Wednesday, October 19, 2005

WEDDING TRIP - Mississippi and Tennessee

The first thing we did upon arriving in Mississippi was take the 90-minute drive up to Memphis, Tennessee, to see a Widespread Panic concert. Widespread Panic is a southern jam-rock band from Georgia that we've both seen a number of times in the past 15 years, but we've never seen them together. The concert took place at Mud
Island Amphitheatre, a nice, relatively small venue located on an island in the middle of the Mississippi River. The concert was a great opportunity for us to reconnect with a part of US culture that we had really missed during our 6 months abroad, and we really enjoyed the parking lot scene outside the show, where traveling Panic fans were selling a variety of food (including excellent veggie burritos!), quality microbrews (much better than Guatemalan beer!), clothes, crafts, and other goodies.

The view of downtown Memphis from the concert venue at Mud Island

Widespread Panic in action

After the wedding ceremony at Carley's parents' house in Tupelo, we took a quick "southern honeymoon" trip. The trip started on our wedding night with a stay at Carley's parents' house on the shore of Pickwick Lake, a reservoir on the Tennessee River located right on state lines separating Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama. A skinny-dipping foray into the chilly lake waters around midnight really stimulated all of our senses to full appreciation of this incredible day that we will certainly cherish the rest of our lives. Afterwards we enjoyed sipping wine on the porch overlooking the beautiful lake.

An aerial view of the cove at Pickwick. The house where we stayed is located just above the smaller white rectangle on the far right of the photo

A backyard view of Pickwick Lake

The next day we drove up to Carley's old college town, Nashville, Tennessee, with Carley's brother Barrett and his girlfriend Molly. Our destination was an NFL football game featuring the hometown Tennessee Titans. The Titans lost the game, but we couldn't have cared less, as we enjoyed the beautiful day in the sun, tailgating in the parking lot with the excellent leftover food (including shrimp cocktail!) from the wedding ceremony the day before, and the tasty beers on tap inside the stadium (especially the excellent locally brewed Yazoo Pale Ale).

The stadium in Nashville

The view from our VIP club seats, thanks to Carley's dad!

After the game, we walked around the Vanderbilt University campus and visited some of Carley's old haunts from her college days. We spent the night in Nashville and had dinner at the South Street Crab Shack and Smokehouse, a delightful southern-style treat.

For the final leg of our "southern honeymoon", we made the 4-hour drive back to Carley's parents' house in Mississippi on the Natchez Trace Parkway. This parkway is part of the US National Park Service and stretches almost 450 miles from Nashville down to southern Mississippi, passing right through Carley's hometown of Tupelo. Carley, after several years driving on and at least as many speeding tickets from the Trace, finds it anywhere from boring to infuriating (50 mph on a completely straight road for 4+ hours? come on...), but Rob was completely delighted by the lack of billboards, houses, businesses, commercial buses and trucks, or almost any other sign of civilization except the 2-lane road, bordered on both sides by a seemingly endless forest. This superbly-designed road is truly a national treasure, flowing through the countryside like a meandering stream, the wooded buffer on both sides of the road obscuring all the while the numerous towns and farmer's fields we were surely passing. Occasionally we stopped at a scenic vista or to hike on one of the numerous nature trails and gawk at a waterfall or a beaver dam.

Natchez Trace Parkway

Fall Hollow, a beautiful little waterfall alongside the Natchez Trace Parkway

Another cascade at Fall Hollow

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