MEMPHIS, TENN., JUNE 8, 2014—Fresh off a long day covering Southern Thunder Harley-Davidson‘s rockin’ Grand Re-opening Party—which featured live music all day long under the picturesque Bar & Shield-branded water tower hovering high above the dealership, capped off with performances by Black Oak Arkansas and Molly Hatchet on the main stage—I found myself touring around northern Mississippi with no agenda and nowhere to be on a brand-spankin’-new 2014 Street Glide Special courtesy of the kind folks over at the Southaven, Mississippi-based dealership. Exploring some 200 miles of back roads in the Mississippi River Delta Region with no end destination in sight, I pulled over at the unique and historic Tunica, Mississippi, Vistor’s Center for a great photo op. While there I saw a flyer for Elvis Presley’s Graceland tours, and noticed a quick 45-minute scoot up Highway 61 to Elvis Presley Boulevard (Highway 51) would have me there before midafternoon and still leave plenty of time to clock some more miles on the SGS. Though I will admit to not being what you would call and “Elvis fanatic,” I am extremely glad I made the decision to take the tour and witness an amazing collection of American musical and cultural history.
A day after the 32nd anniversary of Elvis Presley’s Graceland mansion opening to the public (officially opened on June 7, 1982), I was one of thousands of people on hand to tour The King’s former home. Four different tours are offered ranging from $34 to $72, and the highlight of them all is the audio-guided tour of the mansion grounds. I decided on the “Platinum Tour + Airplanes Tour” for $37, which afforded me self-guided tours of Elvis’ Automobile Museum, his personal airliner and jet, plus other various displays including the Live From Vegas, ’68 Special and his Tupelo Hometown exhibits. (For more information, visit www.graceland.com/visit/buytickets.aspx.)
I can’t speak enough about the experience of walking through the mansion and seeing the rooms simply left as if they had never been touched since the late 70’s. From Elvis’ “Jungle Room” to the mirrored ceiling basement/TV room, the crazy pool room… and even Lisa Marie Presley’s swing set still sitting in the backyard, it was awe-inspiring and awesome and everything else you’d expect it to be. At the conclusion of the tour I realized I had taken close to 100 photos in all. Of course, leave it to me to come unprepared and be stuck with my iPhone for a camera. In the end, I had a blast and the ol’ iPhone did a standup job considering there is no flash photography allowed anywhere on the Graceland grounds or in any of the exhibits, so I hope you enjoy a few of the photos that turned out OK. And If you’re ever riding around in the Memphis area, be sure to head to Graceland and then take a trip south to see the awesome Southern Thunder H-D shop in Southaven before exploring the great roads within the Mississippi Delta Region.
**Keep an eye out for full coverage on Southern Thunder H-D’s Grand Re-opening Party in the August issue of Thunder Press South, as well as the photo gallery that’s also soon to be posted online.