Travelog of Western North Carolina and the Cumberland Gap, 2009

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Domination of Eiler Journal #22: The Appalachian Summer Offensive
August 2009

The final countdown is underway for the Domination of Eiler in Tennessee. The state-sanctioned work expired in April, but the apartment lease finally expires in August.

Summer in Tennessee has actually been pleasant, thanks to the Domination Effect which warps weather patterns throughout the continent to bring cool sunny weather wherever the Dominator is. The Effect is predicted to continue at least one more week. A lovely week for tourism - and to extend the Domination's backwards-Frontline into its Tidewater Protectorate. That is to say, go see western North Carolina - or at least the parts where they name everything after Cherokees.

This will be a solo vacation. The Consort is coming to EilerBase Nashville in two weeks - but she's not here yet. Until she's here, the Dominator can indulge his urge to think global, conquer local. Every destination on this trip is within a day's drive of Nashville. Or half a day's drive, by the Consort's standards.

What Is the Domination of Eiler?

In one sense, "The Domination of Eiler" is a political entity modeled upon the Holy Roman Empire. Which is to say, it works through national and local political entities, but transcends nation-state boundaries. You may already be a citizen without knowing it!

In another sense, "The Domination of Eiler" is a pen name for an amateur but very prolific web journalist. Perhaps you may enjoy these travel writings, given this simple guide:

  • The Domination of Eiler is led by, of course, the Dominator.
  • The Domination has an advanced base in Nashville-Tennessee, and is actively expanding its holdings nearby.

  • Day 0: Sunday 2 August 2009

    The Ryman Auditorium of Nashville-Tennessee
    Said to be the Mother Church of country music.
    Famous Auditorium
    Say what you will about Confederates, at least they used to build nice galleries. See also:
  • Introductory Video
  • Your Photo Here, $5
  • Considered attacking Chattanooga directly after church service in Nashville, but decided not to rush things. Did, however, do some Nashville tourism.

    Locals say there are three must-see attractions in town:

    1. The Parthenon of Nashville.
    2. The Downtown Presbyterian Church, which predates the Statehouse but was designed by its same architect. It so happens, that's where the Domination of Eiler observes church service in Nashville.
    3. The Ryman Auditorium.

    Concerts at the Ryman cost $50 USD or more, but an auditorium tour is $12.5 - cheaper than the various musician Halls of Fame in Nashville. Based on the recommendation, the Domination splurged on the tour.

    Nashville has the Tennessee state history museum and various historical mansions, but the Ryman Auditorium is the closest thing it has to a city history museum. It is neither the original nor the current home of the Grand Old Opry, but it's the place that made the Opry famous.

    • Before the Opry, the Ryman Auditorium was a fairly primitive theatre. Before that, a gospel tabernacle; it still has stained glass.
    • After Opry stars moved out to the suburbs to perform, their auditorium was renovated at great effort, equipped with memorabilia, and opened as a museum. Eventually it got back into the auditorium business.

    So ended this day of Nashville living history. Road trip tomorrow.

    Day 1: Monday 3 August 2009

    Domination of Eiler Backline: Downtown Chattanooga-Tennessee
    Talk Back!
    Scenic city tourism - but disappointing.
    Famous Train
    One can sleep at a famous train depot. See also:
  • And Look At a Famous Mountain
  • But No History Museum
  • Domination day of rest.

    • Under normal conditions (that is to say, when no allies are watching), the Dominator has a two-day manic-depressive cycle. Usually that means, stay up late one night, do lots of stuff, and take it easy the next. This would be "the next".
    • East Tennessee is cooperating to make this day shorter, by stealing an hour from travellers from Middle Tennessee due to time zone change.

    Chattanooga has swarms of attractions, but most of these are not of interest today.

