20221126 – Goodbye Kim and Phil. Hello National Parks.


Help Kim and Phil set up their outside Christmas decorations.

Then in the afternoon we have a drive out to Leipers Fork and yet another supermarket. Wendy’s discovered Publix.


Drive down to the Carnton House to have a tour and discover some more about the battle of Franklin. Very interesting house tour. Kim and Phil stay home to fix the damage to their outside Christmas decorations that were wrought by the overnight winds.

Chinese takeaway for tea, along with more beer and wine.

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Franklin, TN  |  Nov 30, 1864

The scale of the Confederate charge at Franklin rivaled that of Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. The action resulted in a disastrous defeat for the South and failed to prevent the Union army from advancing to Nashville.
Union victory. The devastating defeat of Gen. John Bell Hood’s Confederate troops in an ill-fated charge at Franklin, resulted in the loss of more than 6,000 Confederates, along with six generals and many other top commanders. The fighting force of the South’s Army of Tennessee was severely diminished, but Hood continued to chase victorious Union general John M. Schofield to Nashville.
After the fall of Atlanta on September 1, 1864, Gen. John Bell Hood and his 30,000-man army raced into Tennessee, hoping to divert Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s attention by threatening his supply base at Nashville. Sherman did not take the bait, and instead dispatched Maj. Gen. John Schofield’s Army of the Ohio, 30,000 strong, to protect Nashville while the rest of Sherman’s army simply left their supply line behind and marched to the Atlantic coast, forcibly securing whatever they needed to sustain themselves from the Confederate citizens in their path. Twenty-five thousand Union soldiers under Maj. Gen. George Thomas were entrenched in Nashville. If Schofield could reach them before Hood, he would command a numerical advantage on the battlefield. Hood’s hopes for a successful campaign rested on defeating Schofield before the two forces joined.
After a missed opportunity at the Battle of Spring Hill on November 29, Hood pursued Schofield to the town of Franklin, where the Confederate general led an assault on November 30 that cost him 20 percent of his men and allowed Schofield to progress toward Nashville.

For more details go to https://boft.org/history and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvNMTpAlalk.


Say farewell to Kim and Phil. Great company. Great excursions. Great hosts. Awesome Thanksgiving and even get to experience putting up Christmas decorations first hand and America getting ready for the next main event, Christmas. Never stayed with anyone where we felt so at home. In fact it’s wonder we ever left.

We’re sorry to be leaving after such an awesome week.

It’s a short 90 minute drive then up to the Mammoth Caves National Park. After watching the almost obligatory video I’m booked on the two hour history tour which takes you underground into the longest cave system in the World – all 426 miles of it and still being explored to add more. It’s a great two mile underground exploration. Most of it’s fairly easy going but a lot of steps, over 500, and some low roofs. Then there’s Fat Man’s Misery a 50 yard stretch where you have to walk sideways, bent double through a very narrow passage – see photo – hence the title. Buy yet another NP hat for the collection.

Wendy stays on the surface and catches up on some Netflix she fell asleep through, she can’t do enclosed spaces.

Check into our Sleep Inn hotel. Nice hotel but noisy room, had to unplug the noisy air con and fridge, along with a crap breakfast.

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Mammoth Cave National Park is an American national park in west-central Kentucky, encompassing portions of Mammoth Cave, the longest cave system known in the world.

Since the 1972 unification of Mammoth Cave with the even-longer system under Flint Ridge to the north, the official name of the system has been the Mammoth–Flint Ridge Cave System. The park was established as a national park on July 1, 1941, a World Heritage Site on October 27, 1981, an international Biosphere Reserve on September 26, 1990 and an International Dark Sky Park on October 28, 2021.

The park’s 52,830 acres (21,380 ha) are located primarily in Edmonson County, with small areas extending eastward into Hart and Barren counties. The Green River runs through the park, with a tributary called the Nolin River feeding into the Green just inside the park. Mammoth Cave is the world’s longest known cave system with more than 420 miles (680 km) of surveyed passageways,[3][4] which is nearly twice as long as the second-longest cave system, Mexico’s Sac Actun underwater cave.


