Search

Category

Tennessee

2019-05-16 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Springtime in Kentucky; Final Banquet, Berea, KY – Day #22 – the Caravan ends, and the Wedding Trip begins

Easy morning today.  We made last minute preparations for our upcoming travel; we hitched up the Villa, and headed to Berea…

We parked the Villa at the historic Boone Tavern, which isn’t really a tavern, but a very nice, modern hotel.  It is owned and operated by Berea College, and is staffed mostly by Berea students…

We were having our “Final Banquet”, a time to remember our good times, to have a little entertainment, and to say farewell to our new old friends…

img_8860img_8861

Our caravan leaders, with a few parting words…

img_8863

After the banquet the Airstreamers headed out; some were leaving, others returned to the campground for one last night…

img_2849

We headed for Bowling Green, KY… for a little while we followed another caravanner…

img_8865img_8867

We stopped in Bowling Green, rented a car, and drove to Franklin, KY.  There we found “Courtesy Parking”, a feature of the Airstream Club (WBCCI) whereby another Airstream owner lets us park on their property…

img_8868img_2851

In this case, we parked on an empty lot behind this Airstream owner’s house…

img_8869

We did some final packing, enjoyed some happy hours, and turned in early.  Tomorrow we drive the rental car to the Nashville Airport and fly to California!

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-05-12 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Springtime in Kentucky; Big South Fork Scenic Railway – Day #18

Our first excursion in the London area was to the Big South Fork Scenic Railway, about one hour south of here, in Stearns, KY, near the Tennessee border.  This is also adjacent to the Daniel Boone National Forest…

Stearns, KY, is another one of the many small, thriving, towns which died in the 1950s.  At one time Stearns was a bustling industrial town of 10,000 – 15,000 people.  Today there are fewer than 1,600 people here.  The only remnants of the town, besides the few houses, are the Big South Fork Scenic Railway, along with the few remaining buildings that were once operated by the Stearns Coal and Lumber Company.

Stores adjacent to the train depot:

img_2703

This building now houses the museum; it once was the headquarters office building of the Stearns Coal and Lumber Company; it also housed the telephone exchange and the local bank…

img_2704

The train was awaiting our arrival…

img_2701

We had a lovely drive again, through miles and miles of tree-covered hills as far as the eye can see… After we arrived and procured our train tickets, we toured the museum.  There was the usual assortment of memorabilia plus photos showing the once-thriving town…

We enjoyed our box lunch, then waited for the train…

img_8747

And here it is!

img_2708

The cars may be vintage, but they are nicely finished inside… Soon we were underway.  The train’s planned destination was the Blue Heron Mining Community – a National Park Interpretive Center.

Blue Heron, or Mine 18, is an abandoned coal mining town.  It was a part of the Stearns Coal and Lumber Company’s past operation in what today is the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, a unit of the National Park Service.  Most of what we know about life at Blue Heron, and the other Stearns coal towns, has been handed down through oral history.  Blue Heron mine operated from 1937 until it closed in December
1962.  During that time hundreds of people lived and worked in the isolated community on the banks of the Big South Fork River.  Their story is the focus of this interpretive tour of the Blue Heron Community.

When the Stearns Coal and Lumber Company abandoned Blue Heron in 1962, the buildings were either removed or they lapsed into decay.  There were no original buildings standing when the town was “re-created” as an interpretive center in the 1980s.  Consequently, the town was restored in an “open-air” museum format, and new structures were constructed on the approximate site of several of the original buildings. These new structures are open, metal shells of buildings, and are referred to as “ghost structures.”  Each ghost structure has an audio-tape station with recorded recollections of some of the people of Mine 18.

Unfortunately, recent winter storms damaged the train tracks, so Blue Heron is no longer reached by the railroad.  Big South Fork Scenic Railway is now the railroad to nowhere.  We rode about 1/2 hour, enjoying the scenery…

img_2710img_2713img_2714

Some passengers took a nap…

img_2736

Plenty of green…

img_2716

And wet… The train announcer told us that yesterday the creek was running slow and crystal clear… Remember the rain we had last night?

img_2718img_2719

And then the train stopped, and we backed up for 1/2 hour until we returned to the depot.  Some caravanners drove on to Blue Heron, but we, and others, returned to the campground…

There were many happy hours groups at several of the Airstreams this evening.  Some Airstreamers were happier than others…

img_2732

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-05-09 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Springtime in Kentucky; Country and Country Music – Day #15

We visited three local points of interest today… We started at Mountain Home Place…

img_2614

This is a working farm; all the buildings here were moved onto this property from adjacent land that was taken when the Paintsville Lake State Park lake was built.  The buildings date from 1850 to 1900.

