Deep South Tour:  Lynchburg & Nashville
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June 12th

Sipsey Wilderness,
Jack Daniel's Distillery
& Tennessee Capitol
We woke up and hiked a bit in the Sipsey Wilderness area in the William B Bankhead National Forest. A bit buggy, but generally quite nice:
Hiking In Alabama

Next stop: Nashville. Or... maybe... Lynchburg, Tennessee? Home of the Jack Daniel's distillery? You say it's right off the Interstate? OK, why not! After a silly video the tour starts at the rickyard where they make the charcoal through which Jack Daniel's is dripped for "mellowing". Apparently burning wood for charcoal is a very touchy process. Our guide claimed that scientists have said it should be impossible to get consistently good charcoal in the uncontrolled outdoors conditions of the rickyard. We don't know if we buy that story. We think our guide was alcohol-free but tipsy on marketing hoo-ha. Here's the official tour photo from the Web site. (Can you find the Princess in this picture?)
Jack's Rickyard

There she is!
But Where's Waldo?

Next we dropped by the cave where they get the pure (iron-free!) spring water for Jack Daniel's. Apparently iron in the water will ruin your whiskey. Then we moved on to the distillery itself:

Past some suspicious-looking machinery:

Doesn't he look suspicious?

And then our guide cranked open the top of a twenty-foot-high tank to reveal some mash fermenting away. He invited us to smell. Matt leaned over near the corner and took a whiff. It was OK. Then our guide said to try a whiff from right in the center. Whoops! Hot Alcohol Now! Ouch.
Damn That Smarts!

Hey! This place has hot-and-cold running yeast!:
Add A Little Water And You Get Zima

We finished up in the main building where they offered us drinks: coffee and lemonade. Lynchburg remains a dry county to this day. (Isn't this a nutty country?) According to our guide Jack Daniel's labored hard to win an exemption, and they got one, but somehow it failed to permit them to give out free drinks like every other brewery or distillery tour. Somehow they only got the exemption to sell bottles of their expensive, special-edition bourbons. Hmmm... try harder next time, Jack!
You Want Some Jack What?

After that refreshing lemonade we made quick time to Nashville, where we snapped a picture of the state capitol. That night we were treated to fine southern hospitality as the guests of Anne Fentriss, one of Chris's friends. We even found time to watch the Lakers win the NBA Finals!
Tennessee Capitol

June 13th

The Hermitage,
Country Hall of Fame
& Bluebird Cafe
First we headed out of town to visit Andrew Jackson's home, The Hermitage:
The Hermitage

We spent the rest of the day in Nashville at the Country Music Hall of Fame. It has great exhibits. There was a cool event where we caught one of Garth Brooks songwriters singing a live version of one of his songs for a radio broadcast. And they had an excellent collection of country kitsch. The disappointing part was the gift shop. We were thinking we'd find cheesy cowboy shirts and other treasures. Wrong! This gift shop was run by people without even a minimal sense of irony. All it sold were plain t-shirts carrying the Hall of Fame logo. Yawn.

While hanging out in downtown we spotted this building. Doesn't that look like Optimus Prime?
Yeah, We Know... The Transformers Reference Is A Wee Bit Geeky

That night Anne Fentriss demonstrated why some day we'll be seeing her in the Country Music Hall of Fame. She treated us to a sneak preview of her own country song, "Firecracker." It was great! We expect to see it at the top of the charts very soon. As the final event of our road trip Anne took us to Nashville's well-known Bluebird Cafe, where we heard four country song writers sing their own material in a very intimate venue. The evening was a wonderful finale for our trip.

And After That?
The next morning our parents flew into town, and the four of us downed tasty flapjacks at Nashville's famous Pancake Pantry. Then Chris flew off to join Drew at Boys' State. And Matt and the 'rents went to our uncle's wedding in Knoxville. On their drive home from Knoxville they stopped to put the finishing touch on the barbecue tour with a visit to Corky's in Memphis. That may well be the best barbecue in the world. Too bad Chris missed out, but hey--he didn't have to make the 1500 mile drive home.

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