Monday, July 18, 2011

Day 18: Homeward Bound

Friday, May 13th

Despite the thunderstorms which rolled through in the early hours of the morning, the sky was sunny and the weather was beautiful when we left the motel. (The breakfast 'bar' was just some donuts, packaged cheese danishes, a loaf of bread and a toaster, but with the promise of bbq on the horizon, we weren't too phased by the poor breakfast choices.)

We headed out to Memphis in May. We drove around for a bit, checking the prices of the various lots near the event, before finding that parking was free in the field next to the event. We went with that option.

Sadly, though the website hadn't listed any 'open to the public' times, we discovered when we walked up to the gate that the general public wasn't being admitted until eleven o'clock. So, we headed back to the van to play Munchkin.

Back at the van we met a couple from Vancouver (I think?). We talked with them for a while, and they were really nice. And we played zombie munchkin on the little table in the back of the van. We had the windows open for ventilation, and we had some amount of grief with cards getting blown off the table, but it was still a fun game.

At eleven, we headed back up to the gate, and set out to explore Memphis in May.

I was immediately blown away by the size and complexity of the booths. They had seating arrangements, decks, and landscaping.

They had multiple levels, sometimes reaching three floors.

They had canapies and spiral staircases.

And many of them has some pretty unique flair.

I would never have guessed this, but each year the festival tries to spotlight a different country. This year, the spotlighted country was Belgium. I asked the Jedi what Belgium had to do with bbq, but he said that was the point.

Still, a few of the booths proudly displayed international flags from past contest years.

By far, the most amazing thing about the booths was that they are all transported, erected and decorated, and then broken down and carted away. What a massive amount of work and dedication each of the booths represented.

The competitors were not allowed to sell any bbq, and there were only a few actual bbq venders there. That was a bit of a disappointment, but we got some bbq from the venders, and found a shady curbside to sit and eat. The food was good, not competition quality by any standards, but still good.

Getting our picture taken, AGAIN, was not as good.

After our lunch, we headed out of town toward HOME. For the past few days of the trip, Sweetling has been counting down how many more days until we are HOME. I have to confess, as much as I loved the trip, I'm looking forward to being home, too.

Our last stop of the trip was in Nashville. Being the geeks that were are, we had to stop and see the Parthenon. Unfortunately, since we couldn't get in to Memphis in May first thing in the morning, as we had hoped, we didn't hit Nashville in time to tour the inside of the Parthenon. That will have to wait for another trip, perhaps.

This time, we were happy to snap some pictures, admire the friezes, walk around the portico, and play on the playground across the street.

From there, we headed to a nearby street to have dinner at Rotier's. Onion rings, burgers, and good shakes. What more could we ask for?

As we left the restaurant, a nasty storm was brewing. We hurried back to the van, hoping to beat it out of town, but, sadly, I made my first serious fail as a navigator and got us turned around. Consequently, we wound up driving through some pretty nasty weather for an hour or so.

We stopped at Louisville to put the van seats down and get out the sleeping bags for the kids.

It was sometime between 2 and 3 a.m. when we pulled into our driveway. I was too tired to write down the exact time of our homecoming. I had called Mom from Nashville to tell her we were on our way, but wouldn't be getting in till very, very late. And even though I had tried my best to discourage her from waiting up for us, guess who came out the front door in her nightgown just before 3 a.m.? Yep. She claims she was in bed, but had heard the Jedi open the door before he came back to the van to carry in the sleeping children. I couldn't even fuss at her, I was so happy to be home.

Our total mileage for the trip was 6,203. We had been gone 18 days, had driven through 16 states and slept in 12 different cities. We had spotted 46 state license plates as well as plates from Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, D.C., the Sac and Fox Nation, the Muscogee Nation, and the flag of Germany. We had visited 6 national parks, three state parks, two or three local parks, and ten museums or science centers. We had encountered two brand new weather types, gropple and virga, and had seen big horn sheep, a charging buffalo, a golden eagle, a pronghorn deer, wild turkey, three chipmunks, one small cute lizard, many huge mean looking ravens, and around 15 elk.

But most importantly, Sweetling won the yellow car game with a total of 168 sightings.

Read from Day 1
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