Thursday 11th September. Memphis, Tennessee USA
I was walkin' in Memphis. Jimmy dropped me into town this morning, just a mile or so from Graceland. There was a bus that would come past, he said, but I wasn't about to wait for a bus. I walked to Graceland, Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee and paid the sixteen dollars for a tour of Elvis' mansion. You could pay twenty-five bucks for the all-inclusive tour of his car collection and his aeroplanes, but sixteen dollars was more than I'd ever dream of spending on a tourist attraction, and surely the mansion would be the highlight.
I'd been warned that Graceland might be smaller than one would expect. It seems mansions are built on a much larger scale these days. It wasn't huge, but it was interesting. Many of the rooms have been preserved just as they were when Elvis kicked the bucket. The kitchen was complete with it's 1970's appliances. The famous fifteen foot sofa graced the lounge, and the jungle room was resplendent with lime green carpet on the floor.. and the ceiling!
Elvis' body was moved from the cemetery for security reasons, soon after his burial. He now rests in the gardens of Graceland.
Before I left Memphis, I had a challenge to face. A reader had challenged me to find a restaurant called Rendezvous, and feed my face on their famous pork ribs. My reward would be twenty-five dollars, far more than the ribs would cost. I'd skipped breakfast and now lunch as well, so I was ready for a feed of ribs. Trouble is, Rendezvous wasn't ready for me! They don't open till 4:30p.m. and it was only two o'clock. I hate to pass up a challenge, and there was no way I was going to try to make it to Nashville today anyway, so I phoned my host there and left a message that I'd been delayed. Then guess what I found? A Flying Saucer- the sister establishment of the bar/restaurant that Daniel had taken me to in Little Rock two nights ago. With its sweeping open-air verandah and its comfortable lounge suites, that seemed like the perfect place to spend a couple of hours while I waited for my ribs. I even made some new friends and- believe it or not- won a game of pool!
The very cute barmaid declined my invitation to Rendezvous *sigh* so I was dining alone. The ribs arrived minutes after I'd ordered, complete with beans, slaw, and two small bread rolls, but without cutlery. When I asked for a knife, the waiter told me the ribs were already separated. He brought me a knife anyway, muttering "I don't know what you think you're gonna do with it." When I asked for butter for my rolls, he told me that they don't serve butter. All righty then! Obviously not expecting a tip, this guy. I left him a sixteen cent tip anyway; I've been told that a ridiculously small tip is even more offensive than no tip at all. I hope that's true!
Post-ribs, I wandered up Beale Street, the main bar-lined tourist strip, but opted to return to the Flying Saucer. James, one of the English guys I met earlier,had said I could sleep on the floor of his hotel room, if I caught up with him later. I hope he comes back, cause if he doesn't, God knows where I'll be spending the night. That's where I am now. It's 8:30p.m. and I've just ordered a cup of coffee, as I can feel myself slowing down. Even though I had a full night's sleep last night, I think I'm going to need a break of a few days to revive myself. That probably sounds a bit weak to anyone who's been working eight or ten hours a day, but you couldn't imagine how exhausting this trip has been unless you try it yourself.
When I planned this trip, I'd initially hoped to be in New York City for September 11th, but with only ninety days in the country, that would screw up the rest of my itinerary. That doesn't mean I haven't been thinking of the people of New York City and Washington D.C and the thousands of people from all over the world whose lives have never been the same since that fateful day two years ago.