museums at Graceland. I watched the clips from the ’68 Comeback Special, ’69 Vegas concert, Jaycee Awards and the overview movie. By 2:15, I was in the VIP Lounge relaxing and posting pics for almost two hours.
Wanting to achieve my goal of being the last visitor in Graceland in 2017, I took the 3:55 shuttle over to the mansion. To my chagrin, there were a few more buses after me but luckily those people did not linger. I waited in the living room until they closed the front door of Graceland (I would have anyway because I like to spend as much time as possible there). Then I let everyone pass me. I stayed upstairs until everyone else was downstairs. I knew I was the last one in the mansion and in Vernon’s office (my second favorite place), but I sped through the Trophy Room so I thought I would be finished before the other tours. As usual, I spent some time in the racquetball court and in the Meditation Garden. I guess those other folks also sped through the Trophy Room and six degrees was too cold for them to spend a lot of time in the Meditation Garden because before I knew it, I was last one at Elvis’ grave and on the Graceland property. The employees double checked, and I was the last one at Graceland in 2017!!! The first part of my goal achieved! Even though it was just six degrees, I decided to get ice cream at Minnie’s at 5pm. It is the only place you can get peanut butter banana ice cream. It is a good thing too because that was to be my dinner. I had to wait 15 minutes outside in the wind, in the dark, in the six degree freezing cold for the shuttle back to the Guest House. I had put in an eight hour day at Graceland!
Caroline came up to see my TCB suite, then I quickly got ready and got the 7pm shuttle to Beale Street for the Jerry Lee Lewis show at his club. By 7:30pm, I was on Beale Street, which to my surprise was pretty empty (most likely because of the single digit temperatures). My ticket was for the seat at the bar was closest to the stage, actually a little in front of the front row. The event was sold out (I think just 175 tickets were sold). It was in a separate room where they have all their ‘concerts.’ This was the first time I have really done something for New Year’s Eve in a long while. I picked the bar seat because I thought it would be more sociable and it was. I didn’t eat anything though and only had one small glass of wine – and two waters. Apparently the frigid cold makes you dehydrated because I was thirsty the entire time in Memphis. The show was supposed to start at 8pm, but Jacob Tolliver didn’t come on until 8:30. He was fantastic! Like a young Jerry Lee – just incredible! He played almost an hour. Then I went to the gift shop to see what Jon Daly had. I bought a Johnny Cash record (double vinyl Folsom Prison and San Quentin) and a Jerry Lee Lewis record. Jerry Lee Lewis’ sister, Linda Gail, came on early around 9:35 (she was supposed to come on at 10pm). She reminded me of Wanda Jackson. Linda was very good – played the piano too. Jerry was supposed to come on at 11pm and play through midnight, but he shuffled right past me and onto the stage just after 10:30pm. After a few songs, someone whispered in Jerry’s in ear to which Jerry shouted, “an hour?!” And goes on to say something like he thought there was only 12 minutes until midnight that he can’t play for an hour that he needs a break and a drink – ‘I’ll play ‘Great Balls of Fire’ and ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ then I’ll go.” And that’s exactly what he did.
By 11:03pm, Jerry Lee Lewis left the stage, and I left Beale Street. I easily got a Lyft (picked me up right behind the bar where the shuttle had dropped me off) back to the Guest House. I met up with Caroline and crashed the Guest House gala – since her guest had left early. I was there before midnight and got to ring in the new year with my friend, some champagne and the Memphis Jazz Band. Just before 1am (when the party was ending), we went into the lobby and talked until almost 2am. I was exhausted and freezing and went to my suite, ate leftovers and tried to get to sleep so I could be the first through Graceland in 2018.
To see all of my 269 photos from New Year’s Eve in Memphis, please click here.
NEW YEAR’S DAY MONDAY JANUARY 1, 2018:
I woke up at 6:30am after about three and a half hours sleep. I finished watching Kissin Cousins from the day before. I got the first shuttle over to Graceland – the 8:30am shuttle. I was the first VIP to check in, then I realized I was the only VIP to check in at that time. There was a regular tour waiting for their intro movie to begin. Knowing I was the last one through yesterday and wanting to be the first one today, they took me up by myself on the VIP shuttle. I had just over 15 minutes by myself in my favorite living room / foyer area before the other tours showed. I did it! I was the last visitor in Graceland in 2017 and the first visitor inside Graceland in 2018! It was totally worth the lack of sleep and frigid single digit temperatures. It was 9 degrees and the fountain in the Meditation Garden was frozen. I was alone throughout the house and the grounds. It was perfection! And I got to see the horses up close, like UP CLOSE! After, I went through the Archives museum, the Icons museum and of course the Entertainer museum again. At 11:40am, I met Caroline for lunch at Vernon’s. I got chicken tenders with mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, my free refill sweet tea and banana pudding to go. Then I went through the Sam Phillips exhibit and Sun Records set again. I have never seen Graceland and the museums so empty, it was great!
By 1:10, I was in my suite relaxing. I was SO tired and SO cold. I watched Fun in Acapulco, Easy Come, Easy Go and Speedway while napping and posting pics. I finally left my suite at 5:30pm. I went to EPs for dinner. I sat at a table instead of the bar. I had intended to go for Happy Hour for the half priced appetizers, but I didn’t make it in time. Well I would have had 20 minutes. Instead, I was at a table eating the southwest turkey wrap, those yummy EP fries and two glasses of water. As I looked around, I wondered where the pool table went that was there opening weekend? I read for a bit in the lobby before going to the theater at 7pm to watch Viva Las Vegas. Again, just like I did opening weekend back in October of 2016. There were more people there than there were for Jailhouse Rock on Saturday. I went back to my suite after to pack. I watched Tickle Me and Spinout before going to bed at 11pm. I had to get up at 5am for my flight home. Since I arrived in Memphis, I hadn’t watched anything but Elvis – Elvis movies, Elvis concerts, Elvis video footage. Just Elvis, Elvis, Elvis! I discovered Elvis through his movies, so it’s very comforting for me.
This trip to Memphis was much busier than I thought it was going to be. Time always flies in Memphis! I always think I am going to have all this extra time to read and post pics and journal, but I never do. Even without the schedule of Elvis Week events, I was very busy (with my own schedule I guess). Even though it was the coldest I have ever been in Memphis (and in my life!), it was still a fantastic trip! I achieved my goal of being the last visitor in Graceland in 2017 and the first one in 2018!
To see all 156 photos from my New Year’s Day in Memphis, please click here.