Boot Stompin Times

Trip Start Apr 20, 2012
Trip End Sep 01, 2012

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Where I stayed
Anderson Road Campground
What I did
Elliston Soda Fountain

Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Waking up, we felt quite relaxed as we did not need to make it back to the visitor centre until 8:45 for our tour and it was only 1 mile away. So, we relaxed and took our time over the morning rituals and before we knew it, it was a bit of a scramble to get there. Just as we were parking the car we heard the call over the loudspeaker: "Historic Tour, Historic Tour, last call for the Historic Tour, you should now be at Shelter A to meet your Tour Guide!" Needless to say, we made it there in time and sat down just in time to catch the briefing. Then we were on our way to one of the many entrances to Mammoth Cave. Apparently this particular tour catered for up to 125 people, so we felt quite lucky to be in a group of only about 15. 
As well, once we were able to decipher the heavy southern accent of our tour guide, he was quite eloquent, knowledgable and passionate about his topic. As it turned out, he had been leading tour groups for most of his life and he was a Grandpa! He was a 5th generation Kentuckian whose family had grown up on the hill overlooking the National Park. In fact, his family had been forced by the US Government to sell their land when the area had been designated as a National Park. Ranger Jerry was his name, and he was an amazing source of information about the cave itself, the slaves who had been originally tasked with exploring it and later leading groups of aristocratic white people through the cave. Throughout the tour we were shown places where the slaves had signed their names, the pits where the slaves and others had washed the dirt within the cave in order to extract the chemicals to make gunpowder during the War of 1812 against the British and etc…. One of my favorite anecdotes was of the Preacher (can't remember his name) who used to stand up on one of the rock ledges and preach and preach and preach and preach and……he had all of the lanterns around him and this situation truly exemplified the concept of a "captive audience", as he had all of the lanterns and there was no way out through the pitch black until he finished preaching!!!! At the end of the tour, Ranger Jerry finally revealed to us that he was a direct descendant of one of the original slaves tasked with exploring Mammoth Cave. What a privilege to have been given a tour by this man. In fact, words do not do it justice…I have to add that Eli's favorite part was the narrow passage that we had to go through that was called "Fat man's misery and Tall Man's agony". He wondered how some of his taller relatives would have fared in the cave.
After Mammoth Cave, we mailed some postcards and headed out to Nashville, Tennessee; the home of Country Music. On the drive there we read in our Lonely Planet USA book about a Soda Fountain (think little diner) that had the claim to fame of the oldest restaurant in Nashville to continuously serve the public. We just had to go there! We went in and were greeted with "Y'all sit wherever you like". We chose a little booth with the miniature jukebox hanging on the wall and when the waitress came over, we were all called 'honey' and 'sweetie'.Lily and Jess shared a chocolate/banana milkshake, Tim had a vanilla milkshake and Eli a coke! These were no ordinary milkshakes, they filled about three glasses per milkshake and were served in the large metal vessels in which they had been mixed. Eli and Lily got hot dogs with french fries and onion rings, Jess a chicken sandwich with sweet potato fries, and Tim a 'meat and two' which is a meat and two sides. This consisted of chicken and dumplings and sides of macaroni and cheese (yes in the south this constitutes a vegetable) and mashed potatoes. When Tim asked for mashed potatoes he was asked whether or not he wanted brown gravy with that?!?!? Jess wondered what other colours the gravy came in. We had a fabulous meal and none of us could finish our plates of food. Tim ordered the most (surprised?) and therefore had the most left on the plate. When the waitress came to collect the plates, she looked at Tim and with a quizzical expression said " DId you not like it hon?" Tim was embarrassed and said he was not man enough to handle all that food!
After rolling (literally) out of the soda fountain, Tim and Lily dropped Eli and Jess at the shopping mall and headed to the Country Music Hall of Fame. We had a grand time and loved perusing all of the exhibits, guitars and colorful outfits different artists had worn on stage. Lily was so excited when we got there that she was literally buzzing as we walked in. Our favorite exhibits had to do with Dolly Parton for Lily and Johnny Cash for Tim. After a whirlwind tour and a new t-shirt for Lily we picked up Jess and Eli and headed to Anderson Road camping ground for a relaxing dinner and sleep. All went well there, Lily and Eli met some girls who came to play with them when they saw our kids scooter past. As it turns out they were from Alabama and were: "waiting to go to court for Daddy to get his license back!" It was a relatively peaceful night except for when Tim and Jess woke up to the strong odor of skunk around the tent in the middle of the night! That and it was Tim's turn to find a tick attached to him which was successfully removed. LIly has had two on her head, Tim has had one on (&%$&$#) and Jess and Eli are still tick free.
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