Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tourin' the South Part 4! Days 13-16

Day 13 - Sunday, July 11th - Asheville, NC
I really wanted to see the Blue Ridge Parkway, which was coneniently celebrating its 75th anniversary. As part of FDR's work corps program, the Blue Ridge Parkway was built as a scenic route through Virginia and North Carolina's sections of the Appalachian mountains. It is a really nice drive - windy, slow, scenic. We also stopped at the Folk Art Center, which was really neat - a celebration of Art from the Appalachias. There we saw a guy out front with an interesting instrument that looked like a little harp or autoharp, but was played with a bow.

But, we got our fill of that, and went and got lunch. Later on we ventured down the parkway to the "Cradle of Forestry" center, to catch a bluegrass concert. It was a nice, comfortable, down home sort of thing - you could tell most of the people were local - only about 100 in the crowd. It was a nice way to relax, until it started raining. On the way home we drove through downtown Asheville, just to look around, and tried to drive to see Biltmore Castle, but at 55 dollars a pop, I think we decided it wasn't worth it. 55 dollars to see a house! No thanks. That's almost as much as Disneyland!

Day 14 - Monday, July 12th - Asheville, NC to Kodak, TN
We woke up to a rainy morning in Asheville, and hit the road to head over the Smoky Mountains to Tennessee. We stopped at a few little places along the way - a shop to buy some snacks, a homemade museum to look around, a store in the Cherokee Indian Reservation, and so forth. It was sort of a gloomy morning, but it made those Smoky Mountain extra smoky, and it was a beautiful drive anyway.

As we headed into Tennessee, we got into Pigeon Forge and consumer mania took over as the whole main street is just packed with tourists. Pigeon Forge is home to Dollywood and as many kinds of musical dinner theater establishments as you can think of. We walked around a little bit. I found a craft store, of course, and a jewelry store. We got some candy. We headed back up the road to find our hotel - through the insane amount of traffic in Pigeon Forge. Wow!

That night we had a wonderful dinner at the Chop House, a steak house right there. It was really, really good.

Day 15 - Tuesday, July 13th - Kodak, TN to Nashville, TN
I can't believe we made it this far in the trip without Mom stopping at a thrift store, but you knew it was going to happen some time, and Kodak is where it happened. We started off our day with a trip to the thrift store. It was right across the street from our hotel, so she couldn't miss it.

We drove up to Clinton, TN, north of Knoxville to visit the Museum of Appalachia, a work of heart from a local man who began to compile artifacts, treasures, and stories of the people and neighbors in his community. The museum itself would have been enough - it was jam packed with all sorts of information, but it included a barn, various outbuildings (cabins, sheds, church, school), and pastures. And peacocks. It was a very informative and interesting stop. At one house, on the porch, there was a guitar player who we talked with and played and sang some gospel songs for us. We began talking, and I talked about how I wanted to learn the banjo, and he mentioned that he teaches banjo and has lessons online. Nice guy.

We drove on, after our visit, to our hotel in Nashville, and the Cracker Barrel.

Day 16 - Wednesday, July 14th - Nashville, TN
Our last day!! We headed over to the Hermitage - Andrew Jackson's home, which has been carefully preserved. In fact, you hear so many stories of old plantation houses being sold to different families in the first half of the twentieth century, but a preservation society actually bought Andrew Jackson's house in the late 19th century! We had a tour of the home, the grounds, and the outbuildings. It really was a warm day in Nashville.

One more stop before the airport - we made it back to Franklin to the Daily Dish to once again have their delicious food. I had to have the Greek salad again, and it was just as good as the first time. After stuffing ourselves, we hopped in the car, got gas, and headed to the airport, ready to fly back to San Diego.

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