August 2012

Although I love living in Denver, a recent trip back to Sin City has forced me to admit that there are a cultural adjustments I haven’t even started to make yet. Here are a few:

The food:

Everywhere I go in Denver I am surrounded by people who don’t eat meat, cheese, milk, wheat, gluten products, butter, or anything else good. People apparently live off of produce from their gardens and endless trips to City O’ City (the “BBQ” there is dry rubbed tofu. Can someone from Kansas City come beat up the chef please?). To each his own and all that, but I love baking! It sucks to bring a batch of cookies to an event and have them go untouched. This would NEVER happen in Las Vegas. My friend just threw me a baby shower in Vegas and people gobbled up her cupcakes, artichoke dip, mozzarella/arugula/tomato skewers, cream cheese filled strawberries, and ice cream punch that looked like a baby bath.

There is no way that menu would fly in Denver. If she would have been limited to locally grown swiss chard “shakes” and mushroom “burgers,” she would have quit on the spot.

I should love that I live in the healthiest state in the union, and sometimes I do. The peer pressure here makes me eat better, which is technically a good thing, but sometimes I miss my Las Vegas friends who un-ironically ask me if I’m trying to lose weight because I only ordered one hamburger at the McDonald’s Drive-Thur (true story). The other problem is that I’m surrounded by skinny people and I therefore look fat in comparison. (Granted I’m nearly 8 months pregnant now, but this problem existed 8 months ago and will again be a problem in a few short weeks). In Vegas I had a backside that I loved. In Denver, I just have a fat ass.

The marijuana:

Seriously, I was driving ON THE FREEWAY and I got a whiff of weed. I can’t go on a run around the block without fearing a contact high. Do medical dispensaries really need to be on every corner? It’s not like nobody smokes in Vegas, but Denver is really excessive. I guess Coloradans have to make up for their lack of butter and meat somehow.

The music:

Everyone here is into really cool and edgy music. I like Taylor Swift and top 40 hits. This is a problem.

Proximity to lots of cool places:

If you are into weekend road trips, Las Vegas is a great place to live. You are less than six hours away from L.A., San Diego, Phoenix, Lake Tahoe, some of Utah’s best national parks (Bryce and Zion), and the Grand Canyon. Denver has a lot of great mountain towns to explore, and heading up north to South Dakota is pretty cool. However, a drive east will bring you twelve hours of nothing but corn and soybean fields.

The slightly trashy element:

People in Denver aren’t trashy. Gals in my workout class have color coordinated Lucy workout gear. Moms shopping in the Highlands near my house all are pushing their toddlers in top-of-the-line jogging strollers. I haven’t seen anyone grocery shopping in their pajama pants. Everyone wears Tom’s shoes in the summer and cute no-heel boots in the winter.

People in Las Vegas probably don’t even know about Tom’s shoes. (Can you buy them at Wal-Mart?) Trashy clothes are not only on the Strip, but everywhere in Las Vegas. I miss raising my eyebrows at people’s outfits, spending entertaining hours simply people watching, and talking trash about the trashy things people wear. Also, I’m sad that I can never wear pajama pants to the store here (not like I ever did it in Vegas, but it was good to know it was a viable option. Also, I can’t afford Lucy workout gear or Tom’s shoes.

Luckily Denver more than makes up for its shortcomings. With four sports teams, a different running club to train with every day of the week, tons of cute mountain towns, a (relatively) well-funded education system, and a vibrant downtown (with museums! The most popular museum in Vegas is the Mob Museum), I’m totally in love with Denver. However, sometimes I miss my trashy, gluttonous, pop music loving self that I could comfortably be in Las Vegas.

Elvis was hot. I don’t know why I’m so late to pick up on this fact, but he really was. Way cuter than any of the Beatles, I think.

Obviously I’m talking about young and relatively skinny Elvis, aka the only Elvis discussed and displayed at Graceland. I’m not a huge Elvis fan, but was adamant that we had to go to Graceland while in Memphis. I feel like quite the dork because the Graceland references that I could conjure up involved that TV show Full House. Remember how Uncle Jesse was a huge Elvis fan?

Anyways…the audio tour through the Graceland mansion and grounds was pricey ($32 for the cheap tour plus $10 to park), but fun and worth it. I am generally pro-audio tour, and this was an especially good one due to the obvious plethora of music that accompanied the tour.

Graceland tickets can be purchased ahead of time online here or at Graceland. Since we were due to be in Memphis on a Saturday, we got tickets online. We avoided a short line, but would have been fine either way. They do offer AAA discounts, so take advantage if you are a member. After buying tickets you can visit the MULTIPLE gift shops (it’s kinda like an Elvis strip mall around there, complete with an ice cream shop) before receiving your audio headset and hopping in the bus line.

A very short (like, two minutes) air conditioned bus trip takes you across the street to Graceland. While small by today’s mansion standards, Graceland is a cool place. Elvis did not design or name the place, but bought it pre-built and kept the name Graceland. Like every poor kid, Elvis had promised his parents that he would someday provide for them, and indeed they always had a room in Graceland.

Non-flash photograph is allowed (Obviously. I’m too scared to take illegal pictures), but visiting the upstairs private part of Graceland is not. The tour takes you through the living room, Elvis’s parent’s room, the carpeted kitchen and the jungle room (also carpeted…on the ceiling) before heading downstairs and outside.

The buildings surrounding the mansion contain tributes to his fame and musical career. There are videos of him talking about his deployment overseas (can you even image pop stars being in the service today?) and scenes from his movies and concerts. Some of his be-spectacled pantsuits are on display, surrounded by albums and awards. You can trace a timeline of his life and career through the displays and audio tour information, but there is NO mention of any negative aspects of Elvis’s life, although drugs were briefly mentioned when discussing Elvis’s untimely death. Outside the mansion the tour takes Graceland visitors past Elvis’s gravestone, where fans still bring a barrage of gifts and flowers.

The tour takes a little over two hours, although you are welcome to spend as much time as you’d like in Graceland. It was crowded, but people were never pushing you to move along or speed up. There was not a line visitors had to stay in. The audio tour had several sections wherein you could stay and hear optional information, so I would image that hard-core Elvis aficionados would probably stay longer than two hours.

After the tour a bus takes you back across the street so you can purchase Elvis souvenirs – pink Cadillac earring, anyone?