By Maggie -- Jun 07, 2014
Tupelo is home of the birthplace of Elvis Presley, and we happened to be in Tupelo the weekend of the yearly Elvis Festival! The town was alive this weekend with Elvis fans from across the country and even the world. We were asked if we were Elvis fans probably 20 times. What were we supposed to say, "No"? Of course we are Elvis fans. I mean, I don't know if I know a person who doesn't like Elvis. He's just Elvis!
There's so much to be said about Elvis and his life, most of which can probably be found on his wikipedia page... but there's something special that you feel when you walk around in the town that he grew up in that makes him feel more like a real person rather than a mythical legend. There was a museum next to his childhood home that housed artifacts and photos from his early years that superfans and family members collected and donated. There were many photos where he looked sad or forlorn, especially as a kid. You could tell that deep down inside Elvis Presley, there were some darker demons that haunted him in his life. Tupleo celebrates and commemorates his good times, the youthful times, and it seems to ignore much of the darker times.
Growing up watching Sister Act and Sister Act II on practically a weekly basis, I have a small obsession with gospel music (ask my sister, it's real!). Gospel, especially from areas around Tupelo and Memphis, was the spark that ignited the flame for Elvis' musical career. He loved Southern gospel, so the last part of the festival was a "Gospel Brunch" on Sunday at the auditorium, with choirs representing different kinds of gospel singing Elvis' favorite gospel songs. The brunch goes like this: Eat grits and fried chicken, watch (and sing along?) to a few choirs from the area, clap, stand up, wave your hands and praise Jesus. We felt the musical frisson as we listened to the 20-person choir sing for Jesus Hallelujah Amen with every cell in their collective body. It was wild and an awesome end to our time in Mississippi!
Trace State Park totally rocks. Mississippi is real laid back with their recreational activities and parks - They use the honor system for most things, or just make it 'free' for anyone to use, because hey, the weather sucks here so let's just all try and have a good time, ok?
Ryan was super excited to see that they had not one but TWO frisbee golf courses at the park. He spent a morning sweating his butt off playing frisbee golf while I was busy cursing all of the fish in the whole state of Mississippi. We had been having terrible luck fishing lately. I mean, worse than terrible. We had heard from several locals that bass and catfish eat hotdogs...so we bought some hotdogs at Walmart and tried our luck on day one. Each time we cast, the piece of hotdog would fly off and plop out in the middle of the lake. So, I tried a piece of chicken. That didn't work so we added weights. We took off weights. We added bobbers, and took off the bobbers. We tried fake worms, real worms, and I even tried a piece of bacon. The only thing we caught was an adult turtle that was covered in moss! How was it that the lady sitting across the bay was reeling in fish left, right and center and all we could catch was a lazy turtle?
I was fed up and determined to catch something edible while we were at Trace State Park. I marched over to the lady and asked her what she was using to catch all these fish of hers. "Just some little crappie jigs" and held up her little neon fake worm, like I was a total moron. Turns out I had bought a pack of 100 of these little things and failed to try a single one out for the past two days. So the next morning I made Ryan get up really early to go out fishing with me. We caught 25 of those little suckers in about an hour and filleted them up for fish tacos! I also made fish dip (I know, right? what the heck? more on this later)... Needless to say, I feel like we're adjusting well to Southern living. Minus the terrifying thunderstorms. Those are still too much for me.