Saturday, July 26, 2014

Back on the road again!

It was time we left Nashville and headed east toward Indianapolis, our next destination.  We decided to take a slower highway, and use the 41 & 37 instead of the Interstate, to enjoy some of the country scenery, and we weren't disappointed.  I love to look at old barns and small towns with "ghost ads" on the old buildings, along with lots of corn fields, soy crops and even an Amish carriage or two to see clopping along side of us instead of billboards, fast food eateries and gas stations.  The roads can be a little rough sometimes, but it's fair trade off, we think. 

When I looked for a place to stay the night, I noticed that there was a state campground in Henderson KY named for John James Audubon, one of my favorite artists, so how could I resist?  We pulled in, and it was practically empty!  What a beautiful campground it was too!  Just as you would expect, with lots of trees, trails and birds.  Next door was a wonderful museum built by a woman that grew up with him & his family that felt it was important to preserve his history and his work.  He had lived there in Henderson for almost a decade.  She contacted his family (he had two sons) and explained what she wanted to do and asked them for anything that they may have kept (very little, sadly enough) of his.  Luckily, she was able to get donations from various members all through his family.  They have a complete set of his American Bird Books, which are only 8 known left, and of course, a number of his beautiful original drawings.  All in all, it was an amazing place, well worth the stop!

Right across the bridge was Evansville IN where Jack enjoyed visiting the USS LST-325 Ship Memorial.  He likes that sort of thing.  I, sat out on their patio and enjoyed the sun and watched the barges move "stuff" up and down the Ohio river!  Fun!  ;-)

The following day we made it into Indianapolis!  Vroom, Vroom!  "The Speedway!"  The whole reason we were there!  We have some long time friends who have been involved in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in one way or another, for many years, so it carries some "extra" excitement for us to see it in person, after all the years (of hearing their stories).  No races taking place, which, actually was a good thing, because then all you see is the race.  This way, you get to take a tour and see the whole Speedway, inside and out!  And what a tour it is too, wow!  They take you on a mini-bus and drive you around the whole track, stop at various parts and explain things, then you get out and go inside the Media Center and see what they see, etc.  We also saw Gasoline Alley, the Garage area, the Emergency Medical Center, where the driver's park their RVs (a bit more fancy than ours!) the "Victory Stage", etc.  Then afterwards you have the museum itself.  All pretty impressive.  Oh, and while we were there, there was a couple of guys practicing for the up-coming motorcycle race, so we were able to watch them for a bit too!  Fun afternoon!

A quick drive through "downtown" Indianapolis with a nice Canal Walk, murals and some pretty incredible statues, then off we went again!

...on the road,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tennessee Plantations

"Southern Plantations" come in all shapes, sizes and styles and there are many to choose from to visit all through the south.  We decided to visit two, in one day, President Andrew Jackson's and Belle Meade.

Belle Meade was closest, so we started there.  I had read a little bit about it, and was intrigued that it had been a thoroughbred business, and had not succumbed to the Civil War.  That's about all I knew before we went to "check it out".  It was also touted as one of the "oldest and largest"(5400 acres) in the area, so that too was a draw.

It turned out to be quite an interesting history lesson.  It seems that John Harding started the thoroughbred business when he founded Belle Meade back in 1807.  The Civil War interrupted breeding and racing in the southern US.  However, General Harding was able to keep all of his horses because they aren't good for that kind of work!  To fragile and they spook to easily.  How lucky for him.  After the war, his business continued and in 1867-1868, General Harding won more purses with his own horses than any man living at that time in the US.  He was also the first man to use the auction system and became the most successful thoroughbred breeding farm and distributor in Tennessee. Harding passed the operation of the farm down to his son-in-law, who brought  Belle Meade international fame by purchasing Iroquois in 1886 to stand at stud. In 1881 Iroquois had been the first American breed and born horse to win the English Derby. This fame led Jackson to demand a remarkable $2,500 stud fee for Iroquois service by 1892. When Iroquois died at Belle Meade on December 17, 1899 he was still considered the most famous Thoroughbred of the time.  They made of movie about that, because that blood line passed down all the way to Sea Biscuit!

To say the least, the place was beautiful, inside and out.  They don't let you take pictures inside (darn!).  The docent did a fabulous job sharing the history and all the details about the furnishings and about the family and the times.  The Carriage House was full of beautiful old carriages and even had their own Dairy Barn & Winery.

The Front of Belle Meade Plantation House
The back of Belle Meade Plantation House
The Carriage House

From there we went over to President Andrew Jackson's home and Plantation, The Hermitage.  It started out in 1804 as a 425 acres frontier farm that grew into 1000 acre cotton plantation by the time of his death in 1845.  200 Additional acres were added by the state for the museum, parking lot, walking trails, picnic area, etc.  This is a large area and quite lovely.  It was a hot day, and a lot to take in, in one day!

