Sunday, April 26, 2009

Tecumseh, Garden of the Gods & Decoration Day

A day of adventure, Cathy's daring adventure was to enter the archives in the courthouse at Harrisburg, Illinois, surrounded herself with stacks of 200 year old papers ten feet tall and hope that they don't come tumbling down, burying her with the very ancestors that she's researching. Too scary for me, I'm going to wander around the countryside and find my own adventure.

My quest today is to walk in the Garden of the Gods, I have read about this place now all I have to do is find it, about 15 miles SE of Harrisburg as the crow flies, but since I'm driving it's about 30 miles and 50 turns on some pretty narrow farming roads, take a couple of turns that you don't see and you're there.

But first I had to make a quick stop at the Saline Co. State Fish & Wildlife Area to pay my respects to Tecumseh, or at least his bronze statue that is near the campground there. My favorite Tecumseh quote is:

When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so when their time comes, they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song like a hero going home”.

Well I finally made it to the Garden of the Gods, there are two different trails here, the upper trail is the most used one and is about ¼ mile long and takes about 45 minutes to navigate, the second one takes you down to the bottom of the cliffs and is about 5 miles long.

This garden was planted about 300 millions years ago when it was the bottom of a shallow sea, millions of years of weathering has shaped the gardens into what we see today. The trail is paved with stone and easy to follow, climbing on the rocks is allowed and recommended so you can see the beautiful views, I'm just going to let some pictures take you on a tour of the gardens, enjoy.

This sign is the first thing you see at the start of the trail.

A nice scenic view.

The trail leads into "Fat Man's squeeze" Yes I made it through.

After the squeeze.

Rock on the right looks like Donald Duck, at least to me it does.

The rings on the right are formed by iron that solidified between the different rock layers and did not weather away as the rock did.

Chimney Rock, it's about 30 feet tall.

Just a few more views from the trail.

This is a close-up of the iron rings in the stone.

Another Day

Remember when Memorial Day was called Decoration Day, well click on the plaque and read about how it all started at a little cemetery in Carbondale Illinois.

There is an interesting grave here, at the center of the cemetery there is a stone sarcophagus sitting on top of the soil. There are two stories for this.

The first one is that a lady from Vicksburg, Mississippi died here and did not want to be buried in Yankee soil so it was placed above ground.

The second is that a Union officer was buried here and that when is family heard that a Confederate officer was to be buried in the cemetery, they had his body dug up and placed in the sarcophagus so that they would not occupy the same soil.

Click on MAP to enlarge

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Superman,Paducah,Paris and more

Our time in Nashville is over and we moved on to Pirates Cove near the Land between the Lakes area, we just purchase a TomTom Gps device last week and I'm still learning how to program it. This trip it got us to within two miles of the park and then it put us on a side street that was barely wide enough for the rig, so I guess my learning curve needs a little more bending. I keep calling it a Pom Pom by accident since that was my nickname in high school, this got me thinking about all the different nicknames that you pick up through life.

As a kid, around the house and neighborhood I was always called Jimmie James, in high school it became PomPom, this is because one of the cheer leaders snuck up behind me and smacked me in the head with her PomPom's (get your mind out of the gutter) and screamed Pom Pom as she did it, so that stuck for the rest of my time there. My first real job was working on the Tug boats and barges on the Detroit river, at the end of my first day the boss slapped me on the back and said, we'll see ya in the morning ZIGGY. WOW first day on the job and I got a nickname, I just figured it was after the comic strip since I was so damn funny. A week later we took one for the work boats out to the big barge and after taking a few steps onto the barge I heard the boss yell,Hey Ziggy, I turned around to see what he wanted and he was on his knees scratching the ears of a dog (the company mascot). So until I moved on four years later anytime some one yelled Ziggy the dog and I raced to see what they wanted.

On to the Detroit Police Department, during the academy the instructors had many nicknames for everyone which I won't print. Sometime during the second year that I was assigned to a precinct house I took a position that had been held by an officer (for many years) whose real given name was Jimmie, well with a James replacing a Jimmie you can guess what happen, I was Jimmie for the rest of my career, well most of the time. When the department started hiring women for street patrol and I got to train a few at the precinct. Late in the first year with the women, a few of us where in the kitchen when one of the nice young ladies referred to me as “Asshole”, turns out that I had a secret behind the back nickname, so until I retired I had two nicknames depending on the gender.

