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We noticed the signs for the Andrew Jackson home on our way to and from our niece’s wedding. We did not have the time on that trip to explore, so I planned this trip as a result. One of the many joys of retirement is being able to pick up and visit fun places.
I enjoy reading history. A long time ago I read the Andrew Jackson biography. Earlier this year, on our way through Nashville, I noticed the Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s home. Being retired, I planned a trip to visit the home for the seventh president of the United States. As a bonus, I listened to the audio book recording of Andrew Jackson and The Miracle of New Orleans, read by the author. This is a really good book and one to get you into the mood when visiting the house. Several of the museum artifacts are about topics covered in this book. One of the fun facts that I learned on the tour was that the Hermitage is the second oldest presidential museum outside of Mt. Vernon, in part because the Jackson’s adopted son went bankrupt about 11 years after Andrew Jackson’s death.
I took the Mansion tour; it was really well done. No pictures in the house were allowed, but you can see a glimpse of the inside on the YouTube video on the Hermitage website. The place was interesting. I think a tour on a day other than a Saturday would be at a more leisurely pace. It was good to see the guides in costume. They were all knowledgeable and well spoken.
Nearby the Hermitage is Stones River, the Civil War battlefield site at Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I did a quick visit here, although spending more time is on the agenda for a future visit. The battle at Stones River follows the battle in Kentucky at Perryville, a site that I visited in 2019 with my friends. As anticipated, the battlefield was too much to see or take in on one afternoon.
I purchased my ticket on-line prior to my visit. This was good as several of the tours were sold out when I arrived. Also, in purchasing the ticket I realized the Hermitage is on Central Time and I am on Eastern Time.
I had the routes for my travel all mapped out and did not anticipate any possibility of rain. I should have thought about the possibility of rain. It did start to rain in Murfreesboro, but not too much. I think a better plan in the future is to check the weather forecast prior to booking or planning an outdoor event that is only about 4 hours away. No harm, as I can be flexible in my plans and I do not melt in the rain.
I did not take the direct route back home. I was able to plan the round trip back home through Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.
On my drive, I found a fun place to visit in the future, on my way to locate a disc golf course in Jackson, Tennessee. A surprisingly large number of people (to me, who had not heard about this spot) were gathered at the Casey Jones Museum. I think I will need to stop in the future and tour the museum, house and the rail cars.
I got out of the car to stretch my legs and play at least 9 holes of disc golf in Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri and Indiana.
I have seen a lot of corn from the highway over years. Until this trip, I had not seen cotton on the side of the road ready for the harvest or just harvested. The fields were pretty, all white and wavy. The big machinery ready to pick the cotton was in several fields along the highway; in some, I saw the tractors in action. I took a picture of a cotton field near Memphis, and it looks like it was doing just fine and ready for the harvesting machines.
One of the tidbits I picked up from the Hermitage tour was that Andrew Jackson tried to grow cotton. Apparently, Nashville is at the far northern edge of the country that can support growing cotton. He did not do well growing cotton, although some small area of cotton growing is on display at the Hermitage.
All along my route I saw pretty colors. October is a fun time of year to drive. The fall colors were nice to see, although some trees had already lost their leaves and others had yet to turn colors.
On my travels, I like to visit family and friends. On this road trip, I was able to visit with my mom and check out her new apartment. I also saw my younger sister, my in-laws and some friends along the way.
No bike rides on this trip as it was short. The National Park Service does encourage bike riders visiting the National Military Parks and Battlefields. I will have to think about that for my next visit.
We visited General Butler State Resort Park at the end of 2016. The lodge was beautifully decorated for the season and we took a few days to catch our breath from the year about to end and set our sights on what 2017 might bring. At the time we did not know that I would be retiring in 2017. Our two youngest kids had already moved out of the house and we needed to decide what we were doing with our house that was now bigger than we needed for just the two of us. At the end of hiking all of the park trails and enjoying the grounds we decided to sell our house and “right size” into a new place to live.
All of the decisions we made at the end of 2016 set us up for success in 2017, the year I retired, and we moved into our new home. The kids have come to visit and we have found places for them to stay in the new house. It was the correct call for us; we have been blessed with the decision to right size our living arrangements.
We recently decided to go back to General Butler State Resort Park and see what it is like in the summer. It was nice to see the lodge all decked out for the Fourth of July celebrations. We stayed in the lodge and set about hiking the trails.
One of the park amenities is a small lake. We spent an afternoon having a picnic lunch near the lake, playing some miniature golf, hiking around the lake and then taking a boat ride on the lake—which was for us like riding a bike as it was a paddle boat.
