Vision

Your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have.

Paul Arden

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Greg makes friends at the Lodge Factory Store in South Pittsburg (no H), Tennessee. We bought fun assorted cast iron items: a present for Michael, a wee pot for warming, a small pan with a lid, and nifty scrubbers. Shopping can be fun, y’all.

Rockets in Huntsville, Alabama! We were just passing through but will definitely include space travel adjacent activities on a future excursion.

One of those “if you know you know” situations in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, but even if you don’t, I’ll tell you! Muscle Shoals Sound Studio is world famous for the likes of Cher, Boz Skaggs, the Rolling Stones, Paul Simon, Canned Heat, Bob Seger, Cat Stevens, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Dylan, George Michael, and the Black Keys, to name a few.

Muscle Shoals is also the birthplace of Helen Keller, which is a fascinating juxtaposition of sound and message.

Are we there, yet?

Memphis!! You know why.

Sun Studio!

Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Charlie Rich, Chris Isaak, Conway Twitty, Howlin’ Wolf, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Buffet, Melissa Etheridge, Merle Haggard, Roy Orbison, and many more…

A. Schwab, since 1876, though it moved around a little on Beale Street, retains the vintage charm. We bought taffy (banana and walnut) and a t-shirt.

Waiting on a Friend…

Seen while waiting…

Unlike Broadway in Nashville, Beale Street, at least near lunch time, was downright sleepy: no music pumping, no crowds thumping. Since we are mostly daytime people, we didn’t return to hear any after dark blues. But goll-ee, is their neon fantastic!

W.C. Handy – the Father of the Blues and quite the snappy dresser.

Gardenia in bloom on the street, like it ain’t no thang! I caught the scent from a block away. Heaven.

Heartbreak of heartbreaks at the Lorraine Motel, which is now part of the National Civil Rights Museum. This is where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968 while staying in room 306. It is still such a stunning loss.

Dr. King was in Memphis to support the Sanitation Strike, which the I AM A MAN Plaza honors.

Walking in front of this building with Juniper, a man hollered at us from across the street. “I had a dog like that! She was so good!” Ours is, too.

E L V I S ! !

Another of my must do in the South eating experiences – fried green tomato! It was even better than it looks.

We stayed a few blocks from Overton Park and this most fabulous mural.

Hello from our digs in Chattanooga! Since our travels always include Juniper, it is wonderful when we can find a place with a yard, so she can get her wiggles, wees, and poos out unencumbered by a leash. Huzzah!

This place was pretty stellar, as it was rather spacious and had a record player, too. The selection of music was limited to what was on hand, but it was quite eclectic and mostly suited our tastes. Very fun!

There was a beautiful trail about a block from our rental that led to a view of Chattanooga. If you look carefully near the center, you can spy the blue pedestrian bridge we cross down yonder. Cool, cool, cool.

Kinda like Lombard Street in San Francisco but for human powered traffic.

Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing…

The Tennessee Aquarium

The Tennessee River

Someone tell me why this scene makes me think of Logan’s Run.

Our first visit to an aquarium! The Tennessee Aquarium is pretty cool, and, as you can see, includes some non-aquatic species, as well. It is divided in two, one for the River Journey, one for the Ocean, with a pretty spectacular stop with fabulous butterflies!

If you click on the explore section of their website, you can see live streams of action in the various areas. Greg and I are especially fond of watching the otters.

We learned the geographical area surrounding Chattanooga has the highest density of species of all kinds in the United States. Pretty cool, considering how few we actually saw while out and about. Nature and her secrets! That said, there was abundant birdsong everywhere on our trip, with Cardinals the loudest (most catchy?) singers of them all.

Made from trash recovered from the ocean. Please don’t litter…

The butterfly room also had a lily pond, complete with eye-popping lotus. I had never seen that color combination before. Truly stunning.

A quiet spell of porch sitting, for a quintessential Southern experience: heat and shade and the gentlest of breezes.

When I asked Juniper to smile after the first photo, that was what she did. So cute. Plus, her handsome bearded pal! ALL LOVE…

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We expected, as it was all over the news, a massive cicada symphony on our journey, but I guess we were a tad late, as they were not nearly as boisterous as expected. We did see a fair number being hounded by birds earnestly looking for a juicy meal. The fella above was the only one we witnessed in stillness. Those eyes!

Our journey from Nashville to Chattanooga took an extra two hours as a result of the aforementioned downpours, plus a couple of car crashes. As a result, we were quite famished upon our arrival and made lunch the first order of business. I am delighted to report that Uncle Larry’s made me a convert to catfish. Well, fried, at least. It definitely smacked me!

Johann Nicholas Sohn, my Great Grand-Father times two, was the reason I landed on Chattanooga for our second stop in Tennessee. At the age of twenty-one, he enlisted in the Union Army on May 12th 1861, in Pendleton, Ohio, and mustered into the 2nd Kentucky Infantry Company B, on June 3rd 1861.

He was present in Cruft’s Brigade at Chickamauga (in Georgia, just south of Chattanooga) on September 19th 1863, when he was bayoneted and shot in the leg. He recovered at the Union Hospital in Chattanooga before mustering out in Kentucky a year later.

Initially, I was happy to visit the battlefield and get the general feel for the terrain. Then, upon further searches, I learned I could find the exact location of his company. What a great privilege it was to stand on on the same ground where my Grandfather fought.

