Friday, October 5, 2012


The Tennessee River from my airplane window.

Well, the trip came and went. In one moment, I feel like I've been in the States the entire summer, and, in the next, I feel like the visits weren't long enough. It has been a series of lessons in managing time and trying not to get overextended. It's hard to say 'no' to people who want to visit, but that's what we've learned this summer. There's just not enough time to see everyone - especially when the people we want to see don't all live within thirty miles of each other.

I arrived on the 12th after a gloriously uneventful flight into Knoxville. Kenz had been interning at McGilvray Woodworks for the entire month of September. When I got in town, I became responsible for taking her to and from work. This was the first time I've ever seen her wake up on her own before 8am. If she doesn't have anything to do during the day, she'll happily sleep until noon (or the entire day). For September, she was waking up at 6am - she even woke me up each day in order to get me to drive her to work. My guess is that the old cliche is true - if you love what you do, you don't work a day in your life. She thoroughly enjoyed working in the studio, so waking up that early didn't bother her so much. That being said, however, our drives into downtown were still spent in silence.

It was nice to be back; the weather was glorious.

The back porch of the Gibson household is marvelous in late summer.
Before long, it was back to juggling 2.5 cars between four adults. Kenz had work, Patti had errands, Michael had work, and I had little visits and errands myself. Usually we can pull off sharing two cars while Kenz and I are in town, but since Kenz had her internship, we had an added x-factor. As a result, Michael broke out his garage queen - a 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.

He drives the car about once a year. Patti regularly tries to get him to sell it. He tried to teach his daughters how to drive it when they were younger, but a deep clutch, lack of patience (on all parties), and the car's hallowed status with Michael all combined for a failed result. It was a surprise to me when, one afternoon, he looked me straight in the eye and said, "David, you drive stick?"

Oh, shit. He's going to tell me to drive that car. 

I told him, yes, that I do drive stick, but what would've been closer to the truth was that I've been known to drive stick - not that I drive stick, per se.

He instructed me to replace the battery and get it running. I was mortified. Luckily, he took it 'out' first. In fact, I thought I had dodged a bullet - that I wouldn't have to drive it at all - until he headed off to work one morning, saying "OK, why don't you drive the Corvette today - I'll take my car."

Shit. "Yessir," I mumbled.

I call this self-portrait, don't get in a wreck don't get in a wreck don't get in a wreck dont' get in a wreck.
When I picked up Kenz, all she could say was, "I honestly cannot believe he let you drive this car. He must really love you." I smiled, shifted gears, and kept thinking don't get in a wreck, don't get in a wreck, don't get in a wreck...

We spotted a truck driver taking a cell phone picture of us on the drive home.

Most of my days were filled with Nala, Whitney's dog, who happens to know me as "the only human that will play fetch". I'd spend the first four or five hours of each day doing work and throwing her toy.

She threw her toy on the countertop accidentally. I'd be lying if I said I didn't let it stay there for 30 minutes.
I got to visit with a few friends during some weekdays.

Derrick, Craig, Brian and I revive our 'Friday Lunch' tradition when I'm in town.

Jason and Kimberley came up from Chattanooga for a night.

Robert and I enjoyed the weather.

We hung out for a long time!
Kenz and I wound up at my Dad's house for the UT vs. Florida football game. We left at halftime, and I wound up blaming myself for UT's loss; we were doing fine until Kenz and I changed locations. The UT vs. Florida game is an event and we were splitting halves between my family and Kenz's family.
Some say there's a resemblance. I'm supposed to say, "Thank you" when anyone mentions it.
We drove to Raleigh, NC for a wedding the first full weekend I was there. We stayed with one of Kenz's friends, and I got to see lots of Raleigh people while we were in town. It was good to be back in Raleigh - it was the first town we 'visited' that we used to live in which isn't Knoxville. It was strange to be rolling around town, remembering old streets that I'd forgotten. It's different to be in Knoxville because we grew up there; we never really forget those streets or become 'removed' from the Knoxville mindset. But, Raleigh, on the other hand, brings an entirely different set of memories with it - we didn't grow up there or anything like that - we just spent two years there, had a great time, made friends, and just when our roots were set, we moved. We hadn't been back since the move.

On our way out of town to get to Raleigh, we got a flat tire in Patti's new car. There was no spare, so we had to call Patti to figure out what to do. I thought the trip was over - that we'd get it back to Knoxville and that would be that - but I forgot I was calling Patti 'Wonder Mother In Law' Gibson. She drove out to us, swapped cars, and sent us on our way. She got the car towed as we continued on to Raleigh. She didn't even hesitate - just as I was about to suggest my plan, she interrupted with, "what exit are you at - I'll come to you." How awesome is she?


Katherine was our host for the weekend.

