Tuesday, April 29, 2014

4/29/2014 Our First Day at Work

(Damascus, VA)

We started our volunteer jobs today.  There was a little bit of miscommunication about our hours but it all worked out in the end.  Edie gave me a schedule of 2 to 6 today for us but in actuality Bob was to work 10 – 2.  So today we both worked the later afternoon hours.

Bob went off with the park manager for a total tour of the place and I worked in the office.  Actually, it was a dreary day here today and its in the middle of the week so it was really slow.  I waited on each person that did come in and procedures are so simplified that I picked up or figured out quickly what had to be done.  I was even left by myself at the end of day.

I miss the Internet!  I don’t know what to do with myself.  I miss playing my games on Facebook and checking out my Groupon offers, reading all my email and the forums I keep up with.  Yes, I can go to the office anytime I please and I certainly am grateful for that but its just not the same as reading with morning bagel.

Cell service.  Yep, missing that too.  Not as much as my Internet though.

I hope to get out and about and take some pictures of where we are.  I also want to get to the tourism office to get ideas for day trips.  We haven’ spent much time in this area and I hear there are lots of things to do.

Wonder what tomorrow will bring.

 

Monday, April 28, 2014

4/28/2014 Our First Visit with Cathy

(Damascus, VA)

Cathy. She is the whole reason we are here in the east.  Bob’s younger sister is battling cancer.  She found out just two months or so ago that she has stage 4 lung cancer.  Bob and I felt we needed to come east and we were lucky enough to find a workamping gig just 10 miles from her home.

We didn’t quite know what to expect when we first saw her but she looked exactly like she did the last time we saw her four years ago.  She had her chemo treatment twelve days ago so she’s at the point where she’s feeling good again.  This is Cathy’s second bout with cancer.  Twenty five years ago she battled breast cancer and won.  She’s very thankful that chemo treatments have improved since then but she still has a rough time with it.

She was in good spirits and very happy to see her brother.

We had a great visit and in our conversation it was decided that we need to have a family reunion.  There will be about 40 of us if the brothers and sisters, their spouses, children and grandchildren all come.  We’re going to shoot for that and not get into cousins and 2nd cousins.  Lots of planning will have to go on and I am definitely up to the task. 

On the way to Cathy’s just a couple of miles outside of Beartree we found a VFW club.  This made Bob happy.  He loves going to new VFW’s.  I’m hoping its an active one with lots going on.

We’re supposed to have rain the next few days.  With all the trees it makes it dreary and dark but I guess we need it for all of these wild rhododendrons to bloom come June.  I talked with Edie about it and she said we’ll be amazed when we see the forest in full bloom.  I have my camera ready!

We start work tomorrow.  There are just a few campers here and none in our loop so I should have a real easy day and will have a good chance to learn how the office procedures are done without my feet being in the fire.

I’m really missing my Internet, not having it in the house, but so far I’m dealing pretty well with it and am getting a lot of reading in.

It is what it is.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

4/27/2014 A Day Of Shopping

(Damascus, VA)

After another good night’s sleep we were up and at ‘em pretty early.

I had plans for an afternoon of shopping with Edie and Bob was going to work on getting the rest of the outside of the rig cleaned.  Things didn’t go quite as planned for him as he noticed that some caulking needed replacing so he spent the afternoon pulling the old stuff out and applying new.

I went down to the office at eleven even though we weren’t leaving until noon or a little after.  Internet fix,,,,what can I say?

We went into the town of Abbingdon, a section I hadn’t see before. Walmart, Sam’s Club, Dollar Tree and Lowe’s were on our agenda. 

I had a list all made out, exactly what I had to buy.  I took the list out of my pocketbook in Walmart and within two minutes it was gone. I have no idea where it went.  I had been making that list over several days and when I thought of something I wrote it down and promptly quit thinking about it.  I could remember four things on the list.  I was able to get one.

Edie went to town with the thought of buying one major thing for the office and a few little things.  She the got major thing and I think a few more of the little things than she planned on.

Today gave Edie and I had a chance to get to know each other better.  We’ll be working together most days this season.   I’m finding that we “get” each other.  We’re of the same mind on a lot of subjects and not so on the same level on others.  That’s a good thing, otherwise our conversations during the lulls this summer would be quite boring.

