Travels with Tucker

Travels with Tucker

Monday, October 29, 2012


We're back to this great city of music.  A two-hour drive from Mammoth Caves brought us to our campground just north of Nashville.  This looks to be a nice place to call home for a while.  Having a pull-through site meant it was a snap to get set up and by early afternoon we were all settled.  We are excited to be here and look forward to going back to all our favorite music venues:  the Bluebird Cafe (where all the local songwriters come to perform the songs recorded by the big country stars), the Station Inn (the spiritual home for all bluegrass music fans, the many honky tonks of lower Broadway (where at least a dozen clubs have live music 14 hours a day with no cover charge, the Ryman Auditorium (original home of the Grand Ole Opry), the Exit/In (grungy club where all the artists who have played there sign a big black wall, hoping to get a picture of that) and hopefully more new ones we don't know about yet.

This blog will likely have a lot of micro-blogging for the next several weeks where I post pictures and a short message right from whatever venue we happen to be at.  Stay tuned for some great musical stories!

Our first musical event was that very first night--we bought tickets last spring to see Bonnie Raitt at the Ryman.  Bonnie is a legend who has been playing since the sixties when she started playing blues alongside Howlin Wolf and Mississippi Fred MacDowell.   If you're interested, her bio is here:  Rolling Stone magazine has her number 50 on their list of 100 greatest singers and number 89 on the 100 greatest guitar players list.  She was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.  We loved her show at the Ryman--the acoustics were magnificent, her playing and singing was stellar, her band was killer.  It was touching because she kept giving recognition to the songwriters of many of the songs she played who were in the audience.   One of the great things about Nashville are the fabulous songwriters in this town, more on that in later posts, I'm sure.  This was the last city on Bonnie's 89 city tour and it was a show to remember for sure!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mammoth Caves, Kentucky

A two-hour drive from LaGrange took us to Mammoth Caves National Park where we planned to spend a couple days exploring the cave and camping in a nicer setting than a Walmart parking lot.

The park was beautiful with fall color and the campground was nice and pretty empty.  We enjoyed the cave tours and walking around the trails.  Mammoth Cave has 390 miles of charted tunnels all jumbled in a 7-mile wide by 400 foot deep area.  Think of a bowl of spaghetti and that's what Mammoth Cave looks like.  It is mostly a dry cave, so not many stalactites/stalagmites, but we did see some neat flow stone and several formations.  Some of the tunnels are over 40 feet high and twice as wide, while other places a person has to crouch or wiggle sideways to get through.   Much history here from before 1800 when it was rediscovered.  Traces of human activity go back 6000 years.  Overall a very interesting place.  We even did a lantern tour where the only light was from ten lanterns carried by some of the tour group.  That was very cool.

Friday, October 26, 2012

LaGrange Kentucky

We stopped for the night at this little town because it had a Walmart where we could camp for the night.  We found that (besides a Walmart) it had a quaint little three-block downtown that uniquely had a railroad running through it--litterally!  About 30 times a day, freight trains run down the middle of Main Street, about 10 feet from the stores and restaurants on either side.

We had dinner at the best restaurant in town and it was very homey and super friendly.  We hoped a train would go by while we were eating, but sadly none did.  We hung around and walk a bit hoping a train would come by, but we ended up leaving before we saw one.  The next morning we came in for coffee, hoping to see a train and we did see the tail end of one just leaving town as we parked.   We lingered over our coffee for an hour, then left feeling like the trains of LaGrange were an unfinished chapter in our trip.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame

A short drive from Niagara Falls takes us to Cleveland.  Not sure why, but everyone we've told that we are going to Cleveland goes "Cleveland?!" like they thought we said we were going to eat a live cockroach or something. (BTW, did you read about that guy who died recently after eating dozens of live cockroaches in some gross eating contest?  Who would have thought that that would have turned out badly?).  But, of course, Cleveland is inexplicably the home of the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame (RRHoF) and definitely one of my bucket list places.   After searching in vain for a campground near Cleveland, we found out that we could stay in the parking lot next to the Cleveland Browns stadium, which is right next to the RRHoF.  It is also next to the Cleveland docks and various dingy waterfront toxic waste sites, so not the most scenic place we've ever camped, but we did have a great view of the downtown buildings.

