Day 4: Memphis, TN to North Little Rock, AK

Trip Start May 29, 2010
Trip End Jun 14, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Arkansas
Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Looking for Elvis!

“I wanted to say to Elvis Presley and the country that this is a real decent, fine boy.”

----Ed Sullivan, January 6, 1957

Today we started out a little later due to some planned sightseeing in the Memphis area.  We had spent the night at the Comfort Suites just east of Memphis, after Patty provided some strategic "back office support" from CT.  We wanted a decent place to stay, yet not too far out from Memphis and Graceland.  She got back to us via e-mail while we were on the road yesterday with a list of options, and Mike made it clear that a hotel, with a pool, was in order.  The hotel we chose was clean and fairly new and Mike wasted no time getting into the pool.  In fact, Kevin and I had a hard time getting him out of the pool as we needed to make dinner plans.

After breakfast at the hotel we headed out to see Graceland Mansion. What was interesting was that I entered "Graceland" into my Garmin GPS and two addresses came up.  I chose the one that stated "Graceland Tours."  After about 20 minutes, we arrived in an industrial park area of Memphis and I thought it was odd that Elvis would choose such a location for his home. When I arrived at the Garmin's checkered flag (on the screen) which signified that we had arrived at our destination, there was no home in view, let alone a mansion, and the only buildings in this large industrial area were nondescript butler buildings.  This was the first clue that something wasn't right (hang in there, it gets better).  I checked the Garmin again, and then chose the second option on the screen for the Graceland Mansion.  The results flashed on the screen and we realized at this point we were actually only one mile from the Graceland Mansion.  While still at the first destination though, we realized that the building we were directed to the first time actually housed the shuttle vans that are used at the mansion to transport visitors from the parking lots to the mansion located across a busy street.  

Before heading to the mansion, we peaked into the building where the shuttle vans are kept and maintained.  I spotted a worker in the far corner and when I called out to him to confirm directions to the mansion, he became startled, ran from the work bay area, and I could see why.  It was Elvis changing the oil on one of the shuttle vans!

On a more serious note, we left this area and proceeded to the mansion.  It was stifling hot at the time, and fortunately, there were not too many visitors at this time of the morning (9:30 a.m. CST).  After parking, we paid the $10 parking fee, coupled with the $30. entry fee and boarded a shuttle van for the mansion located across the street.  It was an interesting tour which lasted approximately one hour. Following the tour, Mike and I went back to the starting point and waited for Kevin to return.  He returned at least an hour later, which was no surprise as we learned that he enjoys reading the fine detail on every placard that is posted throughout a multitude of places in and around the mansion.  If Kevin ever gets on the Jeopardy game show, and a question comes up on the mansion, he will be a sure winner!

Speaking of Elvis, he was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, not in Memphis as some believe. He was raised in a two-room house that was built in 1934 by his father, Vernon, and his uncle.  The house was built just prior to Elvis' birth, which was January 8, 1935.  Elvis died on August 16, 1977, and he was found on a bathroom floor in Graceland Mansion. Although he was rushed to the hospital, without delay, he was pronounced dead shortly after he arrived.

The official cause of death listed on the death certificate is cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) that eventually caused his heart to stop beating.  And although he did have an irregular heartbeat, it has been reported that the cause of the irregular heartbeat was an overdose of prescription medication. Elvis was initially buried in Forest Hill Cemetery, however, after an attempt by someone to steal his remains, his body was relocated to Graceland Mansion whereby his remains are now located on an area of the property called Meditation Garden.  A photo of this garden, and the stone memorial, is included in this blog.  A little known fact is that Elvis' father, Vernon, had his autopsy report sealed, and it will remain sealed until 2027, on the date that marks the fiftieth anniversary of his death. As the well-known radio broadcaster Paul Harvey would often say, "Now you know the rest of the story." 

Following the visit to Graceland, we proceeded south into the State of Mississippi as Kevin was looking for a Harley Davidson dealership to check on helmets.  Yes, we are back on the "helmet" program!  Unfortunately, we couldn't locate the dealership as we apparently got a bum steer from Graceland staff in terms of directions, however, we did have the opportunity to get stuck in heavy traffic in Mississippi, with the sun beating down on us, and the mercury climbing to 90 degrees!  It was hot hot hot!  At one point, I looked back to check on Mike and he was perspiring so much it looked like it had rained on him!

Kevin finally agreed that we needed to throw in the white towel and discard any thoughts of finding a dealership.  Mike was relieved, as was I. Once I had the high sign, I programmed the Garmin to get us onto a highway (to cool down while riding at 60 mph) to head northwest to Little Rock, Arkansas. We took I-55; I-240 then onto I-40 W to Little Rock.

The ride to Little Rock was uneventful, other than the sweltering heat and humidity for the duration of the trip.  In the latter stages of the trip though, the weather cooperated somewhat as the temperature plummeted to a balmy 88 degrees. As we neared Little Rock, we made a last-minute decision to proceed to North Little Rock, and we found a Country Inn & Suites at about 4:30 p.m. (CST). Mike, once again, and I don't blame him, wasted little time finding the outdoor pool and we all took a dip prior to going to dinner.

Speaking of dinner, the hotel front desk clerk, Shannon, recommended an Italian Restaurant in the historic district of North Little Rock, an area referred to as the "Argenta Arts District."  The restaurant recommended was the "Ristorante Capeo," named after a restaurant bearing the same name which is located in northern Italy.  According to the restaurant hostess, Rose, the restaurant is owned by two men, one of whom was classically trained by the head chef at the restaurant in Italy.  Either the head Chef in Italy was a good teacher, or the chef in North Little Rock, Eric Isaac, was an excellent student, for the meal was truly a five-star experience.

The locals describe the restaurant as being "an intimate and romantic gem of a restaurant that serves up fine dishes such as Lasagna, Osso Busso and Tiramisu, complimented by House specialties such as Duck Valentine and Elk Chop."  Kevin had a Mallard Duck diner, while Mike and I relied on an old favorite, Chicken Marsala.  The meal was complemented by excellent service from our waitress, Jessica, a native of North Little Rock, who had intimate knowledge of every menu item, including the extensive wine menu. As an interesting side note, the restaurant owners "hand dug" the wine cellar prior to opening the restaurant and the cellar has a number of specialty wines to please any customers taste and preference

The story about the wine cellar was so interesting that Mike and Kevin decided to walk down the hatchway into the cellar to inspect it.  While they surveyed the wine cellar, I decided to stay upstairs and enjoy a glass of the wine that Kevin chose for us a few minutes earlier. I didn't regret my decision to stay upstairs and enjoy the glass of wine.

Those from the east coast who have a three-day weekend with no plans should consider a "side trip" to this great restaurant located in the Argenta Arts District.  I know it's far, but the food and staff are great!

Tomorrow, Wednesday, we head further west toward Oklahoma City.  I am sure we will be facing high heat and humidity once again.  It could be worse though, it could be raining again!

Today's Mileage: 189.1
Total Mileage: 1530.8
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