Going through Damascus on the way to Abbingdon and coming back through on the way home, I had a chance to see what businesses are in this little town. Bike shops are by the far the biggest business.  Bike sales, bike rentals, bike parts, bike repairs, its all big business here. The Virginia Creeper Trail goes through these parts and that draws a lot of people.  People who ride bikes.

There’s a few restaurants, a Subway, a barber shop, an antiques store, an ice cream shop and several churches.  Some of homes are just beautiful with their wraparound porches, and
gazebos and manicured lawns.

This area is also horse country and there are a few small farms with small herds of cattle.

This was a picture I took of the countryside on our way to town.  No matter where you are you can’t get away from road construction can you?

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Fishing is another draw here.  There’s a stream that comes down from the mountain and its chock full of trout.  On any given time of day you can drive by and see men standing knee deep in the stream  fishing.  There’s plenty standing on the bank too.

Here in Beartree Campground we have a lake with a beach, I haven’t seen it yet but I hear that its stocked six times a year.  This makes Bob a very happy camper.

Actually, I haven’t seen much of this campground other than our loop, the office/gatehouse and way out.  I’m going to have to get out and about and take some pictures.

I did take some pictures of our yard.  What our view looks like out our back window.

Woods.

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Our picnic table and fire pit area.

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Can you feel the mosquitoes?  And friend from Stanton, MO, let’s not even mention any other creepy crawlies.  I think about them enough for both of us!  Thankfully, Bob bought some super duper bug, insect, spider killer to spray.  I hope it doesn’t actually defoliate the forest.

Note to my buddy from Decatur:  You must have missed a post, I know, I can hardly believe it either.  We changed plans because Bob’s sister is gravely ill and we need to be here to spend time with her.  No matter what the plans are….family comes first.

Note to my friend Mike:  Thanks so much for reminding me what the car was that Elvis gave Priscilla. 

Tomorrow we go see Bob’s sister.  I’m looking forward to this on one hand and on the other I’m not.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

4/26/2014 Our First Full Day in Virginia

(Beartree Campground, Damascus, VA)

It’s so quiet here that we had no problem sleeping in until 8 o’clock this morning.  Our loop isn’t open yet so the only ones here are us and our next door neighbors and co-camp hosts.

After breakfast there was no Internet so it was easy to get into doing something.   Bob started right in with getting us hooked up with our satellite.  After about 30 minutes we had TV!  Not all of our channels are showing up yet so we may to get a technician to come in and tweak for it us.

I started with giving our stove top a good cleaning and then moved on to the convection oven.  I was on such a roll that I moved to the fridge and got the shelf units on both doors all cleaned.  By this time I really started jones-ing for a FaceBook fix.

I gathered all of our towels together and Bob dropped me and two loads worth of towels off at the office where the washer and dryer are located.  Free laundry!  I also got to get online while I was there.  I had 159 emails waiting for me.  I was in heaven!

There is also a phone there that we can use and we get free local and long distance calling.  I was able to talk to my mom today and was going to call girlfriends but my phone was dead so I couldn’t get phone numbers.

This is the gate house/office where I’ll be spending my working hours.

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This is Edie, the park manager.  I’m going to like working with her. 

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I also got to meet another newbie to this park, Myra.  So far everyone is very nice and welcoming.  We still have more workampers to come and when they get here our hours will likely be cut.  Now that works for me!

Edie and I have decided that starting next Sunday we are going to start attending all the little churches in the area.  There is one where the services take place in a log church. I’m looking forward to that.  I think she said there about a half dozen so this will give me a chance to find the one I want to attend for the rest of the season.  I’ll know the one when I find it, it will just feel right.

Our site is really coming along.  Bob got all the bugs off the front of the rig today and gathered some downed limbs and kindling for our fire pit.  He has placed our solar lights all around so that we have lit walkways for the evenings.

There are these H-U-G-E  rhododendron bushes (trees?) everywhere in this campground.  They are just starting to set their buds and will bloom in June. This place is going to be spectacular looking and I can’t wait to take pictures.
 
Tomorrow I’m going to Bristol with Edie and her husband to Sam’s Club and Walmart and who knows where else.
 
Gotta go, Bob found a Phillie’s game on TV!