Now that I'm retired, old fat and gray, I've gotten another nickname, This one I'm going to keep and take to the grave with me “Grandpa”

Whoa! Got a little sidetracked there, lets see where was I, asshole, police, dog, pompom, TomTom, oh yah we just got into camp at Pirates Cove. This is probably the strangest campground we've been to, when you leave the office and drive down to the camp sites you have to make sure that you don't turn on the the runway, yes runway. There is a very small, narrow runway for single engine planes that is lined with houses which all have a pole barn big enough to use as a hanger, we haven't heard any planes yet but maybe this week end. The park in broken up into about five areas that are all hidden around in the various neighborhoods, we got one that's right on the water. Since everything is spread out, the bathhouse is located in the middle and is a ¼ drive.

We took a little drive today north to Paducah, Kentucky, every time I hear the name Paducah I think of a tough rugged looking dock worker with the stub of a cigar hanging out of the corner of his mouth and a “MOM” tattoo on his arm. Anyway we didn't have any idea of what we would find, turns out that this is one of the cleanest towns we've been in, the historic downtown area and the river front were spotless. They have a large flood wall along the river that is covered with murals that give you a history of the town, we found out some fascinating thing about this town, which you can see in the pictures that follow.

Found another Whispering Giant to add to our collection, we had to walk into the park since it's still closed from all the trees down from the big ice storm in February. This giant is in excellent condition and seems to be well cared for by the city.

Crossed the Ohio River into Metropolis Illinois, DA DA DAAAAAA, DA DA DA DA DA DAAAAA, you guessed it Metropolis home town of SUPERMAN, we'll visit with the man of steel after we tour Fort Massac.

Fort Massac dates back to 1757 and the French-Indian War, at the end of the war the Chickasaws burnt the fort to the ground, this area was used by George Rogers Clark during the Revolutionary War. In 1794 George Washington ordered a new fort to be built at this location, this fort was destroyed by the New Madrid earthquake in 1811. It was rebuilt again in time to see use in the War of 1812 only to be abandoned in 1814, a caretaker was left to watch over the fort but shortly after the military left the caretaker dismantled the fort and sold the wood to the locals to build their homes with. This site again saw service when it was used as a training center for the Civil War until a measles epidemic in 1862 claimed many lives. In 1903 The Daughters of the American Revolution convinced the state to purchase the property and it became Illinois' first State Park, in 1971 a recreation of the 1794 fort was built next to the location of the original so that archaeological digs could continue in the future.

Metropolis, just about everything in this town has something to do with Superman, bathrooms are labeled Clark Kent or Lois Lane, there are cutouts all over town where yoou can have your picture taken with the man of steel, and right in front of the City Hall you will find this.


Day Two at the LBL's

Just a lazy drive down the Trace to the city of Dover and Fort Donaldson, Fort Donaldson was the site of the first major victory by the Union during the Civil War. The South was winning this battle and should have been victorious except for a few blunders made by the politician that had been appointed to General. After making these mistakes he did what any politician would do, he snuck away to a ship waiting on the river and made good his escape while leaving the troops behind. Nathan Bedford Forrest also decided that he was not ready to be taken prisoner, but he mounted up on his horse along with 700 of his cavalrymen and rode out the front gate of the fort, for some reason they were not detected by the Union troops and just rode off to fight another day.

Here's something that Cathy spotted as we were driving through the park.

Although when Cathy and I were dating, I never promised to take her to Paris, today I decided to do just that, Paris Tennessee that is, but once we both saw the Eiffel Tower we decided that Paris was no big deal and we went home to Pirates Cove to watch our beloved Tigers lose another one.

We saw a small sign on a back road that said " B-29 Memorial", well when you see a sign like that you just have to follow the arrow, which we did for about two miles till the road dead ended and we saw another sign that said the same thing but pointing the other way. we decided to split the difference and right around the midway point we spotted a little cemetery back in the woods and sure enough that's where we found this. Click on the Picture and give it a read.
Then scroll down for the rest of the story.

On the night of July 1, 1945 the B-29 was on a training mission and had just finished refueling at Nashville and was flying into a thunderstorm, half the crew was in the front of the ship and the other half was in the rear, Elias, the sole survivor was walking back throught the plane to go to the bathroom. He was in the center of the plane when it took a lightning strike at that point and slit the ship in two.
He was sucked from the aircraft and said that when he came to he was falling in the dark so he yank on his rip cord and drifted to earth, he did see the ship falling in flames. When he hit land, he had no idea where he was at so he just covered up with his parachute and waited for daylight when he was found by some local towns people.
The Army then showed up from nearby Fort Campbell and for security reasons started hushing up the entire story.

Monday, April 13, 2009

We arrived in Lebanon Tn in the sunshine, not wanting to waste any of this precious commodity, we set up camp pretty quick and drove into Nashville so we could get to the Belmont Mansion before it closed for the day. Don't know about the Belmont Mansion, well here is the story about the mansion and the lady that built it.