As it was at Gettysburg, I was struck by the beauty and serenity of a place with such a history. The land bore no visible wounds, but the cannons and markers make clear the horror of the Campaign. Chickamauga was second to Gettysburg in the number of casualties.

The marker indicating Grandpa Nicholas and the 2nd Kentucky is just to the right of the cannon.

It reads:

The Brigade as the left of Palmer’s Division was formed on this ground during the night of September 19th, with the Battery on the right of the first line, the 31st Indiana on its left, the 2nd Kentucky being the left of the front line. The second line, which relieved the regiments in front about 11 a.m. consisted of the 90th Ohio and the 1st Kentucky.

The Brigade was so strongly protected by log works that not an enlisted man was killed and but few wounded while occupying them. The attacks made by the enemy up to the time of the general withdrawal were repulsed. About 3 o’clock, Hazen’s Brigade on its right was sent to Snodgrass Hill, and the second line of Cruft’s Brigade tool its place. At 5:12 p.m. it was ordered to withdraw across the Kelly Field.

The Brigade moved in column of regiments at long intervals, encountering a very severe artillery fire from both flanks, but suffering little loss. Upon crossing the LaFayette Road the Brigade proceeded to Rossville. Strength in action September 19th, 1,408 officers and men. Casualties: Killed 24; Wounded 213; Captured or Missing 53; Total 290. Percentage of Loss, 20.58.

Such early birds! This place was packed when we left.

At Stir now, in the old Chattanooga Train Station, which is glorious! Stir is famous for their cocktails and even more so for their penchant for fine ice making. They have a special filter process and freeze water in 300 pound blocks, before making cubes in every shape. As you can see above, I was most interested in the sphere. The process is a whiz-bang affair and how pretty and perfectly clear! Another fine dining and drinking experience. I also recommend the lobster and shrimp mac and cheese and chocolate cake. Mmmm…

This reminds me, I am not much of a drinker, maybe partaking in one cocktail a month, but with the heat, humidity, and sheer number of tempting beverages on offer, I drank in ten days what I normally consume in a year. Quite the trip!

Do you know the Glenn Miller song?

After dinner, and while the Juper-dog was happily ensconced in her crate, we ventured up Lookout Mountain to visit Rock City Gardens. How to describe? A garden, to be sure, for there are lovely trees, shrubs, and plants everywhere, but it is really more about the experience of walking through them, with all the crevices, caves, and bridges to cross. Then there are the fanciful decorations, stunning views, and birds galore. It is truly unique!

Extra, super bouncy bridge. Not for the faint of heart.

Worth the view!

I see you…

Chickamauga is behind me!

Small, with a mighty voice!

What you can’t really see here is a wonderfully cooling mist rolling down. We came at the right hour, both for the temperature and the sparse crowd.

Rock City Gardens was one of the first places to play with paint and black lights. This space was neat, but it gets even better!

This was a very small fraction of the cool cavern scenes (literally and figuratively). What a truly magical place! Greg and I were surprised and delighted. If ever you are in the neighborhood, please do visit.

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Very Continental!

Beam me up, Scotty.

Country Music Museum and Hall of Fame

Ryman Auditorium

The best trouble is Good Trouble. Thank you, John Lewis!

If you want to know the primary reason why I chose Tennessee for this year’s road trip, I have one name for you: ELVIS. I would not call myself a major fan, but a deep appreciator. The velvety voice, the charisma, the looks (I mean, seriously, so handsome), a body can’t help but be intrigued.

This is R.C.A. Studio B, where he recorded the vast majority of his work. It has been refurbished to look like it did at the beginning of his career, and the Steinway is THE piano he played both to warm up and record.

Dolly Parton also recorded here. Hallowed ground, my friends.

In addition to touring R.C.A. Studio B, our country music stint included the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. It is a treasure trove of memorabilia! Most everything I photographed probably seriously dates me; I am 53, after all; including THE car from Smokey and the Bandit. I regret to report the film has not aged as well as my love for 1970s and 80s era Trans Ams. Oh, but, to hear Burt Reynolds laugh!

Willie Nelson’s hat and sneakers

Steve Young wrote the Seven Bridges Road, popularized by The Eagles, whose fab windbreaker is pictured below.

The Eagles!

Two of the Flying Burrito Brothers Nudie Suits. So freaking fabulous! Of course, Gram Parsons is the one covered in drugs. Not during his era (R.I.P. Gram), but this is my favorite song by the band. I doubt it will be a surprise to anyone.

The FIRST modern solid body guitar!

This beauty belonged to Elvis, of course. A 1960 Series 75 Cadillac Fleetwood limousine, which, thanks to 24-karat gold plate highlights and trim, was called his “Solid Gold” car. Customized by North Hollywood’s Baris Kustom City for a reported $65,000, it is covered in 40 coats of paint, called “diamond dust pearl,” that is made of crushed diamonds and fish scales. It did sparkle!

Webb Pierce’s 1962 Pontiac Bonneville, complete with guns, horse heads, a saddle, and 150 silver dollars, as embellished by Nudie Cohen of the Flying Burrito Brothers suits above. The man knew how to add flash.

Roy Rogers!

Minnie Pearl!

Next stop Chattanooga…Choo! Choo!

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