Friday, April 25, 2014

4/25/2014 Learning the Lay of the Land

(Damascus, VA)

The first thing we do every morning is get on our computers.  Bob has his morning coffee and I have my toasted bagel and Pepsi while we read our email, read the forums we visit, I catch up on what happened in Facebook overnight and I play Candy Crush and my Scrabble games.  While we’re doing this the TV is on for the morning talk shows.  This morning the house was quiet and the computer screens blank.  Now in the light of day we are wondering what we got ourselves into.

First things first.  Bob went to work on getting our satellite dish set up for us.  It was cloudy and overcast but it didn’t look like rain was going to fall from the sky anytime soon.  He got everything set up and we started.  He’d move the dish and I’d call out the numbers displaying on the TV.  We try to attain the number 100 on the display but we would gladly settle for anything in the 90’s.  We couldn’t get out of the 70’s and that’s just not enough to get us a picture.

Then it started sprinkling.  Then raining.  Then pouring cats and dogs.  And the thunder came.  Lightning was thrown in for good measure.  And then it stopped.  So we tried again.  Nope, can’t the signal above 80.  And then Mother Nature did her thing again.  It’s a good thing we have lots of movies.

It stopped raining again so we decided to go to town because we need to get water.  We were told to not drink the water here.  That’s ok, we don’t drink the water in Arizona either.  Of course on the way the rain, thunder and lightning made a show again and this time they brought hail with them.  Thankfully, the hail didn’t last long and it wasn’t very big at all.

We figured while we were in town we would find the Verizon store and see about getting a booster antenna.  We had to go to the next larger town, Abbingdon to find one.  Neither Damascus or Abbingdon are big enough to have a Walmart or a Kohl’s or a Sears but I did hear there was a K-Mart but we didn’t see it in our travels.  We finally found the place we wanted and I went in to but what we needed. When I told the fellow where we were and what we needed he just looked at me and shook his no. “No?” I asked.  He told me that people come in all the time and want booster antenna’s so they can get Internet while on the mountain.  They just don’t have anything big enough or strong enough to pull in a signal.  This does not make me a happy camper.  Bob was none too happy either.

Next stop was Lowe’s to get water.  We bought 3 three gallon jugs to get us started.  The reason we were told not to drink the water back on the mountain is that the system was put in 40 some years ago and the pipes are rusty.  We did notice that there was a spring water pipe where townspeople were filling gallon milk jugs so we’re going to look into that.

We made a stop at the local grocery store.  Not a huge store like I’m used to and not brands I’m used to but it seems to have everything I need or want.  Except one thing.  My lettuce.  I like butter lettuce that comes in the plastic container.  This store is more expensive than I’m used to also.  This is probably a family owned market and I think next time I’ll shop in Abbingdon where there is a Food Lion.  I may get better prices at a big chain store.

After dinner we watched movies again and I worked on the blog, writing the posts you just read.

So I’m to date on the blog now.  I’ll do my best to keep it that way.  If I miss posting a day or two it will only be because I couldn’t get to the office to post it or not a darn thing happened worth writing about.

 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

4/24/14 Home for the Summer!

(Damascus, VA)

We only had a 175 mile trek today and we got on the road about nine.  It wasn’t exactly a pleasant drive for Bob.  We went through two watersheds and the roads were up and down and they twisted this way and that.  Add in a considerable amount of 18 wheelers all hell-bent on making good time and it was kind of nerve wracking for him.  I just read my book and stayed quiet.

We made one last stop before we made the last leg of our journey.  We wanted to ask the locals about the best way to go in. Directions in hand we proceeded.

Oh My.  What a drive this was.  We are going to be up in the mountains and this happens to be the highest elevation in Virginia.  We went through a little town called Damascus and then started up the mountain.

It was a twisty, winding, two lane road with a stream on our side of the road and trees and solid rock on the side of the lane coming down off the mountain.  There were some mighty tight turns.  There were curves where you couldn’t see what was coming the other way.  Sometimes cars and trucks whose drivers know these roads were coming down the other way and to us first timers it seemed like they were driving like bats outta hell.

There were sections where it seems we were driving straight up and all I could think of was everything in the 5th wheel shifting.  I can tell you we were thankful for The Beast.

After a trip that seemed to take forever and that surely took years off our lives, we finally arrived at Beartree Campground.

