Road Trip 2018: Stop 3

2018.06.27.004
Hernando, Florida to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, 1,360 Miles

Nashville, Tennessee, June 26nd – June 30th

Stop 1 | Stop 2Stop 4 | Stop 5

On Day 9 I headed out from Chattanooga & drove 150 miles or so northwest to Nashville, with a stop about halfway through at Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park in Manchester.  The park is home to a Native American ceremonial enclosure which was long abandoned by the time Europeans arrived & mistook it for a fort.  I didn’t really see much of the earthworks because I got so hung up on the beautiful waterfalls!  Enclosure Trail is a 1.4-mile loop leading from the visitor’s center along the Duck & Little Duck rivers, as well as to some other trails.  Near Big Falls the trail passes through the ruins of the Stone Fort Paper Company mill, the last of several factories that were built here to take advantage of power supplied by the river.  I only had a couple of hours to spend there but there’s a lot to see & I would love to get back there to hike some more.

Day 10 was just wandering around seeing what the place had to offer.  Downtown Nashville was OK except for having to get after some guy in the middle of a gift shop to get him to stop dancing all up in my personal space.  I think he was part of a scavenger hunt or something, he was in a group all wearing the same t-shirts & headbands, & I kept seeing people all over town wearing the same t-shirts with different colored headbands.  What was the challenge – get a stranger to dance with you?  If it was get a stranger to yell at you they definitely got to check that one off the list.  Anyway I walked down Broadway to the river & it was mostly just bars & kitschy shops so I didn’t hang around long.  I went over to the Parthenon at Centennial Park.  It’s a full-scale replica built for the 1897 Centennial Exposition, complete with 42-foot statue of Athena.  The building also houses an art museum & plaster casts of the original Parthenon Marbles (sometimes referred to as the Elgin Marbles but that’s a whole rant I won’t get into today).  I ended my day at Belle Meade Plantation, which started off as a single cabin on 250 acres purchased by John Harding in 1807.  The property was right on the Natchez Trace, the main trading route between Tennessee & Mississippi.  The farm eventually became a successful thoroughbred breeding & racing operation that allowed Harding to build a large brick house.  John’s son William expanded the house & property before being one of just a few Confederate prisoners sent to the fort where I used to work on Mackinac Island!  The mansion & grounds were very cool & in the middle of a fancy-pants part of town so when I was done with my tour I basically just drove around staring at rich people’s houses.

On Day 11 it rained.  It rained alllll day.  So I headed down the road from my campground to do some indoor exploring.  Gaylord Opryland is a resort & convention center but it’s also basically a jungle inside a building.  There’s 3 sections of garden, complete with waterfalls & a river, all protected from the elements by giant glass domes.  It’s amazing & beautiful & free as long as you park at the shopping mall next door & walk over because parking on site costs a bajillion dollars ($27 – seriously) unless you want to eat at one of the expensive restaurants or stay in the expensive rooms.

On Day 12 I did what I do at least once on every single trip I ever take & went to the zoo.  The Nashville Zoo isn’t huge but has plenty to see, including an aviary with a sloth & a whole pen of guinea pigs that are pretty darn cute.  Plus of course lots of large African animals, monkeys, reptiles, & big cats (I didn’t take many pictures there.  I have no idea why.).  In one corner is the Grassmere Historic Home, which offers tours & a chance to pet heritage breeds of farm animals.

Next Week: nature & Superman in Paducah, Kentucky!

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Road Trip 2018: Stop 2

2018.06.24.021Hernando, Florida to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, 1,360 Miles

Chattanooga, Tennessee, June 22nd – June 26th

Stop 1 | Stop 3Stop 4 | Stop 5

ALL THE BATTLEFIELDS.

