Like most time honored traditions, you have to see BBQ Fest to really get it.
I was expecting something a lot different when I walked up to Tom Lee Park. You know, I’ve been to a lot of small town BBQ competitions.
He he he, Yea right!!!
While the focus is on the pork, the highlight Thursday night was the party. My friend Bevin Evans, who grew up here, said I just had to come after two years living here and always working during the BBQ Fest time.
Bikini clad bartenders
Tight briefs for the men
Multi-level scaffolding for tents
Crazy loud dance music
Over the top decorations
All along the MS river
Definitely a must see to believe.
Reminds me a lot of the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, MS in terms of the serious good time, amazing decorations- full of color and good ole southern porch culture where you could waste away hours, some lose track of days!
I only had a couple of hours as 2:30 am always comes early, but I’m so glad I napped all day, so I could see the party in full Thursday night revelry.
I’m told from this point on the cooking gets serious. If they cook like they party I want to see it. The ribs I had were already insane. I’m heading out of town this weekend, so had to squeeze it in when I could!
Below with my Memphis buds Bevin & Ellie
- The pavement reference is in the title just because that’s really what I say in my head instead of wow.
My boyfriend Matt and I live in different cities. He’s near Atlanta and I, of course, am in Memphis. This is a fairly new relationship but it does appear we will fly to see each other once a month. It’s a nice short flight, but clearly we will want to visit more than just 12 times a year!
So, this weekend we met up in a random city between both our homes. This time we picked Huntsville, Alabama.
Why? Well :: why not. We stayed at the Marriott flanked by rockets on all sides. Pretty wild drive up to the parking lot.
Our view from the hotel room :: cool!!
It was all intentional, though. We’d decided to do the whole science/history thing and tour the space center which is basically on the same property as the hotel. I’ve never been very interested in science or space. I know every one thinks space is cool, but I really don’t, well maybe I just don’t think about it all that much. However, I do think war weaponry, WW2, Germans and history are cool and I got a lot of that, much to my surprise. They should really market the museum better, if you ask me.
You see. Maybe it’s a history most know :: or at least most who were alive during that era. During the 40′s and the war Hitler had a team of scientists working on rockets – - missile technology. We knew that. What I didn’t know is that those same men who were responsible for the Nazi V-2 rocket, that rained down on Europe during the war, were also taken taken in by American troops at the end of the war, and were flown to Texas where they continued their research, this time for us. These former Nazis were essentially the true brain power behind what we now know as NASA. We can thank them for the Saturn V that propelled Apollo to the moon! Fascinating!!
The main man was a rocket scientist by the name of Wernher von Braun, a German.
His desk was on display
If he’s a household name I missed that dinner conversation. He’s all new to me. He and his team were initially taken to a base in Texas (their relocation was called operation paperclip) then moved to Huntsville where they spent many years putting Alabama on the map. Many of the German families still live in Huntsville. Matt and I were just shocked by the fact that NASA was essentially jump started by some Nazi leftovers.
Von Braun circled
He’s with nazis
All I can say is better we got the scientists and not the Soviets who surely were looking for them, too.
A mere 16 years later with the president
Anyhow, the museum dedicated a majority of the material to Von Braun, and the Huntsville people seem very proud of him. I imagine there were some confused people in the area during the 50′s, though. We went in this cute little bookshop that carried a lot of local books and one of them was written by a man who was a kid living in Huntsville during that time. We read through enough to find out that lots of people in the community then wondered if the gang of scientists were really German spies! Can you imagine the porch/coffee talk! Matt and I are both obsessed with all things Russian, German, Cold War and WW2 so this bit of history was a weekend-maker / non-stop conversation for us.
Also memorable was Matt’s fish dish at dinner Saturday night. He looked ahead and picked this very lovely place called Cotton Row for dinner.
The lighting inside was perfect, and the food was so good and rich. I had lamb and it was quite nice, however, Matt says his fish was one of the best fish dishes he’s had in a long time. What a statement! It also had a good creamy risotto. We’ve decided to go back to Huntsville just for that meal!
