This spring, Jay and I traveled to Tennessee to visit some good friends of ours that we had not seen in 6 years. But first, we did a little tourism:
Our trip started by flying out of Spokane at what we thought was an early hour (arriving in the parking area around 4 am, for a 6 am flight) that ended up being airport rush hour with long lines. Our flights went well, a little layover in Denver, chatting with nice Denver folk, and I found the most interesting book:
We had watched parts of the gruesome TV series TURN: Washington’s Spies. We had no idea this was a real true story – so enjoyed reading up on the subject. As many people I know would say, “If they had taught THIS kind of history in school, I would have been interested!”
Then on to Nashville where we arrived to musicians singing in every airport restaurant (nice touch!). Thankfully, we arrived early enough before President Trump flew in to town (the same day, of all the luck ) and had time to zip through downtown Nashville real quick, in major rain, around Vanderbuilt University, and back on the road.
Being a “granola child” from Washington, first priority was to find some healthy food to get us by in case we ran out of food choices (our alternate option was to eat at Cracker Barrel, so we figured we’d be OK either way!).
Green Door Gourmet, a small market store and farm, carried a lovely array of local products – many of their own and others from nearby. We left with gifts for home (pickled okra, Watermelon rind jam, purple sweet potato butter (like apple butter), heirloom popcorn, etc.) and a few snacks for our trip including pecans and Pear Cardamom Water Kefir (YUM!)
We spent the evening at the home of a fellow “cow-person” – talking about cows and sheep, then a lovely Spaghetti dinner with her family and learning she is originally from England and he is a Nashville songwriter! We left with new friends and a compilation CD of Jack’s song’s to listen to!
Our first night, we stayed in Spring Hill (home to a GM manufacturing plant, apparently). Also home to some beautiful southern style homes and interesting type rock walls (that we saw all over TN).
Wednesday morning, we ate at Marcy Jo’s cafe… Which ended up being all tourists and a crew of employees not too thrilled to have the tourists around. This was the only bad part to our trip – the food was fine (simple but tasty) and the employees were polite, but I got the feeling they were quite tired of tourists nagging around. So awkward, unfortunately. 😦
Travelling toward Chattanooga, we saw a sight we don’t see in Eastern Washington:
Back roads continued to entertain us as we saw heifers cooling themselves in the front yard pond. I’m guessing they weren’t supposed to be in the nice pond in front, but we did see many, many other cattle cooling themselves in streams and ponds on our travels.
While there were mansions and plantations, there were also homes more our style:
Although, who could resist – this 1899 house was for sale!
After the cows, we got more laughs – Lynch, Lynch & Lynch in Lynchburg, TN – You’re in the south now!
And a few more laughs (a first for me, taking a photo of a bathroom – haha!) This is in the bathroom of the Mountain Goat Market in Monteagle, TN. Notice the plumbing being used as a toilet paper holder – genius!
On the road to Chattanooga, we stopped in at the Lodge Factory Store – and purchased a discounted “seconds” cast iron cookie sheet (and amazingly, made it home in one piece – thank you Southwest Airlines!)
Back to serious, we had hoped to visit Shiloh Battlefield, but that was too far out of the way, so we found another battlefield – Chickamauga Battlefield (cool word, huh? They pronounce it Chick-a-ma-ga). What a great stop!
All the monuments reminded us of Gettysburg – very similar layout.
My question, after reading the below notice, was “Where are the cows (livestock)?”
Another unusual sight – these ferns were growing out of the branch of a tree!
We thought the Wilder Brigade Monument was about the greatest idea for a monument. First off, it’s functional – you get to climb to the top for a spectacular view. Second, you get a great view of some of the battlefields – which led us to muse, “I bet they wish this was here in 1863!”
We ended the battlefield route by stopping at a 1800’s era “house” – a little different than the McMansions we saw being built in Spring Hill for modern folk.
