April 15, 2017

Southern Road Trip

I like checking boxes.  So, I'm on a quest to visit all 50 states.  Before this week, I had 11 to go.  Now, after a lovely tour of some of America's great music history and southern food, I'm down to 8.

For my first new state, we headed to Alabama.

E, of course, wanted to see the space flight center in Huntsville.  He hadn't been there since he'd gone to space camp as a kid.  Bonus, some of his extended family has moved there in the interim, so we combined family and rockets for a visit, as you do.

You can see the space center from the highway.

F-1 engine
After our visit to Huntsville, we headed to Jasper, Alabama where E's family have some history, for lunch at the highly recommended Black Rock Bistro.  E claims the creole chicken tender was the best preparation of a fried chicken tender/finger that he's ever had -- and trust me -- this man is chicken finger connoisseur.  Overall, the food at Black Rock was amazing (my only complaint was that the mac and cheese was bland, but that is probably just the style they prefer in the South, as this same experience repeated itself throughout our trip, even at places that were called out on TripAdvisor and Yelp as having the *BEST* mac and cheese.)

Owner-recommended local IPA -- delicious.
From Jasper, we drove through Mississippi (2nd new state!) to Memphis where we checked into our hotel, went to a perfectly delicious Japanese restaurant, and picked up some wine at a glorious wine store with a great selection.  On the highways, much of our Southern road trip felt like driving through the US mid-west.  But once in the towns, it was a completely different story:  no obviously completely shuttered towns, and larger metropolises with entertainment, great local food, ethnic food, good local beers, and access to good wine.

Our full day in Memphis was quite the trip.  We saw the Peabody Duck March, which was every bit as odd as it sounds. Apparently, since 1933, 5 ducks have been escorted down from their palace on the roof of the Peabody Hotel at 11 AM via elevator, at which point the door opens and they march down a red carpet (to music) into a fountain, where they swim until 5 PM and the march repeats back into the elevator.

The crowd at 10:59, awaiting the duck march
In terms of odd things we've seen on our travels this year, this is up there.  The only thing that beats it is the white snake shrine in Japan where we had to handle a huge gold and white snake while the Shinto priest chanted and slapped our hands (while on the snake) so that the god would grant our wish. (Yes, we did listen to Whitesnake when we got back to the hotel that night.)

Whole rack of Rendezvous ribs
After the ducks, we headed across the street to Elvis's favorite rib joint, Rendezvous.  The door claimed they didn't open until 4:30 PM, but there were people inside and lights were on, so we poked our heads in and I asked, "Are you open?" a big booming voice replied, "We are if you like ribs!" 

Best ribs either of us have ever had.  No contest. And the cole slaw was amazingly mustardy and acidic without a hint of mayonnaise (my favorite style).  From there we drove across the Mississippi river to West Memphis, Arkansas (3rd state), and then turned around and spent a couple of hours getting educated and a bit depressed at the National Civil Rights museum.  Finally, we rounded out the day with the obligatory visit to Graceland.

The poolroom at Graceland.  One of many so over the top rooms.
The next day, we headed out to Nashville, stopping for lunch in Jackson, TN (and then we listened to the Johnny Cash Song: I'm going to Jackson).  In Nashville, we went to the Johnny Cash museum, which I enjoyed more than Graceland due to its focus on music history.

Our last day in Nashville, I ran my assigned intervals around the Parthenon in Centennial Park, which was great.  A very helpful gentleman turned as I approached breathing hard with 1 minute left to go and yelled, "Drop the hammer!  Drop it!"  which was hilarious and fun.

Photo Credit: http://www.conservancyonline.com
We had recovered from Memphis BBQ and were ready for some more, so we hit up the famous Peg Leg Porker BBQ for Nashville pulled pork (nachos for me and a sandwich and mac and cheese for E).  I declared that I liked Tennessee pulled pork better than Georgia-style, although I could only eat about 1/3 of my gigantic order.  I must have upset the BBQ gods because I then spent the 4 hour drive back to Atlanta suffering from acid reflux and indigestion...So, all told, it was good, but probably not good enough to justify a repeat.

The pig has a peg leg... so wrong! (And dangerously delicious.)
In running news, I've been following (more-or-less) my 5K training plan.  The workouts are often harder than they look on paper, which is simultaneously disheartening (how can 3X5 min @ just below 5K pace with 3 minutes recovery hurt so much?) and encouraging (at the end of the 2 key workouts each week, I feel accomplished, and I can tell that I'm pushing my fitness to improve, which is, after all, the whole point).  I'm looking forward to tomorrow's long run (nothing by my old standard, but on this plan 50-60 minutes very easy counts as the long run) as the last effort before the week of taper(ish -- jet lag isn't ideal).  I'm super excited to watch the Boston marathon on Monday as inspiration before hopping on the plane that night.  And then I'll do the Park Run next Saturday in Paris.  I'm definitely still thinking a sub 30 would be something to celebrate as my A goal.  Wish me well!


Jen said...

I can commiserate with you on the pulled pork + indigestion. By the end of my time in NC, it seemed like all I had to do was look at the BBQ and I'd have indigestion. But it was soooo good.

bt said...

@Jen -- Totally! It was SOOOOO good, but rough. The nacho cheese and pickled jalapenos probably weren't doing me any favors either... But even E was a little messed up and he just had the sandwich. I think it is something to do with how rich it was plus the smokiness.

Arvay said...

Oh boy thatfoodthatfoodthatfood.