We couldn't take pictures in most of the RRHoF itself, so we don't have much to show, but I'll try to hit some random highlights.  Various listening stations where you can hear artists from the entire history of R&R; interactive displays that trace the influences of artists on each other (Nirvana was influenced by the Kinks who were influenced by Jerry Lee Louis who was influenced by Lead Belly). A Beatles video compilation that focused on each of their albums with audio clips and pictures from the actual recording sessions.  A fabulous Rolling Stones video with clips strung together of 50 years (!!!) of live performances.   Literally hundreds of guitars played by everyone imaginable.  Dresses worn by the Supremes.  It went on for five levels, concluding with a special exhibit of the Grateful Dead (one of my favorites).   There were some rough edges on a few exhibits (notably the one for the actual HoF inductees), but overall it was a great experience for anyone whose life has been touched by rock and roll (like most of us!)


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Camping in the parking lot of Cleveland Browns stadium

We are excited about spending tomorrow at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

Niagara Falls

We pulled into the Cindarella Motel and Campsite well after dark.  The heavily-tatooed biker-type in the motel office was a man of few words, just waving in the general direction of the pitch dark campground behind the motel and telling me to take any site after #6.  At least it wasn't raining.  When we awoke the next morning, we were relieved to see that Cindarella was actually a pretty nice place, though without amenities like a pool or clubhouse.  Nicely wooded and almost empty, we figured we could spend a couple nights here while we explored Niagara Falls.

A ten minute drive took us into the town on the US side of the falls and after a Starbucks we met our "PediCab" tour guide (and pedaler) for our tour.   As a footnote, Lynnae and I were talking about how cool it would be to see a map with a pin on every Starbucks either of us had been to--it would be quite a sight!  Gaelan is a twenty-something guy who was born and raised in Niagara Falls and has been giving tours for years.  He was fun and easy to  be with and he knew lots of great spots to see the falls. He accompanied us on the Maid of the Mist boat that took us right to the base of Horseshoe falls and next to American Falls.   This was a very cool trip--though you can get pretty wet even with the flimsy poncho they give everyone to wear.

Later that afternoon, we went over to the Candian side, where you can see the falls from a different vantage and hit the Hard Rock, Rainforest Cafe or TGI Fridays if you want to imagine that you are anywhere but Niagara Falls.  They light the falls up at night and it is really a spectacular sight.  The coolest view is right next to the edge of Horseshoe falls:

Sunday, October 21, 2012

To Infinity and Beyond!

Having recharged our batteries, refreshed friendships, relaxed in the comparative luxury of our home on Clam Pudding Pond and re-packed the trailer for a longer journey away this season, the three intrepid travelers set out on a beautiful Fall day in October.  The plan is to take a week meandering down to Nashville, stopping along the way at such bucket list destinations as the Corning Glass Museum, Niagara Falls, the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame and the Creation Museum (that last one only over Lynnae's hearty objections).  The last view of our beautiful pond in full Fall color was one to remember:

The countryside of Western Massachusetts and central New York was aflame with color as we drove through valleys and fields.  After spending the night in a forgettable campground in Oneonta, NY, we spent the afternoon at the Corning Glass Museum.  The town of Corning itself was set in the day's most spectacular valley of gold, red and yellow.  The museum is a fascinating collection of glass art and objects from Egyptian times to today, live demonstrations of glass blowing, in-depth exhibits of technological advances from the first machines to make bottles (putting untold numbers of glass-blowers out of work) to fiber optics.  Corning is the company that invented Gorilla glass, used in the iPad and other tablets, but I was disappointed that I couldn't find any displays about that.  If you want to see a cool video by Corning about the future of glass technology, check this out: A Day Made of Glass.  The gallery below shows some highlights from the museum.