London Stuff: Tower Bridge is now 120 years old.
It's hard to keep a blog up to date when traveling between three countries and nearly ten thousand miles in two weeks and then hosting guests for nine days after that. I thought jet-setter lifestyles were supposed to be luxurious; why am I so exhausted? In the meantime, I'll catch you up on the first of the past three weeks: going to Knoxville, TN to celebrate the marriage of Whitney and Michael (as well as our country's independence).
Before we left, Kenz and I hopped down to Camberwell to say goodbye to Ragna and Troels before they headed back to Copenhagen. Ragna has been one of Kenz's dearest friends these past three years and the departure weighed heavy on them both. Ragna and Troels will be moving to Berlin to pursue their art for at least the next year. We're crossing our fingers in hopes that the two of us make it a priority to go visit them while they're there.
We didn't stay for too long; packing and a 4am wake up required an early night in.
Our flight from Heathrow departed from the brand new Terminal 2, The Queen's Terminal. It was nearly empty and completely immaculate - partly because we were among the first few there that morning and partly because the terminal is only a few weeks old.
|We've been used to the overcrowded and overused Terminal 1 for the past three years; this was a welcome change.|
Pretty standard travel stuff: the two of us were exhausted but too excited to really sleep on the plane. We watched crappy airplane movies while vacillating between various forms of consciousness. We landed in Knoxville on Monday afternoon, June 30th.
Whitney and Michael had already been married and are expecting their first child, Oliver, in October, but had yet to celebrate in a public way. Not only were we excited to celebrate, but neither Kenz nor I had yet to see a preggers Whitney. Kenz lost it in the airport, grabbing, hugging, and talking to Whitney's belly.
|Kenz is hype to be an aunt!|
We spent Tuesday through Thursday getting the Gibson's house ready for the rehearsal dinner. With a headcount of 120 people, there was much to be done! In between prep sessions, Kenz and I each ran our own Knoxville-specific errands, but didn't have enough time to do our traditional "we're in Knoxville, let's run around like chickens with our heads cut off and see everybody" routine.
|Luckily, the two of us got out to dinner with Dad, Mel, and Jerry before they headed off to a family reunion (Kara was already there).|
|Kenz, Whit, and I went out for the big fireworks buy. They were clearly stoked.|
|The Fireworks Supermarket does 90% of it's annual business in two weeks out of the year - July 4th and January 1st.|
|It's one of my favorite American cathedrals.|
|We went big, as usual, knowing that this year's July 4th party would be extra special.|
|This was before the Hogues brought their fireworks in from Memphis - very nearly doubling our bounty for the night.|
|I got out one evening with Craig to visit with him while he shopped for his own July 4th party.|
|We chuckled at this lil guy.|
|It was good to be back with the domino dogs.|
It turned out to be a week so busy that I forgot to take my customary amount of pictures. Luckily, I realized this on the eve of Friday the 4th and remedied my ways in time for the rehearsal dinner and wedding celebration.
Most everything was ready by Thursday night. It was time to prep the relay games, make the final few furniture moves for the back yard, and help Gibby 'taste' the trial round of ribs he'd be cooking for the guests.
|Mr. & Mrs. Liberty|
|"Are we gonna be able to host all these people?"|
|More room down by the lake.|
|Bespoke cornhole set - only in the south.|
|Cooking 31 racks of ribs requires experience, preparation, and perseverance - all of which this man has.|
|Whitney testing out the potato sacks we sewed together.|
We were up and at 'em early on Friday morning. The rehearsal was at 11am all the way out in Loudon County at Castleton Farms. I cooked some breakfast, we found Murphy (one of the Gibson's dogs) covered in black mulch (new mulch + sprinkler = one dirty dog), and then rushed out the door at the last minute.
|This is how I earn my place as son-in-law.|
|Murphy! And this was after Patti had cleaned him.|
|Listening to instructions|
|Doing the run through|
|One never really leaves a wedding rehearsal thinking they know what's going to happen, do they?|
|The ring bearer.|
|The groomsmen's room, where we'd spend much of Saturday getting ready, eating lunch, and watching World Cup.|
After the rehearsal, it was time to get ready for the party. We (the wedding party) arrived back at the house by about 2pm for lunch and relaxation. The guests started arriving at about 4pm. I think the last person left at midnight.
|Mortar tubes prepped for fireworks.|
|Brian helps stack.|
|The relay field is set up.|
|Uncle Sams & Lady Liberties|
|I "borrowed" a few pictures from Uncle Bobby.|
|Whitney & Michael|
|It's relay time in Tennessee!|
|Egg on a spoon.|
|Dizzy izzy with eggs on spoons!|
|Nathan had great form.|
|Time for toasts.|
|Kenz spearheaded the children's fireworks.|
|Everyone gathered around to watch the video of Whitney & Michael.|
|Kenz with the Bushmans.|
No, there are no pictures of the fireworks show, because friends don't let friends take out-of-focus pictures of fireworks. Besides, fireworks shows are meant to be watched, not photographed. I will say, however, that this was the best year at the Gibson's house thus far. Not only did the Hogue's additional fireworks add to the grandeur, but the crew - Nathan, Brian, Brian, and Andrew - really pulled through. Kenz and I couldn't have done it without them.
The groomsmen reconvened, bleary eyed, sensitive to sound and light, at 9am. Discussions of the previous night ensued as we waited for the go-ahead to begin shooting guns. I could say we had it rough, having to meet at the hotel at 8am in order to get out to the farm for skeet shooting, lying by the pool, and getting "ready" for pictures...but I'd be neglecting the fact that the bridesmaids had to be at the hotel at 7 to get to the farm by 8 in order to sit inside all day, doing hair and makeup while listening to the distant shotgun blasts, pool splashes, and wild yawps of their male counterparts. Kenz was jealous.
|Getting the "rules" for the day.|
We spent the morning eating biscuits, drinking coffee, and (depending on who you ask) either saving or dusting a bunch of clay pigeons. It was the most relaxing post-late-rehearsal-dinner-party-turnaround-skeet-shoot morning parties I've ever been to. By lunchtime, we headed back to hang out by the pool. Michael had some gifts for us.
We eventually got ready for pictures. There was a lot of help with the bow ties.
|Whitney had the forethought to allow us sandals and no jackets, which essentially saved our lives.|
|Joe Berry radios in a call for some fire-breathing dragons.|
|Mr. & Mrs. Hogue!|
|Time to party!|
|Someone made a cupcake mistake.|
|Bridesmaids vs. Maids of Honor dance off|
|I don't know how many pictures are necessary to get the point across: we danced. A lot.|
|As everyone was leaving, I found these three salvaging the last bits of the best wedding cake anyone has ever tasted.|
All in all, it was a joyful, gorgeous day - the weather, the people, and especially the bride and groom - we were all surrounded by love.
Sunday was maybe a different story. Not that we didn't have joy, but we may have been a bit too tired to recognize it. Luckily, Whitney and Michael hadn't finished packing for their honeymoon so they had to come by the Gibson's house one last time. We hugged and wished them well on their way, spent the rest of the morning packing, and eventually made our way out to the airport - for our final return trip to London.
|Final Ruby Tuesday's airport meal.|
|It's time to update the gadgets on the safety card.|
We got home, unpacked, cleaned the house, repacked (we'd be leaving the next morning), did some work, and then realized just how tired we were: Kenz fell asleep, pretzel in hand, while playing a video game at 7pm GMT.
Thanks for your patience. Fingers crossed I get another post up by Friday. Have a great (rest of the) week!