We stopped at the gate and met some of our co-camp hosts.  We were greeted warmly.

We were led to our loop by a fellow camp host.  This place is huge!  We met our next door neighbors on the way and when they walked away they said, “Good luck parking that thing!”  Didn’t exactly leave us with a warm and fuzzy feeling. When we got to our site we understood what they meant.

The first thing you have to understand is the loop is going uphill and it’s a one lane road with gullies on either side.  Every RV’er who just read that shivered.  Go ahead, admit it.

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Bob got the truck into position to back it in and I just held my breath.   There was no wiggle room here to work with.  Did he get it in on the first try?  No, but he did on the second.  It didn’t go in with just one back up there was some pulling forward and backing up again to get our home perfectly lined up with the deck already in place.


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Shortly after we got in Butch & Cathy, our next door neighbors came over for a short visit.  They knew we had a lot to do to get set up so they didn’t stay long.

So here we are.  On top of a mountain, with NO CELL SERVICE, NO INTERNET! and we haven’t had  time to set up the Directv so for now, NO TV.  We knew there would be no cell service unless we went into Damascus but there is a phone here we can use that has free long distance.  TV?  Our neighbors have Directv so we know we can get a connection there.  That will have to wait until tomorrow.

We got a lot done today but we’re not completely set up yet.

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We were brought a golf cart for our use this summer.

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Dinner was more or less find what you can.  Bob had grilled sandwiches and I had Cap’n Crunch cereal.

We settled in to watch some movies and around 8 o’clock the park manager, Edie, dropped in to welcome us.  She’s just as nice as I thought she would be from the few phones calls we’ve had and the private messages we’ve typed back and forth on Facebook.

If our first impressions hold true this is going to be  a great summer.

We don’t start workamping until next Tuesday so we have four days to finish getting set up, thoroughly cleaning the house inside and out, getting a feel for the lay of the land and seeing Bob’s sister Cathy.  She is, after all, the reason we are here.

There is an WIFI at the gate house/office, so we can go there and get online.  I’ll be working in the office four or five days a week so I’ll type my blog posts in Live Writer and then upload them from there.  When I work I can satisfy my Candy Crush addiction.  In fact, we’ve already decided that we’re going to look into getting a booster antenna so that maybe we can have Internet from our site.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed on that one.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

4/23/14 The Color of Spring

(On the Road to Dickson, TN)

We were on the road by 8:30 this morning.  We doing an unusual 280 miles today.  This is our last day on the road, tomorrow we arrive at our destination.

As we were traveling the highway I took notice of the colors.  One always thinks of the fall season as far as colors are concerned.  I don’t think I ever paid attention, I mean really paid attention until today.

New leaves are out along this roadway.  Light greens, medium greens, dark greens, yellowish greens, silvery greens, white, pink, red, purple and lavender.  Every mile brought more colors.

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Color abounds wouldn’t you agree?

We finally pulled into a campground and Bob and I both said, “We’ve been here before.”  It had to be years ago, before we went full timing.  We couldn’t recall the trip but we both knew we had been here before. 

I went into the office to register and I couldn’t find anyone.  I saw a registration form on the counter so I filled it out and then called out….Hellooooo, anybody here?  Nothing.  Several times.   I went out and went next door where I saw two ladies sitting on a deck.  They instructed me to use the bell on the counter.  Bell?  I didn’t see a bell.  I went back in and on the little counter off to the side I found the bell.  I rang it once and within a nano-second this young fellow comes out of a back room. I asked him if he heard me calling out hello and he ignored me.  I asked again and he still ignored me.  He finally looked at me and said, I heard the bell.  I didn’t like him from the gitgo.  You know, sometimes you just have a gut feeling for someone.  He never spoke to me again until he said, “Cash, $15.87.”  I’m not normally a violent person but I wanted to reach over that counter and grab this jerk by the throat.  So campers, the place was called Bean Pot Campground in Dickson, TN.  Fair warning, the guys a jerk.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

4/22/2014 No Matter How Hard We Tried

(Memphis, TN)

We had such plans today.  We were going to go downtown and see all the sights. Beale Street, the Duck Walk, take in a music studio tour, go out to lunch, maybe even stay long enough for dinner and take in a show.  Oh what plans we had.