Now to some rather sad weekend news. As I walked out of my apartment to leave Saturday morning I saw something heartbreaking. Lydia the bird was dead. Her sister Leona was just crying above her in the cage. I don’t know what happened. My only guess is that she had been eating some of the painted wood off her cage and possibly the Chinese construction poisoned her. It is a very old cage. I know a bird is probably just a couple of degrees above a fish in terms of how wrapped up one would get in them. By that I mean, no I didn’t cry. It’s not as it would be if I lost Bridget, but it did break my heart. So much so that I had to call a friend to help me with her little body.
Lydia on the right
To make Lydia’s death a little crazier Matt and I had a marathon movie watching session Sunday morning (now that I wake up naturally at 7 am there is lots of time ) consisting of Pet Sematary 1 and 2. Talk about crazy images.
poor poor Eward Furlong
He was such a cutie kid. Today hard drugs have hit him hard.
I prefer to picture him this way – the way he looked in Pet Sematary
I’ll close this blog by saying Lydia will will not be visiting pet sematary. Also, that Matt and I loved Huntsville. To have been there for such a short time it really was fun and authentic.
If you can think of some other interesting meeting spots between ATL and Memphis let me know! I suppose I haven’t said anything about where we met. He was just quickly announced as my boyfriend via my blog. Well, we met in Oxford when he was in graduate/law school at Ole Miss and I was finishing undergrad. We actually had a journalism ethics class together (Dr Adkins) in Farley Hall ( my favorite spot on campus) together and I thought he was dreamy. He was two years older than I was. We became very close friends until I moved to start my career in Meridian. It just took him a while to decide he liked me the same as I always liked him. Well, like nine years. Goodness life is funny. Bottom line I haven’t been with a person I considered or called a boyfriend in around five years. He has a similar story. We are excited.
What’s great is that for two music people we naturally have a song/band/music genre for every outing…. this is from the Huntsville trip.
This was my song for the drive to and from Rocket City
The xx – chained (from the new album coexit)
Last Sunday my travel partner and I split up for the day. We only had a day and a half in Berlin and each craved alone time. She had a handful of things picked out to do and I was in the pursuit of something I couldn’t quite name. With that said, the last thing I needed to do was bring her along for my crazy quest.
I took the underground and just get off somewhere that felt right. I walked back above ground somewhere around Frankfurter Tor and Strausberger Platz along Carl Marx Allee in the old East Berlin.
I wanted to see the communist architecture. I wanted to daydream about what it would have been like to live there before the wall fell. I figured I’d find a bunch of people like me walking around the streets, but I didn’t. I really felt alone. Felt silly for snapping pictures of the giant tiled apartment buildings lining the street. Hours went by and by ,though, looking around I couldn’t tell I’d moved. The dreary buildings are copies of each other. Strange.
Sure, it’s been 22-23 years since reunification, but the history is tangible. Blessed with an active imagination, I found this graffiti lined park, took a seat and assigned myself a role.
It was 1985 and I was a spy for the west. With the fall in sight, my job was clearly very important. I won’t get into specifics but Jason Bourne has nothing on me. I looked fantastic in my furry hat and long wool coat, just in case you were wondering?
Kinda spy-like, huh? Maybe I need to toss the pink. I was feeling it, though.
Camille, my favorite travel partner, and I drove from Munich, to Nuremberg, to Dresden and ended in Berlin. I’m still forming my opinions on Berlin. All the friends we met along the way told us we just wouldn’t like Berlin as much as we did “their” cities. I loved their pride, and they might be right. Though, how much of a judgement can be made when only visiting a city for 2 days? My immediate judgement. It’s a city that feels cold and spread out. Maybe that’s exactly what it is and that isn’t necessarily negative. It was just a far contrast to the culture we experienced only days earlier in Bavaria where we joined people on picnic tables holding up head sized beer glasses until we craved the bed.
Sweetest roadside coffee break :: despite the cow odor coming from behind us
In Dresden Camille and I fell in love with our little hampleman
he he he
My half day walking the streets of East Berlin fit in perfectly with what turned out to be the theme of the trip.
Facts, dates and cramming so hard you’d have thought I was going to be tested upon return.
