USA Tennessee: Leaving Memphis, the Rippavilla Manor and not the Tail of the Dragon

Leaving Memphis I decided to spend some time off the interstate again, this combination is working well for me. The interstates get me from A to B quickly but I get to explore and see some interesting sites on the back roads. This time taking the picturesque Natchez Trace. I lovely easy road through the forests of one of the many state parks. This country really does have a lot of open space, it’s stunning. One other thing that I have found really good so far are the rest areas, very clean.

I’ve met a few interesting people this way. I met a lady who reminded me of Darlene, the character from Ozark, the other day. She was the splitting image of Darlene and talked my ear off. I had stopped for a water break in a backward little gas station and was sitting inside drinking my water. She sat down with her hubby and just started chatting as she’d seen my helmet. What a character told me all about when she rode Harleys, she must have been about 70. It was yet another great interaction with a total stranger, she was sweet and funny. I do these kinds of trips for encounters like this. When you ride in a group or even just a couple people are reluctant to approach you and you miss out on a lot. I have come to realise that a lot of what we see on TV / movies is real. The characters the out of the way gas stations and diners that look like something from days gone by. It is fascinating. I love how friendly and also how patriotic Americas are (although sometimes that can be a bit in your face)

Another one of my little finds outside of Nashville in Spring Hill was the Rippavilla Manor. WOW this was one of the larger plantations in the area and with a house to match. Stunning. Once again, I was there during the week and early in the morning, also out of season, so I got a private tour. I am no architect or historian but I love seeing old buildings and learning about how people lived in past eras, and this is the reason I wanted to see Rippavilla. Thus I did not think that my trip to Rippavilla would get me interested in the civil war…

I know a bit about the civil war and learned about it in school but old battles were not something that interested me too much. As I mentioned I was the only person at Rippavilla so got a private tour and Kristi the guide was so knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the Battle of Franklin she was re-enacting parts of it and had me riveted. I won’t do it justice by trying to explain it except to saw it was a disaster in which the confederate state suffered a major defeat.

Interesting factoid: General Schofiled and General Hood were best friends and roommates at West Point.

Kristi was also very knowledgeable on slavery the area / era. The plantation has 75 slaves at one time, but as Kristi explained to me this was not just a plantation situation but most people owned or rented slaves at that time. Even the pastors, who in fact published booklets explaining that it was not wrong to own a slave. There are written records of these and also invoices for the rental of 17 year old enslaved men for 12cents a day, who would have been required to do everything from building roads to houses to harvesting etc. There is so much to learn about the past that I just did not know.

Leaving Spring Hill I headed up towards Lenoir city, where I stayed the night and, from where I’d be able to head up to Deals Gap and ride the Tail of the Dragon before continuing my journey to Kentucky. The weather however had some different ideas. I woke up to heady rain and started having second thoughts about riding the tail of the dragon with a lot of other idiots (or so I have been told I’d find on this stretch of road) I then thought the weather might change so off I went.

15kms in absolute torrential rain, although through some pretty areas, I realised that I still had 60kms out of my way to go just to ride some twisties…in the rain. What an idiot. SO I stopped did a U-turn and heading towards Kentucky. A decision I got happier with as the weather worsened. Ending up like a drowned rat I stopped early in London Kentucky. The tail of the dragon can wait for another trip.

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