I called a tour company yesterday and found all the details on a three hour tour that would give us a good look at Memphis.  The tour started at 2:30 in the afternoon.  I called the bus company first thing this morning to find out what bus we needed to take to get downtown.  Turns out where we needed to go to pick up the tour would entail two buses and a trolley.  OK, we’ll leave in plenty of time to do that.  I then called the tour company to make our reservations for the afternoon tour bus.  Uh-uh.  They weren’t running that particular tour today.  They were yesterday when I talked with them, but between then and now their plans changed.  We’ll go to plan B as there was another tour we were interested in but it was our second choice.  A close second to be sure but second all the same.  Yes, that tour was on and started in forty minutes.  There was no way we could do what we had to do and get downtown in forty minutes.  Ok, so tour company tours are out. 

On to Plan C.  We’ll get a trolley pass and show ourselves around.  We needed cash for the bus so I had to hit an ATM machine.  Oh. Em. Gee.  Four dollar and seventy five cent fee for using the ATM machine.  Does anyone else find that fee just utterly ridiculous?  I understand a fee but I think that one is highway robbery.

So we head to the bus stop and we don’t have wait but for ten minutes.  We get on and Bob hands the bus driver a $20 bill.  That is after all what the ATM dispensed.  Mr. Bus Driver says we have to have correct change.  Bus drivers don’t carry change???  OK, there’s a store two doors down, we’ll get change and wait for the next bus.  While we’re waiting Bob says, “You know, taking two buses and a trolley to get to Beale street in a town we know nothing about may not exactly be a good idea for us.”  I agreed.

On to Plan D.  We decided that we would get two hop on – hop off bus passes for a bus that runs a dedicated loop from attraction to attraction and you can get on and get off as you please.  No narration like we would have had on the tour. 

We headed to the Graceland plaza to get the tickets.  Just as we got close we noticed the sign that the bus leaves on the hour.  Nine minutes.  We had nine minutes to get to the ticket window, hope there wasn’t a line, give our request for two tickets, pay for them and get to the bus stop.  Not gonna happen.  There is just too much to do in nine minutes.

So.  We took this as an omen.  We were not meant to go downtown.  Now you are probably asking why we just didn’t’ drive The Beast downtown.  The answer is twofold.  One, finding parking for The Beast is difficult at best.  We didn’t know what we were going to find as far as parking lots were concerned.  Secondly, plain and simple we just didn’t feel it was a good idea to leave our truck and the thousands of dollars worth of tools and equipment in it on a street or in a parking lot unattended.  Memphis is not a crime free area by any means.

So home we went.  A couple of hours later Bob suggested we go get fuel so that we wouldn’t have to do it while hooked to the 5th wheel.  So off we went.  While we were out I suggested that we take a ride and at least drive down Beale Street so we could at least say we saw it.  Again, off we went.

I don’t know how we did it.  We were going along fine and the next thing you know we’re back in Arkansas!   We don’t have a clue how we did that.

We went through some pretty unsavory looking neighborhoods.  We saw a total of two streets in the city that we would even consider living on.  Beautiful homes, nice looking manicured lawns, all surrounded by no other way to describe it other than a slum area.

Memphis’ street walkers are out in the daytime!  Oh how they dress!  Actually, now that I think about it there wasn’t a whole lot of “dress” involved here.  I was so taken aback at what I was seeing walking down the street in broad daylight that I didn’t even have presence of mind to lift the camera off my lap and snap a few.  Just as well, I may be have been seen doing that and I could have ended up being shot at!  Yeah, we were in that kind of neighborhood.  Bob got us out of there as quickly as he could.

I was so glad when we got back into the RV park.  Taking the tours probably would have been fine but exploring this city on your own could be risky.  Not a place we were comfortable in.

You can have Memphis, I’ll take Nashville any day.

Monday, April 21, 2014

4/21/14 The Rest of Our Day

(Memphis, TN)

After seeing everything there possibly was to see in Graceland, reading everything there was to read, watching every film there was to watch and hearing You Ain’t Nothing but a Hound dog a bazillion times, it was time to take our leave.

We walked back to our campground which is situated right behind the Heartbreak Hotel.

We knew when we got here that we were on

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but now we took notice of the other street names.