There's not much to say about this other than the fact that I thought it was a cute parody of these tacky stickers.
The Thursday before Kara's wedding weekend, I travelled up with the Gibsons to their friend's farm. We've been there several times for classic American recreation, but this time Michael was hosting an employee reception. I was responsible for being the 'trail guide' for employees as Terry & Jane (who own the farm) monitored everyone shooting shotguns and taking helicopter rides (!).

Terry, feeding his cows. 

The trails out there are fantastic. Terry made them all himself (400 acres!)
I spent most of the day going out on trail rides with employees, all older than I and frustrated that I was going so slow. As a result, later in the day, they started upping the pace. One of them wound up wrecking into a tree and breaking the front axle. I was mortified. After hearing the bad news, Terry said, "That's what happens, David. I know you feel bad, but you can't dwell on it all day. We're here to have fun. Besides, no one got hurt." It helped a little, but I had the nagging sensation it was all my fault. I'll soon find out if he'll allow me to help with the cost of repairs (despite my assumption that he's one of those guys that will refuse even the idea of me helping pay for repair - you know those people - the type that invite you to their farm to ride ATVs in the first place).

So much for be being a good trail guide, I guess. Count that career off the list...

One of Terry's friends spent 22 years flying helicopters in the Marines. Now he just flies his own helicopter for fun. Everyone had the chance to go up in the helicopter for a quick trip above the mountains during the day. I hadn't planned on doing it, but Kenz insisted that I ride with her.

I call this self portrait, what have I gotten myself into?

We flew all around as our pilot talked about the effects of strip-mining.

At one point, we were flying at 100+ mph, but it felt like we were going 3mph.

At the end of the day, four of us went out into the woods with a tractor to hitch up the broken Polaris and pull it out. The whole ordeal took over two hours and it was dark by the time we returned.

Mega messed up!

All in all, I think it was a pretty successful day. At least the employees had a good time!

Our last weekend there was Kara's wedding. The rehearsal dinner was a big boat ride up and down the Tennessee River, food, dancing, and time with family.

Kara's dog, Pepper, won't really hold still for a photo.

So ugly she's cute

Dad and I wore the exact same shirt. I still don't know who was more embarrassed. I'm pretty sure it was him. 

Mothers of the bride & Groom

The bride & groom ready to go out on the boat.
I forgot to take pictures on the boat. I was busy catching up with everyone. If I could embed videos more easily, I'd show you Kara clogging - but I'm sure she's happy that I haven't, no matter what the reasons.

I got to hang out with family on Saturday before the wedding, despite a sibling dress fiasco between Kenz and Whitney. Miscommunication led to Whit taking the dress McKenzie wanted to wear that night, so we had to stop at the mall on our way downtown to buy a new dress. Once we finally arrived at the hotel, I realized I had forgotten my own clothes back at the Gibson's house. Three hours after I was supposed to be at the hotel, I arrived to watch football with the Sanders.
MOMA was quite proud of her new book (an anniversary gift). They're driving across the country (again), using this book to 'inform' their pit stops. 

Big Arkansas fans watching Arkansas get tromped by Alabama.

MOMA is hilarious, no?

The wedding was wonderful, beautiful, fun, joyous, etc. I'd say 'I'll let the pictures speak for themselves," but the only time I pulled out my phone was to 'sneak attack' some family with the camera. Needless to say, the pictures don't really provide a true account of the event. I apologize.


How funny is Tom in the background? SNEAK ATTACK!



No one can spent time in the presence of Kara and not smile; it's impossible. Her energy is contagious. 

Requisite photo of Kenz eating.

Whit wound up wearing a different dress, and spent the whole evening being asked, "Where's the green dress?"

All in all, the wedding was well worth the trip. It was wonderful to see my sister so happy and to add Jerry as a new out-law to the family. They were glowing, laughing, and full of love. Congratulations, Kara & Jerry!

One last bit of information. Yesterday was my birthday - I turned 29 (my youth is waning!). For my birthday, I got a niece! Kristin had her baby yesterday, October 4th, 2012! Congratulations, Kristin & Jamie! I look forward to sharing my birthday with that little thang each year!

Thanks for reading! Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

P.S. Just to complain: We were about to board our flight in Knoxville when it got cancelled. The lady in charge of rebooking everyone's flights was the worst. We wound up spending an extra night in Knoxville before we flew out. I had been sick for the previous three days, banging DayQuill to survive the wedding. Patti gave me what she thought was generic Benadryl for our flight back to London. Turns out it was generic Sudafed. I didn't sleep a wink and had crusty boogers. I'm still tired. It was hilarious once I realized what had happened; I just watched a bunch of movies. All's well that ends well; I'll have a normal sleep schedule in a few more days.