Lora and I have been trying to figure out where to go, if anywhere, on a vacation. My traditional top two choices are the universal destinations of all commoners from the great Ohio Valley — Myrtle Beach or Graceland. Her preferences are slightly more sophisticated.
In recent years, Myrtle Beach has been the winner. In fact, I haven’t been to Graceland in 20 years, and since then they’ve added a lot more attractions.
This summer they opened a whole new Elvis experience across the street from the mansion, which for years had been dominated by a rather pedestrian shopping strip featuring every conceivable item stamped with the King’s name or image.
I’m sure all those items are still there, but now they’ve torn down the shopping strip and replaced it with a 200,000 square foot, $45 million “entertainment complex.” As described by the Chicago Sun Times, “Anchoring the complex are Presley Motors, the updated, expanded automobile museum; Elvis the Entertainer, which looks at the singer’s career; and Graceland Soundstage, a venue for movies and live performances.”
I assume they don’t mean live performances by Elvis, but who knows.
“Gift shops and restaurants fill in the spaces between exhibits,” the newspaper reported.
Why would anyone go anywhere else?
I’m easy. Places that most people say are “too touristy” are perfect for me. I’m a tourist! Point me to the nearest “As Seen On TV” store.
Mrs. Abernathy, on the other hand, would prefer a trip to Europe. And we’re not talking London or Paris, folks. Her idea of a good time in Europe is visiting some rustic village in Germany called Mockmuhl.
In Mockmuhl, from what I gather, it sounds like you have to carry pitchers of water to your room after you’ve pumped it from a well, ride goats to the local cheese-maker’s shop for lunch, and then spend your afternoons hiking through forests in search of edelweiss, which is a flower most of us know because they sang about it in “The Sound of Music.”
At Graceland, they ferry you back and forth on comfortable climate-controlled shuttle buses, offer a wide array of dining choices, and put you up for the night in the new Guest House at Graceland, which includes 450 “luxuriously appointed” rooms and two full-service restaurants.
If you get tired of Elvis, as I guess some people do, you can visit Beale Street for great blues music and Memphis-style ribs, or take a steamboat excursion on the Mississippi River.
I Googled “things to do in Mockmuhl” and the answer came up “none.” I’m not joking. The distance to Mockmuhl was calculated in kilometers, so there’s no way we’ll find it. And I’d have to get a passport, which takes about 6-8 weeks, so vacation season will be over, anyway. Sorry, honey.
Besides, I already have an official Graceland VIP Passport, issued by Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc., which comes courtesy of subscribing to the Elvis Newsletter. It entitles me to one free visit on the Lisa Marie airplane and $2 off any entrée at Vernon’s Smokehouse.
So let me think. Hmmm. Graceland or Mockmuhl. Graceland or Mockmuhl. Tough, tough choice.
Honestly, the closest I want to get to Europe is listening to Elvis sing the German lyrics to “Wooden Heart” while I’m wolfing down a peanut butter and banana sandwich at Gladys’ Diner on the Graceland grounds.
Still, it’s her turn to choose, so I have to get creative. Lately, she’s been on a bit of a camping kick, and she’s watching all these shows about RVs. Also, we have a new dog that we adopted from the pound, and it appears that she’s going to be one of those dogs who go everywhere with us, which I used to find really annoying, but now I’m giving in on the subject.
Campgrounds tend to welcome dogs, so I think she’ll go for a camping vacation that includes the dog, which will still be better than visiting Mockmuhl, Germany, where the internet tells me there is “none” in regard to things to do.
I could do camping, especially if I have all the conveniences like electricity, television and air conditioning, and there are stores and restaurants nearby.
Plus, lucky find — there’s a campground near Graceland. I need to call her with the good news.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.