    • The Consort is coming back to Tennessee - and she wants to see Rock City! That'll be next time.
    • Chattanooga has Civil War battlefields; it practically was one. But the Dominator grew up with "Confederama", and he suspects it's not all that different now that it's called "Battles for Chattanooga Museum".
    • Likewise, he's seen the Chattanooga Choo Choo railroad station - now a restaurant and hotel. Considered staying there, but there was a crowd at registration, and that's a bad sign.
    • Chattanooga also has art museums and an aquarium. But in the Domination of Eiler, life's too short to see things other than brewpubs and history museums.
    • The Terminal Brewpub and the Big River Brewing Company stepped up for their part of the job, but the Chattanooga Regional History Museum sold itself to the Hilton Hotels and got itself demolished - while still keeping itself on "You Are Here" city maps and operating a web site!

    After passing by cheap-but-scary hotels by highway and swanky "Choo Choo" hotel by brewpub, arranged barracks at downtown Days Inn. Got the quietest room in the place, but howler-monkeys or some other pre-verbal screaming creatures were clearly audible from the pool.

    Chattanooga does have a nice downtown area with an ambiance much like Dallas-Texas, only not as silly. Considered giving it extra time for intensive urban patrol, along with railroad and African museums plus a riverboat which actually cruises, all of which are still worthy targets for dominance. But probably no more nights in town.

    Day 2: Tuesday 4 August 2009

    Domination of Eiler Backline: Murphy-North Carolina
    Talk Back!
    Trailhead of Tears
    But there's actually amusement up here.
    Trailhead of Tears
    The Cherokees lost the land, and here's what we do with it. (Murphy) See also:
  • Whip? Not For This Guy (Chattanooga)
  • Olympics? Here? (Ocoee River)
  • Reforestation at the Copper Mine (Ducktown)
  • How I Saw Cherokee County... Get It? (Murphy)
  • Domination day of resurgence. Today's entry should show that.

    Occupied the Chattanooga African American Museum on the way out of Chattanooga. It has quite a lot of Chattanooga history content, or at least more than anyplace outside Confederama can scrape up this year.

    • Factoid: Cherokees had slaves too - just not black ones.
    • Factoid: Cherokees and runaway blacks settled Chattanooga together - but not until the American Revolution!
    • The museum also has some nice photos and posters, though some people need to be reminded that none of President Obama's ancesters were under the whip.

    Museum staff answered some questions about other Chattanooga history museums:

    • Yes, the Chattanooga Regional History museum is closed, but it does intend to reopen in a new location.
    • No, the Tennessee Valley Railway doesn't have a lot of history exhibits. It mostly specializes in scenic railroad rides.

    So, the expedition headed out of town up U.S. Highway 64 into the hills. There found, local chambers of commerce call this The Overhill Trail and there are attractions.

    • The Ocoee River has the whitewater rafting venue for the Atlanta Olympics of 1996. The Tennessee Valley Authority controls the river; they turn it on during daylight Thursday through Monday this time of year. This being Tuesday, the river was off. But there's a gift and snack shop.
    • Ducktown-Tennessee has the Ducktown Basin Museum. It's dedicated to copper mining, though the leading product in recent years is sulfuric acid. Really. They harvest it for use in industry now. According to the museum video, some of the locals still miss the days before reforestation, when the sulfur clouds had scoured the hills bare and made them unique. But the last cave-in makes a scenic pool now.
    • Murphy-North Carolina has the Cherokee County Historical Museum, with lots of local crafts - and a craftswoman in residence. Plus a room devoted to the Trail of Tears, the Cherokee forced-resettlement route.

    These attractions soaked up most of the day. Barracks in cheap non-chain hotel Mtn. Vista Inn (not "Mountain" Vista Inn) in Murphy. It wasn't the cheapest; the cheapest was scary. But this hotel was standing there practically empty, just waiting for that one tourist for the night. Perfect!

    Liquor law passed during last year's elections - but only within Murphy city limits. Murphy therefore has several options for dinner which its highway bypass lacks.

