Sent: Wednesday, October 24, 2001 11:45 AM
Subject: Hound Dog

Got to Graceland around 9, and bought tickets for the mansion tour and the airplane tour.  My camera batteries died about halfway through the mansion tour, so I only have a few pictures, and none of the mansion itself.  I have to admit, that while portions of the mansion were quite tacky, after years of hearing about it, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  I was also impressed by Elvis's reading material.  The hallway with all of his gold records and awards was unreal, we think Michael Jackson, and Madonna are huge, but Elvis was HUGE.  It is definitely worth going to Graceland, it is such a part of Americana, and you may be surprised at the substance behind the myth of Elvis.
After the mansion I went to see the planes...
  The famous gold sink
  The "Hound Dog II"
After the tours, I planned to get on the road and head up to Missouri for a VW bus campout with the Full Moon Bus Club.  The van however, would not start, which I diagnosed as a dead battery.  I push started it, and called my Dad to look up a Sears in West Memphis (Arkansas) so I could buy a new battery.  I figured as long as I kept it running or parked it on a hill I would be ok.  Well, I got off the highway to ask directions, and stalled it in the left hand turn lane on the access road under the overpass.  Unable to get it started, or push it myself, I waved cars around me until someone stopped to help me push it out of the way.  The battery was so dead my flashers didn't work.  As soon as I got to the side of the road, an Arkansas state police officer stopped and gave me ride up the road to an autozone where I bought a new battery,  after which he drove me back to the van. After installing the battery (which wasn't quite the right size,  requiring me to remove the passenger seat to get it in, I dropped off the old battery at the autozone, and on a hunch asked them check the alternator.  Turns out that was the real problem.  They had one that would fit for $150, but I wanted the Bosch OEM alternator, so they found a rebuilt one for me back in Memphis.  Gambling that the new battery would get me back to Memphis I took off.  I found the place, and they were holding the alternator for me (<$100), and as I was inside paying for it, the rainstorm started.  Big raindrops, thunder, the whole works.  So I swapped out my alternator in a rainstorm.  Fortunately the rear hatch allows you to work on the engine relatively protected from the elements.  Of course I was just about to start tightening bolts on the new alternator when I realized that it had the wrong kind of pulley, so out it came and I ran back into the shop so they could put the correct one on.  Other than a few old electrical connectors breaking, everything went back on fine, and it started right up.  I had them come out and test everything and it was all in good working order.  As I got back on the road, a few hours behind schedule, a little wet, and with my passenger seat riding in the back and tools everywhere, I couldn't help but smile about my shiny new alternator that I installed, and how I would much rather go through that again on a Friday afternoon than sit through one more useless meeting about budgets, reorganizations, or project updates (God help the poor fool who tries to make me sit through a meaningless meeting when I have to work again).  With that smile on my face, and thoroughly testing my revamped electrical system by blasting the radio,  I headed across the Mississippi for the 3rd time that day and towards Missouri to meet my new friends of the Full Moon Bus Club.