Saturday, April 3, 2010

Kickin' It Back Home- Part 4 of 4

For the drive home from Nashville, we had no concrete plans. It was Saturday and we had a list of penny machines to locate. Only problem was, they all went off in different directions. So we plotted a course that would take us south. Our first stop was up the road in Franklin, where we were looking for the Carter House. That's really all it said on our penny sheet, so smarty pants me assumed it was some family home of the famous musical Carter family, since I had just seen their photos and guitars at the Country Music Hall of Fame.



Turns out it's a Civil Way historical site and museum, but there was our penny! We were greeted by resident kitty Mrs. Grant, who is quite the senior citizen well into her teens. Apparently she showed up one day eons ago, with one little male kitten in tow, and never left. She is so old, she has already outlived her "son". We enjoyed meeting her, and she was super friendly and sweet. We toured the small museum, and the grounds where the Battle of Franklin took place.



On a day in November of 1864, on this very small farm, almost 61,000 soldiers met and over a five hour period, fought. There were almost 10,000 casualties- most wounded, many dead. So hard to believe! We see the news every evening about what's going on in other countries, and we forget how bloody our own backyards were 150 years ago. Our enemies were our fellow countrymen!





After Franklin, we headed to Lynchburg, where there were three penny machines in the downtown square. A cute little town, bustling with a lot of tourists on this gorgeous sunny afternoon. We did a bit of shopping and walked around for awhile, stopping in this particular store (The Barrel Shop- guess what they sold there!) to see all the really cool stuff that James went crazy for- already decorating in his head the as yet unrealized rec room in our basement.



Yes, I too prefer Coke...





And of course, what is a visit to Lynchburg without a trip to the Jack Daniel Distillery? They give free tours of the place, but no free samples! In fact, Lynchburg is in a dry county! It was only recently that the distillery was finally even allowed to sell their own product there at the gift shop. We signed up for the tour and relaxed on the front porch, waiting for our tour group to be called.









Up on the hill (below) you can see one of the barrel houses, where they age the whiskey. The length depends on what label it is, but it's about 4-7 years. Our guide explained how cheap it actually is to make whiskey- corn and water- but it's so expensive because of extreme government taxes. They handcraft their own barrels, and only use them once. They sell many of the empties to other whiskey distilleries in the UK, and of course others go to The Barrel Shop. I think every two feet in town we saw either a garbage can, bench, or flower pot made from an old JD barrel!

We learned how each brand is "created". James prefers Gentleman Jack (the good stuff), but while we were there he bought a bottle of their Single Barrel. Apparently they make the other whiskey with a little bit from several barrels, blending the flavors. But the Single Barrel is just that, whiskey completely from one barrel. Each time you buy a bottle, the taste can be completely different. You can, of course, purchase your very own full barrel- complete with a private tasting and lots of fanfare- all for the price of $9,000 to $12,000. Of course, you do get to keep the barrel- and 240 bottles of whiskey that come out of it!








Above is the small river that runs throughout the property. There is a cave with spring water, and once Mr. Jack discovered it, he bought the land and put the distillery there. To this day, this is the water they use to make the whiskey. It flows at 800 gallons per minute- quite impressive! We were able to go into the distillery itself- no photos allowed because, our guide told us, any electronics could set off a spark and with all the fumes, well.... I think they just don't want anyone to steal their secrets!! The process was actually quite fascinating to see in these giant stills. I never would have guessed that the whiskey is filtered through charcoal made from sugar maple (filtered twice for the finer Gentleman Jack label).



Our tour guide Jon (below, in front of our group) was a true delight and boy was he ever from Tennessee!! But he gave us the history, told stories, and was a pleasure to listen to (thick drawl included). He even opened up the vats to allow us to get a big whiff! Yuck. James, of course, could have stayed there all day! But it was late and we had to head on home.





On the way home, it was growing dark and we were still north of Atlanta. We called our friend David who lives in Marietta, and asked him if he wanted to meet us at Big Pie for dinner. I've blogged about this place already, so you know how popular it is. Do not go there expecting a quick pizza dinner. It is OVER an hour wait on a whole pizza, just slightly less for pizza by the slice. So we all waited 1 1/2 hours for our pizza, which we devoured in about 15-20 minutes. It was a late late night when we finally got home, and our kitties had not seen us for 8 days. But they were up and greeted us at the front door. Needless to say, we left everything out in the truck, fell into bed, and slept until noon on Sunday!


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