    • The Daily Grind is a coffee house, but also has draft beer and sandwiches - plus exceptionally friendly locals who recommended other places. Many here are Northern by way of Florida; they call these "halfbacks".
    • Locals gave some rudimentary instruction to find the site of Fort Butler, the local Trail of Tears installation where Cherokees were concentrated and made to camp. Instruction was: "Drive to the fire station and look behind." The Domination expeditionary force walked there for greater exploration, and found it on Fort Butler Road just off Cherokee Road. Also found an interesting 1840s pyramid-shaped tomb which the locals had mentioned.
    • Shoebootie's Cafe and Shoetini's Lounge was chosen for final dinner, based on recommendation.from the Daily Grind. About as expensive as the most expensive other place in town, but worth it for roast duck medallions. And the beer was cheap.

    Today the Weather Channel shows Murphy-North Carolina to be seven Fahrenheit degrees cooler than Chattanooga-Tennessee. Even if this had not been an especially full day of tourism, the trip would still be worth it.

    Day 3: Wednesday 5 August 2009

    Domination of Eiler Backline: Asheville-North Carolina
    Talk Back!
    Across the Cherokee Boundaries
    The other side of Gatlinburg, in more ways than one.
    Old-Fashioned Canoe Making
    Making a canoe can take a year the old Cherokee way. See also:
  • Restaurant on the River... Almost Literally (Nantahala River)
  • Uh, No Model Trains For Me, Thanks (Bryson City)
  • Domination day of moderation. Tried not to stay up too late last night, because today's a big day.

    No breakfast at this morning's hotel. No Internet either. So started quite early by Domination standards, and had breakfast at River's End Restaurant overhanging the Nantahala River. This was itself an attraction, and recommended by locals of Murphy. But other attractions awaited.

    • The Smoky Mountain Train Museum of Bryson City has a big model train display - for $9 admission. It's next to what seems to be an active train depot aimed at tourists, so hopefully the admission price includes a real train ride. Still, in the train depots of the Domination of Eiler, the citizens want either real local history or real transportation - as Chattanooga found out yesterday. (Was it just yesterday?) So this was bypassed.
    • On to the Reservation of Cherokee. There lies the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. This told much the same story as the Cherokee County Historical Museum told yesterday, only much fancier and with more tour groups.
    • Nearby, the Oconaluftee Indian Village submitted a historical village, heavily staffed with tribespersons. Village was refreshingly free of blacksmiths and Euro-American pioneers. Ask for AAA discount at the gate! But keep the kids under control; Cherokees hold certain sand-structures to be sacred, and are heavy on discipline.
    • The town of Cherokee is near this stuff. It's much like Gatlinburg, only tackier and with pancake houses instead of pubs. As for the souvenir stores, real Cherokees say, "Those guys with the feather headbands aren't with us."
    • Harrod's Cherokee Casino is also near this stuff. Reportedly it serves alcohol on the premises. Apparently nowhere else on the reservation will do that - and the Domination's expeditionary force looked most everywhere. What's worse: a segregated compound for foreigners to enjoy liquor when natives don't, or getting the foreigners drunk only when they gamble? Either way, the Domination of Eiler don't play that game.
    • So went to Asheville-North Carolina. The Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center is there, and is a good place to see first even if you have to go onto the Blue Ridge Parkway to see it. It has historical content like a small-town museum, only fancier. The Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center in Tupelo-Mississippi beats it, but any National Park Service visitor center is still a good place to see first when coming into town.

    By then, hotel check-in time had come. Parkway rangers said, not many hotels north. So went to ground on the east side of Asheville. Tomorrow, decide whether to take I-29 or the roundabout Blue Ridge Parkway toward the next target: the Cumberland Gap.

