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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Day inTennessee--Day 4

Good Evening Trekkers from Newport,Tn Comfort Inn 7:40 PM I'm a bit late tonight but we had quite a busy day and when we got to our room at around 5 I was quite BUSHED! After watching The Five on Fox and reading USA Today, sort of, and discovering there is absolutely NOTHING I want to watch on TV tonight, I got my second wind and decided to bring you all up to date. According to my various individual interactions with a few of you, I find that a number are digging out from 24 hours, at least, of some pretty heavy snowfall. Betsy said she thought she'd gotten about 11 inches. It sounds like most of you were nestled all snug inside and did not have to go out in it. Feeling sympathetic toward my friend, Glen, who opted to return to Vt a few days ago after basking in the Florida warmth and sunshine for a few months. Bet you wish you'd prolonged your sojourn! It would also appear to be pretty cold in NM with possible snow there at the moment. I am hoping that my California friends are safe from the flooding going on there at the moment. And I'm also thinking of another running between meetings in San Diego--hope you weren't too exhausted this a.m. As for us, in our usual fashion, we started out to do one thing and wound up doing an entirely different thing! We left Bristol, Va around eight-thirty this morning and in a blink of an eye were in Bristol, Tn. Our plan was to head to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, to which we've never been. However, in just a very few miles we saw a sign for Andrew Johnson's home. Quick as a wink, out came the map to see where it was in relation to us, still on I 81, and lo and behold Tn Rt 70 would, round curves banked as though part of a race track, and up and down hill and dale, take us right down to Greeneville. And Greeneville was still in the direction of the Park, so off we went. I took only a couple of pictures that I think probably give you a good idea of the rollicking ride through the boonies on two lanes. We apparently were driving too slowly for a kid in a souped up coupe, since he not only zoomed by us but also decided to s-curve his way between lanes in front of us, until he left us in his dust. Ah, youth, though we were sure we'd see him off the road or in a head-on sometime soon. Fortunately, for him, us and any unfortunate he may have encountered, our worries were for naught. We arrived in Greeneville a bit before 11 and reported to the Johnson homesite visitors' center. We first viewed a 15 minute video on Johnson's life, in which Fred Thompson, deceased Tennessee Senator and sometime actor, voiced Johnson's comments. Andrew Johnson began life in the Carolina's and when his mother was widowed, she apprenticed Andrew and his brother, William to a local tailor. Eventually, there was a falling out with the tailor and the boys broke their contract and wandered around the South before settling in Tennessee. At some point, Andrew married, set up a tailor shop, built a small house and started a family. Eventually, he entered politics, primarily in Greeneville, then into State government in Nashville and in time, became US Senator. He opposed secession and argued that it was Unconstitutional--which it was deemed to be--so there California!! He also opposed slavery and while he bought slaves--only two or three--he never sold any and he emancipated them before Lincoln did. He also as Governor, emancipated all Tennessee slaves. As the second term began he was Lincoln's Vice-President, a Democrat to Lincoln's Republican. They hoped to bring the government back in order and hoped to unite the country once the War ended. Lincoln was assassinated and suddenly, a Southern Democrat was President!!! Much of the turmoil that ensued seems to have some parallels today. He was impeached because he fired Lincoln's Secretary of War, Stanton, without Congressional approval. He missed conviction by only one vote. Once his term was over, he ran again for Senator from Tennessee--lost that time--but ran again and was elected. The only President ever to have been a Senator, been President and then re-elected to the Senate. ( I have to check that--seems to me Teddy Roosevelt did some fancy footwork, too, after he was President!) Unfortunately, Johnson never got the chance to run for President on his own merits, which he probably hoped to do, since he suffered a stroke shortly after returning to the Senate and died. Having learned all that, we then looked through the small museum, with artifacts from his time as President, and with his original tailor shop, preserved within a room of its own. As I purchased two postcards of an original painting showing him in his shop doorway--done in recent times--the young ranger said my Daddy painted that picture. Her name is Kendra Hinkle. Then across the street to his original home, where he lived with his wife and the first of his children. Here there are exhibits relating to his life before Washington. A family tree shows that he