Monday, June 16, 2014

50 States - Tennessee

Of the 50 states, our very first trip to Tennessee was a getaway vacation to the Pigeon Forge region of the Great Smokies. It was our last fling before the birth of our son. It would be over a decade before we made it back through again.



Long before I became a bourbon snob, I went to the Jack Daniels distillery, infamously in the dry county of Moore County, Tennessee. This was my first tour of a major distillery and it had a lot of folksy charm. You could see the wood palates being made into charcoal for the famous charcoal filtering. Said filtering being about the only substantial difference between a Tennessee whiskey and a bourbon, the former being technically a sub-class of the latter. 

 

This was in 2003 and I was accompanying my wife to a teacher conference in Nashville. Nashville itself is the country music capitol and noplace more so than along Broadway where over a dozen bars have up to four bands a night working mostly for tips. It's a music smorgasbord. Just a block off of Broadway is the historic Ryman Auditorium which looks like a church from the outside but was designed from the start as a music venue. Part of the fun of watching the TV show Nashville is spotting places in town I've seen.



Nashville also has some unique tourist attractions for specific definitions of 'unique'. The oddest is the full scale replica of the Parthenon in Greece. This building is a recreation of the ruins most people are familiar with down to the statues on the inside.

 

A few years later we passed through Tennessee again, this time stopping in Memphis which has a musical history of its own. And the most famous spot in Memphis is Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley. As perhaps the ultimate tacky tourist attraction, Graceland is so frozen in time as to be a historical document. It's tough to pick which room is the most over the top but my money goes on the media room with three TVs, one for each network.

 

And that only touches on the tip of all Tennessee has to offer. There is blues on Beale Street and the mountain getaways of Pigeon Forge. If you want good food, strong booze, or plentiful music, the state has something for everybody.

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