Of course, we start in the Gift Shoppe… They sell all hand-made products produced by local craftsmen…

img_2613

The old men caravaners enjoyed sitting on the front porch…

img_8658

We strolled the property and saw the vintage buildings; we also enjoyed their animals…

img_2616img_2617img_2618img_2620

I enjoyed what appeared to be really tentative foundations…

img_2621img_2622img_2625

img_2626

We saw the local church…

img_8672img_2627img_2628

And the local one-room school house, in use until 1958…

img_2630img_8677img_8678

A typical cabin…

img_8679img_2631img_2632

Interesting ladder to the attic lofts…

img_2633img_2634

Then we moved on to lunch in Paintsville…

img_2636

I enjoyed a local delicacy… Fried Bologna Sammich…

img_2635

The next local landmark we toured was the Mayo United Methodist Church; the church was donated in 1904 by Mr. Mayo, who made his fortune in coal mining.  (We are only about 50 miles from the West Virginia border.)

img_2638img_2646

The stained glass windows are remarkable…

img_2639img_2640img_2641

The organ was relatively small (1,000 pipes, 18 stops, two manuals), but high quality, and still in good condition; it still uses the original mechanical connections to operate the pipes.  The manual pumps were replaced by electric fan chambers in 1914 when electricity arrived at the church…

img_2645img_2644

Our own caravaner played for us, and we returned the favor by singing a few hymns…

img_2642

img_2657

Next door was Mr. Mayo’s house… The Mayos only lived here for a few years; Mr. Mayo died suddenly, and Mrs. Mayo moved to Tennessee to be with her family.  The house (45 rooms) is now a Catholic School…

img_2647

And finally we visited the Highway 23 Museum…

img_8682

It was so-named because of the many country music stars who were born along Highway 23…

img_2649

The only country music stars I had known anything about were Loretta Lynn and her sister Crystal Gail.  We also saw a video of an interview with Loretta Lynn about the making of the movie, “The Coal Miner’s Daughter”… We will visit her childhood home in nearby Butcher Hollow tomorrow, and re-watch the movie in a few days…

The museum is small, but it was enjoyed by those who followed country music… We returned to the Villa, and walked along the lake again…

img_2650img_8685img_2653

Happy Hours ensued, and an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-04-24 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Traveling from Tuscumbia, AL, to Bowling Green, KY;

Today we check in to the RV Park where the Springtime in Kentucky caravan starts.  We are one day early, but we like to arrive before the crowds…

Last night we caught a nice sunset in the window of the Villa…

img_2185

We left Tuscumbia, AL and headed through the countryside to find the 65 north…  At about 11:30 we met up with two other caravaners at the Cracker Barrel in Franklin, TN…

img_8028

After lunch we traveled north into Kentucky!

img_8039

Lots of green in this neck of the woods!

img_8040img_8041

We pulled into the KOA in Bowling Green, KY, ready to check-in…

img_8044

We added another state sticker to our map… Number 39!

img_2186

It’s a nice park, with a lake and a good supply of Canada Geese…

img_2187img_2188img_8046img_8047

We played a little chess before Happy Hours…

img_8048

So Happy Hours happened – there are about 10 Airstreams here a day early…  And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-04-22 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Traveling from Chattanooga, TN to Lynchburg TN, and Jack Daniels, and on to Huntsville, AL…

We prepared to leave for traveling to Lynchburg, TN, this morning.  Then we realized that Lynchburg is in the Central Time Zone and we were still in Eastern time in Chattanooga.  So we had an extra hour to kill.  But we left relatively early, and had a nice drive across Tennessee.  (The highway even dipped south for a few miles into Georgia before it turned slightly north back into Tennessee…)

img_7970img_7973

We soon arrived in Lynchburg, and …

img_2112img_2111img_2113

This is their fully restored antique truck, from all the way back in 1980…

img_2114img_7974img_2115img_2116img_7975

Signage on this truck shows Jack Daniel’s motto:  “All Goods Worth Price Charged.”

img_2117img_2118

The tour began by hearing an explanation of what Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey is:

The law defines Tennessee Whiskey as: a spirit manufactured in Tennessee; made from grain that consists of at least 51% corn; distilled to no more than 160 proof (80% abv); filtered through maple charcoal prior to aging; aged in new charred oak barrels; placed in the barrel at no more than 125 proof (62.5% abv); and, bottled at not less than 80 proof (40% abv).

Except for the filtering through maple charcoal, this defines Bourbon.  In other words, Tennessee Whiskey is Bourbon filtered through maple charcoal.  Jack Daniels calls this process “Mellowing”.

We started at the Rick House, where they burn the sugar maple; we moved on to the water source, deep inside this cave:

img_7977img_2119img_7979

Here is a statue of Jack Daniel standing on a granite boulder; you know, Jack on the Rocks…

img_2121

This building was the headquarters office used by Jack Daniel’s up until 1958; it was here, in about 1905, that Jack kicked the company safe one morning, broke his toe, and died a few years later from gangrene, at the age of 61.

img_2123

The owners of the company in 1958 (four brothers who had inherited the business) sold the business to Brown-Foreman for $20,000,000.  It is still owned by Brown-Foreman today.  Brown-Foreman also owns Early Times, Old Forester, Woodford Reserve, Canadian Mist, GlenDronach, BenRiach, Glenglassaugh, Finlandia, Herradura, Korbel, and Chambord.

