Tuesday, July 14, 2015

2015 Road Trip, Day 23: Unexpected Stops

Today's journey took us north from Pigeon Forge.  We ended about half an hour west of Appomattox - Lee's surrender is on tomorrow's itinerary - but I'd hardly call today "uneventful."

Our first stop wasn't meant to be a stop.  I-40 was an absolute mess.

Yep, turning a freeway into a helipad will snarl things up.  Our side had lanes blocked off to create a wide enough safety buffer.  I'm glad we were heading east though -- the westbound lanes were stopped for miles.

Our first "real" stop was the Andrew Johnson NHP in Greeneville, TN.  The highlight for me was the 15 minute video about Andrew Johnson's life and politics, along with lessons from two different Park Rangers  -- I learned more in that time about this fiercely ardent Constitutionalist than I had ever learned prior.  I think Luke and I will be digging more deeply into him as part of Luke's political science class.

This was a great timeline.  It showed Johnson's life along with current events in America, placing both in context.

One of the things we learned was Johnson was a tailor by trade. When his father died, his mother apprenticed him to a tailor. He learned the trade and received a minimum of  education.  One exhibit had a dress-up corner with children's clothing in the style Johnson would have made.  Damien - Mr. Dress-Up in our house -- was thrilled.

Jude got a turn, too.

 Inside the building was his tailor's shop.  It has stood in that spot for over 180 years -- to preserve it, the Parks Service built a modern building around it.

You'd need some serious muscles to lift and maneuver that press iron.

Another room showed his political career, including explaining his impeachment.  Proof that "one vote" counts -- it was one vote that saved his presidency.  There's a ballot box for you to decide how you'd have voted.

Our final stop was the National Cemetery where he and his family was buried. In addition to the Johnson family, buried there are soldiers from five wars.

Our next scheduled stop was the birthplace of Davy Crockett.  We learned a bit about the end of his life back at the Alamo, so now it was time to rewind and head back to where he started out.  He certainly had the adventurer's spirit.  As the pioneer frontier moved across Tennessee, so did he; each year he moved further west coincides with the advancement of the line, with him just ahead of it.

Crockett was renowned for his hunting prowess.  Celia thought maybe the reason the "bear went over the mountain" was because he saw Davy Crockett coming.  One season, Crockett bagged 105 bears!

Apparently, he was also a fiddle player.  Celia was impressed with this too.

Outside there is a memorial (reproduction) cabin and stone.

Back on the road, we drove through rolling hills and farmland.  It was beautiful!

Ok, and a bit quirky.

We finally made it to Virginia, and stopped for gas.  I exited the highway, and we found this.

A tank of gas and a return to Virginia, and we were back on our way north.  Our last unscheduled stop was because of the weather.

When it starts "raining ice cubes,"  and you see sparks when things get hit by lightning, it's time to pull off.  We pulled off for a few minutes, and then realized that if we could make it another mile or two we'd be out of the storm.  We left the parking pull-off, and then pushed forward. 

After listening to so much rain beat down, we all needed the restroom, so we stopped at the next rest stop.  A look down the highway, and we could see the storm catching up, so we hurried and tried to beat it.  We outran it temporarily. 

As we got to our hotel, the thunder and lightning were catching up.  Luke and I just grabbed what we needed for the night and we made a run for it.  We gratefully flopped down on our beds as the storm wound up. 

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