Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Touring Nashville Before Heading Home

Belle Mead Plantation

No biking planned today, just the long drive towards home. Before leaving Tennessee, we decided to tour a few sites around the Nashville area. Our first stop was at the Belle Meade Plantation. We arrived before the visitor’s center opened to take pictures of the property.

Hermitage House

Our next destination was The Hermitage—Home and plantation of President Andrew Jackson. We spent 3 hours touring this unbelievable property. The fall colors were a beautiful backdrop for photos of the property.

Andrew Jackson was the ideal embodiment of the unruly, contentious era that followed the young nation’s birth. On his journey from a Revolutionary battlefield at age 13 to two terms in the White House, his unconventional, often controversial principles and vision shook things up politically, culturally and on the field of battle. He played a pivotal role in America’s westward expansion, yet his legacy is also marked by slavery and Indian removal issues that still echo today.

Andrew and Rachel’s tomb is located in the gardens near the Hermitage mansion. Members of Jackson’s family and friends rest nearby.

We had lunch in the Museum Café and then slipped back into our van for the 12-hour trip home to Minnesota. It was 12:30 a.m. when we finally drove down our driveway. Our expectations of this trip were fully exceeded. The memories, friendships and times of laughter will continue to be with us as we now enter the non-biking season in the months to come. We bid farewell to the South and hope to return again someday soon.

The pictures on the map above indicate states we have currently biked in. The midwest states are quickly filling in but we will need to work on going farther east and west in the years to come. The Southern Tandem Rally will be held in North Carolina next year with the Northwest Rally advertised for Wasington State. We hope to bike in each state before retiring our wheels so we must keep on biking!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Natchez Trace-STR Post Ride Day #2

Natchez Trace Parkway (Mile post 444 to 430 and back): 29.57 miles
Comments: Ride Time was 2 hours 29 minutes, average speed: 11.8

Today we drove to the Northern Terminus of the Trace and parked at the Loveless Café where we planned to have lunch after our ride. I would recommend today’s ride to anyone who owns a bike—it was just fabulous! The fall colors were everywhere we looked and the road was smooth as glass. Traffic is minimal on the Trace and held to a speed of 40 mph along this stretch of the Parkway.

Our little group headed south towards mile post 430 with plans to go into the historic district of Leipers Fork. Once at the Fork, we realized the town closed down on Monday and Tuesday so we choose to rest at the market and then turn back towards our start where lunch was awaiting at the Loveless Café.

We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at the famed Loveless Café—a Nashville tradition since 1951. The Café started serving its famous fried chicken and biscuits in 1951 when Lon and Annie Loveless served it right out their front door to travelers on Highway 100.

An Evening in Franklin, Tennessee
We decided to drive into the historic town of Franklin for our evening meal. We noticed an Irish Pub listed in the Franklin ads and wanted to walk in the footsteps of the Civil War soldiers as they fought the battle of Franklin in this Tennessee town.

The historic Lotz House was at the epicenter of the Battle of Franklin, a pivotal battle in the Civil War on November 30, 1864—the five bloodiest hours of the American Civil War.

The Carter House, built in 1830, was caught in the midst of one of the bloodiest conflicts of the Civil War. The home was used as a command post for Union General Jacob D. Cox during the Battle of Franklin. The Carter family sought refuge in the cellar as horrific fighting raged all around the house. Franklin was a turning point in the Tennessee Campaign of 1864 and helped spell the end for the Confederacy. Casualties were extremely heavy—nearly 7,500 Southern troops and approximately 2,500 Federal troops were killed, wounded or captured.

We completed our visit of Franklin with dinner at McCreary’s Irish Pub and Eatery. The guys ordered beer which came with a shamrock indentation in the foam. I was not able to order my usual evening drink as the pub only served beer and wine—I debated the right this bar had to be called a “traditional Irish Pub”. We each split a delicious shepherd’s pie and then drove back to the hotel. I was still looking for a nightcap so Bill and Marsha joined Dennis and I at Jonathans before retiring for the evening. We had a wonderful conversation and enjoyed getting to know Bill and Marsha better. We said our good-byes in the hotel lobby closing this chapter of our Post tour ride south of Nashville, TN.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Natchez Trace-STR Post Ride Day #1

With the tandem rally now behind us, we venture slightly north with our post rally couples, Beth & Pat Peterson and Bill & Marsha Peters. We decide as a group to find a Subway to buy sandwiches to enjoy a picnic lunch when we gather again at the Meriwether Lewis site on the Trace. Dennis and I navigate off the parkway to experience a 2.5-mile portion of the Old Trace near mile post 376. This venture took us a step back in time to when pioneers travelled this footpath on their return visit from Natchez, Mississippi where they might have traded some goods before returning home on foot using the Trace.