Our first full day ended in Chattanooga at our one splurge – St. Francis Cottage Bed and Breakfast. If you’re in Chattanooga, this is the place to stay! The initial appeal of this particular bed and breakfast was the location – in the city, but on 2.3 acres, so it feels like you’re out of town!
Then the evening coffee and dessert made us feel like we were at home.
We had good coffee here, but a tip: If you’re a coffee drinker from the Pacific NW, pack your own coffee when visiting the south! Even the chain stores like Starbucks and Panera Bread failed in the coffee realm – one gave us iced coffee instead of the hot we had ordered, all give you waaaay too sweet of coffee if you order a mocha, and all of the coffee is very weak, unless you have a chance to make it yourself, like at the B&B or at our friends’ house). Don’t even think of asking for locally roasted coffee.
Come breakfast time, we wished we had cows to milk and chores to do in order to have the appetite to fill up on our fruit parfait and Eggs Benedict with asparagus and hash browns. We were too stuffed to make it to the last course – french toast!
We wish we had spent a second night in Chattanooga – as there was so much more we could have seen. Particularly, we did not know about the Trail of Tears history until our arrival there, that the Trail started in this area. The National Parks have lots of information and maps, so we brought home some information to read.
Our National Park pass* paid off on our visit to Point Park. What a treasure. Our first question was “Why in the world fight a battle on top of a mountain?” The rangers gave us the answer – the location was critical because of how much could be seen from that location. The confederates kept a signal on top of Lookout Mountain to track Union troops and pass along secret messages. The unions saw this location as one of the key locations to win (the other two being Gettysburg and Vicksburg, I believe) and attacked in the fall of 1863.
*If you’re interested in history and national parks, the National Park’s Pass is a pass to get – and by searching the NPS website, we found lots of places to visit that weren’t on regular tourism brochures.
Lookout Mountain became known as the most photographed site of the civil war – apparently soldiers would line up for hours and days to wait to get their picture taken on the rock.
“Commissioned by “Fighting Joe” Hooker to commemorate that general’s part in “The Battle Above the Clouds,” this second Battle of Lookout Mountain (see below) covers a thirteen-by-thirty-foot canvas and was produced for $20,000 over a four-year period.” – NPS
If you look to the tip top of the mountain, that’s where we were standing, and where the painting is now housed.
Close-up detail of the awesome painting:
Because of our easy-going morning at the B&B (didn’t leave til 11 am!) and the trip up Lookout Mountain, we decided we better leave Chattanooga to head north toward our friends, though the weather that direction and later storm warnings worried us a bit. A Tennessean on the plane as we were landing said, “Oh yeah, this is major tornado season.” (Thanks, lady!! Did she do that on purpose to freak us out!?)
Temperatures in the 80’s with very high humidity – another thing we do not experience in Eastern Washington! We chugged on, because we had one more stop to make before we ended the day. The nearby towns may have been out of power, but we kept on. The wind and storm warnings could not stop us, either.
Fort Loudoun State Park, a complete reconstruction of the 1756 fort built by the British, was an interesting stop. The idea of keeping the colonists safe backfired and the Indians ended up winning control (oops!).
Early American history has always fascinated me and Jay has taken a real liking to this era as well. I’ve corrupted him into becoming a history nut! We watched a short video and walked through a museum, then headed out in the rain and mud (warm rain, though, so quite pleasant!) to see the fort.
They rebuilt the fort as a Depression era conservation project. The walls alone had to have been a herculean task – all pointed and tipped outward around the entire fort.
As we left, I finally got a shot of the red dirt. So unusual! We saw this type of dirt in many parts of TN.
Taking more backroads, we saw a Christy-esque building. We were not able to go to the area where the Christy book was based on (pretty rugged territory, according to locals…) so seeing this building – a school perhaps? – made me feel like I got a glimpse of Christy country.
Pretty similar, don’t you think? I would love to have a building like this on our property to fix up!
On the gate for the same property, we found a sign that we’d love to see Washington adopt and post openly:
Coming up next, Part 2 of our trip, touring eastern Tennessee country!