The next morning, I'm pleasantly surprised to find that the Sleep Inn provides breakfast. Score! Starbucks coffee it ain't, but the bagel does the trick. Then it's out the back door to catch Bus 43 - the Elvis Presley line straight to Graceland ($1.15). I've opted for the Platinum Package tour ($24.30 with AAA discount), which includes the mansion, automobile museum, Elvis' two airplanes, and the Sincerely Elvis Museum. Say what you will about Elvis' tastes, but you can never say he didn't know what he liked.
I'm shocked at the green shag carpet that lines the walls and ceiling in the Jungle Room, the 350 yards of multicolored fabric that covers nearly everything in the Pool Room, and the mirrored ceiling in the TV room. Graceland is a gaudy mess. The only thing missing is a big blue leisure van. Maybe that's in the automobile museum.
At the end of the tour, I realize I've made a critical error. Sun Studio, my next stop, runs a free shuttle between itself, Beale Street, and Graceland. I could have saved $1.15! It's a good thing this afternoon's duck march will be free, but more on that later. Time waits for no man, and the hourly shuttle is here. I simply don't have time to stop by Elvis' favorite spot for cheeseburgers, a joint down Elvis Presley Boulevard called the Gridiron Diner. I hop aboard the shuttle and head for another Memphis institution.
It was inside the soundproof walls of Sun Studio that Elvis birthed rock-and-roll's first record, "That's All Right (Mama)," in 1954. When released to radio the next day, it was played 14 times in the first three hours alone. On the tour ($9.50), you can stand in the very spot where it all went down.
Sun Studio used to serve food (including the King's beloved fried peanut butter and banana sandwich), but these days it sticks to music. Still, a man's gotta eat, and I simply can't afford lunch at any place as nice as the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art's The Brushmark Restaurant, which offers panoramic views of Overton Park along with its $9 fried-green-tomato BLTs. So it looks like burgers at Huey's are in order.