Monday, May 25, 2020

Tennesseeing with the Wongs

It was our first time in what you could consider the "deep South," and even though it was a short trip, we really enjoyed our little taste of Nashville, Knoxville, Harrogate, and Middlesboro.  We survived Prince's hot chicken, ate barbecue almost every day, listened to singers in a honky-tonk, milked a goat, wandered through historic Civil War sites and a graveyard, walked among centuries-old buildings, hiked in the footsteps of Native Americans and pioneers, and most importantly, watched Dr. Stacy Wong walk across the Lincoln Memorial University stage to receive her Veterinary Medicine diploma.

When we travel, we make it a priority to eat what the area is known for.  So in Tennessee and Kentucky, that meant all things smoked and fried.  Hush puppies, hoe-cakes, hot chicken, catfish, ribs, brisket, washed down with sweet tea.  We also snuck in one fancy meal for Stacy's graduation dinner.  Since we had Wes's parents in tow, they had no choice but to join us on our mad eating rampage.  They love food though and went along with whatever we planned.  Our eating to physical activity ratio was much more tipped towards the eating side for this particular trip, but we got to spend lots of quality time with Wes's parents over many delicious meals.

As expected, American history and tradition is so much more ingrained here than on the West Coast.  My dad had always told me that it would be very important to travel to the South as an American.  Being here was a good reminder of our nation's roots--walking through old forts, driving past colonial buildings, and getting a glimpse of farm life.  Seeing Confederate flags and Trump support flags waving alongside our American flag was also a culture shock that made me cringe a little, but of course everyone who we met was so friendly and kindhearted.  We didn't get weird stares for being the only Asians for miles, though we carefully avoided any political talk.  It was just a humanizing experience to come in close contact with those who we criticize to no end back home, and to see that they are also just fellow citizens who love music, barbecue, and their country as much as we do.

This trip wouldn't have been the same without Papa Wong and Mama Wong.  I have never spent this many consecutive days with them (and Wes hasn't for a long time) but honestly it was very nice to have them there with us. Mama Wong was always asking if I could Airdrop her my pictures, and Papa Wong constantly wanted photos of him making funny faces while holding meat in midair.   Seeing them experience a new place and take tons of pictures to post on their own social media accounts gave me a lot of joy and entertainment the whole time.