Luray Caverns in Virginia

Luray Caverns in Virginia
Luray Caverns in Virginia

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Factory at Franklin, Tennessee

Our last stop in Franklin was at The Factory.

In a former factory, The Factory is a very unique mall.  All of the vendors were unique and local.  We saw some cool photos and jewelry.  One shop sold some very unique guitars. 

We had a great lunch at Lyrics.  I had great tomato soup and a chicken salad sandwich. 

There is a large antique inside too.  I could have spent a lot of time and money here.  They had a nice, classy selection.

Check out my photos!




Monday, December 28, 2015

Columbia Tennessee

We found ANOTHER great little town in Tennessee!  Columbia has a great vibe and lots to do!

After visiting the James K. Polk Ancestral Home, we explored downtown.  There are lots of attractive old buildings, and many cool independent businesses!

We REALLY loved the Old Curiosity Bookshop!  We found some great postcards and local items here. Check out the photos I took, they have a book Christmas tree up (with a leg lamp on top!).  This place was odd and fun!

Another shop we loved was Ted's Sporting Goods.  The "Ted's" sign is upside down, which caught my attention.  We went inside and found a well stocked shop that any hunter or fisherman would love.  For 8 bucks you can get a cool t-shirt with their silk screened sign on it!  My buddies in western Kentucky would love this place.  Oh, and they have been in business for 70 years!!!

We left downtown and drove around some.  We found a GREAT coffee shop called Buckhead Coffee House.  I FORGOT to get any pictures while we were there (I know, I get pictures of everything..... but I just forgot this time).  That place was a great local coffee joint.  Lots of seating and friendly staff. 

Columbia was a bit of a side trip from Franklin for us.  I will have to get back here again.  This isn't a visit once kind of town.  The place had a casual, relaxed vibe, and I would like to get there again just to soak up some of their friendly small town warmth!







Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Ancestral Home of James K. Polk- Columbia Tennessee

James K. Polk could easily be considered one of the most underrated Presidents.  Maybe because he served so long ago, or maybe its because he was around for only one term.  His short life after leaving office (he only lived three more months) may have also contributed to his lack of credit.

There is a certain obscurity to Polk, at least as far as Presidents go.  There aren't many relics, or monuments to him still around.  AND, other than the White House, his Ancestral Home in Columbia Tennessee is the only house James K. Polk lived in that still stands.  We did visit the inferior James K. Polk Historic Site in Pineville, North Carolina early this year, but that is a replica.

THIS house/museum is PERFECT.  I will go ahead and say that this is easily one of the nicest Presidential sites we have ever visited.  The staff obviously cares about the legacy of James K. Polk and his wife Sarah.

We had an excellent tour guide named Zack.  He let us know that the Ancestral Home has an amazing collection.  He pointed out some great relics.

The home has the first known letter written by Polk!  Also, the Presidential portraits on display of James and Sarah are the ORIGINALS!  Other than Washington's (his is still in the White House), the Polk's are the only original Presidential portraits not owned by the Smithsonian!

The James K. Polk Ancestral Home also has the largest collection of White House China outside of the White House!



One item that I think I was most impressed with was a coat owned by James Polk.  It is the only known piece of James Polk worn clothing known to exist.  This may be because of the fact that he died of Cholera, and most of his clothes may have been burned after his death.

On display while we were at the Home were items from Polk's former house in Nashville, Polk Place.  I have no doubt that Nashville wishes Polk Place was still around for tourists, but it was bought and demolished in 1900 so apartments could be put in its place.  A nice fountain from the home is now displayed at the Ancestral Home.

Zack let us know that, for some time after James Polk's death, his wife Sarah would give tours of Polk Place!  She dressed in mourning clothes for the rest of her life.  James and Sarah did appear to be very much in love, and their story is a very sweet one.

I could go on about how great this home/museum is.  Being the only Polk Home left, and the fact that they have pretty much all of the key items associated with James Polk, this is the definitive James K. Polk site.






Thursday, December 24, 2015

Landmark Booksellers- Franklin, Tennessee

Landmark Booksellers is in a building in Franklin Tennessee that has been around since the early 1800s.  Like most other buildings that old that still stand in Franklin, it served as a hospital after the Battle of Franklin.

NOW, it is a great bookstore!

We stopped by... well, because we usually stop when we see a cool bookstore, and because I had heard that this was a cool place to find some interesting books.

The owners, a very sweet couple who obviously care a lot about books, were extremely friendly and helpful.

In fact, these guys were the perfect balance of being helpful, but not being pushy.  I enjoyed talking to them, but didn't feel pressured to buy anything.

I did pick up a few books though.  They were having a buy one, get one for 50% off or buy two get one free sale.  That's a pretty big deal, especially if you are thinking about bigger purchase.