The tours are timed, and again, no pictures inside.  Costumed docents greet you and give you a wonderful tour of each room (not a thorough as the Belle Meade tho, I thought).  Once you are though with the home, you have head phones for the rest of the property and the museum to tour on your own (and much appreciated, as there is so much information!)  Once again, another great history lesson, so much more than ones we learned in school, certainly more interesting, anyway!  You really got to see "both sides" of the man...his love of his wife & family, his military abilities, but also his use of slavery and the Indian removal and his issues against women's rights.  I don't think I would have voted for the man...oh, wait a minute...I couldn't vote then, I'm a woman!
The Front of The Hermitage
The Back ("no sense in wasting paint, no one will see it") of The Hermitage
Mrs & President Jackson's "formal attire (she was nearly a foot shorter than he...just like Jack & I)
Alfred's Cabin, he was a slave that stayed with him even after his emancipation. A family a 4 to 10 would be on one side, in one room with a fireplace

Mrs & President Jackson's grave site

...kicking back in Nashville,  Marie
If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Nashville Side Trips!

Nashville is close to several "other" places (besides music, that is), it only made sense to use it as a "home base" while we made side trips!  One of those side trips was to the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg TN.  Anyone who knows my husband, knows that one of the very few drinks he does drink, is Jack Daniels, so of all the distilleries to choose from in Kentucky & Tennessee, this would be the one to see!  What a great tour they give too!  Ron, our tour guide, had a great sense of humor and could answer just about any question you could come up with...all accept the famous "why the number 7"?  And the reason he can't answer that question, is one knows!  Good ole Jack never told anyone!  Lots of guesses as to "why", but truth be one really knows...there were no numbers 1 through 6...only number 7!  Oh well...7's a good number, and a good whiskey, just ask my husband!  ;-)  (I think he likes the hint of vanilla).  One of the funny things about the distillery, is that it's in a dry county!  They can make it there, but you can't drink it or sell or buy it there! ...well, with one small exception (of course)!  A few years ago, and a few cases of their best whiskey, the fellas at the distillery went to visit the local politicians and got to talkin' to them about this law of theirs.  They came to an 'agreement' that it would be 'alright' for them to sell special, limited bottles, that customers couldn't purchase anywhere else.  So, there are about 6 different size/shapes of these bottles that you can have engraved, that you can "only get there, at their store on site" and no where else!  Of course, we had to get one!  We thought it would be a great addition to the Thanksgiving Feast!  ;-)

Where Jack discovered the water for the distillery
Ron & Jack at the "water" for the distillery
One of the 7 floor barrel warehouses
Jack Daniels - Not a very tall man, only about 5'2"
Another side trip was to the National Corvette Museum & the Corvette Assembly Plant in Bowling Green KY.  We went to the Assembly Plant first.  Unlike the Toyota Plant, this was a walking tour, but like the other, very thorough.  It's always interesting to watch how people put these cars together; they make it look so easy, even though you know it's not!   One of the most interesting things I thought was that every car being made was already sold.  They started off showing us the colors, they always have about 10, with about 3 to 4 new ones each year.  One of the 2014 colors is a dark green that the guide said wasn't very popular, so they probably won't be keeping it - and, of course, it's the one that I liked the most!  Give that to me, in a convertible with a tan interior and top please!  Yum!

 Each car had a spec sheet attached because the "owner" has choices as to the extras he/she wants on it, so in essence, every car is "special ordered".  They can't make them fast enough to keep up with the demand...pretty cool, I think.  How many other American companies would like to be able to make that claim?  Good for them!
How many manufacturing companies can say that?

From there we went across the street to the museum.  Owners can pick their new cars up from here if they wish, and while we were there, one did!  Vroom, Vroom!  Away he drove!

Louis Chevrolet, founder's 1953 Polo White
This is where the sinkhole happened in February this year, where 8 cars fell in and were crushed.  Very sad.  One of the cars was a 1.5 million dollar car donated just weeks before the tragedy.  The museum itself is beautiful, and has a great deal of cars and memorabilia to enjoy.   On the "up side", the sinkhole has brought a lot more visitors to the museum, so that means more income, which helps them to off-set the repairs (beyond what the insurance doesn't pay) and help support the museum!  The docent said they immediately had tests done to make sure there were no further sink holes in or around them (nor across the street at the assembly plant)!  Thank goodness!

...kicking back in Nashville,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Friday, July 18, 2014

Celebrating "America's Freedom" in Style!

The South celebrates Independence Day, for days!  Fireworks are sold on every corner, and it seems like everyone shoots them off, everywhere, all night, for days, as well!  Evidently, as well, Nashville is suppose to be one of the top three cities in the country for their fireworks displays on the 4th, so you can imagine our dilemma when we were trying to choose between going downtown to see "the big fireworks" and going to the Grand Ole Opry to see the Oak Ridge Boys preform!  Since our campground was hosting a dinner, singer and fireworks the night before, and the park nearby was having fireworks and picnic festivities the night after, we opted to go to the Opry and see the Oak Ridge Boys!  After all, how often would we get chance to see them sing "Elvira" live again?
Greg & Cindy Hill preforming at our campground cookout
We were staying a little outside of Nashville at the North Nashville KOA, and they have a great service of selling great "front of the house" tickets that include a mini-bus ride to the Opry, which is nice, so you don't have to navigate and deal with all the 4th of July drivers trying to get to & from their festivities, plus trying to figure out where the heck you are going!

