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03 July 2013

The Great Trek Westward

Each year I'm lucky enough to act as a chaperone for one of the school-sponsored history trips. I've been on quite a few over the past four years ... two revolutionary-era focused trips, one civil-war focused, and even a quick jaunt to to Charleston/Savannah/Atlanta. Each of the trips generally lasts for four days and three nights. But each year there is the BIG trip. And, when I say BIG, I mean, 9 days with two van-fulls of teenagers. This year I was lucky to be asked to chaperone, and, long before we had a wedding date set, I said "yes." The trip itinerary included all places that I had never been before, so, even though it was only three weeks before the wedding, I followed through with my commitment  Plus, I'll get paid and that will make for some decent honeymoon cash when we get to California. Rather than run down the trip day-by-day, I'l provide a photographic journal. 

Our first stop (other than gas and pee/stretch our legs breaks) was at the Forbidden Caverns just outside of Chattanooga, TN.

There's a very cool Trail of Tears memorial in Chattanooga ... which the kids played in. As did every one else that was there. It definitely felt good to kick off our shoes and get our feet wet .. literally.

The not-so-motley crew.

Near the memorial there was a great hill that was clearly set up for cardboard-box sledding. Which our teenagers eagerly joined.

After Chattanooga, we stopped in Georgia to see the Chickamauga (spelling?) battleground and then drove to Birmingham, Alabama to see the Civil Rights Institute. After a sweltering Sunday in the deep south, we headed to Memphis, stopping along the way to see Tupelo and Elvis' birthplace. Less than 12 hours later, we saw Graceland, and those two homes were certainly a juxtaposition. (We also stayed in the Heartbreak Hotel which was quite humorous.)

Elvis' living room. 
Lots of monkeys in Graceland. It's a little weird. 
Where the Presley's enjoyed dinner. 
Elvis had a lot of cars. 
Including a pink caddy. 
While in Memphis, we toured Sun Studios (SOOOO cool) as well as the Rock and Soul museum. I can't wait to get back there in another week to visit LL (and present at a conference, of course).

After Graceland, we headed to St. Louis.

I love the little dragonfly that photobombed me!
The city is pretty small from so high up. 
Seeing our own shadow. A little unsettling. 

After St. Louis, we headed to my favorite stop: Hannibal, Missouri. The birthplace of Mark Twain.

Coolest thing ever. For an Americanist-nerd like me. 
Mr. Twain, himself. Or, rather, a statue of him.
Finally got to dip my feet in the Mississippi. I was careful to avoid swift currents and catfish bites. 
 A few hours of geeking out in a literary mecca, we headed to Springfield, Illinois, Lincoln's home.

Our greatest president's house as it was when he was assassinated. 
His writing desk. Imagine all the amazing ideas that were recorded here. 
His shaving mirror. Look how high it was!
Lincoln's tomb. 
 Heading east out of Springfield, we drove to Indianapolis. We made two stops there. First was to this really cool art museum (the name escapes me) and they had over 200 historically-significant guitars on display.
Buddy Holly's guitar and case!
Johnny Cash and Hank Williams Sr. How cool is that?
Even Gene Autry's!
 After the very cool museum, we visited President Benjamin Harrison's home (of which I have no photos. Sadly. It was a pretty cool house.)

Nashville was the next stop on our midwestern tour. We visited this really cool but odd scale replica of the Parthenon. It was cool. But odd.

And I got to see the Ryman Auditorium! 

After visiting downtown proper (which I certainly want to visit again!!), we went over to Andrew Jackson's homesite. 

Oreo Cookie Cows!!!

We finally hit our home state!! We stopped in Asheville to tour the Biltmore before making the rest of the long drive home.

The gardens are always pretty, no matter what time of year it is. 

The long stretch homeward. 

2800 miles.
48 total hours driving.
9 kids, 2 adults, 2 minivans. 
4 wicked cool music history sites. 
3 presidential sites. 
1 author history site.
Average daily temperature = 91. 

All in all, a very good time. 

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