Well, now after 2015 is a long way off in the rearview mirror I am finding time to blog the rest of our travels from MN this past summer to our winter home in Ft. Myers Beach, FL (Guess I was being too much of a Snow Bird all winter 🙂 ). After leaving Winnebago in Forrest City, IA we continued heading south with our first stop over in St. Charles, MO.
We had visited here in 2013 when we first started this adventure and again we stayed at the same RV park. Only spent a week here. I wanted to stop and see a couple of old friends and colleagues who lived in the area, Mike and Dennis. Was finally able to setup a lunch with Mike nearby at the end of the week but unfortunately Dennis was out of town and unable to attend. It was great to see Mike again and we had a great time talking about all that’s been going on since we last got together. Was too busy having a good time with Mike and forgot to take any pictures 🙁 . Sorry I missed you on this pass, Dennis. . . next time!!
During our week in St. Charles we didn’t do an awful lot . . . we did take a late afternoon and went into St. Louis which is only about 25-30 miles from St. Charles. Lisa wanted to take the tour of St. Louis’ Gateway Arch. We tried on our first pass this way in 2013 but the Arch was closed then due to the National Parks closures. But alas, this time when we went to the Old Courthouse to get tickets to go into the Arch we found that the Arch closed at 5pm . . . it was 4:55 🙁 . Well we missed it again. We did wander as close to it as we could and got some pictures.
When taking the above pictures we found a group of Firemen doing wall scaling drills . . . they were traversing down from the top of the building in the second Arch picture above.
Even though we again missed going up into the Arch we had a fun time and had dinner at a restaurant along the river.
For the rest of the week in St. Charles I did my daily walks. We were only about a mile from the old historic part of St. Charles. There is a bike trail next door to the RV park . . . The Katy Trail. It follows the river all the way into historic old town. I would walk this trail everyday. At one end of the old historic town the trail runs by the Lewis & Clark Monument and a Lewis & Clark campsite.
Walking the Katy Trail along the river was very scenic and occasionally a river boat or barge would go by.
Upon leaving St. Charles we continued heading south. We have met many travelers through Missouri that raved about a café in Sikeston, MO called Lambert’s Café – “Home of the Throwed Rolls”. Wasn’t quite sure what a “Throwed Roll” was so being we were going through Sikeston we decided to overnight and check this place out. To our delight the RV park we choose was only about a mile or so from the café and the café would come and pick us up and return us to the park afterward. Not only did we get free transportation to and from but the pickup driver brought us in a side door and straight to the head of the line to be seated 🙂 . The place was pretty cool!
The menu was awesome and they had waiters and waitresses walking the floor with pots full of “free” sides (Corn, Baked Potato, Green Beans, Sliced Beets, Cole Slaw, Turnip Greens, Cucumbers & Onions, Cottage Cheese, Baby Carrots, Potato Salad, Cold Chunking Applesauce, Sliced Peaches, Baked Beans or White Beans, Candied Yams and Homemade Mashed Potatoes). Lisa ordered Chicken and Dumplings and I got the Hot Beef Sandwich.
So as far as the “Throwed Rolls” go . . . There were other waiters and waitresses walking the floor with pans of fresh hot dinner rolls and they would call out “Hot Rolls . . . Fresh Hot Rolls”. People would raise their hands and the waiters/waitresses would “Throw” the roll to them.
Look close and you can see a roll in mid air . . .
Naturally I had to try this . . . caught them both . . . no pics of the rolls in flight but they sure were good!!
Had a fun night with great food. There are a few of the Lamberts’s Cafes . . . The one in Sikeston, MO where we stopped, and ones in Foley, AL and Ozark, MO. If you go through any of these cities be sure to check it out.
After our fun night in Sikeston, MO the next day we headed further south . . . and east, next stop Memphis, TN.
We arrived in Memphis the next day and had made reservations to stay at the Graceland RV Park located right behind HeartBreak Hotel and just across the street from Graceland.
We only stayed a week but Lisa took some time off so we were able to check everything out. All the shops, restaurants and some museums were on our side of the street about a 2 minute walk from the RV park.
Naturally, we had to take the tour of Graceland.
There were 5 different levels of tickets . . . 1. The Graceland Elvis Entourage VIP Tour + Airplanes Tour 2. Graceland Elvis Entourage VIP Tour 3. Graceland Platinum Tour + Airplanes Tour 4. Graceland Platinum Tour 5. Graceland Mansion Tour. We took the Graceland Platinum Tour + Airplanes Tour ( about $45-$50 each). They load you in a bus at the Visitor Center and drive you across the street to the Mansion. Surprisingly, his mansion was not all that “Huge”.
The tour started through the front door of the mansion. Nothing has been changed since the day Elvis died (8/16/77). They gave us each an iPad w/headset that told us all about each room, building and the grounds. The main house was pretty decked out in all the 70s “hip” styles. You came right into the formal living room from the front door.
Here I am in one of the mirrors (which there were many) with my headset and iPad 🙂
Here is Elvis’ mothers room (Gladys Love Smith Presley) just off the living room.
And you could only just peek into her bathroom.
There is a stairway to the upstairs bedrooms and bathrooms (one of which was where Elvis was found). You were not allowed to go up the stairs. Apparently, Lisa Maria stills stays in the upstairs when at the mansion.
The formal Dining room.