Seriously I visited so many things related to the Civil War in the second leg of my trip.  On day 5, on the way from Forsyth to Chattanooga, I finally stopped at Sweetwater Creek State Park, another Atlanta site that I’ve been meaning to go to for years.  The park is beautiful but I was really there to see the ruins of the New Manchester Manufacturing Company textile mill which was destroyed during the Civil War.  The burned out brick building along the river is so picturesque that it was used as a film set in the Hunger Games.  The interior unfortunately is closed off but it’s an easy hike to see them & the museum at the visitor’s center has a model of the ruin along with several very nice exhibits of the machinery from the days when the mill was in use.

 

 

On Day 6 I took a short trip my steam locomotive at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum.  Chattanooga was a rail hub of the south during the Civil War so a lot of the sites that aren’t battlefields have to do with trains.  Which are usually presented in their relationships to battlefields.  Anyway the train trip was fun, aside from the guy who made train noises THE. WHOLE. TIME.  At the opposite end of the tracks from the main rail yard the museum has a workshop where they repair historic trains from all over the country.  They also have a turntable which they use to switch the engine around & that was really cool to watch.  That trip was only about a hour but if you’re really into historic trains they also have an all day trip that goes all the way to Summerville, Georgia.  In the afternoon I went for a hike at Moccasin Bend National Archaeological District, where parts of the trail follow the original route of the Trail of Tears.  It was a sobering experience to walk on those paths.  (Be careful not to accidentally wander onto the grounds of the Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute like I almost did!)

 

 

On Day 7 I took another short rail trip, this time on the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway, the steepest funicular railway in the U.S.  It runs at a 72.7% grade up the side of Lookout Mountain (home to a battlefield) with beautiful views of the city & surroundings all the way up the incline & from the observation tower at the top.  It’s actually a legit form of public transit used by locals, especially in the winter – it’s certainly safer than driving down the mountain in the snow.  Coming back down off the mountain I headed back into Georgia to the Chickamauga Battlefield (the Chickamauga & Lookout Mountain Battlefields plus Moccasin Bend, Chattanooga National Cemetery, & a couple of other properties collectively form Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park).  Chickamauga has like 762,000 monuments, pretty much one for every single regiment that came anywhere near the war.  I did the cell phone tour, where you drive around the loop & call in to hear the audio tour.  I didn’t stop to see every single monument but I did climb up to the Wilder Brigade Monument for a panoramic view of the whole area.  They also have an insane firearms collection at the visitor’s center, I’m not kidding when I say I think they have every type of gun ever made (at least up until the collection was donated in the 1950s).

 

 

Day 8 was dedicated to a totally different activity – a drive to Scottsboro, Alabama to the Unclaimed Baggage Center.  This place is A.MAZ.ING.  It’s like a garage sale, thrift store, junk shop, all rolled into one & on steroids.  It’s literally a huge warehouse full of everything that gets left on planes AND YOU CAN BUY IT.  HOW some of this stuff gets lost I will never know.  The walls have permanent displays of some of the weirder things – ethnic headdresses, musical instruments, priceless antiques.  I think those must be the things that airlines lose entirely (which is pretty wild, I mean how many people are flying with giant Alpine horns that nobody can reunite that with its owner?); there most be some intense angry airline customer stories behind some of it.  Then there’s the stuff that’s for sale – wedding dresses, cameras, laptops, jewelry, mountains of clothing & purses, it just goes on and on and on.  THEN, there’s a warehouse behind the main warehouse where they have clearance stuff & lost commercial shipments so there hundreds of rolls of toilet paper or a zillion tubes of toothpaste.  I bought a charger pack for my phone, a head band for my GoPro, & a practically new U.S. atlas for like $15.

 

 

Next week: historic sites & wild animals in Nashville!

Some Random Amount of Time in Awkwardness

A couple of weeks ago I said goodbye to Mackinac Island and made my way to Tampa, with visits to friends and family along the way.  I spent one night each in KOA cabins in Clinton, Tennessee and Calhoun, Georgia, both of which I would recommend to anyone traveling through the area.  The one in Calhoun gives out fresh baked cookies and has free-roaming peahens, a small petting zoo, and a pond – stop into the office for a dish of goat and/or duck food, both are 50¢.

