TN & MS are both rich with civil war history and yesterday we toured Holly Springs, MS, which has 64 pre-civil war homes that are of the Gothic, Greek and Italian architecture styles. We took the driving tour which featured 24 of the homes and 5 churches which were absolutely awesome. There was only one open to the public (which housed Gen. Grant), but it was a 2 hr. walking tour so we didn’t take the time. The town itself was spared total destruction that many of the other towns incurred because of Gen. Grant’s appreciation of its beauty. We decided on lunch and were told the only place to go was Phillips Grocery that made the country’s best hamburger. It’s a ramshackle two-story building set smack against the railroad tracks. It’s actually pretty shabby with only 6 old tables surrounded with old dusty memorabilia with a pretty limited menu, but they did have excellent hamburgers. They are actually pretty famous.
From there we went to Colliersville which is another famous civil war stronghold. A lot of the wounded were dropped there because they had a well known doctor at that time. There was a big battle which destroyed the town and “Sherman’s March to the Sea” started there. It had been rebuilt when Yellow fever devastated it again, along with Holly Springs. The town is built in a square around a big park and most of the buildings were built in the late 1800's and early 1900's and are still in use, plus their train depot and trains and all are on the historic register. Once you get out of the main part of town you get into all the fast foods, Wal-mart, etc. That’s where we also get my wine. It also is a very interesting place to visit.
Our next outing was to Corinth, MS which is at the junction of major railroad lines going South to North and another going East to West so was of major importance during the Civil War. The Battle of Corinth was the bloodiest in MS and opened the way for Grant’s march against Vicksburg. It was part of the major Battle of Shiloh. During the 40' it became home to many mob affiliates and other notorious groups so dubbed “Little Chicago”. Bufford Pusser came in and cleaned it up. There aren’t any actual battle sites left since they have long been grown over and built on, but the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center had very insightful movies, artifacts, pictures, etc. and was very impressive. We did drive by several pre-civil war homes of top ranking Confederate officials that were still in great condition and being lived in. The town itself is pretty shabby and rambling. It was a hard town to get around. Of course on the outskirts, there are still Home Depot, Wal-mart, etc.We have been to a Wal-mart in every place we have stayed. That must be some kind of distinction. Gas is getting cheaper. Normally we pay around $2.05, but last night we paid $1.99. Also cigarettes are cheap here - $1.90 a pack, but Bob won’t let me near a tobacco shop, which there are a lot of. No wine, but lots of tobacco..
Our next outing was to the Shilo National Military Park which is the site of the bloody two day battle of Shilo during the Civil War. It is a very large park consisting of a very informative visitors center , a bookstore, which has tons of information about the Civil War, including many of the nearby sites of Corinth and Holly Springs. The tour is mostly a driving tour going through the various sites of individual battle sites. Even though TN was a Confederate State, there was a federal army named “the Army of the Tennessee”. It was very instrumental in the outcome of the Battle of Shilo and many memorials are scattered throughout the park commemorating the Army of the Tennessee. Just a side note, Federal Armies were generally named after rivers while most Confederate Armies were named for geographical locations. There is a very interesting web site by the National Park Service about Shilo.
Our final outing from Cherokee Landing was to Memphis. Memphis is another very historical city with Beale Street being one of its more famous spots. Beale Street has many historical buildings and businesses along the four block length of the historical district. Many famous blues musicians played in Memphis, which is known as the Home of the Blues. The sidewalks on Beale Street have many bronze stars set into the cement. We went up and down Beale Street, had lunch in one of the historic saloons. After lunch we took a tour of Memphis on the Memphis Duck. The tour took us through the city showing some of the historical homes and buildings of the city and then we entered the Mississippi River for a tour down the river. A really interesting day. By the time we got back to the rig we were tired out and just crashed.
We packed up and were ready to leave Middleton when we discovered we had no interior power after unplugging the electricity. Both the coach batteries were fried so we had no GPS or more importantly – no water to the toilet – but thankfully I had enough bottled water to flush it. We stopped for lunch and I was going to heat up some beenie-weenies and beefaroni until we discovered the propane stove won't light without interior power so we had to eat it cold, which I don't recommend to anyone. Of course, the generator wouldn't work either. Our main panel is also getting flaky so we are going to have to find an authorized dealer somewhere down the road. The roads were great and there were nothing but trucks and more trucks, plus some Rvs. I wish they would get the railroads operating again and get some of this traffic off the roads. Anyway, it was a beautiful day and the drive through Tennessee and Kentucky was absolutely beautiful with all the trees turning and crossing the Tennessee River was a gorgeous sight. We took a bypass around Nashville. We would have loved to have stopped, but there wasn't enough time and the traffic was bad. The only Kentucky horse farm I have seen so far was just before the Kentucky border. We got in and set up without a problem. The park is fairly nice, has all the amenities and is located at Diamond Caverns. Right down the road is Mammoth Cave so will be going there. We have had different bugs at different campgrounds and here it is ladybugs – lots of them.
