I'd come to Virginia first and foremost to pay a visit because I love spending time with those two, but I'd also come to help scare up some fun things to do in the vicinity, since I have a pretty good knack for that. And scare up fun things to do, we did! There was absolutely no shortage of worthy destinations that I could detect. (See mirror ball affixed to random roadside pine above.)
On Thursday, December 18, Brooke and I made a trip to Roanoke to visit a place referred to as Elvis City or Mini Graceland. Elvis City is an elaborate replica of Graceland and other Elvis-centric structures installed in the humble front yard of an otherwise unremarkable home in an old industrial neighborhood in Roanoke.
I had to stop and ask for directions at a local gas station when I became lost and the fellow I asked replied, "That old place? That's been there for years! I didn't even know you could go up and look at it! Funny what you never see in your own back yard." It's a sentiment I've heard expressed over and over in my travels. It's so easy to overlook the marvels right under your nose, isn't it?
After managing to locate our quarry, I parked the car so Brooke and I could polish off our appropriately themed convenience store lunch of Fritos and bean dip before setting out to take a turn around Elvis City.
It was fortuitous that Brooke and I had visited the real Graceland just months earlier so we could make informed comparisons as we looked around. I was particularly happy to note that curator Mike Epperly had gone to the trouble of installing seasonal blue Christmas lights lining the driveway, just exactly as I'd observed on my visit to the jumbo Graceland during Christmas of 1991. Brooke pointed out that the light fixture over the front door of the mansion had been faithfully reproduced for Mini Graceland, which tickled both of us. The Tupelo birthplace of Elvis was represented along with miniatures of various performance halls where the King had performed so triumphantly all those many years ago.
I'm sorry I wasn't able to meet the fellows that had so meticulously crafted the buildings and let them know how much I appreciated them. I guess not everyone wants to talk about what they do. Some folks like to quietly create and let the others make of it what they will.