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We decided to go to the restaurant recommended by the staff at the campground office.  This restaurant was featured on the food network. They gave us a menu to Marlowe’s and if we took it with us we would get 10% off our bill.  AND they would come pick us up in a pink limo and deliver us back when we were done.  We made the call.

While we were waiting Bob took these pictures of all the bugs we killed on the way here.

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A good time to catch up with mom on the phone while waiting for the limo.

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The limo arrives.

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It was a short run down Elvis Presley Blvd and we arrived at Marlowe’s.

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We were the third table to be filled when we arrived.  Granted we were there about 5:30.

The menu was extensive and it was hard to make a decision as to what to have.  Bob finally made up his mind to have catfish, button mushrooms in a burgundy sauce and fried okra.  After coming back three times to get our order I still hadn’t made up my mind.  There were just too many things to choose from.  BBQ Ribs, BBQ chicken, there was even BBQ spaghetti!  That last entrĂ©e did not appeal at all.  So when our waiter arrived one again we placed our order.   Bob got what he wanted and I ordered……go ahead, take a guess.  yep, out of frustration I ordered a hamburger!  Bob raved about his dinner.  Mine was ok.  I’ve had better and I’ve had worse.

Arriving back home we agreed it was a fun day and we were both glad that we got to tour Graceland.

4/21/14 Graceland - Miscellaneous

(Memphis, TN)

Elvis Presley records selling from 89 cents for 45’s all the way to $3.98 for his latest album.

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Everywhere in the area was gift shops. You could buy anything and everything Elvis!  These are items from days gone by.

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Today, you can buy Elvis luggage.

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Want popcorn that comes in a container shaped like a guitar with a picture of Elvis in a Hawaiian shirt with a yellow lei?  Hey, you can get it here!

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You can even buy replica’s of his jumpsuits.  But then again, at these prices maybe they ARE his.  This blue number goes for $2025.00!

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The red one….

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Will anyone ever be able to fill these?

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Elvis movies. Personally, I’m not a fan of his movies.  In fact, neither was he.  He wanted to play some serious parts and do some serious acting  but the powers to be were hell-bent on light comedy musicals.  I guess if you were a teenager when he made his movies and swooned at every lip curl then these movies were the ticket for you.  I guess I was just too young to appreciate them.

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In 1968 Elvis made a TV special and it was watched by 1.4 million people around the world.  More people watched this than the moon walk in 1966.

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SiriusXM offers Elvis Radio and it is broadcast live from Graceland.

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Everywhere we go Bob gets one of those flattened pennies.  He has quite the collection now.

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So there it is, Graceland.

WE CAME….

WE SAW…..

WE EXPERIENCED…..
 
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4/21/14 Graceland - The Cars

Next stop on our tour was the ……

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Elvis bought this for Priscilla one Christmas.  In white of course.  At the time of writing this I cannot for the life of me remember what kind of car this is.  Anybody???

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Another white one, this time it’s a Rolls Royce.

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Elvis also loved his motorcycles.  This is not the best picture I’ve ever taken.

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If I remember correctly he bought this one for his mother.  It has been fully restored.

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I didn’t get pictures of everything but there was also an array of golf carts, dune buggies and snow mobiles fitted to ride on grass since Memphis is not the snow capital of the world.

Elvis also liked to ride around on the grounds of Graceland on a John Deere tractor.  In the late 90’s the tractor was retired after 50 years of use and replaced with the latest model.  A group from the local college took on the task of restoring the first one back to its original condition.  It looked like it came off the showroom floor.  I couldn’t get a picture of it because two men were standing right in front of it reminiscing about their old tractors and just weren’t moving on.  So I did.
 
There was a little theater area  set up where we could watch a short film on Elvis and his driving in the movies he made.

4/21/14 Graceland - The Clothes

(Memphis, TN)

Jumpsuits.  Its what he wore.

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The Tiger Suit,,such detail.

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I guess I never took notice of how much white he wore.
 
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All of these jumpsuits were definitely from the slim Elvis days. 
 
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There were more but how many jumpsuits can you take pictures of?  I was surprised I took this many.
 
Elvis did serve in the Army.   If you remember he met Priscilla when he was stationed in Germany.

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Priscilla’s wedding dress.

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I can’t think of anyone else that could pull off a brown paisley tuxedo to get married in.  Only Elvis.

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There you have it.  The king’s clothes.