This happened a few years ago, but the memory is still vivid. I had the bright idea to take my mom, board a tour bus and travel to Graceland. Elvis was always her favorite singer and I’ve been known to belt out my own rendition of his tunes, but without the jumpsuit. What better way to travel than by bus, right? Boy, that wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had.
I wrote in for the brochure from our local version of Trailways. This would be a fun, relaxing time. I could just picture me and mama taking advantage of photo ops in the Jungle Room. It seemed like the deal of a lifetime. Travel in air conditioned comfort and nap your way down Interstate 40 (didn’t want to say “sleep” your way down 40 – that would be a whole different story not suitable for mixed company). In other words – “take the bus and leave the driving to us”. They neglected to mention a few things up front.
For instance, as soon as we got on the bus, “Dolly” our tour guide welcomed us and quickly laid out the bus tour rules and regulations. This included instructing us not to use the bus bathroom, because we would have to “carry it with us the whole trip.” Apparently no one explained to them that there were stations with big ‘ol hoses for taking care of that. I’m pretty sure there are – how else would you clean the thing out? I know the person who invented the bus bathroom thought of the emptying part too.
The bus driver made a few stops along the way to let us rest and relax on our way across Tennessee. Mama and I yakked with the people in the seats all around us and had an enjoyable trip. You could pick out the bus tour vets. They were the ones who sat back, relaxed and left the details to the pros. Or so we thought…
As we worked our way through Memphis, I noticed we kept passing the same landmarks, old dilapidated apartments and such. My razor sharp mind deduced that we were going around in circles. Sure enough, “Dolly” got up at one point and asked if any of us had ever been to Graceland before. The bus driver needed a little help. Ok, time out – if I sign up for a bus trip, pay my money and board your bus; I expect you to know the way there. Don’t they make maps for times like this? (don’t even ask about GPS)
I’m gonna have to shorten this or it will be a novel. But this is where it just keeps getting better. I remember that big bus somehow going through a drive-thru at some fast food joint. Apparently the driver got the directions from the cashier, because we were Graceland bound after that.
We arrived at our destination about an hour behind schedule. Our tour was supposed to be there at a certain time, so it was cut a bit short. We had to quickly pose in front of the house for a photo, tour the inside and take pics without benefit of flash lighting, wind through the museum and out to the lovely Elvis Presley cemetery by the pond where the King, his mom, dad, several other family members and (I believe) a beloved family pet were buried. To round out the experience, we walked through Elvis’s plane and even had time to buy a little wooden guitar magnet with his name on it for about five dollars. It looks quite nice on my refrigerator perched next to the Florida souvenir of an alligator jumping out of a commode. I didn’t buy that one. It was a gift from somebody who apparently loved me.
We went to our hotel after the tour and had about five minutes to check in, change clothes and make it out to the banks of the Mississippi to board a lovely riverboat for an evening dinner cruise It came complete with barbecue dinner and dancing. Mama and I don’t dance. After we ate all the barbecue there wasn’t much to do but watch the party people getting’ down and see Memphis go by as we paddled on down the river. Finally, the boat turned around and we were on our knees thanking the Lord that the end of the trip was near.
The ride back the next day started early and soon the big tour bus was rolling up I-40 toward home. Apparently the driver wanted to get us back and unloaded as soon as possible, because he would hardly stop to let us “rest” and we were afraid to use the bus facilities for fear they’d set us out along the road. At least we did get a 30 minute stop at an outlet mall. A bus full of women and he thought 30 minutes of shopping was sufficient. I don’t know what planet he was from, but our schedule could have used some work.
Long story shortened a bit, but not too much — -the next time I decide to visit a dead singer’s house, I will gas up Harold (my HHR) and do the driving myself.