The day before Berlin Camille and I met this fun group in Dresden.
After an intense pool game, that my partner Robert (far left) and I won, we went to some trancy dance club where, sitting in a quiet corner, Robert gave me a little history lesson. The club had these old toys in glass cases along the wall, which as Robert tells me, are remnants from the old days.
Dresden was part of East Germany. He and I are the same age, so he would have been 7 when the wall fell. He was so good to let me ask question after question. He’s still letting me ask. Isn’t skype beautiful? Maybe he could/can tell how fascinated I was, and wants more people across the world to understand what people in the east went through. Once I properly explained how obsessed I now am with the stasi he told me a movie to watch. I just finished it. It ended with me staring at the computer with tears in my eyes. It’s called the Lives of Others and came out in 2006.
It’s a beautiful/touching film that was perfect to mark one week since walking the very streets where the movie was filmed. The movie also has actual shots of the stasi files, files that those who lived in the east are sure to be found :: their names and lives documented. They can find pictures, films and notes about who they talked to and where they went.
We also went to Nuremberg where Hitler built his giant Nazi rally site. They have created a wonderful museum, in the actual greek looking coliseum structure, that tells the story of how Nuremberg was used by Hitler. This one shot took my breath away. These are our American heroes sitting on top the big rally structure once it was seized. They look so proud :: so tired.
So, this was hardly a vacation. We did take time to enjoy the great beer culture. I have many new favorites that I’m trying to find here at home :: or somewhere in the country, at least.
Being a flower/plant freak I was was in awe of all the amazing geraiums and window boxes. Germany is so green. In parts so rural and beautiful. Everything was just so plush and alive, while my plants in Memphis are fighting for life during this heat wave.
I also got a big kick out of how hot Camille and I dealt with no a.c. We’ve both done plenty of traveling, but I don’t ever remember sweating like we did. She and I would wake up around 4 a.m. every morning and just look at each other. This was the scene in every one of our rooms. A very pathetic old school fan by our bed.
So, it was an amazing trip. In Dresden Camille and I were told we had to touch this statue thing that apparently brings a lifetime of happiness. It took everything we had, but we got our hands on it. The cities we visited have been bombed to hell and back. The people, though, are strong and clearly determined to not let their past get in the way of their futures. A beautiful lesson for me and Camille while in their country searching for beauty and inspiration.
Foodies hate me.
Well, I really don’t know if they do or not. I do know we have totally opposite goals when checking out new eat spots.
The food at Acre Restaurant in East Memphis ( 690 South Perkins :: south of Poplar) was outstanding, though that’s not what I took away from my dinner there. The renovation work they did to the building/old house style structure is outrageous. I’m talking stunning.
My friend Ellie chose the spot. She knew I would oooooh and ahhhh and I did, the whole time.
I thought it felt very Northern Cali wine country. She thought more mountain resort.
They mixed the natural woods (and lots of it) with very bright whites and creams. It all blends into a very natural palate that still has a sense of contemporary glamour. The bar has to be one of the prettiest I’ve seen.
My pictures just don’t do the place justice. I’ve sorta stopped taking photos of my food because they always make it look unappetizing. Instead, I snapped some shots of my fave part :: the design.
Acre’s pro pictures on their site are so much better, though they web wouldn’t let me copy them…
so check them out HERE
Ellie, a Memphis native, has been so kind to me since day one of arriving in Memphis
Here’s a very public thank you!
Didn’t they just nail their entryway?
Aren’t these chairs lovely
So many different textures with the wood
I had my thrift/estate sale partner in town with me for a whole week! That means Mom and I both found all sorts of goodies. This is the one I’m loving the most right now. For just $1 I will be serving coffee/tea with sweet florals. Look how it already pops with the table-cloth I’m using right now. I’ve been busy since Mom left late last week and am only now playing with all my finds. When is the next trip?? Hate I’m missing the big Highway 11/80 garage sale in Meridian all the way up to Virginia. I never missed that one. The sellers were so eager to get rid of the stuff they had outstanding prices. Every year over the Mother’s Day weekend.