Friday, June 10, 2011

2011-15 Tennessee


Manchester-Coffee County

Old Stone Fort Archeological State Park

Lynchburg, Jack Daniel Distillery

Falling Creek Falls State Park

Campground:  Old Stone Fort State Park.  $20 30amp Elect/water.  Heavily wooded sites, paved roads and camping pad, concrete picnic tables. Lots of shade, perfect for those hot summer days.

Campground: Falls Creek Falls State Park.  $25, 50amp/full hookup.  $20 for elect/water sites.  This is a huge park and has the look of a National Park setting, golf course, Lodge, cabins and conference center. No Verizon signal.  Free wi-fi in the lodge/restaurant.  Spotty Tv access.

I was thinking back the other day, when I first started full-timing 7 years ago what a great life I have.  I had many friends asking what I’d do without a home base?  Wouldn’t I feel lonely and odd without having roots somewhere that I could go back too?  Well, I’m now in my 7th year on the open road and I have to tell you, I would hope to never go back to a home stuck to the ground.  The freedom I feel every day, knowing I can stay in an area as long as I want to, or move on down the road has given me a life I’ve always wanted.  And not having to follow a schedule, time table or a rutty routine is so liberating.  So here I am, back on the road, telling you about another adventure on down the road.

view from a wayside park on an island in the river

I enjoyed the 3 days at the free resort in Georgia but as usual was looking forward to heading back on the road.  I took two major highways, hwy 40 and hwy 75 right on through Atlanta.  I usually don’t like to take these main arteries as they are usually very crowded with traffic.  Luckily I was traveling on Sunday, so I took the chance and it wasn’t too bad though much heavier traffic than I‘m used too.  I’ve learned to always stay in the middle lanes while traveling though heavily congested areas to avoid needing to change lanes and avoid merging traffic from on ramps.

After an overnight stay in Chattanooga, I headed north to Manchester where I plan to stay at the Old Stone Fort State Park.  Bonnaroo music festival begins later this week, and hopefully I’ll get out before it gets too bad.  They expect about 80,000 festival goers.

But for now I’m here at the Old Stone Fort.  Ist off, as many named historical sites in the U.S. the name does not reflect the true nature of the site.  This was never an actual fort.  It is an historical 2,000 year old site with stone walls surrounding a spit of land that is surrounded on three sides by two rivers.  The land high above the river bed was a natural protected site.  After the Woodland Indians created the stone walls with earth and rubble filling the interior of the walls as well as two conical mounds at the entrance, they had created a safe secure site.

Archeologists have determined that it was probably a ceremonial enclosure as no artifacts were found indicating domestic living took place here.  There are so many questions I want to ask about sites like this that will never be answered.  Small clues tell us that the Woodland Indians of the area had developed farming and with hunting good in the area, they were mostly sedentary, not traveling from site to site.  This gave them more time to build these labor intensive sites and develop a more structured society.
only the mound indicates the hidden stone walls

Another interesting thing in the area at least to me, is US 41.  It’s the same highway that runs through my hometown in Northern Michigan, Houghton.  When ever I cross paths with hwy 41, I feel connected to my hometown of Houghton.  It runs north/south from N Mich all the way to southern Florida.

I’m listening to some Willy Nelson music on my sound system in the camper after a fun day exploring the country side and hollers of middle Tennessee.  Passing rounded hills, each topped with a gorgeous home, the sloping hills manicured pastures that look like fine grass lawns.  The surrounding land a thick forest of some 350 different varieties of trees.  Down the road on hwy 55 I finally come to the small community of Lynchburg and the home of the Jack Daniels distillery.  It’s in a dry county of all things.  One of the best known whiskey makers in the country and they can’t sell a drop in the county.  Well that is until recently, when Jack Daniels company went to the state legislature and had a law enacted that permits them to sell the whiskey on the distillers property.  On the tour, we get a chance to see the making of fine sour mash whiskey, the original building Jack Daniels once ran his distillery from.  Never married, but having many a filly waiting in the wings when ever he’d a mind to playing around.  But never had any children and when he died, everything went to his nephew.  The nephews picture is prominently displayed on a few walls, a huge smile on his face.  Wouldn’t you be smiling too?

We walked behind the white clapboard building where the natural spring comes gushing out of a cave on the side of the hill, that pure water that has been used for years to make whiskey.  Lots of interesting stories told about the founding of the distillery, once owned by a Lutheran minister who had to make the choice between making good whiskey or preaching.  The minister chose God and Jack bought the business of making sour mash.  I think they both got a good deal.

Odd to go into the small town of Lynchburg (pop. 350) with all its’ signs touting Jack Daniels, souvenirs of every kind with the name and logo, but not a drop of the real stuff for sale.  You know, most of the people probably work for the distillery.

Planned to sit outside this afternoon but with the occasional blood sucking mosquito and ticks in the area, I decided it was safer to sit inside and enjoy a good book.  The mosquito’s I could handle with bug spray, but the ticks (Lyme disease) are much more difficult to control.  Does bug spray keep ticks off a person?  I don’t think so but I’m not sure.  And it’s been such a nice day to be outdoors.  Such is life in the great outdoors sometimes.

About an hour and a half down the road and I’m in Falling Creek Falls State Park.  A huge state park by any standards that has the look of a National park.  Wonderful waterfalls, hiking trails, a lake and rec. center.  I’m paying for a couple of days for a premium site, full hookups and nicely paved pad.  The ride east from Manchester to Falling Creek was more of a north, south, north, south and finally western route.  It was a crazy quilt route that brought me through the heart of Tennessee.  Lots of smaller farms on those hills, valleys and hollers.  I’m not sure but my GPS might have been playing tricks on me with the route it took.

My friends Chris and Tom have named their GPS, maybe I need to put a name to mine as well.  It’s a part of my Droid phone of course, so if you can think of a great name for the phone/GPS system let me know.
Haven’t officially named the new camper either, so see if you can come up with a good name for the Montana Mountaineer 5th wheel.  I think I’ll be keeping this one for quite some time.  My last one was named “La Casa Grande, Del Sol, De Doug”.

And as my good friend Mary wrote in her jottings “if you’ve managed to read this far, then your doing well…but at least you know I’m alive and well and keeping up my end of communication.”

Enjoy your own adventures and thanks for coming along on mine.

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