    Day 4: Thursday 6 August 2009

    Domination of Eiler Backline: Cumberland Gap-Tennessee
    Talk Back!
    Asheville vs. the Cumberland Gap
    One has more beer, the other is more scenic.
    Rustic Dinner
    Rustic dining at the Cumberland Gap. See also:
  • In Case You Wanted to Touch the Chamberpot, Don't! (Asheville)
  • Ten Presidents Stayed Here (Asheville)
  • Giant Boy Lincoln (Harrogate, TN)
  • All-Night Bike Museum (Cumberland Gap)
  • Another Domination day of moderation.

    Asheville-North Carolina is known for moderate climate, culture, and beer; according to visitor guides, it has twenty museums and six breweries. It also has traffic and parking issues. So might as well admit, not going to conquer everything of value in one trip, even if taking two more days. A representative sample has therefore been expediently chosen.

    • The Thomas Wolfe Memorial is the Famous Local Novelist town museum. The state of North Carolina gives tours of his ancestral boarding house for $1, with free parking. Thanks, NC tax dollars!
    • Had a pint on the way out of town at the Asheville Brewing Company. Free parking on street for two hours, or (as recommended by the helpful staff) just borrow a space from Wachovia Bank.
    • The North Carolina Homespun Museum commemorates the Biltmore woolen industry that made Vanderbilts their local money. So looked for that museum near the Biltmore Mansion, but that turned out to be entirely the wrong part of town.
    • While in Biltmore Village, the Domination of Eiler affirmed for the third time its policy of not visiting Vanderbilt family mansions. (Also not in Hyde Park-New York and Nashville-Tennessee.) But did take a picture of the gate house, which is the size of an apartment building.
    • The Homespun Museum hides up in the hills, in a back lot of the extremely fancy Grove Park Inn, at which ten U.S. Presidents including the current one have stayed. Had lunch and some Highland Brewing Company beer at the inn; that makes two local breweries out of six.
    • Finally in the fabric museum itself, found that the Mrs. Vanderbilt of Asheville-North Carolina practically created the homespun fabric trade - as a hobby. She used factory connections and child labor to do the "warp" part, and farmed the fabric out to local crafters to do the "woof". Museum is free admission - as is a classic car museum next door!

    By this time, the Domination of Eiler decided Asheville had been acceptably pacified. The expeditionary force therefore retreated, out scenic I-40 / I-81 / U.S. 25E toward the Cumberland Gap. The plan was to stop in the first place off the interstate highway that had food, beer, and bed all within walking distance of each other. Driven past marginal habitations by forces it barely comprehends, the Domination found near-ideal lodging in the Cumberland Gap itself!

    • Near the Cumberland Gap in Harrogate-Tennessee, there is a Lincoln Memorial University. Colonel Sanders helped sponsor it. And it has a Lincoln Museum! Half an hour is sufficient to see it, if you observe Domination of Eiler museum discipline: "Famous citizen display. Check." It should not take much longer than that, even for museum visitors who care.
      • Abe Lincoln didn't come from Tennessee, but his ancestors did! Good enough for this museum.
      • Sadly the staff report, Fort Wayne-Indiana closed its own Lincoln Museum. One supposes, that museum's business plan of paying each customer a penny to attend didn't work.
      • In Tennessee they have a better business plan: $5 admission. This being half an hour before closing time, they let the Dominator in free. He in return put $5 in the donation box.
    • There is a village of Cumberland Gap-Tennessee. One has to study maps in advance and pay close attention to highway signs to find it. In that village there is now:
      • A barbecue place: Chew Choos BBQ and Brew. It looks like the region is slowly getting used to the repeal of Prohibition.
      • A diner: Webb's Country Kitchen. Good for dessert, but get there before 8 pm!
      • The Olde Mill Inn Bed and Breakfast. Domination-grade room for under $100.
      • Hiking trails - including to the tri-state point of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia. Dinner and bed are close enough to the tri-state point, to make possible an after-dinner walk there! But since sundown over the hill is about 90 minutes before official sundown, stayed below and found two new sticks to whittle.
      • An all-night bicycle museum! Donations only.