We noticed that a lot of geese and ducks also enjoy being around the lake. The boat attendant told us no swimming is allowed in the lake because the lake is “fowl.” Which is not as good of a joke in print. We likely saw over 40 ducks and geese near the shore during our short hike from the picnic area to the boat dock.
My only disappointment with the park is that the disc golf course was not yet completed. It looks like it must be close, and it looks like a good course is planned. I will have to come back after the course opens and give a report.
The General is William O. Butler, who was a major General in the US-Mexico war. He was also a vice presidential candidate (his ticket lost in 1848). He made war and politics a study after serving as an aide to General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans.
The lodge was not open for dining during the week days (when we enjoy traveling). They did provide a bag breakfast which was nice, and we discovered that the local town had plenty of tasty options. We also swam in the municipal pool as the resort’s pool was being repaired. That was a fun adventure with a few diving boards and it was a short 3-minute drive from the lodge. The swim felt good after a hot day of hiking.
We enjoyed touring the General’s house which was closed the last time we visited. It is opened on the weekends and as we were leaving Friday, we were able to tour the house prior to our departure.
The hour plus tour was informative and entertaining and worthwhile to take. No pictures allowed during the tour. It does look really good inside. If you go, you should plan to take the house tour. We also stopped by the graveyard near the house while waiting for the tour. We found that looking at the family tree, as it were, was a good introduction to the family members mentioned on the tour.
The hiking is not too strenuous; we enjoyed re-discovering some of the hikes we had been on in 2016. We did a twilight hike after dinner and enjoyed the cooler temperature as well as seeing many lightning bugs. All of the trails were well marked and easy to follow.
No biking on this trip. Although a paddle boat is a lot like riding a bike, it is not the same.
I was able to convince a few friends into visiting the well preserved Civil War battlefield in Perryville, Kentucky. This is a Kentucky state historical site. The battle was a dramatic and short (less than 6 hours) fight for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. As a border state between the North and South, Kentucky declared neutrality. So of course both the North and South invaded with the desire to use Kentucky as a base to defeat the other side.
The North and South forces met in Perryville with the resulting battle costly for both sides. The information provided by the state park was that more soldiers died in the short hours of this battle than at Gettysburg. They are speaking of the death rate per hour of battle and not of the overall number who died in the battle.
The Perryville site does a good job of presenting how the Confederate Army pushed the Union Army and, if they had stayed, would have been able to claim a victory. At the end of the day, the Confederates left the field and moved out of the state to Tennessee. So, this was a technical Union victory. When you are on site and see the movement of troops, you can better understand the results.
Before we made it to Perryville, the group of guys I was traveling with decided we could go to Buffalo Trace Distillery. This is a 200 year old continually operating distillery; of course continually operating for 200 years takes some talent as most distilleries were shut down for prohibition. Buffalo Trace was open as it was able to supply medicinal bourbon during prohibition. This is a stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and on the way to the battlefield (kind of).
We arrived early in the morning and were able to take one of the free tours. You need to plan a few months in advance for the scheduled longer tours and, being guys, we planned a few days in advance to go and did not have the longer tour. The free tour was a very good tour. The tour had us walking the beautiful grounds. We were able to see a short film, ask questions and go into a rick house complete with a secret entrance. We were able to see the bottle filling and labeling as well. At the end of the free tour, we were able to taste test the product. As a result, or it could have been planned, our group purchased a few bottles of Buffalo Trace products at the gift shop.State Capital. This is a wonderful building with interesting statues in the rotunda of both Abraham Lincoln (dominating the center) and Jefferson Davis (much smaller and off to one side). Both were born in Kentucky, about 100 miles away from each other. If you know history, we were heading to a Civil War battlefield, and these two were in charge during the battle.
Everything is better with bourbon here in Kentucky. We visited the Kentucky Knows Coffee Shop in Frankfort. We had a good time talking with Tony, the owner of the store. And yes, we also purchased coffee beans.
You can read about history and then walk the fields to see the hills and sweeping fields of fire. Even reading the markers and then walking the grounds sharpened how we took in the scope of that effort by both sides. I am a proponent of being on site. Thank you for the preservation of this historical battlefield.
Travel with friends and explore what they want to explore. One in our group had heard of the bourbon coffee shop. It was a fun place to explore.
Support the local businesses, helping them and yourself. I am so happy we made a stop at the distillery and visited the capital building. We are not alone and need to continue to explore.
No biking was done on this trip.