Thursday, April 09, 2015

Florida Vacation - Part 1

Time is a freaky thing. It’s been a week since we left Miami; in some ways it seems like five minutes ago and in other ways it seems like it never even happened. At any rate, we jumped back into regular life way too quickly. First there was the hot water tank situation, and then illness came for a visit and has long overstayed its welcome.

Spencer started feeling sick-ish on the drive home and is still not back to normal. He stayed home from school on Monday, rallied on Tuesday but came home exhausted and hasn’t been back since. I don’t think he’ll go tomorrow either. We went to the doctor on Wednesday and he said to come back on Friday if Spencer wasn’t better. He’s always a little better in the mornings and then feels worse as the day goes on, so I’m not sure what to make of it.

And Neve has been coughing for three weeks. It got better on our trip but now it’s back, worse than ever. Maybe the heat was good for her. We should probably go back. After listening to her hack all night, I took her to the doctor today. He said it sounded like pneumonia but she wasn’t sick enough. He gave her pills to take for two weeks and then we have to go back.

But between doctor visits, work, school stuff and activities, I found myself in a seven-hour slice of paradise on Tuesday. My sister and I spent all afternoon and most of the evening at Thermea Spa. We had massages and then spent the rest of the time doing the hot-cold-relax cycles, with an emphasis on relax. As much as I dislike snow in spring, I have to say it was pretty magical when snowflakes started falling. It felt like we were at a ski resort in the mountains, sitting in the hot tub watching the steam rise from the surface and smelling the wood fire … ahhh … it was a pretty sweet boost to the post-holiday transition.  As an added bonus, thanks to my aunt and decent health insurance, it cost us nothing.

So here’s the first installment of my vacation report, consisting mostly of photos. I can’t say yet how many installments there will be, but I promise it will be less than 50. We’ll start in Memphis. Despite knowing very little about Elvis, Spencer expressed great interest in visiting Graceland. That’s the joy of road trips; we can do whatever we want.

We all enjoyed the tour even though we’re not big Elvis fans. It’s always fun to snoop around someone’s house when they’re not home, especially if it’s someone iconic. It was a self-guided audio/iPad tour, which was kind of cumbersome but kind of cool. The shuttle bus system from the Visitor’s Centre to Graceland right across the street was lengthy and awkward, but I will trust that after 33 years, they have determined this is the most efficient method.
It was a weird feeling to walk through the house. I wouldn't say I'm a star-struck kind of person, but you could feel a presence. Some rooms were relatively plain, like the living room:

And the kitchen, where the décor has been left exactly as it was when Elvis was alive:
Some rooms were less plain:

And some were downright weird, like the jungle room (not shown) and the pool room with its fabric-covered walls and ceiling:

The former racquetball court now houses memorabilia and jumpsuits:

The graves of Elvis, his parents, and his grandmother:

There was a lot more including stables and horses, and private planes and cars on the extended tour. The second floor of his house is off limits out of respect for his personal living space and the place he died. They say no one is allowed upstairs except Priscilla, Lisa Marie and the curator of Graceland.
So Graceland was Spencer's request, and Chloe had one too. She had read about this old diner in Memphis and really wanted to go. It wasn't too far from Graceland, so with the help of our Nav system, we headed to Arcade Restaurant. It's been open since 1919 and is apparently Memphis' oldest café.  

It was super cool. It was authentically retro, not just fake wanna-be retro. The food and the milkshakes were delicious, but all the history is even better. It's survived through many decades, even when many places in the neighbourhood went out of business and were boarded up. Elvis was a regular here and there's a long list of movies that have filmed here. I wish we'd had more time to explore the area because there were a lot of neat shops around, as well as a trolley that goes right by the restaurant.

I'm starting to sound like a low-budget travel writer, so I'll stop there. Oh, I should mention, I changed the comment settings so you have to use a verification word. Some comments were going missing so I thought I'd try this. I hope it's not so inconvenient that you won't bother commenting because I am very fond of comments. I've never used the word "comments" so many times in one paragraph.


Daniel said...

Sorry to hear of the ailments - hope you get that under control soon.
The spa day sounds wonderful!! Glad you got to enjoy it, including the 'mountain spa' feeling!
Love the old restaurant! Authenticity is hard to fake, and it's nice to experience the real thing.
The Graceland tour looks very interesting - I'm not sure what I'd expect to find, but Im surprised at the decor!
Looking forward to the next instalment! I'm hoping the "less than 50" does still get close!

Daniel said...

Hey, I didn't have to put in a security word - but I'm logged in with my Google account, so maybe I get a free pass?

Anonymous said...

I miss (because I'm old enough to remember...ahem) doctor's orders to convalesce at the seaside. Too bad that didn't happen more often.

Water heater issues = ugh.

Thermea...4 of us tried to get a time at thermea for massages over a month a ago and we had to settle for the end of April. I'm sort of sad because I was hoping to be there with some snow on the ground to get the full experience, but am still looking forward to the massage/relax/eat part. :) And since there will be no snow, I will have an excuse to go again next winter. Tee hee.

Graceland. Whoa. I am not a huge Elvis fan myself, so I'm not sure I would have been as easily talked into visiting there, but I agree with Daniel...that decor is surprising.

Welcome home.
p.s. I finished 'A House in the Sky' a couple of days ago. I have to admit that the first part was anxiety provoking and kind of annoying for me because Lindhout is so aimless in life and in travelling. I remember thinking "No wonder she got kidnapped in Somalia." It doesn't help that I am a planner and organizer and researcher when it comes to travelling and to life and it almost gives me panic attacks to watch people who 'fly by the seat of their pants'...if that makes sense.

But through the book, I think you gain some sort of recognition how Lindhout's own upbringing and life experience did not really give her other life skills in how to make decisions or to surround herself with people who were good for her. She had to live selfishly as a kid to survive a lot of her early life and it continued into her adulthood. I think her recognition of how her captors were also a product of their environment helps to bring that out in an subtle way without her getting self righteous and stating it full out herself. I respected that she never once said, "How did you expect me to live with my early life experience" and she loved her family no matter what had happened in the past. It's a good reminder to us all that the decisions and actions of others comes from a long list of previous life experiences that we know nothing about. Overall a great story about perseverance and forgiveness.

Anonymous said...

Yay to update! Also excited for next installment. And thanks so much for fitting our invitation creation into such a crazy week. We appreciate it so much!


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great trip!

They should call it ther-me-ahhhhh
I loved the scrubs!
-cousin Carolyn