    This day has just become the prizewinner of the whole vacation. The Consort would love how it ended.

    Day 5: Friday 7 August 2009

    Domination of Eiler Backline: London-Kentucky
    Talk Back!
    At the Gap
    Finally some hiking. And other tourism too.
    The View
    The view of Cumberland Gap-Tennessee. See also:
  • Fancy Tri-State Pavilion
  • The Actual Marker
  • Tennessee's Part
  • Kentucky's Part
  • Virginia's Part
  • What's North Carolina Doing Here? (Daniel Boone Memorial)
  • This morning's bed-and-breakfast gave enough breakfast for half a day worth of hiking. This fit in nicely with the Domination plan for the Cumberland Gap and its National Historical Park.

    • Tri-State Point: Check. About 1.5 miles each way from Tennessee trailhead. Kentucky has a similarly convenient trailhead, albeit only Tennessee has lodging one block away.
      • This point basically is the boundary between East, West, and South regions of the Domination of Eiler. So, photographic ceremony was observed. Cerements were available for Tennessee, Virginia, and the Midwest to support Kentucky.
      • The trail had its steep moments, but overall it was so easy, it left room for more hiking!
    • More hiking: Check. One waterfall and one drafty cold air cave entrance. Yay, drafty cold!
    • Historic village: Check. Virginia has a Wilderness Road State Park with a historical village - and re-enactors.
      • Re-enactors were all amused by Domination of Eiler museum discipline: "Gunsmith. Check."
      • Virginia's state-supported historic videos were the opposite of the Cherokee ones. For one thing, they pointed out the Cherokee and the Iroquois were always happy to sell parts of the Midwest their rivals owned.
    • Scenic view: Check. The view is from Virginia, but the access road is from Kentucky.

    Afterward, fought to London-Kentucky for barracks. Return to EilerBase Nashville tomorrow, via three-hour Kentucky route that works almost as well as Tennessee back roads. But unless Bowling Green-Kentucky has unplanned amusement, this should be the last vacation entry.

    The offensive has shown these signs of success:

    Two new sticks at the Cumberland Gap.
    A Chattanooga Lookouts baseball cap with stylish logo; various small items from the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation; a hiking stick medallion from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Might have to save that one for Stick-of-Virginia.
    Middling to excellent.
    Mostly excellent, usually from brewpubs. Failing that, the dining ambiance was excellent.
    Targets of Amusement Value
    It was a slow start, but then it caught up with a vengeance.
    Writing of Fiction
    None; left the bike home and didn't need it.

    The Domination of Eiler triumphs as ever, all praise to the One Maker.

    (signed) Dominator S. Eiler, Fist of the One Maker, for the Domination of Eiler.

    Postlude: 18 - 21 August 2009

    Talk Back!
    Return to the Gap
    Why not bring a friend?
    Goddess of Victory An Ass That Covers Three States
    Troop surge at the Cumberland Gap. See also:
    Yes, The Town Has Its Own Police Car

    Back at the Gap, found some things that weren't obvious the first time.

    • The bed-and-breakfast is built around a log cabin where Daniel Boone slept... Riiiight. Whatever. But the Cabin Room is a fairly nice lodging.
    • The scary-looking American Legion hall is actually a sports pub open to the public, with ten beers on draft.
    • The other restaurants in town will shut down one or two days a week for whatever reason, but they try to keep one open each day.
    • There's a bike trail from Cumberland Gap to the next Tennessee town.
    • The Kentucky visitor center is happy to sell you some Cumberland Gap hiking stick medallions.
    • The Virginia visitor center has loudspeakers programmed to make pioneer noises. Really.

    One thing that was obvious the first time: The Cumberland Gap is a lovely place to bring a ladyfriend, especially if she likes hiking.

    The Domination of Eiler believes in free sharing of information. But if you wish to reproduce significant parts of the commentary within, be aware that it is © copyright 2009 by Eiler Technical Enterprises. And have a niiiice daay.