The first day was backtracked to Bowling Green (30 mi.) to Camping World to get new batteries. The new batteries apparently fixed our problem. This is the first Camping World Store ever built and is located in a residential area that is a little hard to get into. I'm glad we didn't have to bring the RV. Of course, we had to make our obligatory trip to Wal-Mart.
We took a short drive to Park City which only has a gas station and lumber yard, but is home to the historic Bell Tavern which was a way station for the wagon trains and later the railroad. There were very notable people that stayed there, but it burned down and while it was being rebuilt the Civil War broke out and never completed. It is now in ruins, but this is a dry county now. The only “wet” place between Louisville and Nashville is Bowling Green. I'll never figure this out.
Our first tour was to Mammoth Cave which is the granddaddy of all cave systems and over 4000 yrs. Of history with 350 mi. of it surveyed so far. The cave first became known for its saltpeter that was being mined during the Revolutionary War for gunpowder and continued being mined until after the War of 1812. In 1842 Dr. Croghan bought the cave and built stone and wood huts within the cave as an experiment for a cure for tuberculosis. This underground consumptive hospital proved to be a failure. Within the park itself is 60 miles of hiking trails and the Green River flows underground the entire length. They have several tours, but at this time of year only 2 are available – one being 4 hrs. long with 500 steps and the other ¼ mile long with a lot fewer steps. We took the short one naturally, but other than a few awesome sights it wasn't as good as I thought it would be. The tour guide could have been a lot more informative of its history which I had already read about and is extremely interesting. It was pouring rain, but we still managed to walk around the grounds. We even saw quite a few wild turkeys. Kentucky is full of caves and caverns so we have a lot to choose from.
After leaving Mammoth Caves N.P. We drove thru a small town, Cave City, which had an alpine slide, riding stable, bumper car track and several other amusement park type attractions. Everything was closed for the season so we headed back to the campground. We thought that Cave City was awfully small but later found the rest of it. It really is a fairly good sized town. We apparently were on the very outskirts of the town and did not drive far enough to find the real town, before turning around to head for the campground.
The next outing was to go through the Diamond Caverns here at the park. It was an hour tour and quite a few steps, but we were so glad we went. Of all the caves/caverns we have toured this was the best. We were the only ones on the tour so got an up and close experience. I can't begin to explain how awesome it was, plus we finally got to see some “cave crickets and cave beetles”. The beetles eat the cricket's eggs and through the egg's smell the cricket hunts down the beetle and eats him and the cycle begins again. When the cavern opened to the public a couple wanted to get married there, but the entrance was narrow and not improved so they had to lower the bride head first into the cave because of the hoop in her dress. Much later a man built an alter inside the cave, using the materials found in the cave, to try to convince his girlfriend to get married in the cave. The owners have discontinued having weddings because of insurance issues. Our guide was full of tidbits like this. Also, there were several slabs of stalactites and stalagmites that have broken off that were absolutely beautiful. They look just like polished petrified wood and would be great as table tops, but very illegal. This is the 4th oldest show cave in the country, which started about 145 years ago.
The next day we went to Brownsville, KY, which was about 15 or twenty miles from the campground. It is another old town and after driving through the town, we just went wandering around and we ended up on a road that went to Houchins Ferry on the Green River that had a small 2 car ferry to get across. We had no idea where the road went on the other side, but we decided to find out. After a 2 minute ferry ride (narrow river) we were off. Our unknown road turned out to be about a 15 mile dirt road that went through the heart of Mammoth Cave National Park and nothing but forest. Even though the previous rains had stripped a lot of the leaves off the trees there was enough color left to be absolutely beautiful. We passed several cemeteries that were hidden in the woods with nothing else around them. Apparently at some time in the past there were settlements close by. At the end of the park the road went through several miles of a pastoral setting – rolling green hills backed with trees in their fall foliage and beautiful farms with their cattle and horses. It was really breathtaking. We finally ran into Mumfordville, KY. And found our way home. What was supposed to be a 2 hour drive ended up being all day.
