Graceland, June 2009
Don't be fooled. Choosing an early hour on a Monday morning in June won't let you avoid the crowds at Graceland, the late Elvis Presley's home in Memphis, Tennessee.
Another thing: telling management that your surname earns you no discount.
Frankly, Graceland was disappointing in many ways. As I think I remember, the family sold the "rights" to Elvis-as-a-legend to a large corporation. That corporation -- or perhaps the family before the sale -- now has 15 or 20 acres across the street which incorporate most of the tourist site. There's an admission area and several gifts shops, and there are exhibits of automobiles and aircraft, one a large 4-engine jet. Both those exhibits are tour'able only for an extra fee. The $100 went spent earned four adults admission to the mansion.
And that required a shuttle ride across Elvis Presley Boulevard, a shuttle that was equipped with a wheelchair lift. In fact, as far as I could tell, only the mansion's basement and the aircraft were inaccessible.
Graceland's living room.
The mansion itself wasn't built for Elvis. He purchased it from a prominent local family. It seemed ... small. Small, at least, compared to the mansions commonly presented on television tours. And having been frozen in time at the point of Elvis' death, Graceland also seemed ... dated. But not in the way we think dated when we tour a Victorian exhibit and marvel at the classic style; instead, it seemed tacky.
Were I cynical, I would say Graceland and its environs gave off the air of being a tourist trap. But it was a hot and muggy day, and I suppose I left the place tired and cranky.