Found: More Excuses to Travel

Thursday, March 15, 2012 Road Junkies 0 Comments

Home to Franklin, TN

Although we have visited each of the 50 states before, we have not searched for letterboxes in each of them, so over the last six months, we have been planning our travels to move us closer to checking this reasonable little item off our bucket list.  Then somehow, our goal evolved into visiting and letterboxing in each of the continental 48 states during 2012.  And not only would we search for treasures hidden by others, but we'd plant a letterbox in each of the 48 also.  Holy Tupperware!  It was time to get busy carving— and we did.

Today we started on a history-infused journey up the east coast.  In our car we have a collection of 15 letterboxes to leave in our wake as we travel.  We hope to visit sights that are significant in U.S. history, particularly during the colonial, Revolutionary, and Civil War periods, or any other period, for that matter.  As long as it's historically significant.  Period.

A brief visit to my brother Woodie and his fabulous family led us to begin our trip in Franklin, TN, a city steeped in Civil War history.  But before we made it to Tennessee, we unearthed some interesting tales from the past in Georgia.

Historical Figure of the Day
Roland Hayes
Born to tenant farmers on the plantation where his mother had been a slave, young Roland Hayes (1887-1977) listened raptly as his father used his voice to mimic the calls of birds and other animals when hunting.  By the time he moved to nearby Chattanooga with his widowed mother in 1900, Hayes had become consumed with music, performing at every opportunity, even if it was just singing on street corners for the odd coins dropped in his hat.

A music teacher heard Hayes performing and offered him lessons.  This training led to an audition at Nashville's Fisk University, where his remarkable voice and musical talent gained him acceptance into the music program in spite of his lack of formal education beyond sixth grade.

A gifted tenor, Hayes continued performing while at Fisk and later studied singing at Harvard University.  By the late 1910s, he was performing with symphony orchestras in the major cities of the east and in 1920 made his European debut in London to great acclaim.

Able to sing fluently in seven languages, Hayes performed in capital cities across Europe, becoming quite famous before returning to America in 1923, where he became one of the highest paid singers of his time, reportedly earning more than $100,000 a year.

If you're ever in Calhoun, Georgia, check out the excellent Roland Hayes Museum in the Gordon County Arts Center.
Historic Site of the Day
Oakleigh House
A stately antebellum residence, Oakleigh was built by a local physician in Calhoun, GA. As he was beginning plans for his Atlanta Campaign, General William Tecumseh Sherman saved the home from destruction and used it as his headquarters.  Today Oakleigh houses the Gordon County Historical Society, including a museum with more than 1,500 dolls.

When we were stuck in traffic north of Atlanta today, Ken discovered and downloaded an app called Beat the Traffic.  Since we were immobilized for about 30 minutes due to an accident between our location and the next exit, it didn't help us move along but did provide a little information about why we were sitting there.  We'll continue to evaluate it as we travel.
Near Monteagle, TN, we watched brake lights flash in front of us as cars approached a thick cloud of fog.  When we entered the fog, we were astonished to see the temperature suddenly drop more than 25 degrees .  The highway and roadside were littered with what looked like snow.  Apparently we had just missed a sudden and very localized hailstorm.  Within a fourth of a mile, we exited the fog, the road was clear, and the temperature shot back up to 78.    
  • Miles traveled:  301
  • States today:  2 (GA, TN)
  • States this year:  9 (only 39 to go)
  • Letterboxes found:  2
  • Time stuck in traffic:  42 minutes
  • Red bud trees blooming:  2,391
  • Hailstones:  164,023
  • Trucks exceeding 65 mph in 45 mph zone:  39