It says something about that second day of our 2015 vacation trip that it’s taken three blog posts to recount it. It makes me tired just writing about it.
Not long after we left the Shiloh National Battlefield Park, we entered Mississippi. There was a moment of excitement since this was our first time in the state; well, Diamondqueen and I worked up some enthusiasm. The Hooligans were indifferent. And it’s not like we got to see the state. Our route followed just south of Mississippi’s northern boundary.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to look at. The drive was fairly boring. Diamondqueen was wasted from all the driving, I was starting to feel vaguely carsick. The Hooligans must have been worn out as well since, generally, they kept quiet except for a few flare-ups of bickering.
It didn’t seem as if it was ever going to happen, but we finally started seeing signs for Memphis that put it in spitting distance. We followed the recommended route into the city and ran smack into a mammoth traffic jam. It wasn’t clear if this was just rush hour congestion, but the highway was clogged with traffic, mostly coming south while we were heading north. There were many, many semis, perhaps because we were near the airport with a lot of shipping concerns in the vicinity.
It probably seemed longer than it really was, but we finally reached the intersection for the thoroughfare that would lead us to Elvis Presley Boulevard, our destination. Then we drove on that for what seemed forever.
We already knew where we were having dinner. (Somehow we avoided lunch entirely, getting our sustenance from energy bars, chips, and other snacks packed in the van.) I’d said I wanted to eat at least one good barbecue joint in Memphis. I did some research, including consulting the Food Network’s archive of “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives,” and discovered one of the better restaurants was south of our hotel on Elvis Presley Boulevard. Since they were supposed to have a killer cheeseburger in addition to barbecue (a J.Hooligan staple), we were in agreement we’d go to Marlowe’s Ribs & Restaurant. We didn’t even stop at the hotel first. I think Diamondqueen and I were both afraid if we landed in the room, we’d never rouse ourselves again.
Marlowe’s turned out to be a great choice. The food was good and it had a very entertaining atmosphere, including screens broadcasting an Elvis movie for the diners. I got the pulled pork barbecue I wanted and finished off two beers; it had been that kind of day. Between the beers and the fatigue, I don’t remember a whole lot about the rest of the meal, including whether S.Hooligan was at all civil. I do think she insisted on dessert (Mississippi mud pie, if I’m not mistaken) and then wouldn’t eat it. I know I consumed way more rich chocolate than I really wanted at that point.
It was dusk by the time we pulled into the parking lot of the hotel. Diamondqueen had selected the Days Inn Memphis at Graceland specifically because it boasted an Elvis Presley theme. I’d seen photos and read descriptions, so I thought I was prepared. None of us were. We were overwhelmed with the sight of Elvis murals on the hotel walls and Elvis paraphernalia dripping from the lobby windows. The only thing more startling was the appearance of an elderly gentleman in thong-like swimming trunks. Apparently he’d been swimming in the guitar-shaped pool, but why he felt it was necessary to parade at the front of the hotel is beyond me. As one, we all shrieked in horror. I hope he didn’t hear us. We weren’t trying to be cruel. We were just so tired, so bloated with a big dinner, so punchy from the drive that he assaulted our vision like some kind of mutant. A knobby, slouch-bellied mutant with way too much skin (and too many bulges) exposed.
Diamondqueen checked us in. We were at the back of the hotel on the second floor; we discovered there were no elevators. Even with darkness falling, the heat was smothering as we wearily dragged our wheeled suitcases behind us and bumped them stair by stair up two flights to the second floor.
The air conditioning hadn’t been on all day, so the room was stifling. The decor consisted of framed photos of Elvis over both beds. As tired as I was, for some reason I had trouble sleeping that night. I had indigestion (I was to discover that I’d failed to pack the pantoprazole I take every morning for GERD), and the loud air conditioning unit was barely bringing the room temperature down to a comfortable level. As I tossed and turned, I kept coming face-to-face with a portrait of a young Elvis gazing down at me from the wall beside my bed. He wasn’t taunting or judgmental. He simply seemed to be saying gently, “I am everywhere, you know.” I was to find out that was absolutely true.