Well, I said I wasn't going to write again until after our trip to Medford, but I changed my mind! (That's my prerogative, right??). I just wanted to let you know about some of our adventures while we've been waiting around in Kingsport for our house.
We found out that THE big shindig in Kingsport is the annual Fun Fest, so we had to go. They have 10 days of activities, like the Mardi Gras Festival (here's a picture of Michael catching beads for me)
and the big Fun Fest Parade (you gotta love those local parades!)
There was also various concerts, including the Gospel Concert, which featured a good local group, the Squire Parsons Trio, and The Collingsworth Family. The C Family was amazing! There's a mom and dad and four kids, all of which are tremendously talented. There was also a concert by the Charlie Daniels Band, followed by fireworks.
They also had free viewings of some of the local tourist attractions, like the Allandale Mansion (a huge historic home), and the Netherland Inn. The Inn is about a mile from our house, and was built in the 1700's. It was an inn and boatyard (with the slave quarters out back) for those passing through, either by land or by the Holston River. I think it's pretty cool to have a 300-year-old inn in my backyard!
There were a lot of other activities going on over those 10 days, and I'm glad the timing was such that we got a good intro to Kingsport that way.
Crabbs, Dalton, and Other Southern Stuff
For those of you who are not familiar with the Crabb Family, they are an incredibly talented group of 5 siblings who sing southern rock/gospel/eclectic music. They had announced last year that this was their final year being together. They're in their 20's and 30's and have families and other stuff, so they're going to do their own thing, which is sad for the music world, but necessary for them. Their final full concerts were going to be in Cleveland (remember Cleveland? down by Chattanooga?) Friday and Saturday, July 20th and 21st, so we decided to drive on down there for the Friday concert. It's about a 3-1/2 hour drive, but would be well worth it to see the Crabbs.
Of course, the concert was not until Friday evening, but we decided to go early in the morning, and go on down to Dalton, Georgia (about 45 minutes south of Cleveland). Dalton is the "Carpet Capital of the World", so we wanted to go check them out since we're going to be in the market. Dalton has about 45,000 people in it, but it has about 100 carpet manufacturers there (about 95% of the world's carpet manufacturing), and it has about 200 outlet stores. We were told that the stretch of Interstate 75 between Chattanooga and Atlanta is the most travelled section of that highway, because everyone from the South goes down there to look at carpet. We couldn't believe it when we got there. Of course, there are outlet stores everywhere!! And the prices are amazing. We may or may not buy our carpet down there, since we would have to get it back here ourselves. However, it was good to know the prices of our favorite carpet -- info Michael will no doubt use to grind down the local merchants! ;-)
It's good to be in the South, except for one very important thing. We have had really bad Mexican food everywhere we go! We've tried the restaurants all over (Tri-Cities area, Cleveland, Nashville), and they serve this crazy hamburger and tomato sauce kind of food! Yuck! There are even Spanish-speaking Mexicans working there, but I want to ask them if they've forgotten their heritage. Well, several weeks ago, we were talking to a real estate agent in Chattanooga who was originally from California (and had the same Mexican food tastes that we do). He said that whenever he needs a fix, he goes down to the authentic taquerias in Dalton (there's a big Hispanic population there). I remembered that when we went there, so we immediately began looking for a taqueria. We happened to drive down a particular road and I said "right there". There was a little crummy block building that frankly looked a little scary. However, we saw a Mexican couple go in, and so we decided to give it a shot. When we walked in to this little place (about 10'x15'), there was the Mexican couple and the server -- they were both looking at us like we definitely walked into the wrong place. The server walked over to us and said "umm, the menus are in Spanish", like if we knew that we would walk out. I replied to her, in Spanish, and said, "that's ok, we read Spanish, and this is what we want." I don't think that had ever happened to her before! ;-) We ordered their Tacos Al Pastor, and we thought we'd died and gone to heaven! These are not the Taco Bell kind of tacos -- these are the authentic kind! After we ate, we talked to the server for a while, and then we asked her if they would like to move to Kingsport, TN, that we'd help them put in a taqueria! She didn't quite know how to answer that. ;-) But this has gotten us seriously thinking about either putting in or causing to be put in a REAL Mexican restaurant here. We'll see. We just HAVE to have our fix!