had three sons, only one married, all died without children before the age of 35 and two daughters, who married, bore children and from whom all of his descendants come. Then a drive a few blocks away brought us to the last home he had in Greeneville and the one that his sons and daughters and grandchildren grew in and in which the last of his children died. Stephanie, a young, very knowledgeable ranger took us through the home and filled in the stories of those children. One boy died in the War, his brother became horribly depressed and self-medicated with alcohol and laudanum. He died of an overdose, whether deliberately self-inflicted or not is unknown. The youngest died after these two at the age of 28. His widow inherited the house and much else but not wanting it, she put it up for auction. The other two girls, married with children, bought it all back. I noticed she is not buried in the family plot--but then, she did go on to marry a millionaire and is probably buried with him! From this home, we proceeded up a hill, high above the town and walked the final resting places of these people and many of their more recent family members. The site is the center of what has become a National Cemetery. As we came down the hill we turned back into Greeneville intending to pick up 321 South toward the Smoky Mountains. Our plan was to continue to Sevierville and look for a motel and do the park tomorrow. In Newport, we needed to pick-up rt 411, but there is a spot on the map where 321, I 40 and several other roads form a nexus hard to untangle--and on the other side there is 411. All of this takes place in Newport. Needless to say, I got us continuing on 321, which goes through very small towns to Gatlinburg--probably no motels along the way. So back to the nexus, where I thought the combo route 70/25 would tie us up with 411. Bill adamantly disagreed and insisted on continuing out of town, over the railroad tracks, a U-turn, back over the tracks and a turn on a road that would take us to a truck route to I 40. which either went over or under 411. Imagine my glee, when he did all that and the road he turned on took us to 70/25!! You drive, Bill and leave the navigating to me, please. In short time we were on 411, rounded a curve and there before us, the home of Jay Bush and Duke!!! Well, it goes without saying, we had to stop! The champagne of baked beans, Duke, Jay--OMG So in we went--a delightful 20 minute film about the family ( do you remember Stokely string beans?? Well, that's how the Bushes got going in canned vegetables. Stokely hired them to can their tomatoes. From there, they expanded the business and started canning vegetables themselves. The beans have only been around since the 1990's!) Besides the history of the business they also discussed the processing of the beans--they are cooked after they have been canned and sealed!!! It was a delightful film but Jay and Duke were only at the start with replays of all the times Duke tried to sell the secret family recipe. Then, there was a museum. At the end, one of the family takes pictures of the visitors--gratis and asks how many you would like. After he took the shot, he asked me to look and see if I liked it--he would redo it. My goodness, Bill is smiling and he and the fellow said it was because we were told to give us that famous baked bean grin! I asked for one picture--he insisted I take two. By the time we were finished, it seemed foolish to go on, so we back tracked the five miles to Newport--after I called for the reservation in the Bush parking lot. For $75 dollars plus tax we could have a room with a Jacuzzi. YUP! Though both of us were too tired to use it tonight. As a matter of fact, Bill has been asleep since 8! Then, we roamed the now familiar routes in and about Newport to find a restaurant that appealed. Ruby Tuesday for steak. We ordered medium rare, it came out almost raw--the manager took back the steaks to cook a bit more. We ate our sides. The steaks didn't come back and we were finished our sides. Then the waitress brought us two new full meals--he didn't even return our original steaks. I was floored. The steaks were great but we were too full to eat the seconds on the sides. I felt really badly--I hate wasting food. But, I just had no desire to bring home rice and steamed broccoli. As I said it was almost five by the time we got to the room and brought luggage in, etc. We've reserved the room for tomorrow night, too. We may go to the Park and return here--it is only 30 miles away. I'd like to just veg here tomorrow--I'm feeling pretty tired. Didn't sleep really well last night. Haven't gotten into the rhythm yet and Bill seems to have pushed us to get here really fast. On the other hand, it is supposed to rain on Wednesday and the Park wouldn't be much fun in the rain. Oh, well, we'll play it by ear. Seems to work well for us. So, now it is almost 9. Think I'll read a bit and then turn in. Hope you enjoy the history and pix that go with it. Until next time--be warm, be safe and sleep well. KandB

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