They had a nice selection of local interest books, among others.  We called a friend who is a fan of Karen Kingsbury, as they had a nice selection of her books, to see if our friend needed any.  One of the owners heard our conversation, and they mentioned that one of her books, "The Bridge" was influenced by their bookstore!  We thought that was pretty cool, so we picked the book up and had the owners sign it, which it seems they have been asked to do many times before!

This is a cool, and unique bookstore- as the bookstore itself has been used as a character in a book (and so have the owners!)!








Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Cooters Place in Nashville, Tennessee

I was so excited to make it to Cooter's Place in Nashville on my recent trip!  I have been to Ben Jones' other Dukes of Hazzard shrine in Gatlinburg several times, but this was my first visit to the one in Nashville!

If you were like me and grew up in the 80's, the Dukes of Hazzard was HUGE!  I remember me and my cousin pretending like we were Bo and Luke.  I remember a time when you exited your car through an open window- you had to do it like the Duke Boys!

I still love watching the old episodes, and seeing the old memorabilia.  Luckily, Cooter's Place has a TON of relics and merchandise from the show set up in a nice museum, FREE to check out!

I don't know what impresses me most at Cooter's.  Actual props from the show, toys I had as a kid, or toys that I never knew existed.  I think on this day, I was most impressed with the counterfeit Dukes of Hazzard action figures!

You can't leave Cooters without making some purchases.  I picked up a t-shirt and some guitar pics on this trip.  There is a lot of Dukes merchandise to look through!

Also, Cooter/Ben Jones has been very vocal on his support of the Confederate Flag.  He has an entire room devoted to the flag.









Monday, December 21, 2015

Carnton Plantation- Franklin Tennessee

Our third and final house to visit, in a one day historic home marathon, was the Carnton Plantation.

Just like the other homes we visited, this one is jam packed with history.  It is also stained with figurative and literal blood.  One room is set up showing some of the surgical tools used at the time.

There is a Confederate Cemetery on the grounds, with soldiers grouped by the state they are from.  A large tree by the home still stands, and it was there on the day of the Battle.

Physically, this was the most spectacular house on our tour. 

This was, as I said before, a lot of historic home touring in one day!  And, this home was easily the most crowded home tour we toured.  We noticed some very restless kids on this one, which was understandable.  Still, it was fun seeing three homes, all connected by the Battle of Franklin, all in one day.







Sunday, December 20, 2015

Lotz House and Carter House- Franklin Tennessee

We started our day in Franklin Tennessee visiting the Lotz House.  Here, we purchased a $30 ticket that allowed us to visit this home, and two others.

Our tour guide was JT Thompson, who I would find out later has had a HUGE influence on the preservation of this house.  For now, we could tell that he had a very sincere love of this home and its history.  He told us many stories about the home, the family that once lived there, and the soldiers who were there during the Battle of Franklin.  He also playfully talked about etiquette of the time, the length of ladies dresses, and the fact that people ate a lot less in the 1860s.

I don't want to ruin it if you plan on visiting, but a couple of stories were very touching.  JT pointed out that you could see blood stains on the floor in one room.  AND, you could tell that soldiers were sitting against the wall, as the stains were shaped like backsides.

Another story involved a young girl who grew up at the home, and watched a Union soldier in need of food shoot her cow.  The young girl went on to become a legendary artist.

Our tour was incredible, as JT told us what he knew.  Our group was small, there was another pleasant family from Alabama that we kept bumping in to during the day!  They made our tour fun too!

Unfortunately, photography was not allowed inside of the homes.  There were plenty of postcards and books available though.  At the Lotz House, they have an AMAZING gift shop, and I dropped a lot of coin.  They had some nice and affordable relics too.  I also couldn't leave without picking up a book that our tour guide co-wrote!  More on that one soon!

Along with our friends from Alabama, we next went to the Carter House.  This was another historic home, with a great tour guide.  Our guide, David Van Dyke, let us know that he actually had a great-grandfather who fought at the Battle of Franklin.  Having an actual descendant there to talk about the Battle was great.

Again, I wouldn't want to spoil it for anyone going there, but, like at the Lotz House, there is a similarly sad story about a Confederate Soldier connected to this home.

The home, the buildings outside of the home, and the basement all have stories to tell concerning the Battle of Franklin.






Friday, December 18, 2015

Franklin Tennessee

I have been VERY lucky recently to have visited SEVERAL AMAZING small, historic Tennessee towns!

Franklin has been a town to get to for a long time....  On a personal note, we have almost made it there about 3 times, but had to cancel our previously scheduled trips due to a pets health, and a family members health.  Luckily, everyone stayed healthy this year and we finally made it to Franklin!

Franklin has some serious Civil War related history.  There are also several celebrities that have made this town their home- and I can see why.  There is an authentic upscale small town vibe here that is very pleasant.

Here are a few photos I took downtown.  We really loved the cool tiny shop Early's Honey Stand.  I have been on a tea and honey kick lately, and I got some great stuff from them!