Friday, December 16, 2011

Tupelo, Mississippi - Birthplace of Elvis Presley

You have read how much I love Oxford, Mississippi. This is a quintessential southern town with stately homes, tree lined streets and a beautiful town square. Our hopes were high as we left Oxford and headed east on highway 6 towards Tupelo.

The birthplace of Elvis Presley should be a wonderful place right? After being there for a short amount of time, it was easy to see why the Presley family packed up and moved to Memphis when Elvis was 13 years old. Actually, most of what we saw likely wasn't there in 1948; except for his childhood home.

Replica of Elvis' Family Car

As you enter Tupelo, highway 6 becomes Main St. and you experience mid-afternoon traffic that you would expect in big city rush hour. There were many traffic lights, some of which took 2 light changes to get through. It was chain fast-food restaurants, gas stations, strip malls, and a Wal-Mart. I have nothing against Wal-Mart; I went there to get an iPhone charger for the car. It's the endless commercial sprawl and traffic that make a weather-dreary afternoon even longer. There was no historic town center or any real town center at all; just one busy commercial area after another.

Capturing the spirit of Elvis

Tupelo was not entirely a bad experience. That afternoon at 5:15pm, my brother looked up the hours for Elvis' birthplace. It closed at 5:00pm. We were disappointed, especially my Dad since he really wanted to see either Graceland or his birthplace. He says it was for my Mom but we know the truth. Since our hotel was less than a mile away, we decided to drive by. To our delight, the grounds were open. The museum and home were closed, but you could walk right up, read the plaques, and take pictures. It really was magical.

Elvis' Home. What a magical place.

With our spirits brightened with the ghost of Elvis, we went on the hunt for dinner. Gloster St. was just as busy as Main yet seemed to have more food options which were not fast food. From the outside, Vanelli's looked like a good Italian restaurant. It also appeared that this is where anyone who is anyone in Tupelo goes for dinner (maybe that should have been a sign).

The Church Elvis and his family attended in his youth.  

Outhouse from the Church. Unfortunately no longer in service.
The food was typical, bland and served in large quantities. I finished less than half of mine. Mike and I decided on the way home to get some wings to munch on during the world series. Hammond's Wings looked rough on the outside and was rougher on the inside. Everyone looked at us awkwardly when we entered. It was pretty evident that we were the outsiders and this was an insiders joint. We still ordered our wings, waited, and left.

The rest of the evening was spent rooting for the Texas Rangers and eating overcooked wings. In the morning the motel provided a continental breakfast. It was nothing like the breakfast at the hotel in Memphis. At the beautiful Ameritel Inn & Suites, we could have coffee and a pre-packaged danish. We opted for neither and found a Hardees.

At a supermarket, we bought some snacks. In the parking lot there was a BBQ/smoker/grill unit on a trailer pulled behind a truck. It was a work of art. They take their college football serious down here and their tailgating even more serious. This was one serious Ole Miss fan. The owner had no problem with us admiring his truck when he came out of the store. He even gave us a quick tour of the unit. It was from him that I first heard "We might not win the game, but we will always win the party."

Tailgater Heaven

The best part about Tupelo is that this is where we picked up the Natchez Trace Parkway; one of the most beautiful scenic byways in the country.

Happy Travels.


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