I revisited an interesting spot in Tennessee – a crazy looking tree at the UT Arboretum in Oak Ridge.  It grows sort of outward instead of upward, and it’s easy to climb under the branches and have a cozy little fort in the middle.

2015.10.16.001 2015.10.16.005

I haven’t done a whole lot since I got here – mostly I’m just trying to get all the stuff done that needs to be done before I start school in January.  I did find out that “dark tourism” is a thing this week.  Apparently it’s on the rise.  I don’t know why the sociologists are so surprised by this.  My own travel map is chock full of battlefields, prisons, and various other places that I guess could be considered “dark”.  Every single place in the additions section just on this post is some sort of abandoned ruin, and I tried to add a bunch more only to find out they were already on there.

Happy Halloween!


Geocaching:


Added to the Travel Map:

Mallows Bay, Maryland – bunch of scuttled ships laying around.

Ungru Manor, Ridala Parish, Estonia – an abandoned ruin.

Train Cemetery, Thessaloniki, Greece – hundreds of rail cars left to rot.

Parc Montsouris, Paris, France – a park with an abandoned rail line.

Destination: Graceland (and a Little Bit of the Rest of Memphis)

 

I’m not a rabid Elvis fan (although I do appreciate some of his early work) but when in Memphis, visit Graceland.  It was smaller than I thought it would be but otherwise perfectly met my gaudy, ostentatious expectations.  What I didn’t expect was to find out that Elvis was such a nice, down to earth guy.  He apparently ran around paying off the hospital bills of strangers and driving golf carts on his front lawn.  He even bought the house partly to fulfill an early promise to his parents that he would get them a nice place to live.  The tour was a little different than my usual experience.  I bought my ticket ($36) across the street and got in line for a shuttle to take me to the house.  While I waited, someone handed me an iPad and a set of headphones, and John Stamos became my tour guide.  The iPad was interesting at first, each room had commentary, there were photos, videos, interviews, and 360° views of places that weren’t visible from the viewing areas.  The problems arose when they packed the house so full that it was impossible to stand in one place long enough to explore each section.  I ended up having to sit down in a random spot for awhile and just go through all the stuff I’d missed.  There’s a couple of outbuildings besides the house itself that hold a lot of his awards and more flamboyant costumes, plus horses on the grounds and of course the graves of Elvis, his parents, and his grandmother.  All in all it’s an interesting (if somewhat overpriced) place to visit.

While I was in town I wandered down Beale Street, with it’s bar-b-que restaurants and blues clubs, and made a quick stop to visit the famous ducks of the Peabody Hotel.  I drove by the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.  It’s now the National Civil Rights Museum and they keep a huge white wreath on the balcony where he stood.  It poured rain for a half hour or so and mist started rising off the Mississippi.

 

This Week (And Last Week) In Awkwardness

I saw two javelina on the side of the road.  I’d never seen any before so that was interesting.

I was all worried about what archaeological field schools would be available at USF, but the adviser said they allow students to transfer field school credits from other universities, so I guess I can pick just about anything.

I haven’t had a whole lot going on lately so I’ll just toss in these progression photos I created from sunset time lapse photos.  One from Mackinac Island in Michigan, one from Gatlinburg in Tennessee.

2013.08.24.P01

 

2012.09.27.C02


Added to the Travel Map:

Ascension Island, Saint Helena – tiny, remote island in the middle of the Atlantic, where some Brits built some stuff once upon a time.

Baikonur Cosmodrome, Baikonur, Kazakhstan – The largest & oldest space flight facility in the world, once a secret Soviet testing site.

Ishak Pasha Palace, Doğubeyazıt, Turkey – abandoned.

Fort Tilden, Breezy Point, New York – abandoned, now part of Gateway National Recreation Area.

Little Curaçao – abandoned island.