J and I went on a field trip to eastern Tennessee this weekend. A good friend from DAR was married in Kingsport, TN, on Saturday and we decided to make a weekend of it. Kingsport is about four hours south-east of Lexington. There are a couple of ways to get there, so we tried one on the way down and another on the trip back.
To get there, we took I-75 south about an hour to Corbin, KY (birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken!), then turned southeast to the Cumberland Gap. From the Cumberland Gap we turned east into Virginia. That part of the trip was beautiful, with rolling fields of hay and tree-covered mountains behind them. We arrived in Kingsport just in time for the Rehearsal/Welcome Dinner. This BBQ was held in a barn/pavillion on the grounds of the historic Allandale Mansion. Best part? The ice cream truck that showed up just before dinner! The whole wedding weekend was full of sweet, personal touches like the ice cream truck--in this case, the bride's grandfather always supported dessert first, so in his memory, we all enjoyed our ice cream before the meal! After dinner there was dancing (to Gomer and the Three Pyles) late into the night.
Saturday morning, J and I woke up late, enjoyed breakfast by the pool, and then headed out to investigate Kingsport. Kingsport is largely an industrial town (Eastman Chemicals is located there), but they are working to become more fitness-friendly. One part of that mission is the Greenbelt, a linear park connecting historic and scenic properties throughout town.
We wandered around one part of it for a couple miles walking across a suspension bridge over the Holston River (and back--yikes!!) and past the Netherland Inn and old Boatyards of Kingsport.
Side note--the suspension bridge was narrow and swayed horribly when you walked across it. I insisted on going across it because I strongly believe in doing things that make me uncomfortable (remember when I did the same thing on the Navy Pier ferris wheel in Chicago?), and it definitely succeed in making me uncomfortable. Here is a picture of my trying really hard to look calm and collected. I wasn't.
And here's J actually looking calm and collected. Not surprisingly, he was.
We tried to follow the Greenbelt downtown, but apparently that part of the park hasn't been completed (or marked!). We drove downtown, where we checked out the farmers market and then wandered over to Broad Street. Kingsport was clearly laid out and Broad was once a thriving downtown area. It is still active, but mostly with antique shops and law offices. At one end of Broad is the old train station (now a bank):
At the other end, about three blocks away, is Church Circle, where four of the original churches in town (including the church that hosted the wedding) share space. We ate lunch at TK's Big Dog, a hot dog shop that ships in dogs, buns and toppings from New York, Chicago, the west coast, Philadelphia, Boston, etc. It was a great concept and a great meal. We also stopped in at the Stir Fry Cafe for a tasting, but weren't terribly impressed. Because he insists its a cool picture (he's right), here's a picture of J with the menu:
Finally, we dropped into Paper, a stationary store. J convinced me to buy a couple rolls of paper that I fell in love with. He thought they made good weapons, too...
The wedding and reception after were tons of fun, and I was so happy to have shared in my friend's day. After a late night at the reception, J and I slept in and enjoyed a leisurely drive back through Tennessee and southeastern Kentucky to get home. While not long enough to consider it a vacation, it was so nice to get out of town for a couple days and explore a new part of the country.