Yogi & Graceland – Photos Dec12

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Yogi & Graceland – Photos

It was the end of September, just after we’d celebrated Allison’s birthday in New Orleans and we were headed back north again toward Memphis, TN. Truly, we only had a few more things on our list of absolutes before we settled into our jobs in Kentucky for the end of the year. Nashville, TN, a visit with my aunt and uncle in Middleburg, VA and a stop in Raleigh, NC to hang with our newest friend T. Bean were the really important stops in our plan. All of the rest of the stops were simply “on the way”.

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Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp Resort in Jackson, MS was a one night stay on our way to Memphis. Notice that word resort again? They really do throw it around loosely in the RV campground world, however, this time I’ll throw Yogi a bone. It was as close to a resort as we’ve come outside of that mega-retirement community we stayed at in Phoenix – the one where everyone had a sheepskin bike seat cover. Even though we were one of just five RV’s staying there that night, they turned on the whole water park for us at the pool. It was a nice setting on a lake and their facilities were certainly up to par, but it was still Jackson, MS. Hot, humid, buggy. We rolled in, donned our swim suits and poured a couple of “to go’s” before we headed down to cool off in the water.

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I can remember what those one-nighters felt like, back when we were racing across the country headed to a new exciting destination. When I was a kid we used to go to Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour for special occasions, when the soccer team won a tournament or someone had a birthday, and the big deal was to order a Pig’s Trough. It had 12 scoops of ice cream and all the toppings of course and the challenge was to eat it all before it melted into a sugary soup. I knew it then too, but the image has been sharpened quite a bit by the filter of two months of hard work in Kentucky. Back then we were eating a Pig’s Trough of life – 12 states smothered in local attractions of all kinds.

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Graceland, the home of Elvis and a walk down Beale Street for BBQ were the two top items on our list for our short stay in Memphis. In doing our research ahead of our visit, we’d found that Graceland tickets were between $30-$70 depending on the length of tour package. It took me several hours to work through my issues over the cost, but after finding a 10% off coupon online and deciding that it was a once in a lifetime thing to do, I let it all go. We landed on the $37 tour package (that’s $37 EACH), the mid-range which was estimated to take 2-3 hours and bought us entrance not just to the house, but to several other exhibits across the street including a tour of the Lisa Marie, Elvis’ custom-built airplane.

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We were each given a set of headphones and an audio player and we filed through the modest house and the grounds gawking at the decor, the green shag carpet in the jungle room, the mirrored stairway to the basement and the pool room with its cloth covered ceiling. It was entertaining for sure.

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Across the street from the house there were probably 10 other smaller exhibits, each with its own gift shop that you had to exit through that kept us busy for another hour. There was an exhibit just for his cars, one for his love of Hawaii, one for all the movies, one for his career re-birth in Vegas, one for his costumes, the plane, etc.

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In one of the gift shops, Allison asked me to pose with an Elvis cut out. “Do the snarl,” she said. This horrifying picture of my first attempt had us in tears with laughter for several minutes. It’s harder than you think. You should try it and look at yourself in a mirror while you do, you’ll see!

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With the morning gone and having been well spent with the King and his short, but full life, we motored on downtown to Beale Street with appetites and our heart’s set on ribs. We parked down by the river and walked about 6 blocks up the hill into town to find the renowned Beale Street Barbeque. This place had actually been written up in Food & Wine magazine in 2000, but I think that was also the last time they dusted the ceiling fans or washed their booths. We shared a plate of ribs and the most AMAZING baked beans and while it was authentic and finger-licking good, we had to fight off several flies while we ate. Afterwards we headed up the street for a visit to the famous A. Schwab General Store which is the oldest and only original business left on Beale Street.

We enjoyed the afternoon walk, it was sunny and we could hear live music coming out of several of the bars along the way, but all in all we found Beale Street to be a bit dirty and sketchy. I don’t think we need to plan a return visit, although we have spent a while trying to reverse engineer the recipe for those beans. Maybe for our next career we’ll open a website that ships Amish Donuts and Beale Street Beans around the world – donutsandbeans.com.

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