Day 14 - Newport, Tennessee

I'm sitting in front of my campfire at my campsite at the TMC Campground and Mini-Store. I am the only tent camper. Everyone else in in an RV. I also appear to be the only camper who arrived today and is leaving anytime in the near future. I have this vision that sometimes people get an RV, and they go on the road permanently, drifting around the country until the run out of money and come to rest at a place like this. A lot of these trailers look like they are pretty much fixed in place. The attached porches are a good indicator.

I imagine in the summer this is more of a regular campground. Or maybe it was many summers ago. There is mini-golf, a pool, a covered patio with a stage, and a playground with a sign that says "Children must be present by Adult". It's not just Japan where they mangle the language. Anyway, all of these amenities are in a state of progressing decay.

Soon, I will eat my cheddarwurst. I can't believe I've been out nearly two weeks and I haven't treated myself to cheddarwurst for dinner. Yum Yum.

Today was an easy day of riding, only 55 miles, easy rolling hills. The weather wasn't so hot, cold (50s) and humid and overcast. The sun just came out about an hour before dark. I made great time, and the 20% chance of showers fell my way.

As I left Jonesborough, I saw my first Mail Pouch sign.

MailPouchJonesborough (294K)

I think this is a good omen, even though it is somewhat of an aberration of a Mail Pouch sign. It is painted on a brick building, not a barn, and it doesn't say "Treat Yourself to the Best". This is tobacco country, I passed a couple tobacco barns with the leaves drying inside. And of course, every convenience store has a whole wall of chew for sale.

As soon as I got out on the highway, I had a tasty ham biscuit and grits for breakfast here at Gayle's. From there it was riding on the shoulder of US 11 E, a divided highway for the next 20 miles. Not great, but you learn stuff.

I learned one thing they do in Eastern Tennessee is they make Bush Hogs! I found the Bush Hog Factory!

BushHog (193K)

I realize that some people who will read this are from provincial areas and do not know much about the wider world. Places like New York City, for example. So let me explain (to you Debra) what a Bush Hog is. A Bush Hog is a mower attachment to a tractor. It attaches in back. It has a big blade about 5 feet across that spins around under a metal cover. You use it to clear fields with tall grass and small trees and bushes. Yes, we had a Bush Hog at home in Ohio when I was growing up. Yes, as a small child I did spend hours riding on the back of the Bush Hog. Yes, as a teenager, I mowed many fields with the Bush Hog. Finding the Bush Hog Factory was quite a nostalgic moment.

I also passed a field full of camels, but I messed up taking the picture and I can't prove it. Honest I did. Both dromedaries and Bactrian camels. There were zebras in the field behind them, too.

At mid day, I came to Greeneville, Tennessee. Greeneville is an amazing town of history. Did you know that after the Revolutionary War in the 1780s some people tried to set up a new country west of the Appalachian Mountains in what is now eastern Kentucky and Tennessee? It was called "Franklin", after Benjamin Franklin. It only lasted a couple years. I knew that, but I didn't know that the capital of the forgotten country of Franklin was Greeneville, Tennessee! They still have the capital building.

FranklinCapital (360K)

Now I admit this building doesn't compare with the US Capitol, which wasn't built during the time of Franklin, or even the Maryland State House, which served as the national capital around that time. How did these Franklin guys think they could compete? Just imagine George Washington addressing the leaders of the neighboring state of Franklin inside here:

FranklinCapitalInside (300K)

The other piece of little known history about Greeneville, is that it is the hometown of Andrew Johnson, the 17th president of the United States. President Andrew Johnson is pretty obscure. He was Lincoln's Vice-President. I visited the Andrew Johnson Historic Site to learn more.

AndrewJohnson (289K)

The building in the background was where Andrew Johnson lived when he was working a a tailor in Greenville and serving in the city council.

Andrew Johnson is what we would now call a conservative. He believed strongly in a limited national government, fiscal restraint, and state's rights. He was very unpopular when he was in office. Spending money was a popular idea in the aftermath of the Civil War due to the need to rebuild the destroyed regions of the South. Advocating state's rights, and thereby allowing the southern states to revert back to oppressive slavery-style arrangements was not popular at all right after a massive bloody war to end slavery. He was impeached, and he only stayed in office by one vote. The museum is very good, and the people who work there are super nice, but I came away with the impression that Andrew Johnson, despite his good intentions and adherence to his principles, was a dickhead.

I got a great lunch right around the corner from the Andrew Johnson Historic Site at a soup and sandwich shop called The Tannery, because that's what the building was once. Real nice place, highly recommended by Susan, the super-nice ranger at the Andrew Johnson Historic Site, who took my picture there.

From Greeneville, it was US 321 for 25 miles to here in Newport. 321 is a terrific two lane road winding along a broad valley. The towering Smoky Mountains were ahead to my left all afternoon. I came across this cool fort from the frontier days halfway to Newport. You'd think any reasonable group of Indian raiders would have had no problem taking that, but it's still there so it must have worked.

Blockhouse (228K)

Here is the map of today's quick and easy route travelled.

Actual13 (146K)