After a crap breakfast we set off on a 380 mile, 6 hour drive to Buckley in West Virginia – the Almost Heaven state. It’s just a long hard slog, fortunately the roads are pretty quiet and fairly scenic.

Drive along the Bluegrass Parkway with more distilleries than Muslims at a stoning. Pity we didn’t split this over two days and do a few famous distillery tours, but as I had to drive they would have been wasted on me.

Arrive at our Country Inn and Suites for a two night stay. Seems a nice enough hotel but air con isn’t working so they move us. Next room has a curtain hanging off the rails and no air con controls – no one told us that in this room they’re hidden behind the TV. Third time lucky and all seems ok.

Off to a Texas Steak house for tea where I finally get my ribs, all one pound of them. Then it’s back to the hotel for beer and wine.


Up early for a pretty good breakfast, rare in most of the hotels we’ve stayed in.

Then it’s off to explore The New River Gorge National Park. We start off by driving up to the the Sandstone Falls visitors centre. Alas it’s closed except at Weekends. Do the the Sandstone Falls drive tour. Then we’re off to Grandview for an awesome view down the gorge as the river horseshoes around a bend. Sadly it’s over cast and jus stopped raining. Half an hour later and the sun would have been out. Next stop is the Canyon Rim visitors centre – yeah, it’s open. Watch the video, explore the exhibits and buy another NP hat for my collection.

Do the Fayetteville audio driving tour down to the bottom of the gorge . Then take a leisurely drive back to the hotel over country back roads.

Subway for tea tonight.

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The New River Gorge National Park and Preserve is a unit of the United States National Park Service (NPS) designed to protect and maintain the New River Gorge in southern West Virginia in the Appalachian Mountains. Established in 1978 as a national river and redesignated in 2020, the park and preserve stretches for 53 miles (85 km) from just downstream of Hinton to Hawks Nest State Park near Ansted.

The park is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities. New River Gorge is home to some of the country’s best whitewater rafting, mainly from the Cunard put-in to the Fayette Station take-out, and is also one of the most popular climbing areas on the East Coast. The New River itself originates in North Carolina, flowing north through Virginia into the West Virginia mountains to the Kanawha River which continues to the Ohio River.


A five hour drive down to Columbia for our next National Park encounter.

Drive through West Virginia (almost Heaven should be renamed All Them Roadworks), Virginia (Virginia is for Lovers should be renamed Virginia is for Lovers or Roadworks), North Carolina (First in Flight; First in Freedom) and South Carolina (The Palmetto State) all very picturesque, lovely scenery. The trees down here are just starting to turn so there’s some lovely autumnal colours and the leaves are dancing along the interstate.

Check into a Home 2 Suites, as recommended by Phil, seems great and so far one of the best hotels we’ve endured. Let’s see what breakfast is like.

Nip to Total Wines for some wine and Basil Haydn Toast bourbon. Then it’s Publix for coffee and Wendy’s lunch. Finally, it’s been a long time coming, I get to try another landmark in my Junk Food Pilgrimage as we go to a Sonic. Have to say the Sonic double cheeseburger supreme was well worth the wait. Next time need to try a Jumbo Hotdog.


Today’s woke fiasco. Another victim of the CANCEL culture.

Some lady of the royal household asks a black woman at a reception ‘Where are you from? Where are your people from?’, at least that’s the limited version of the questions in the press release I saw. Although the Times has a detailed list of the complete conversation – this I find bizarre. And now there’s an uproar of righteous indignation and a resignation. Bear in mind the women is in traditional African dress, has a record of accusing Charles and Camila of Domestic violence, has a anti-establishment Marxist agenda and amazingly has either recalled perfectly (yet she claims the rest of the evening was a blur) or she must have recorded the conversation (was this a setup).

