Outside Lafayette, Indiana, I spotted a white pickup with large red letters painted on the side: Jesus Christ is Lord, Not a Swear Word.
Later, during a brief traffic jam, I noticed that a different pickup, ahead of us, had a couple of metal orbs hanging from its towing hitch. Though a little larger than natural size, these orbs strongly resembled human balls. Some people wear their hearts on their sleeves. Not this chap.
At some distance from Louisville, we picked up WNAS, 88.1 FM. Its music selection was all over the place, but mostly good. Turns out it's a high school radio station with more power than most. If the the idea is to teach students about the radio business, such an eclectic format isn't going to cut it. On the other hand, real-world, for-profit radio formats tend to be as bland as slim milk, and running a student radio station that way would be no fun at all.
I saw a White Castle in Nashville. This is wrong. Nashville is south of the invisible White Castle-Krystal line. Nashville is Krystal (makes noise when opened) territory. I can understand Kentucky having both, since it's a border state, but not Tennessee.
The Elliston Place Soda Shop in Nashville is still in business. In fact, it looks very much like it did in the 1980s -- which probably wasn't so different than in the 1940s. When I first took Yuriko to Nashville in late 1992, we had milk shakes there. She remembered that milk shake so fondly that she insisted that we go again this time for more, and I hardly needed persuading. Someday, it will close -- sic transit gloria mundi -- and Nashville will be a poorer place for it.
Nashville's already a poorer place for the demise of Mack's Country Cooking, a meat-and-three (there's a web site for everything, eh?) I visited often, alone and with greasy-spoon companions. But at least the San Antonio Taco Co. survives, serving real South Texas Mexican food. We had lunch there this trip, and it's as good as it was 20+ years ago, which explained the crowds on a summer afternoon in 2008.
Centennial Park in Nashville, besides sporting the world's only full-scale replica of the Parthenon, now has a lovely little garden not far from that edifice. It is dedicated to children who die from domestic violence, with some of their names carved in stone along the brickwalk.
Sparta, Tennessee, advertises itself as the home of Benny Martin. Sounded familiar, but I had to look him up later. The Calfkiller River also runs through Sparta. I had to look that up, too. It's a tributary of the Caney Fork, a tributary of the Cumberland, and I like that name as much as Fawnskin, Calif.
The mosquitoes weren't so bad at the Crosby campground in the Great Smoky Mountains NP. But arachnophobes would have had a hard time at the campground bathrooms, which featured cinderblock walls. Close inspection revealed a good number of orange daddy-long-leg-type spiders hanging out on the walls, doing their silent little dances. Once you noticed them, you couldn't un-notice them. A lot of moths also called the park home, and some number of them wanted to call the inside of our tent home. Ann was alarmed at the prospect.
This is the Appalachian Trail as it reaches Clingman's Dome. An old friend of mine hiked the entire thing 20 years ago this year, a feat I greatly admire.
It rained on us only twice during this trip. Once was while we were touring Mammoth Cave, on June 28. When we emerged, water was pouring through rivulets into the cave entrance, and on the hillsides near the cave. On the Fourth of July, it rained near and in Frankfort, Ky., causing us to opt out of the municipal fireworks show.
This is a creek (crick) in the Smokies. The girls enjoyed it immensely.
This is a waterfall above a crick on Cherokee land, just outside the national park. The girls enjoyed this immensely as well.
This is Mingus Mill, just inside the park. In the days when it ground grain, it was powered by water diverted from a nearby crick, and though now an exhibit, the water still flows. The girls found a way to enjoy this immensely too, by standing next to the water trough and putting objects in the water -- leaves, twigs, even small rocks -- and watching them zip away on the fairly fast current.
The Biltmore house has a vast collection of fine art, elegant furniture, and historic artifacts set in an interesting layout among a lot of fascinating detail. My favorite room? The bowling alley in the basement. My favorite item? Napoleon's chess set.
Besides the capitol, there are many other historic structures in Frankfort, Ky. On one block is the home of John Crittenden -- a footnote character in American history. President-elect Zachary Taylor stayed at Crittenden's on his way to his inauguration in 1849. Ever the busy fellow, Taylor stayed at nearby Liberty Hall as well, whose guest list over the years also included James Monroe and Andrew Jackson. The building itself was closed, but there was a lush little garden in the back yard, full of flowers and their bee and butterfly attendants. No other people were around.
In the parking lot of a chain restaurant in Morristown, Tennessee, a stranger asked me for money -- enough to fix her car, she said. A skinny blonde woman in her 30s, she talked with a deep Southern accent at an incongruous high clip, so fast that Yuriko and Lilly both later said she couldn't understand her. In her rapid talk, she packed in a lot: her stranded kids, her broken car, other good Samaritans who had helped some, the incentive check that hadn't arrived. She referred to the Good Lord a few times, and held her pocketbook open in such a way that I could see the words JESUS SAVES clearly. I told her that we carried little cash, at which he suggested that I go with her to an auto parts store to buy the part. "I'm sorry, I can't help you," I said, and I must have sounded unmovable, because she was gone a few seconds later.
Con woman? I'm inclined to think so. If not, she suffered because too many people are con artists. Maybe she really was trying to get her car fixed, but without paying for it. Yuriko suggested that she would later find a man more partial to skinny blondes, and be able to con him. Maybe.
Unfortunately, we didn't have time to stop at Cumberland Gap National Historic Park. It would have been another Daniel Boone site to see. But we did pass through the Cumberland Gap Tunnel, nearly a mile long. Now that's a tunnel. It's also an example of a big public works project of the 1990s, which will probably not be remembered as a heyday of such projects.
Finally, we brought home a souvenir fly swatter from the Bluegrass Inn, Frankfort, Ky., because it says the name of the motel on it, along with "Complements of..." The motel was decent enough, though a little tired, and I like the fly swatter. But is a fly swatter really the best item to associate with your motel? Just wondering.
Labels: food and beverage, historic artifacts and sites, museums, National Parks, Tennessee, true crime