Fort Smith, AR, to Nashville, TN

This morning we started out from Fort Smith, AR, with heavy clouds and grayness enveloping us. But soon, the fog burned off and the sun came out, and we enjoyed the countryside of Arkansas in wintry light.

We made the decision this morning that we would make an unscheduled side trip, since we were going to pass through Memphis anyway. We couldn’t be that close and not go to Graceland!

I’m actually glad we went. I had imagined that it would be some gaudy, outlandish place, but it was pretty low-key and normal. In fact, Graceland would be lost in the surrounding neighborhood were it not for the big Graceland parking area and shopping center across from the actual site of Graceland, which is on a hill behind a pretty normal-looking fence in a business area of town.

We drove past it initially because we weren’t sure where it actually was. Then backtracked and parked in a fairly deserted parking lot near the Heartbreak Hotel. Since it was a cool day, we left the puppies in the car while we took the two-hour tour of Graceland.

I’d expected Liberace, but got 1960s Brady Bunch, in terms of homes. Graceland is a nice home, still decorated in 1960s and 1970s decor, including green shag carpeting, on the floor and on the ceilings (!). It just felt like a family home. Of course, we didn’t go upstairs, since it’s not open to the public, but the rest of the house just felt like a family home.

The really interesting part of the tour was the trophy room. This gave me a new understanding of, and admiration for, Elvis. Not because he is one of the most award-winning artists of all time, but because of his generosity, which was highlighted in one of the rooms. It turns out that Elvis was an extremely generous man, always giving to the needy: whether to children, the elderly, to hospitals, etc. He wrote hundreds of checks for charities, a fact of which I had been unaware.

He was also apparently a gentle, well-mannered, humble man, as both Ed Sullivan and Walter Matthau said of him. I never imagined I’d ever visit Graceland, but I’m glad we did. It gave me a new view of the man behind the myth.

The puppies are such great troopers! So adaptable and just happy to be with us. They were thrilled when we got back from the Graceland tour. I’m sure that was hard for them, to see us walk away. But, as I promised them, we came back.

After Graceland, we traveled the long, crowded highway I-40 to Nashville, which seemed an inviting city as we drove through it in the darkness. It was a long day, and the dogs put in 10 hours in the van, and we were all happy to finally arrive at the hotel.