Despite being born in Hackney, she went dressed like a Carry On Film version of the Jungle Book – lion’s teeth necklace, dreadlocks, beads and more leopard print than a Liverpool hen do. Obviously anyone meeting her would assume that her heritage is important to her as she’s proudly wearing it on her body.

Nigel Farage presents an interesting take on this event – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDWB3_45yPg. Spot on Nigel. OMG I must be racist.

Not forgetting that this person is head of a charity for Domestic Violence against BLACK Women. Not for violence against WOMEN, not for violence against PERSON (yes men also suffer domestic violence), how racist and sexist is that. And while we’re at it would an organisation for Domestic Violence against WHITE women be tolerated.

Finally an interesting view on being colourblind – https://www.prageru.com/video/should-we-be-colorblind

Well guess I must be racist as I can see no harm in what was asked. Sounds typical of what is in the Royal playbook to make conversation at these events. I’d not think anything of it if King Charles asked me ‘Where are you from? Where are your people from?’. If anything I’m disappointed in the royal family tossing 60+ years of loyal service to one side on the word of this friend of Megan’s without even an independent investigation.

Can you imagine a white person dressed as a Viking in Nairobi not being asked where they’re from?

OMG I’ve just been racially offended, twice today I’ve been asked “Where y’all from?”. How will I cope?

Oh well that’s me cancelled.


Breakfast has to be one of the best so far this trip.

Off to the last of our National Parks on this trip – Congaree.

Yes, the visitors centre is open, even if they don’t have any hats for sale. Take a 2 mile walk around the board walk with interpretative notes. The swamps are fascinating, with Bald Cypress knees sprouting out of the swamp surrounding the trees. Not exactly the most exhilarating NP but an important protection of the largest remnant of old-growth flood plain forests in the US. Over 35 million acres, 99%, of old-growth flood plain forests have been lost in the US. Most of this parks 27,000 acres is actually designated as wilderness.

Then we’re off to downtown Columbia to visit the state capitol building. Yes, another palatial exploitation of taxpayers dollars. This place is only in session for 100 days a year. There’s a free guided tour which starts with an interesting 15 minute film followed by a guided tour that then bores us into a catatonic zombie state as our guide repeats almost verbatim what the film has just said. Even with my memory I was able to remember the films content. Well at least it’s free and you get to see an interesting aspect of state

Wendy with Washington – not the first President of the USA, despite popular belief. In 2015, Samuel Huntington (1731-1796) of Norwich, Connecticut was officially recognized as the First President of the United States in Congress Assembled.

Fascinating, the placing of the ceremonial sword in the lower house and the mace in the upper house completes an electrical circuit to turn the lights on either side of the podium to indicate that the house or senate is now in session. I wonder if the official placing these items wears rubber gloves?

Tea tonight consists of a Stromboli and baked beans, all home cooked in our kitchenette, followed of course by some Carmenera.

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National Park is a 26,692.6-acre (41.7 sq mi; 108.0 km2) American national park in central South Carolina, 18 miles southeast of the state capital, Columbia. The park preserves the largest tract of old growth bottomland hardwood forest left in the United States. The lush trees growing in its floodplain forest are some of the tallest in the eastern United States, forming one of the highest temperate deciduous forest canopies remaining in the world. The Congaree River flows through the park. About 15,000 acres (23.4 sq mi; 60.7 km2) are designated as a wilderness area.

The park received its official designation in 2003 as the culmination of a grassroots campaign that began in 1969. With 145,929 visitors in 2018, it ranks as the United States’ 10th-least visited national park, just behind Nevada’s Great Basin National Park.


Bizarre, as coffee is the oh so dominant hot beverage here in the USA yet go into any supermarket to try to get a decent selection of coffee, no chance, and any single estate coffee is rarer than a bible seller in Tehran. Yes, I know I’m a coffee snob, but I do enjoy some quality coffee. As for tea well you’ve no chance, especially Assam. It says it all when you see Earl Greyer for sale.
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