Adelica Hayes Franklin Acklen Cheatham,

Born Adelica Hayes to a wealthy Nashville family, her father was a judge, Presbyterian minister and a cousin of President Rutherfield Hayes. At 22 she married Isaac Franklin who was a cotton planter and slave trader, Franklin was 28 years older then Adelica and after seven years he died leaving her seven Louisiana cotton plantations a 2000 acre farm in Tennessee and 750 slaves.
Three years after his death she remarried to a Joseph Acklen, this is after she made him sign a prenuptial contract. It was at this time that they started building Belmont a 20,000 square-foot summer house, they summered in Nashville and spent the winters on the plantations in Louisiana, prior to the Civil War Acklen managed to triple her money.

During the war when the Union forces moved into Nashville Acklen, an out spoken southerner, fled to the plantations in Louisiana to prevent capture or execution, while down there he contacted an unknown illness and died. Adelica took here four children and made a trip to bring his body back to Nashville, during the trip two of the girls got sick and and back in Nashville both died within a month or so of each other.

Adelica was face with financial ruin, all she had was 2800 bales of cotton spread out on the Louisiana plantations, she went back to Louisiana and convinced the Commanding officer of the Confederate troops to loan her some wagons and men to transport the cotton to New Orleans so she could ship it to Richmond and sell it to the Confederacy. Before she could get all the cotton shipped a new Commanding Officer took over and refused to assist her in any way, now what would she do. She went to the Commanding Officer of the Union troops and told him that she needed his help getting the cotton to New Orleans so she could ship it to New York and sell it to the union. He agreed and all the cotton was loaded on a schooner and the Captain was given all the proper papers to pass through the Union blockade of New Orleans. Once the ship was past the Union blockade the captain sailed straight to London and sold the cotton to the Rothschilds for $960,000. When the cotton never showed up in New York or Richmond both army's wanted to know what happen, she told them that she had no idea of what happen to the ship or the cotton, since she never accepted payment from the Rothschilds, nothing could be proved against her.

Three weeks after the war she sailed to London and collected the money from the Rothschilds, she then spent a few years with her remaining children touring Europe on a spending spree, which is when she bought most of the artifacts that are in the mansion today. She returned from Europe and at age 50 married Dr. Cheatham who also signed a prenuptial agreement. After 20 years of marriage most of it spent at Belmont, she sold the mansion (valued at $250,000 for $56,000) left Nashville and Cheatam with her three adult children and moved to Washington D.C. Shortly later while on a shopping trip to New York she took ill and died.

The person that bought the mansion held a sale and sold everything in the mansion, with nothing left but bare walls he sold it to two ladies who used it to start up Belmont College. It is now about 90% restored and the center piece of Belmont University and is open for tours.
Why would we rush around for this, well Cathy does genealogy, has been for about 20 years now and is related through the Acklen part of the family. We never saw any of the family fortune but we did see the mansion, for a fee. So much for family ties.

Cheekwood Gardens, the Zoo and a Tornado

Cathy and I very seldom pass up a garden or zoo, it's a beautiful sunny Easter Sunday so we figured that they wouldn't be to crowded so we packed a lunch and took off for Nashville. First stop was Cheekwood Botanical Gardens, don't know if i would call this a garden, compared to some we've been to. There were a lot of trails and some very pretty areas thanks to the Red bud's and Dogwoods, but the only formal type gardens were around the big hall and restaurant that they rent out for party's and weddings near the front gate. The gardens was a freebee for us so we can't complain too much but I don't think that it's worth the $14.00 a head that they want for admission. Well as we always say “No cost No foul”.

Found out something interesting about the Dogwood, what looks like the pedals are actually the leafs and the bloom is the little thing in the center.

A couple of birds back on one of the trails.

Now its off to the Zoo, It took a little to find it but it was worth it, to start with this is another Freebee for us, it was a little more crowed then we thought it would be but not to bad. They have a lot of very nice displays and exhibits but the best part of a zoo is watching all the little kids running around and seeing the look of amazement on their faces when they see an animal for the first time. They had two baby white tigers that were born on December 14th 2008, all one wanted to do was sleep and the other one just wanted to play, with the sleeping one of course. This is a very clean well laid out zoo and worth the trip.

We normally spend a week in an area but are only here for three days, that's because we ran into some bad weather while in Crossville, thunderstorms, snow and weather alerts for tornado's, Spent 3 hours in the mens room with half the people in the park one night as a tornado touched down just a few miles from us. Which was better then being in this area, April 10th 2009 a large
tornado touched down in Murfreesboro, just 20 miles south of the park we are at in Lebanon, it passed right through town leaving a path of destroyed homes and businesses, about 142 in all. We tried to drive down and visit a few things that the news said were still open and undamaged, but traffic was so bad with the detours and emergency repairs crews that we turned around a gave up after a few blocks.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Who would have thought

Yesterday (the 6th) was our anniversary, I say that it's been 21 years and Cathy swears that it's our 75th, we decided to celebrate by staying in camp and watching all the opening day baseball games and finish the day off with a MSU victory at the March Madness. My Braves won, our Tigers lost and the MSU Spartans were flushed down the toilet. Well at least we still have each other (I get goody points for saying stuff like that).

