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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Headed Back Down South

I readily admit that we are about 2-3 weeks in arrears with our blogging, but the last few weeks have been spent focused on family and final preparations. After leaving Colorado, we headed south to the promise-land (aka Mississippi) to spend a week with the Palmores. My brother was also in town with his friend Betsy so it was nice to have everyone together under one roof for a week.

We were welcomed home with a delicious batch of frogmore stew. The dish is also referred to as "low-country boil" and consist of spicy boiled shrimp and sausage. After dinner activities included ample ping-pong tournaments and playing various instruments around the house.

Catherine and I had actually managed to carry fresh stone-crab from the Bahamas and served up a taste of Caribbean. Betsy had just graduated from architecture school and so we spent an evening of celebration and completed the meal with champagne! The next few days were spent relaxing in the woods and eating very well.

Midweek, Ky and Rhett treated the family to a real southern experience--a beach trip on the river. We loaded up the car with a cooler of sandwiches and beer and headed 90 minutes south to the Okatobee river just north of Hattiesburg. We turned down an old country road and parked the van at a bridge spanning our water destination. After wading and floating 7 people, 2 dogs, a cooler, and dry goods a quarter mile up river we arrived at our southern oasis.

The afternoon was spent floating around the sand bar, skipping rocks, and playing on the rope swing that Ky and Rhett had constructed.

The river was beautiful and we enjoyed our afternoon without another person in sight.

As we meandered back north to Madison, we stopped at a roadside stand where we filled up on fresh tomatoes and pickled green beans (the quintessential bloody mary fixin).

Good eating is significant part of our family gatherings and this trip made no exception. Our meals included other southern favorites including two of my personal favorites--boiled crawfish and fried catfish!

My parents also treated us to some local Jackson culture carrying the entire gang down to New Stage Theater for an evening performance of Breaking Up Is Hard To Do. While the music was not necessarily of the younger folks generation the show was excellent and we all thoroughly enjoyed seeing talented singers/actors on stage.

Grandparents, Mimi and Al, also treated all of us kids to a proper southern lunch at Sophies which is located in the luxurious Fairview Inn in downtown Jackson--thank you!

This story would not be complete without mentioning our adventures in trapping the terrorist armadillo that had been wreaking havoc on my parent's landscaping. From the time we arrived they conveyed with disgust the trouble this little fellow had caused on the hill. After several cocktail inspired conversations and some internet research, we all ultimately played a hand in capturing the evil villain. Lucky for him he was trapped (not killed) and released without harm several miles down the road.

We bode Mississippi farewell and rode with my parents over to Alpine, AL to complete our visit south with a weekend on the lake with Uncle Randy and Aunt Sharon.

They have a beautiful home sitting on Lake Logan Martin just east of Birmingham. We spent most every waking moment on the boat and/or preparing meals for the crew. Catherine and Betsy were especially motivated and took it upon themselves to learn how to water ski. They both stuck it out through the multiple falls, managed to stand up, and become true extreme sports ladies.

Good-byes were bitter-sweet but we all left feeling like we had a good visit and it was time to get moving onto the larger adventure at hand. We hugged good bye and bid each other a loving farewell until we meet again in some exotic foreign location. Thanks for everything family!

It was a quick flight back to Baltimore where we were welcomed by our wonderful Baltimore family and an intimidating to-do list! The last few days have been spent obtaining our last tourist visa for Vietnam, sorting out travel/health insurance, and going through the painful process of obtaining a years worth of medication. But all is well. I sit here comfortably this morning, preparing to pack my bag, and feeling good that we actually have tickets to Lisbon, Portugal this Monday (6/14/2010) when the official journey will begin.

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