For 4th of July weekend, Adeena and I took a trip to Nashville. It was motivated by 2 reasons – Nashville hot chicken and visiting Tennessee as my 46th state. These probably aren’t the most common reasons to visit; I’d imagine country music and honky-tonks to be more popular answers, but truthfully it was not something we were in the demographic of.
Nashville, like Savannah or Charleston, is a very popular bachelorette party destination. There are similarly many historic plantations that glorify the life of a 19th century southern plantation-owner. They also try to walk a fine line on racial topics by highlighting the appalling experience of slavery too.
It was pretty hot and humid in Nashville, so we really minimized the amount of time spent outdoors. Paired with a lot of eating, I remember being constantly quite full throughout our time there. I visited the Johnny Cash museum without really knowing who Johnny Cash was beforehand (sorry), and briefly walked around a full-scale replica of the Parthenon. It’s quite curious how it came to be: the city was known as “Athens of the South”, so they built a Parthenon replica in 1897 to commemorate the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. We also visited the Belle Meade plantation house, but Adeena didn’t really want to pay for a ‘colonialism tour’, so we just walked the grounds outside. Towards the end of our 3 days there, we ran out of things to do that we even made a trip to the Hermitage Hotel to visit the men’s bathroom, an art deco public restroom that won “Restroom of the Year” in 2008.
The food in Nashville was phenomenal though. It goes far beyond just Southern food and Nashville Hot Chicken, which we had plenty of. I also had some of the best steamed dumplings and kakigori (in Nashville!), as well as a superb and experimental 13-course tasting menu serving modern cuisine.
We then drove to Memphis, which we wanted to visit for 2 also fairly peculiar reasons: the Memphis Pyramid and ticking off Arkansas.
|The Memphis Pyramid|
I think it was during my dark quarantine days that I chanced upon this gem of a Youtube video, and since then I had always wanted to visit Memphis to see its Great Pyramid (the one in Egypt too, but the one in the US moreso). The Memphis Pyramid is the 10th largest pyramid in the world and was once the home stadium to the Memphis Grizzlies, before being converted into a wilderness themed superstore by Bass Pro Shops.
Considering we visited the Memphis Pyramid for a meme, it delivered far beyond expectations – in fact, I couldn’t think of a more American way to celebrate Independence Day. Both the insides and outsides of the building are truly bizarre; on the outside you can see the glistening 100-meter tall glass pyramid with a huge Bass Pro Shoppe logo from miles away. In the inside, the shop is filled with detailed fakes from cypress trees to artificial swamplands, complete with a 100-room outdoor-themed hotel looking into the shop.
The rest of Memphis was not particularly remarkable. We crossed the Mississippi into Arkansas to visit a Kroger store and bought some googoo clusters, a Tenneseean chocolate-caramel candy that quickly ended up melting in our car. We also took a river cruise along the Mississippi, but there really wasn’t much to see on either side of the river; the highlight was perhaps the I-40 bridge that made headlines a few years ago from having a huge crack that was undetected for years.
To save on airfare during 4th of July Weekend, we ended up staying a night in Las Vegas before heading back to Seattle. Fittingly yet unplannedly, we stayed at the Luxor, the largest modern Pyramid in the world. The Luxor Pyramid is 9 meters taller than the Memphis Pyramid. Another fun fact: it has the largest atrium in the world by volume. Three sets of elevators run along the edges of the Pyramid at a 39 degree angle (in fact, they’re technically called inclinators), but each set went to different floors. That’s how I realized the hotel was terribly designed; we were assigned a room at the opposite corner of the elevator that serviced our floor, so the trip from the room to the elevator alone was a trek. It didn’t matter too much though; we were there for 4 hours before flying back to Seattle.
|The Luxor Hotel|
Over the weekend, our parents had come to the US for a couple months. For the rest of July, our family was all in the Seattle area, with them being in Bellevue while Adeena and I were in Seattle. In between business trips to Toronto and Boston, I tried to spend a lot of my time with them – heading over to Bellevue often for weekday dinners or going on long walks in different parks on the weekends. We also visited Vashon island, where I was baited by the ‘the best Thai food in Washington State’ that we determined to not be factual.
Looking back, those days in July were the few days I was actually living in Seattle for the summer. In the 2 or so weeks I was there, I began to develop a routine that involved waking up 2 minutes before my first meeting at around 7AM (my project was on East Coast time), taking a brisk 20 minute walk to the office after the first round of calls, grabbing an extra coconut water from the office to bring home on the way out, and developing a habit to go to the decked-out gym in the building before dinner. Adeena would often get Too good to go orders, an app that allows restaurants to bundle food that would otherwise go to waste for a very cheap price, and we’d end up with far too much food in the fridge.
|Fried rice using ingredients from Too Good To Go. We had variations of this dish for 3 days straight due to the volume of the order.|
|A very evil looking building in Nashville|
In July, I began exercising more regularly. I had unsustainably attempted to do so far too many times in the past, but I had this wake-up call one night when video-calling my dad. He casually noted that I had gotten a bit fatter, and at that moment I looked at him, then myself, and saw a mini image of him in me. This was the motivation I needed. I’ve since lost around 15 lbs and still have a bit more to go.
|Bottling beer at my boss’s house, one of my favorite case-team events to date|
The UK & Canadian spelling of ‘curb’ (like in curbside) is ‘kerb’ (like in kerbside).
I’ve been collecting menus from fine dining restaurants, also asking for the chef to sign them. It’s a nice physical souvenir to commemorate how I spent way too much on a meal.
|Love me some 2000s Wordart|
|Bathroom of the Year|