Woke up this morning and flipped on the TV to catch Imus and the news for a ½ hour before getting out of bed, but wait all I see on the screen is NO SIGNAL, what could possibly be wrong, it was working great when we went to bed last night. Did the satellite fall out of orbit and crash, did a wild bear knock the dish over or even worse did someone steal the dish.

Well being as I AM the worlds greatest retired cop, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. / Away to the window I flew like a flash, / Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash. / When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, / But three inches of snow covering my dish and blocking the damn signal.

I made sure that Cathy put on a sweatshirt before she went out to brush the snow away, (this cost me most of my goody points).

So here we are snowed in, hopefully this will all thaw and we will be able to escape the Tennessee mountains before we run out of food and this turns into a Donner situation.

As a side note, we bought a TomTom gps the other day and I've been playing with it, but no matter what I do the only route it will show me is to CAPE CORAL, FLORIDA. Don't you just hate it when a machine is smarter then you.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Towers, Museums and FOOD

We've driven past this stone tower a dozen times, so today we decided stop and find out what its story was.
We'll it turns out that it was built as part of one of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal Programs. It was built in 1937 to house the offices of the Cumberland Homesteads project. The tower holds a 5000 gallon water tank and has a winding stairway with 97 steps that take you to the lookout platform at the top. At least that's what they say, 97 steps my a**, I think that I lost count at 537, or maybe it was the lack of oxygen to my brain that had my count off a little. The base of the tower holds a three room museum with photos and artifacts from the project
This project was to build 250 homesteads in the area, during the first two weeks over 2000 applications were turned in, the project covered over 10,000 acres and all the homes were built with local material, all of them had indoor plumbing and were wired for electricity even though there was none in the area, the TVA came into the area a few years later. Some of the requirements to qualify for the project were, “high character, ability, honesty, and willingness to work and cooperate with the government in this planned Community. Sounds a little like how our new government would like things.
As you drive around this town if you see a house built from stone, it's one of the original homes from the project.

Everybody back on board please, our next stop is the Military Memorial Museum, located right downtown. This a small local museum that has only been open for a few years now but its packed full of pretty unique military items and gives a good history of the military people of the area. It starts with the Civil War and covers everything right up to the present. The neatest thing we found out is that there was a POW camp here in town which housed 250 German Officers. It wasn't much of a prison since the prisoners all worked at the local farms to make some spending money, they pretty much came an went as they pleased, as a matter of fact one prisoner did try to escape and it was a few days before any boy noticed that he was gone. Camp Crossville became known as the Hyatt Regency of POW Camps. After the war many of the prisoners decided to stay in this area and many returned after going home, for many years after the war prisoners would return to this area to look up the old friends they had made while interned here.

These are the patches that were used to represent General Patton's Ghost Army for the invasion of Europe, and cover up the real D-Day plans for Normandy.

Some one in this area must have had something to do with the film Band of Brothers because they have a lot of props from the movie on display here. Right before you leave you see two American flags on display, one contains the names of the 911 victims and the other has the names of all the police, fire and EMT's that were killed.

While heading home we decided to stop at the restaurant in the state park, they have a big buffet for $7.95 and everybody has been telling us how great it is, so we'll see if they're right. All I can say is WOW! Everything looked so good that I almost had my plate full when I noticed a huge platter of ribs at the end, I managed to squeeze everything to the side of the plate so I could get a few bones on the plate. These are the best ribs I can remember eating, on my second trip I started at the end to make sure I had plenty of room for the ribs, hell you can get salad and veggies anywhere. We found out that they normally only serve ribs on Saturday night and it's $14.95, they only started serving dinner on April 1st for the season and they had a new smoker that they wanted to try out before the first big rib dinner next Saturday so we ended up being the guinea pigs. Imagine experimenting on live human subjects like this, I'm not going to say how many trips I made or how many bones I ate but I sure got my $14.95's worth, oops I mean my $7.95's worth. Cathy didn't keep up with me on the ribs but she did have 2 deserts.
We flipped a coin to see who had to drive back to camp and who got to nap in the back seat.
A few weeks ago when we told some one that we we're going to Crossville for a week, they looked at us funny and asked “Why would you want to go there for a week there's nothing to do there”.