2017 trip – days 27 to 30 – way down south in the land of cotton

Finally figured out some of our connectivity issues. So time to catch up on the last few days here in Kentucky.

Sunday was going to be just a check out the area day but we ended up doing more than expected.  We are staying near an area known as the Land Between the Lakes – LBL.  We stopped at the visitor center for the area first.

As an aside, one of my favorite podcasts/ radio shows is called “99% invisible”. which is mostly about the design of things and how, with really good design, you don’t even think about the fact the that the object or place or device was even designed at all.  The design of the object is 99% invisible.  Anyway, one of the slogans for the podcast is “always read the plaque.”  I think when it comes to traveling I would add “always stop at the visitor’s center” and “always watch the film first.”

At the LBL visitor’s center we learned more about the area than we would have even thought to ask.  The area is a piece of land between the Cumberland River and the Tennessee river.  They run almost parallel to each other for 50 or 60 miles with less than 10 miles between them for that distance.  They run north toward the Ohio river which they hook up with just before the Ohio meets up with the Mississippi at the very southern tip of Illinois.  Anyway, this area was historically subject to periodic flooding.  As part of the Tennessee Valley Authority in the 1930’s a dam was built on the Cumberland River.  Later, in the 50’s another dam was built on the Tennessee River and the area between the 2 reservoirs was made into a National Recreation Area.  Lots of history in this area and we are just starting to learn a bit of it.

From the LBL we headed south and ended up at Fort Donelson, site of one of the first Union victories in the Civil War.  In those days, the major means of transportation of both people and goods was first the waterways and second the railroads.  The South needed to control the Tennessee river to have a means of transportation through major parts of the independent country they were trying to create.  The North needed to cut off that route and Fort Donelson was the key.  General Grant’s victory at Donelson was the first event to bring him national attention.

We took some back roads on our way back to our condo and drove through some farm land with different crops than seen so far on the trip.  Between the corn, the beans, and the grass lands were many fields of both Cotton and Tobacco.

Monday was a “stay at home” day and we caught up on necessities like sleep, laundry and the news.

Tuesday we made our longest loop from our current point of residence and drove South to see the National Park for the Battle of Shiloh.  At that point we hit our further south point for the trip.  Only a few miles from Mississippi.  Still haven’t seen a Mississippi license plate though.  I am starting to think they don’t let Mississippians leave their home state.

Shiloh was a horribly bloody battle, over 23,000 Americans killed or injured in just 2 days.  More American casualties here than in all previous military actions involving Americans combined up to that time.  At the end of the battle the South lost further control of the Cumberland River and few months later lost control of the only railroad connecting East to West in the entire South.  Despite the horrible lost of life and the nearly obvious inevitability of a victory by the North the war lasted 3 more years and cost 100’s of thousand more lives.

One part of the history of Shiloh relates to the current troubles we are having with the proliferation of false news stories on Social Media.  In Grant’s day there were many communication difficulties and the level of political infighting was almost as bad as it is today.  Grant was accused of not filing battle reports only to find out the telegraph operator was a Southern spy who was sending his reports to the South instead of to Grant’s superiors.  Also, political opponents of Grant perpetuated a myth that he had a drinking problem that was costing Northern lives.  After all the dust settled all those reports turned out to be false (many intentionally so by his rivals).  Yet the “fake news” was remembered by more people than the facts.  Luckily Lincoln dismissed all such rumors and said he would take no action against the only General he had who would actually fight a battle and one of the few that was winning any.

With our trips to Tennessee we have now been in 14 states and seen 17 national parks.  Our travels since leaving Cleveland have mainly been following the Ohio River on its path toward the Mississippi.  With that gradual downward slope our average gas mileage has been moving upward and yesterday the average so far came to an even 50 miles per gallon.  We do love our Prius.

Today, we took another recuperation day and just enjoyed our surroundings here in Western Kentucky.

One more loop trip from here tomorrow and then Saturday we start weaving our way in the direction of Seattle.

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