We were the furthest stop out, so the driver picked us up first, then had a couple more stops to pick up a few other folks along the way.  One couple was a grandmother and her 13 year old grandson from Scotland here for him to attend a special two week vocal school and cut a CD.  "Wow, Nashville really is the Music City, if folks come here all the way from Scotland" I thought...

Watching the Opry was a hoot!  If you've never seen it, it's "done" in 30 minute segments (for TV) and each "main attraction" does about two songs, then the other entertainers fill in around them.  Each segment has a different host as well.  The audience also gets to hear the "ads" as the curtain comes down/up while the stage is being changed for the next act.  They do four shows, which equals the two hours we are there.  Very entertaining!  All through the night, being it was Independence Day, everyone sang songs that were quite patriotic, many I had never heard before, and being "country", brought tears to my eyes. 
Of course the Oak Ridge Boys were on last, and of course they too started us off right, and had us all sing the Star Spangled Banner with them (how cool was that?), then, "Elvira"!  Yea!  And...of course, it played in my head for days!

Richard Sterban,  The Oakridge Boys at the Grand Ole Opry, Nashville TN
Joe Bonsall, The Oakridge Boys at the Grand Ole Opry, Nashville TN
William & Richard, The Oakridge Boys at the Grand Ole Opry, Nashville TN
As we began our drive back, several of the folks commented on the fireworks going on downtown and if we would be able to see them en route at all?  Well, our driver, being a sweetheart, as he crossed over a bridge, saw that several other cars were parked there, turned and asked us if we were in a hurry to get back home, none of us were, so he parked and we sat and watched the last 30 minutes of some of the best fireworks ever!  What great seats we had too!  Up high, comfy seats, air conditioning, no smoke and we didn't even have to worry about parking or traffic afterwards!  How lucky can a person get?

The following night, we didn't even need to go to the park down the street, as we could see them from our rig where we were at!  The only "downside" was that one of the enthusiasts in the campground shot his off until about 1AM...I thought that was carrying it a bit far...Buy, hey, what a great country we live in, right?

...kicking back in Nashville TN,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Two weeks in Nashville Tennessee, yeehaw!

Pardon the long delay in my writing, but my computer has been "in the shop" for some maintenance work, and while it's been there, we've been busy sight-seeing up a storm in Nashville for two weeks!  So, I've lots to share (it's going to take several blogs, I'm afraid)!

Our first visit was to the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum, a must see if you ever go to Nashville.  Built in 1967, the Hall hold the "Crown Jewels of Country Music" and tells the story of how it all began...and does it well, I must say!  Hundreds of exhibits and vignettes, along with recordings going back to it's roots - including African American, Gospel, Bluegrass, Cajun, even Comedians, all the way up to Popular music.  It had a couple of "special exhibits" going on, one was on Miranda Lambert and the other was on Glen Campbell.  Both shared their backgrounds, records, and costumes.

As you leave the museum, you enter the Hall of Fame Rotunda.  This is where 120 "Members" are pictured on bronze plaques with dates and bios all along the wall.  It's built in a circle with the words "Will The Circle Be Unbroken".  The first inductees were Jimmie Rodgers, Fred Rose and Hank Williams in 1961.  Election to the Hall is solely the prerogative of the CMA.  New members, elected annually by an anonymous panel of industry leaders chosen by the CMA, are formally inducted during the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's annual Medallion Ceremony.

Along with these two rooms, the building houses Historic RCA Studio B (for extra $) and Hatch Show Print, a letterpress shop operating since 1879.  Since Jack "grew up" in the printing business, we had to stop by and check them out!  Amazing to see a shop still doing letterpress these days!  Nice job too.

Well...all that took several long hours, and we were tired and hungry!  Off to find food!  And wonderful food we did!  Merchants Restaurant & Grill in an old (c1892) refurbished drugstore building.  Beautiful and delicious, yum!  Afterward, we were ready to take on one more museum, Johnny Cash!

Johnny Cash's Museum was small, but was it packed full!  Lots of pictures, going all the way back to his childhood, including military and both his marriages.  Early recordings, records, albums and even his films.  Some special memorabilia, like a chair from their home that burned down, a jail door from "Folsom Prison" and a special presentation when he was a Grand Marshall at the American Bicentennial Grand Parade in Washington DC in 1976. 

Sitting in the "back room" and watching a clip of Johnny coming on stage, saying one more time..."Hello! I'm Johnny Cash" and listening him sing some of his songs, was a such lovely way to end our first day in downtown Nashville...It truly is the" Music City"!

 ...kicking back in Nashville TN,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at: Marie Beschen | Flickr