We were only 1 ½ hrs away from Nashville so we decided to take a run down and see as much as we could. We first stopped at the Hermitage which was the home of Andrew Jackson. We hadn't planned on spending so much time, but first we had to have lunch, then an introductory movie and a tour of info plaques and pictures. It was quite a walk to get to the actual mansion and it really was getting cold so Bob had to hoof it back to the car to get me a jacket. We toured the mansion and got all his life history, then we took a horse drawn wagon tour of his extensive grounds. Only a few of the slave cabins remain, but we were still able to get a good idea of what it actually looked like. It was a very interesting tour and could have seen more, but we wanted to get to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum before it got too late.
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is located right down town with a lot of construction going on so parking was hard to find. We can't get into a parking garage because of the pod on top of the car which makes us too high. We finally found a place a couple of blocks away. It is an impressive building with 3 stories of original costumes, instruments, interactive exhibits and films. It is definitely a must see.
?It was getting dark by the time we left so didn't spend any time on Broadway where all the honky tonks are. It reminded of Beale St. in Memphis and looked fun to have explored, but we wanted to get out of town before dark and we were happy we did. It was at rush hour on a Fri. night so it was a zoo.
The last couple of days have been beautiful – but cold! It has been getting down in the low 20's at night. We packed up yesterday and pulled out this morning, heading for Lexington, Kentucky. We hadn't planned on staying there, but we have an appt. with an authorized service dealer there to get some of our on-going problems fixed. We will be staying at one of the major horse farms and there is a lot to see and do in Lexington, so we are looking forward to it. We got to the Kentucky Horse Park Campground on Sunday and just hung out. It is a beautiful campground nestled amid the Horse Park’s 1200 acres of gently rolling hills with 260 paved campsites, but only offers electrical hookups (also has water, but is turned off Oct. 31st – no sewer). We are parked close to the laundry and the dump station is just down the road, so we are dealing with the situation.
Monday we had a lot of errands to do – grocery shopping, etc. - so we went to Lexington to take a good look at the town. As is with most of the towns around here the main part of town and surrounding homes are all pre-Civil War. The homes here are not as well kept up as the others we went through, but still interesting. While driving around we drove on the Blue Grass Parkway. It is a two lane country road that has many beautiful homes and horse farms along the way. There must not be a shortage of money in this area as some of these homes are magnificent. Throughout the week we have again found how friendly the Southern people are. As soon as they see our out-of-state plates they introduce themselves and make sure we know what and where all the main points of interest are. Also during the week I took a chunk of skin off my nose then turned around and nailed the bridge of my nose on a cupboard door and ended up bruised and minor black eyes. I am an accident waiting for a place to happen.
Tuesday our first tour was the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Harrodsburg, then on to Old Fort Harrod State Park also in Harrodsburg and then on to the Wild Turkey Distillery near Lawrenceburg. The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing (nicknamed Shakers because of their style of dancing during their services) came to America from England in the late 1700's with faith of the Second Great Awakening which adhered strictly to total equality of the members (the faith was started by a woman and was its leader) and tolerance of all races and non-believers and never turned anyone away without food and lodging. It’s most controversial tenet was that it did not recognize marriage; therefore, no sexual relations as they believed “no man can serve two masters” meaning God and spouse. They did have many children, however, through adoption and married people with children coming into their faith. They were known for their integrity and excellence of their products. They were leaders in scientific farming, livestock breeding and improvement in agricultural implements. The sale of flat brooms (their main product), preserves, garden seeds and herbs throughout the Midwest and South funded their village which included 270 structures with 500 inhabitants and several paddlewheelers (the village is located on the KY River). The years after the Civil War brought hardships because of competition so the with the death of its elders and the young moving to take advantage of the new opportunities the village died out. In 1961 the restoration of the remaining 34 buildings and 2900 acres of farmland began and is still in progress. We were able to go through several of the buildings and got an excellent idea of how life was back then. They also have many workshops throughout the year and many specialty weekends. They have a restaurant that features KY fare and Shaker specialties, but we didn’t have reservations so couldn’t get in and then it started pouring so we didn’t view the last of the buildings. There is a hotel which is restored in 19th century Shaker simplicity, which was one of the buildings we didn’t tour. Their life was absolutely fascinating and I could go on and on - but I won’t.