This is the Still House; it contains four giant 90′ tall stills, which produce the clear corn whiskey:

img_2124img_2125

The sour mash waste, after it is distilled, is piped over to this facility, where it is sold to local farmers as cattle feed; it still contains 6-8% alcohol.  Talk about contented cows!

img_2126

This is the Mellowing House, where the clear whiskey is dripped, drop by drop, over a 10′ tall stack of charcoal, a process called mellowing…

img_2127

The bottling lines are always my favorite part of these tours… This is a small line dedicated to their Single Barrel Whiskeys.  It dates from 1970 and seemed to me to be very non-automated – there is a lot of work done manually, like putting on labels, hanging tags around the neck, and putting the bottles into the cardboard boxes…

img_2128img_2131img_7983

Finally, the tour over, we head to the educational part of the tour:  the tasting.  This is strictly for educational purposes only, since drinking whiskey in this county is forbidden…

img_2132

We were given five sample with which to get educated.  It totaled about one ounce; we were told about how each type is made and what the differences are.  The funny thing was that both Lynda and I found the Rye to be terribly sweet, yet the “honey” version had very little taste at all.  Our guide checked it out and found that the two samples were switched!  It mattered little – we didn’t like either of them… I found that I liked Gentleman Jack, while Lynda preferred the original…

After the educational portion of the tour we walked through one of the old barrel rooms…

img_2133img_2134

After the tour we could return to the Visitor Center.  While you cannot buy whiskey in this county, you can buy souvenir bottles here.  The bottles were filled with some sort of brown liquid…

We walked 1/2 mile into downtown Lynchburg, and enjoyed lunch at Bottle House BBQ:

img_2142

img_2135

We returned to the Villa and drove to Huntsville, Alabama…

img_7989

They are building McMansions here, too…

img_2143img_2144

We parked at an RV park at NASA’s Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville…

img_7993img_7994img_7995

The RV park is very nice.  And cheap!  I wish we had RV parks in California like this for $20 per night…

img_2145

For dinner this night we met up with friends we met on the Nor’ by Nor’ East Caravan; they will also be joining us on the Kentucky caravan in a few days…

img_7998

Dinner was great!  Pork Belly appetizer and Crawfish Fritters, with a nice bottle of an Oregon Pinot Noir!

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-04-21 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Easter Sunday and moving from Asheville, NC to Chattanooga, TN

We had a leisurely morning.  It was cold!  41 degrees!  We had a little hitching up to do; at about 9:30 we pulled out of the RV park and drove 5 miles into downtown Asheville.  We parked at the Visitor Center (it was closed), and walked towards the First Presbyterian Church.  It is Easter!

img_2105

By the time we were approaching the church we noted that we were over one hour early.  And we were cold!  So we stopped into Mayfel’s for brunch.  The Crab Cakes Benedict was great!

img_2104img_7918

Brunch over, we walked the 3 short blocks to church.  We were none too early.  This is not a “five minute church”.  We always worry when we attend a church as we are traveling that we are sitting in someone’s favorite seat!

FPC Asheville 1FPC Asheville 2

We didn’t take these photos while we were there – I stole them off the internet…

This was a lovely, VERY traditional Easter Service; organ, orchestra, choir, and the singing of the Hallelujah Chorus at the end.  We were invited to join the choir to sing!  (Not just us – everyone was invited…).  It was very nice…

We slipped out after the final singing and walked back to the Villa.  We pointed the truck west and we were off.  Quite a late start for us, but the weather was beautiful, and we had no reason to arrive at our destination (Chattanooga, TN) at any particular time…

The freeway out of Asheville; different than all the other southern states we have seen…

img_7919img_7920img_7924img_7925

It was great to see blue sky again!

img_7926img_7927img_7928

We pulled off the 40 Interstate to the 74.  No trucks!  It was a beautiful freeway for awhile…

img_7929

And then we entered the Nantahala Gorge… Two lane road, sharp turns, and a raging river!

img_7930img_7931img_7932img_7933img_7934img_7935

We stopped to take it all in…

img_7937

Eventually we reached Murphy, NC, where we stopped to do a little grocery shopping…

img_2106

Soon we were in Tennessee…

img_7939

The small roads continued, with views of rivers and lakes…

img_7946img_7953img_7955img_7958img_7964img_7965img_7967img_7968

We reached Chattanooga and the Raccoon Mountain RV Park at about 6:00…

img_7969

The park is in a canyon, with views of mountains all around…

img_2109img_2110

Time to affix the sticker for the new state!

img_2107

Happy hours and dinner ensued, and an enjoyable time was had by all…

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