Hello friends! Yes, it’s been awhile. We’ve been busy. This retirement life is hard work! Seriously, we are having fun, but there’s lots of planning involved. Where should we go next? What campgrounds are available in the area? What things should we see and do at our destination or along the way?
Stops since our last post:
- Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia – The state park there focuses on John Brown’s raid as the major historical event. Quite interesting.
- Scenic Skyline Drive took us through the Shenandoah National Park
- Luray Caverns – met a couple from RI, also traveling in a Winnebago View
- Appalachian Trail – walked a small portion – learned about the AT14 State Challenge from the Park Service Guide at Shenandoah National Park
- James River State Park – biking trails
- Grayson Highlands State Park – fog!
- Knoxville, Nashville, and Memphis Tennessee – getting our city fix
- Birmingham and Montgomery Alabama – home to major events in the struggle for civil rights
Shenendoah National Park & Luray Caverns
We stayed 2 nights in the Shenandoah Valley. There are several caverns in the area, including Luray Caverns which by most accounts are the largest and most interesting. We also drove Skyline Drive with beautiful views of the valley. In the video below you can see the caves and mountain views, plus a small sample of what it looks like from Wandah’s “cockpit”. You’ll see winding mountain roads, driving in the rain, and flat and dry highways. We really enjoy the high perch and large windows. You can see so much more in the RV than in a passenger car!
Knoxville, Nashville, and Memphis
Heading southwest (mostly west) from Virginia, we stopped in several Tennessee cities in a row. We had never been to any of them, and it was fun discovering their charms. Sorry the video is so long! There was so much to see and do that even after cutting the video down to less than half it’s original length, it’s still over 9 minutes long. You’ve been warned!
Knoxville, – We started our day with a trip to the top of the Sunsphere – it was built for the 1982 World’s Fair – it’s 26 stories tall and the gold-colored, glass paneled dome is 75 feet in diameter and provides great views of the city. Fun fact – the Sunsphere was featured on The Simpson’s as the Wigsphere. From there, we walked over to Market Square where a young man was practicing his skills on a public piano. Afterwards, we took an outside table at Tupelo Honey Cafe and enjoyed an afternoon snack of the area’s popular banana pudding. It’s everywhere. If you like bananas and pudding, it’s tasty.
Bean Pot Campground – stayed just one night, but couldn’t pass this place up when we saw the name. Of course, it had nothing to do with Boston, but somehow we felt a little sense of “home” here.
Nashville – We chose a campground without much personality, but it was super close to the city. That’s generally the trade off when visiting cities. Otherwise, we prefer State Park campgrounds. Rather than drive Wandah into Nashville, we took an Uber to the city, and walked all over the city. We started at the Parthenon (a replica of the actual Parthenon in Athens Greece built originally in 1897 for a world’s fair). It also houses an enormous statue of goddess Athena completely covered in gold leaf. Other points of interest we visited include: Centennial Park, Vanderbilt University Campus, AMAZING chicken at McDougal’s, Music Row, Country Music Hall of Fame, Woolworth’s on 5th (made famous in the civil rights struggles) the State Capital and the Tennessee State Museum. This last stop was an unexpected gem; so interesting with great exhibits on southern culture, food, art and history. And it’s free! We loved it.
On our last day in Nashville it was raining – AGAIN! We had a lot of rain in October. So, we checked out the Gaylord Opryland hotel and convention center. It has a beautiful indoor conservatory space with over 50,000 plants, fountains, and several waterfalls. A river runs through it, complete with a boat ride. There are also retail shops and many restaurants.
Memphis – When we arrived in Memphis we discovered a large art and music festival along the riverfront. The next day we started with a walk to Arkansas! There’s a nice footbridge across the river. Good exercise, nice views, and our first and only (so far) visit to AK. Later that day we took a 3 hour food tour in the downtown area. We tried some local dishes and learned a bit of Memphis history, too. Later we returned to Beale street for a drink. They close off the street to cars, and people walk up and down with their “to go” drinks. Music was coming from everywhere, street performers were doing handsprings down the middle of the street, quite a scene. We also had amazing Bar B Que ribs at Central BBQ. OMG Amazing!
After BBQ we noticed the Lorraine Motel right next door. As you may know this was the site of MLK’s assassination. We’ve seen it so many times in film and TV, and the exterior facade has been preserved just as it was on that fateful day in the 60’s.
We almost skipped Graceland. Lori wasn’t sure she wanted to risk ruining her childhood memories of The King. She fondly remembers watching Elvis movies and listening to his music with her cousins back in the day, and after his death, she often imagined visiting Graceland. Mark convinced her to knock it off her bucket list, and she was not disappointed. These pictures show some interior rooms, but what Lori enjoyed the most couldn’t be captured on film. Throughout the house, were images of Elvis as a regular guy, enjoying his family. In the lower level, they show his old home movies with Priscilla and Lisa Marie swimming in the pool, celebrating birthdays, and riding horses on the property. Happy to say, the memories are fully preserved.
On our last day in Memphis we took another traveler’s advice to see – believe it or not – the huge Bass Pro pyramid. Inside are wilderness exhibits, a koi pond, an alligator pond, and much more – but the main attraction is a free standing glass elevator to the restaurant and viewing platform at the top. Would have been a great view if not for the dense fog that rolled in during lunch before we got a chance to take any pictures!
Birmingham and Montgomery
Birmingham – visited the Art Museum. Ironically Mark finally had some “Nashville Hot Chicken” which is all the rage in TN. It was fantastic, and they had deviled eggs as a side! These folks really know chicken. We also spent an afternoon at the Birmingham Zoo. Quite a nice way to spend a sunny afternoon. Sure beats working. :)
Montgomery – was on our “must” list, in order to see the relatively new National Memorial for Peace and Justice. Shocking and moving to see this huge and somber memorial to victims of lynching by whites bent on maintaining their dominance over formerly enslaved people. Another excellent resource to understand racist oppression of American blacks is Montgomery’s Legacy Museum. Very much worthwhile.
Ok, we’re out of steam. We hope to blog in “smaller bites” from here on out. We’ll see!
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