When we got to the Wild Turkey Distillery, the Gift shop was open but no samples were available and you couldn't buy any of their products. Guess What??? - ELECTION DAY. Since we vote by absentee ballot, we didn't even realize that it was election day. So we did not get to tour the distillery or even get any of Bob's favorite bourbon. Oh well maybe we will be back here again
Old Fort Harrod is a replica of a 1774 stockade village that commemorates KY’s first settlement. It really looks and feels like what life was really like back then and their cabins and implements being very accurate. By the time we got finished I was barely walking, but worth every minute.
The next day my legs and back was really giving me fits, but we had to see the Kentucky Horse Park, which is a must and is world famous (one million visitors a year). It is an equine theme park and competition facility dedicated to man’s relationship with the horse. It is set on more than 1200 acres (outlined with 30 miles of white plank fencing) and is home to approximately 50 different breeds of horses along with all the different facilities. Along with a full season of steeplechase, harness racing, equestrian competitions, etc. it hosts soccer tournaments, dog shows, concerts and special after hour programs, plus on-going training programs. Throughout the park are bronze statues of famous horses, including the grave and statue of Man o’War. Our first stop was to The International Museum of the Horse is huge (52,000 sq. ft.) and very unique with exhibits of equestrian artifacts, exhibits and collections that together trace the history of the horse from Eohippus, the tiny progenitor of all breeds, to the profusion of different breeds and equine activities that exist today (straight from the book). It would take hours to fully take in everything. We then toured the Draft Horse Barn which housed, of course, draft horses; the Farrier Shop, Tack Shop and Breeds Barn where they have a presentation of different types of horses, their ancestry, general use and personalities. We then went to the Hall of Champions which houses such racing greats as Cigar and Da Hoss; pacers Staying Together and Western Dreamer; American Saddlebred champion Gypsy Supreme and the oldest champion in the park 31 yr. old (106 in human years) John Henry. They brought out 4 of them for show and tell, but they all have the same thing in common - none of them, due to bad attitudes and/or injuries, were expected to be competitive, but they showed them all. Their histories were fascinating. We then took a wagon tour (pulled by draft horses) of the grounds and a cemetery of some of the most famous horses. They actually only bury the head, heart and hooves, cremate the rest and scatter the ashes throughout the park. There are several other buildings we didn’t go into, including the Indoor Arena that is about 5 football fields long and seat up to 7,000 people, the Carriage Horse Barn, Big Barn, Breeding Barn, etc. This place is absolutely beautiful and totally awesome. We were really dragging by the time we left.
That evening, Bob’s Birthday, we decided to go down to Historic Lexington for dinner. Lexington has many old homes (many dating in the late 1700's and early 1800. We decided on a restaurant called deSha’s. It is in an old historic building and the food was excellent. Also located in that area is the old historic Lexington Opera House. Lexington is also the home of the Transylvania University which is one of the oldest universities in the nation. It is a small university, only about 1100 students and was established in 1780 so has been around for about 226 years. It was the 16th college in the U.S. and the first one west of the Allegheny Mountains. It has a medical school, a law school, a seminary, and a college of arts and sciences and is presently a nationally ranked liberal arts college.
Starting the 17th they have “Southern Lights: Spectacular Sights on Holiday Nights” Christmas light display. Named one of the top 20 holiday attractions in the South, the displays start in the RV park and end at the Horse Park, a 4 mile route with thousands of lights. They already have most of the displays up in the RV park and they are huge, but we won’t be here when they turn them on (hopefully the RV will fixed by then). We had to be at the RV shop at 8:30 and after they fiddled around for hours they decided they fixed the problem. After we got back to the park the panel still didn’t work so they said to come back in the next day (Fri.) They fooled around most of the day and finally decided it was a part that they didn’t have so would have to be overnighted from the factory. With any luck it would be in on Sat. morning and we could be on our way to North Carolina. Wrong - it didn’t come in so we are back in the park until Monday. It had better fix the problem because we aren’t going anywhere until it is correct. There is a lot of open ground before you get to the RV sites and the schools use it for their running venues and Sat. they had a statewide cross country race. There must have been a couple hundred people and kids running around from 7am until around 3 pm. and runners everywhere, plus it was cold and pouring. I really felt sorry for them as many of them had slept in tents the night before. I have really fallen in love with this area. The horse farms and well maintained and gorgeous and are either surrounded with white or black fences. Totally awesome. There is so much history here and so much to see we would need to stay a month or more.