The Trace is one of the most historic routes in America travelling back as far as the early 1600s. The Trace saw its heyday during a 40-year period that began with the arrival of boatmen in the late 1700s. These men built flatboats and barges, loaded them with goods and floated them down the Mississippi River. Upon arriving at Natchez, Mississippi, they broke up the barges and sold their goods—tobacco, iron, rope, four—as well as lumber from the flatboats as the boats were of no use to them on their return journey up river. The only way to return home was by foot on the Trace. The early days of the Natchez Trace were extremely difficult and dangerous. The forests were breeding grounds for thieves and unwelcoming Indians and travelers were on constant alert for poisonous snakes, floods, lightning storms and killer tornadoes.
Source: Traveling the Natchez Trace by Lori Finley)

Growing numbers of travelers tramped the crude trail into a clearly marked path. By 1810 many years of improvements had made the trace an important wilderness road, the most heavily traveled in the Old Southwest. As the road was being improved, other comforts were coming to the trace. Many inns, locally called stands, were built. By 1820 over 20 stands were in operation, but most provided only basic food and shelter. Even with these developments the trace was not free of discomforts. A new era in transportation dawned when the steamer New Orleans arrived in Natchez in January 1812. Travelers preferred steamboat travel to the slow pace of going overland. Before long the bustling Trace had become a peaceful forest lane.
(Source: Natchez Trace Parkway National Park Service)

Meriwether Lewis Site—Trace Mile Post 385.9
We spend some time enjoying the history of this site before we begin biking north towards Jackson Falls. It’s here where we found the Meriwether Lewis monument and the site where Lewis died under mysterious circumstances—Murder? Included at this site was a Pioneer Cemetery memorializing travelers on the Trace that lost their lives.
Meriwether Lewis 1774-1809
Beneath this monument erected under Legislative Act by the State of Tennessee, A.D. 1848 reposes the dust of Meriwether Lewis. A Captain in the United States Army, Private Secretary to President Jefferson, Senior Commander of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and Governor of the Territory of Louisiana. The report of the Committee appointed to carry out the provisions of the Monument Act, contains these significant statements: “Great care was taken to identify the grave. George Nixon, Esq, and old surveyor, had become very early acquainted with the locality. He pointed out the place; but to make assurance doubly sure the grave was reopened and the upper portion of the skeleton examined and such evidence found as to leave no doubt of the place of interment.”

In the Grinder House, the ruins of which are still discernible, 230 yards south of this spot, his life of romantic endeavor and lasting achievement came tragically and mysteriously to its close on the night of October 11, 1809.
Natchez Trace Parkway (Mile post 386 to 405 and back): 39.60 miles
Comments: Ride Time was 2 hours 56 minutes, average speed: 13.4
We pedal away from the Meriwether Lewis site around 2:00 p.m. heading north towards Jackson Falls. The Parkway is quite hilly at this end but the beauty of the Trace helped to take our minds off the climbs.

This ride gives us another new biking state to add to our list—Tennessee and also a new descent speed: we reached 42.5 mph before Dennis applied the brakes.

We make it to Jackson Falls, named for President Andrew Jackson, and take a short rest. We reverse our journey from here and make it back to our vehicles before the sun begins to set. We pack our bikes back in our vehicles and caravan towards Franklin, TN for our overnight stay at the Country Inn & Suites. It’s getting darker now and we notice that Bill seems to be having some headlight problems so we take it slow and keep him sandwiched between our van group. As we near Franklin, Bill’s lights snap on and all is well. We later find out the auto light switch was in the off position. We all had a good laugh at Bill’s expense adding to our funny moments we had to share—earning Bill the good sport title!