Saturday, July 12, 2014

2014-18 Hurricane Mills and Land Between the Lakes Tennessee

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Hurricane Mills Tennessee
Land between the Lakes (Kentucky and Tennessee)

Hurricane Mills

Campground:  Loretta Lynn's Ranch, 8000 Hwy 13 S, Hurricane Mills TN, 37078.  $18.25 full hookup, $15 Elec/Water @ Passport America rate.  Many campsites, full hookup sites are paved, partial hookups are down by the creek and are large grassy sites.  Large swimming pool for campers.  Horse back riding, stables available.  No over-the-air TV reception or cell phone coverage.  Full hookup sites on top of the hill are the nicest and are close to the country store, game room and laundry.

I took a campsite down near the creek and horses

Campground:  Land-Between-The-Lakes, Piney Campground.  $16.00 senior rate. 30amp elect with water nearby.  Good 4G Verizon service and a few PBS tv stations over-the-air.  Large 300+ campgrounds along the 50 mile long LBL region.  State parks nearby as well.  Gravel sites, some have water views.

Distance Traveled:  99 miles

It was not a pleasant drive through Nashville with camper in tow.  Driving along hwy 40 which winds around the city before exiting on the west side.  With numerous other highways converging and linking up with hwy 40 I ended up heading south on hwy 65 by accident, though I was able to recover by getting on the 440 loop and eventually getting back onto hwy 40.

Hurricane Creek, near my campsite

I’ve arrived at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch where I’ll camp for a few days, tour her home and the western town they’ve created and might even paddle down Hurricane Creek.  But for today I got set up, had lunch and went up to the large swimming pool and enjoyed a refreshing dip in the pool on a relatively hot day.

Loretta Lynn's Plantation Home

I drove over to Hurricane Mills the following day, opposite Loretta Lynn’s southern white columned mansion and the little town that her and Mooney her husband purchase all because she like the 1800’s mansion.  Well, as it turned out the house came with the little settlement of Hurricane Mills and 7,000 acres.  Eventually making the small town with it’s own post office into a museum that even includes the recreated Butcher Holler House that she grew up in.  It was built for the movie “The Coal Miners Daughter”  and is part of the tour.  Loretta lives in a smaller modern home behind the mansion now that the kids are all grown up and Mooney has passed away.  Yup, filled in the swimming pool and built the new house right out back.  She also has a brand new motor coach/bus (didn’t get to tour that) which she travels in for the 50 engagements that she continues to do each year.  Recently a two nighter at the Ryman Theatre.  She also performs right at the Ranch where there are numerous events held throughout the year.  So if you decide to come here and camp out for a couple of days, check ahead of time to see what’s going on.  The 1800’s mansion had some of the most “striking” wallpapers in each room.  None that complemented the adjoining spaces I can assure you.  A warm home overall with a massive kitchen where she did all the Crisco commercials.  Remember those?  Big square blocky fireplaces in a couple of the rooms, high ceilings and her large collection of salt and pepper shakers and Avon collection.  Remember when everyone was collecting those Avon bottles.

Hurricane Mills and the new bridge as the old one was washed away

some of the stores and shops 

built for the movie, The Coal Miners Daughter,
replica of where Loretta grew up

Hurricane Mills

the large horse barn next to the Plantation home

Another shot of the historic Hurricane Mills

Her museum includes a number of the cars they owned and two of the older busses she traveled in.  Even the furniture from her first home in Nashville and the first bedroom suite that she purchased after her first record deal.  That gal didn’t throw anything away.  One bus had been driven over 3 million miles on tour.  With 6 bunks for the band and driver.

our tour of the Plantation Home started here

one of Loretta's 6 cats

our young tour guide

no pictures were permitted in any of the museums
 or houses so this is the best I could do

The farm is a working farm as well.  They raise horses, cattle and grow corn.  When the first owners built the mansion and mill, it was a cotton plantation.  Many in her family work here at the tourist attraction and manage the ranch so she is surrounded by family and relatives.  I talked to one gal working in the camp store.  She and her sister and mother all work here and have for over 25 years.  The gal who runs the shop in the Hurricane Mill has worked for Loretta for 35 years.  Creating a tight knit family.

I drove into Waverly for lunch one day to Dave’s Restaurant.  Had one of the typical southern meals, one meat and 3 sides.  This is very common in the south where you typically can pick from a menu of two daily specials and a number of sides.  The total price of the 1 meat and 3 sides was $5.00.  I had turkey & dressing, creamed corn, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes and a corn muffin.  Good deal, good food.

Distance traveled:  65 years and 94.8 miles

It’s not the miles but in this case the years I’ve traveled.  Yes it’s my birthday, July 10th,  and yes I will be traveling a few miles up the road to my next destination, Land Between the Lakes.  This year has been joyful for me an many ways.  My health is good, I enjoyed visiting and helping my sister Dorothy move into her new home in sunny Florida.  I’ve had an awesome country music travel route this year.  And most of all I have friends like you who read my stories and send me Birthday wishes on Facebook.  It’s very humbling to be able to count so many friends I’ve met along the way and truly be able to call you all friends.  Thanks from the bottom of my pea pickin heart dear friend.

If I were a corkscrew, I would have been uncorked at least a couple dozen times by coming the back roads from Loretta’s Ranch to Land between the Lakes.  But with little traffic I was able to take my time and navigate those twists and turns quite nicely.  Traveling through heavily wooded Tennessee valleys with small communities and farm lands, eventually rising to the Tennessee ridge before arriving at Land between the Lakes.

Kentucky Lake

I’m staying on the southern end at Piney Campground.  They were kind enough to search for and find a site with water views and lots of shade.  Since it’ll be in the 90’s over the weekend, that’s a good thing.  It’s a huge campground with many loops so it doesn’t seem quite that big after settling in.  Interesting note:  They permit golf carts in the campgrounds.  Seems they are very popular with the local campers.  Really nice sandy beach/swimming area.

I drove along the Woodlands Trace National Byway which follows a ridge of land between the two lakes.  Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, both created when dams were built creating the lakes.  The first stop I came to was a charcoal furnace made of limestone.  Built in 1854 for iron-ore was found in the area.  There wasn't much iron-ore and the furnace was closed after two years.  Well that and the slaves used to run it had a bit of a insurrection.  The area has lots of Civil War sites for those interested.  Battle fields, forts and the only remaining building where a surrender treaty was signed once the Confederate soldiers gave up.

A little further down the road and I stopped at the southern Bison Range.  With all the land between the lakes, very little of it has been designated for the buffalo.  So they cull the small herd regularly rather than let it grow in population.  All the rest of the land, about 99% of it is designated for hunting.  Even off road vehicles have an area four times the size designated for the bison.  It’s a beautiful herd with many offspring this year behind their fences and natural prairie grasses.  They grunt and huff and roll in the soil to keep the insects off of them.  The young ones lean against their Moms for security and comfort.  Nothing like out west where you can see them roaming freely, even coming into the campsites on occasion.  But it does give all the easterners a chance to see these magnificent creatures.

Pig Iron Furnace

And so goes another week on the road.

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