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Archive for March, 2009

blogging to be continued in May

blogging to be continued in May

It’s time to head home.  We’ve stayed out as long as our temporary license allowed.

 

So, we’re putting our heads down, getting out some warmer clothes and heading north, back home to Wisconsin.  It’s cool and rainy here in Kentucky, so the shock may not be too great…

We’ll stay one more night in Illinois, then plan to arrive home Wednesday night.  We’re feeling very sentimental about the end of this “maiden voyage”.  But, we’re also excited about the next trip, probably in early May, and where that will take us.  Planning will probably begin as soon as we get unpacked.

But right now, all we can think about is seeing all the people we love and have missed.

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This place is a treasure. It’s a historical place: The Trail of Tears, Civil War battles, the TVA, all took place between these waterways.

Our campsite at Piney campgrounds 

 

Our campsite at Piney campgrounds

 

There’s a 1850’s farm to tour, with costumed guides. They were having a delicious lunch when we walked into their cabin.

The Homeplace - 1850

The Homeplace - 1850

sunset at the campground

sunset at the campground

 

Bison in water

Bison in water

There’s also a planetarium with daily shows, and a restored prairie area with bison and elk herds.

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General Jackson Showboat

General Jackson Showboat

We wind up going to Nashville, unexpectedly. So, we book tickets on the General Jackson (paddle wheel) Showboat – for a cruise down the river, dinner and a country music show. We stay at a KOA so that we’re near the Opry action, and schedule a cab to pick us up at their office and deliver us to the dock.

Before we leave for the night, Dick checks the weather and announces there’s a tornado “watch” for central Tennessee. Although there are some dark clouds and a bit of rain before we leave, we decide to go ahead. I’m worried about leaving Taylor (dear old cat, who’s afraid of his shadow). Dick is reassuring. Night-life beckons (and our tickets are non-refundable) so off we go.

By the time our cab drops us off the wind has picked up, and the rain is starting to come down harder. We stand with dozens of other people in the ticket pick-up/pre-loading area. It’s outside, against a building with a small overhanging shelter, with fans for the hot weather we’re definitely not experiencing. I’m beginning to look at each pillar of the structure and blades of the fans as deadly weapons. I tell myself I’m being silly – then the woman next to us says that the tornado sirens went off a few minutes ago -her husband heard them in the parking lot across the way. The watch has turned into a warning. The sky gets darker and the wind whips up and the rain is coming down in slanting sheets. Flagpoles in front of us are shaking and bending, people are trying to move further back against the wall, but most of us are getting wet anyway.

All I can think of is – poor Taylor, all alone in a motorhome. Isn’t that the worst place to be in a tornado? Oh yes, and then there’s us – standing outside with no shelter at all.

We see boat employees with walkie-talkies walking along flapping canvassed gangplanks. Will the trip be cancelled? It’s now way past boarding time. I’m wondering where we should go for shelter. How will we get “home”?

Then word goes out. We are going to board. But, carefully – it will be slippery, and we will get wet. We’re advised to let those ahead of us get through those areas, before following them.

Once aboard – in the interior of a huge dinner theatre, the concerns about the weather start to drift away. We look out the window on one side and see some clearing in the sky. There are menus being offered and drinks being served.

People are ready for a good time. And it is a rollicking good time. Beautiful boat, good food, fine show.

(The only downside was that we were supposed to go to downtown Nashville and see the skyline (a highlight of the tour), and didn’t. We got two different reasons for that. Supposedly the captain told someone at our table it was because Al Gore wanted all the lights off for that 8:30-9:30 Global Warming UN statement, or (from a bartender) the river was too high.)

As for me, I’m just grateful to be alive, with my dear husband. And dear old cat. We all survived, and had fun.

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General Andrew Jackson's (President of the U.S.) Log Cabin House

General Andrew Jackson's (President of the U.S.) Log Cabin House

 

President Jackson retired and died here

President Jackson retired and died here

It’s a beautiful site, well run and well worth the admission. Docents take you through the brick house, the rest of the extensive buildings and grounds are self-guided. Of the sites we’ve visited, this one did the best job of trying to explain and re-create the lives of slaves in this time and place.

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Dick at front of campsite

Dick at front of campsite

Highly recommend this for an overnight, or more. Beautiful campsites along the lake, and in the “mountains”. If you come off-season (we’re here March 25-6) it’s very private and quiet. It’s been raining while we’re here – lovely enough- but the hiking looks like it would be wonderful. We did our nightly spin on paved roads and it was good enough.
View from campground walk in Red Top Mountain State Park

View from campground walk in Red Top Mountain State Park

Another big plus – for us… a lodge with a restaurant. We had a very nice and inexpensive dinner (shrimp and catfish) overlooking the grounds. Nice to come back to camp with no dishes to do, just blogs to catch up on 🙂

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3385381313_96761658f2_m1Two nights ago, we were at FD Roosevelt State Park and had a wonderful fire. (Yes, of course we went outside ;))

3383797042_3f1bc1e5d6_m5The next night we were at Indian Springs State Park, and laid a fire, but didn’t light it because we heard rain was coming.
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And tonight, we’re at Red Top Mountain State Park and the rain is here. And it’s beautiful, to listen to on the roof, and look out at, across the lake.

I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. And I love them both.

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3383794016_7b444784a8_m-1Yes, the Whistle Stop Cafe exists. And trains still pass close-by, every 20 minutes or so.

If you’re not a film buff, the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes”, was filmed largely in Juliette, Georgia, a tiny town that was all but dead before filming began here. Now the Whistle Stop Cafe averages 600 people a day in season, with many visitors waiting over an hour to enter the sacred space – which looks the same as it did in the movie. We were told. We bought the DVD and will watch tonight, or soon, and compare it to our memory and photos. (Of course it would have been better to watch it first and then visit, but hey – this is a spontaneous trip!)

3382939035_eab6d93117We were able to choose wherever we wanted to sit, and ordered fried green tomatoes, and fried chicken and okra and different kinds of peas and beans. Although I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat there again, as a movie junkie, it was a visual feast.

What was harder to stomach was Jarrell Plantation, further down the road.

Much was made, in the introductory film, about how the Jarrell family built such a (relatively) successful plantation – which would never had been possible, as the film itself points out, without all the toil and sweat of his slaves. If I remember the script correctly, the slaves were called Jarrell’s biggest assets, and whenever he made any money, he invested in more slaves or more land. We were encouraged to be grateful to have been made heirs to this piece of history and property, because of the generous donation of the site by Jarrell descendents, when it came time to split it up. ( Although, you can still give them money more directly by staying at a B&B one of the nephews runs next door.)

As repugnant as slavery is, it IS part of history. And I don’t have a problem going to any site where history is represented, however unsavory, and I don’t need a politically correct spin to make me feel better. But, dang it, if I’m on a plantation that was built on slave labor, I would like to see some representation of that. And I understand why in many instances it may be hard to document their stories, but at least tell/remind us of why this is the case. They existed here. What I saw was a lot of buildings and machinery, extolling the technological adaptations a son of Jarrell made (a sugar cane press, sawmill, cotton gin, grist mill,etc.). But the slaves have disappeared from the site.

There was one pile of rocks near the exit, where a slave cabin had burned.

Somehow, I don’t feel like I got an accurate picture…

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