Elvis’ kitchen, very modest by todays standards . . . notice the Avocado Green sink and the Harvest Gold Frig 🙂 .
The “Jungle Room” off the kitchen at the back of the house.
Downstairs is Elvis’ “Lounge” where he hung out and entertained guests. The stairway going down to the “Lounge” was all carpeted (floor, walls and ceiling) with the same green shag carpet that was in the “Jungle Room”.
In the “Lounge” Elvis had multiple TVs mounted in the walls so he could watch all the channels at one time . . . back then there wasn’t any cable or satellite 🙁 .
There is this weird kind of evil looking monkey on the coffee table and the ceilings were all mirrored (and NO the second picture below is not the evil weird monkey 🙂 ).
And you can’t forget Elvis’ “Pool Room” . . . a little over the top 🙂 .
I was lucky enough to get to come back that evening when everyone was gone and play a game with the King 🙂 .
After leaving the house you go out into Elvis’ backyard.
To the rear of the back yard are the offices.
There is an old smoke house room off the offices that Elvis and the boys used for a shooting range.
From the backyard you could see the stables and pasture. The building to the right in the below picture was Elvis’ gym later converted into a game and piano room.
The gym (Game/Piano) building was split level with games on the entrance floor and piano room/bar down a set of stairs.
The day Elvis died he was sitting at the piano playing for some guests when he suddenly got up and went into the house. They next found him unconscious in an upstairs bathroom.
In the back of this building there were many of Elvis’ favorite collectables (Outfits, Gold records, etc.).
The main garage has been turned into a mini Elvis museum with all his records, awards, some clothes, some of his outfits and lots of memorabilia .
The last stop on the tour was the cemetery . . . It had been very interesting up to this point but suddenly it just seemed so sad 🙁 .
From the cemetery we walked back towards the front of the estate where you could look out over the very large front yard. In the second picture below you can just see the drive coming to the house in the upper right of the picture. Elvis used to ride his Go-Kart up and down the drive and even out into the street.
Well from here we took the bus back across the street to the visitors center and made our way to see his airplanes. He had two planes . . . The “Hound Dog II”, a Lockheed JetStar that Elvis purchased in 1975 while waiting for Lisa Marie to finish being refurbished.
And the infamous “Lisa Marie” . . . a Convair 880 Jet that Elvis purchased from Delta Airlines on April 17,1975 for the then very substantial amount of $250,000. After refurbishing it, the total cost exceeded $600,000, and he immediately rechristened it the “Lisa Marie” in honor of his only daughter.
The Lounge/TV area.
The Dining area.
And can’t forget the bathroom.
The sinks in the bathroom were gold plated.
Well, that pretty much wrapped up our tour of Graceland . . . Very Fun and Interesting and a bit sad. Oh, one more Elvis thing . . . When I did my walks I would walk along Elvis Presley Boulevard. On the sidewalk out front of the Graceland Visitor Center is a path of footprints .
On our last night in Memphis we took a bus from the HeartBreak Hotel into the old section of Memphis to Beale Street. If you are not familiar with Beale Street . . . it is a street in Downtown Memphis, Tennessee, which runs from the Mississippi River to East Street, a distance of approximately 1.8 miles (2.9 km). It is a significant location in the city’s history, as well as in the history of the Blues. Today, the blues clubs and restaurants that line Beale Street are major tourist attractions in Memphis. Festivals and outdoor concerts periodically bring large crowds to the street and its surrounding areas.
Lots of cool Blues clubs and street entertainers. We grabbed a couple of beers and wandered the street.
These guys were doing some fantastic gymnastic routines.
There were a number of entertainers dressed up in Halloween getups.
It was a fun evening but alas it was time to head back to the coach for tomorrow we move on.
From Memphis we pretty much made a beeline to Florida. We had a brief stop over in Panama City Beach for 4-5 days then headed to one of our old haunts in Kissimmee, FL were we stayed until we were to head for Ft Myers Beach for the winter season. This was our digs at Tropical Palms Resort in Kissimmee, FL.
We have stayed at Tropical Palms every fall and spring since we’ve been on the road on our way to and from FMB. It is a fairly large resort and I am able to get my 6-8 mile walks in every weekday. About 3/4 of the way through the walks I cross over a small creek and there always seem to be a gator lurking close by and sure enough there it was again.
After I saw my little buddy again last fall I seemed to have gators on my mind. I would look up into the sky and one day sure enough I saw a gator coming out of a cloud 🙂 .
While we were staying in Kissimmee this past fall we decided to become Floridians. We have seemed to spend 5-6 months each year here so what the heck. After a couple of weeks jumping through all the hoops we finally became real Florida residents . . . sorry Texas 🙂 .
Most everyone knows this by now but also, while we were in Kissimmee we shopped around for a new motor home . . . Winnebago wouldn’t fix any mold damage that may have been in “Homey”. After visiting many RV dealers and looking at countless coaches we decided to order one made just for us. So at the end of October we placed an order to Tiffin Motor Homes. We would have to wait for many weeks before we could get it but most everyone knows that whole story. Anyway Dec 1 we left Kissimmee and headed to our winter home at Gulf Waters RV Resort in Ft. Myers Beach were we have stayed until May 1. We are now back on the road for the next 5-6 months so there should be more new blogs about new places coming through the summer.