OK, back to the Crabbs now (bet you thought I forgot, huh?). We went a little early and had to stand in line (it was "general seating"). But we were pretty close to the door, so when they opened it, we were able to go down to about the 5th row. Ohmigosh, their music was incredible! They are so very powerful and have an incredible stage presence. They also did a cool video retrospective of their 15 or so years in the business. It was very emotional for them, then they immediately had to start singing. I'm not sure how they did that.
The concert was so good that on the way out, I asked Michael, "Would you want to stay over and go to the concert tomorrow night too?" He looked at me like I was crazy (what??), but then he said Yes! So we went ahead and bought our tickets, then headed out to find a hotel room. I didn't think that would be a problem since we had seen several motels in Cleveland when we were down there before. However, all those other hundreds of people at the concert were also staying in motels (duh!), so it wasn't that easy. We drove from one motel to the next, and each one said No Vacancy. We finally found a motel that had a couple of rooms left, but the problem was, they knew it -- they charged probably twice as much as they normally would have. Oh well, we were already committed at that point. After we got a room, we headed over to good ol' Walmart. We had to buy a toothbrush, toothpaste, and other bare necessities. We were just going to wear our same clothes, and I went without makeup the 2nd day (can you imagine??). But it was a fun adventure. We just hung out the 2nd day -- we had both brought books to read. Then I went early to stand in line again. UGH! It was very hot and very humid, but I had to do it to get good seats, so I did it!
A Swedish Radio Star
I had gone to stand in line at the outside door before they finally opened that up and we waited at the inside door. Michael had been out in the truck most of that time, but he relieved me when we got inside. I was so hot, I had to go sit over on a couch over in the corner. While I was sitting there, these two guys came up to me, and one stuck out his hand and introduced himself. I thought that was a little funny, but I introduced myself back. He then started asking me if I had been to a Crabb concert before, so I started telling him how we were new to the South but loved this music, etc. He said that mine was a very interesting story, and would I mind being interviewed on the subject, speaking into their microphone. And, of course, I said "sure". Come to find out, these two guys were roving reporters for Christian radio in SWEDEN! They were very interested in the Crabb Family, since they play their music over in Sweden (!), and they flew over to the US just for this event. They had never visited the US before, and were heading back out in a couple of days. Anyway, I was interviewed for quite a while, talking about not only the Crabbs, but Southern Gospel, and international Christian radio as well. I told them about our friend, Perry Atkinson, who was on the Board of United Christian Broadcasters (who they had heard of), and about the challenges they have encountered with Christian radio all over Europe. It was a very interesting conversation. So some day in the near future, my voice will appear on some Swedish radio station talking about the Crabbs -- what a kick!!
Anyway, the concert the second night was great too. They even had the nearby Lee University choir come in to accompany Jason Crabb in his Dove Award-winning song, "I'm Amazed" -- it was an experience I'll never forget. What a great adventure!
In Our New Home
Well, we closed on our house on July 31st, so it's finally ours. Michael started in right away tearing off the bazillion feet of wallpaper all over the house (what a job!). He also mowed the 1.2 acres for the first time (also a job!). I asked him if he was regretting our decision, but he said, "no way". We do love the house, and we're glad to finally be there. It will be months, though, before all the remodeling is done and we can live like normal people. Now that I'm there, I was able to take some good pics of the place. I put pics of the front and back on my photosite. (All the new pics start at #28). I also took pics of the inside, but I'll wait to show you those when I publish my "before and after" pics.
I'm looking forward to going to Medford in a week and a half, and getting our stuff (including my little car! I've missed it!). But we're just going to move in what we need, and put the other half of the stuff into storage out here. We might as well not have it in our way when Michael's trying to do the remodeling.
I'll write again after our trip to Medford (and our second cross-country drive!).