Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Historic Madison, Alabama

When US Hwy 70 got to Nashville, we turned south.  This time, we took the interstate.  The Nashville skyline is always lovely.  I especially like this shot of the Batman Building behind the football stadium.

We did stop at the welcome center when we crossed the Alabama State line.

A bit further down I-65, we got off the interstate.  Apparently, nobody knows what happens if you turn right.  We went left, though, so the world may never know.

We finally arrived in the stately town of Madison, Alabama.  Madison seems to have a booming peripheral area.  Plenty of restaurants, shopping malls, and other activities.  Being mostly surrounded by Huntsville and in close proximity to Redstone Arsenal, the Huntsville Space and Rocket Center, and many other high-tech industrial employers, the area is relatively affluent.  The offerings in the area reflect that.  But, there's a part of Madison that is reflective of a slower pace and less glitter.  Here, they still have park benches on the sidewalks so you can visit for a while.  It was a rainy day when I went, so they weren't being used, but I could envision old folks sitting on those benches whittling or drinking tea while talking about recent events.

Across from the row of shops is the railroad tracks.  For safety, there's an ironworks fence separating the tracks from the park beside them.

The park by the tracks is full of history.  There are two memorials for veterans, sorting out the vets by the war in which they lost their lives.

There was also a replica of the first city hall, called The Roundhouse.  We tried to walk up the steps and go inside, but the door was locked.

To top it off, throughout town, the old antebellum homes have been restored.  They each have little plaques in the front yard telling the year the home was built and the original owners.

Yes, the big tourist draw for the area is the Huntsville Space and Rocket Center.  I've been there multiple times, and it is an awesome place.  But, when you go, keep some time open to go off the beaten path and visit Madison, Alabama.  You'll be glad you did.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Tennessee Back Roads

Around Thanksgiving, we took a drive around some Tennessee back roads.  Tennessee has some lovely scenery and is just chocked full of history.  We were a little late for the foliage, but with such a dry summer and fall, the colors would be kind of dull anyway.  Nonetheless, it was a beautiful drive down those little one-lane gravel or dirt roads that we always seem to end up driving when I get to navigate!

We started at Parker's Crossroads in Tennessee.  Sites of major civil war battlefields tend to be preserved for their historical value, and Parker's Crossroads is no exception.  At the visitor's center, you can get a map and audiotape tour of the battlefield and surrounding areas.  Parker's Crossroads is the site of General Nathan Bedford Forrest's successful raids on Union troops, but local lore prefers the tale of Mr. John Parker, who was in favor of the Union until this battle.  The tales say that when Union troops wanted to place cannons in his yard, he contested it out of fear for damage to his home.  When asked which was more important, his home or the winning the war, Mr. Parker responded that his home was the more important.  From that point forward, Mr. Parker became so bitter toward the north that he made sure he and his family were buried with their feet pointing north so they could kick them Yankees back where they came from!

While spending some time with one of Bruce's long-lost cousins and taking in some unsuccessful deer hunting, we explored the Huntingdon area, which is also along our path of some civil war historical sites.  No major battles happened in Huntingdon, but one of the interesting things about Huntingdon is the Huntingdon court house.  Huntingdon and Carroll County were pretty much equally divided between cotton farmers (who wanted to secede from the Union) and livestock farmers (who wanted to remain in the Union).  During a heated meeting to discuss secession, the attendees were so divided that the half that wanted to remain in the Union left by the door facing north and those who wanted to secede left by the southern door.  Without being there and having directions oriented for you, you can only tell the north from the south by looking at the markers.  I think the first picture is the southern entrance/exit.

Turning east on US Hwy 70, we traveled for a bit down the Broadway of America.  It's going to take a while, but eventually, we'll travel the whole thing, from Arizona to North Carolina.  Obviously, not all of the sites along Hwy 70 are civil war related.  We weren't sure whether the "Redneck" referred to here is the bondsman or the bailee or both.

And there were some replica pioneer homes along with plenty of antebellum-style homes.

We also found Bruce's town namesake,

And the spot where Patsy Cline fell to pieces.  (Boo, Hiss.  Yes, I did it.  I love Patsy Cline, and that's one of my favorite songs. Bruce tried to keep me from doing it, but I just couldn't resist!)

I also walked down this path in my walking boot.  Bruce had to help pull me back up, though.  It's kind of hard to walk uphill when you can't bend one ankle!

We turned off of 70 for a little bit to see the TN Freshwater Pearl Farm located on Tennessee's Kentucky Lake.  With tour prices running at $55 per person, a minimum of 15 people, and advance notice required, we didn't see much.  It is supposedly the only freshwater pearl farm in the US, though.

Back on Hwy 70, we headed to New Johnsonville, another civil war battlefield site.  Before they flooded Johnsonville, it was an important supply town because of the railroad hub.  We hiked out to see some of the old pilings where the railroad had been destroyed in General Forrest's raids.  This time, I tried to stay on level terrain.

These iron works have an active railroad running under them.  I would have loved to explore them more, but it just wouldn't be safe with this boot impeding my progress.

Continuing on down Hwy 70, we found a huge catfish.  This was on a list of roadside attractions.  What I found amusing though, wasn't the catfish, but that the Catfish Kitchen is pushing their quail dinners!  Can't beat fish and fowl!

The Harpeth River is always beautiful.  I had wanted to catch a view of the narrows, one of the spots where it pretty much turns around on itself with only a thin strip of land between the two pieces of river.  Unfortunately, the road remained in the river bed, and you have to hike to the higher ground where you can see that.  Again, the boot got in the way, and that was a climb I just couldn't make without being able to bend my ankle.  

I'll be so glad when my Achilles' tendon gets better and I can walk like normal again!  Maybe we'll try the Narrows of the Harpeth again once it's healed.