Tag Archives: Tennessee

Driving from Tennessee to Oklahoma


01-Jun & 02-Jun, Monday and Tuesday


This part of the trip was always going to be a little ridiculous. It wasn’t the longest leg of driving, but it was definitely the most packed.

Starting in Chattanooga, I would be driving to the Jack Daniel’s distillery for a tour, then to Memphis to have BBQ for dinner, and then finally to a hotel in Arkansas for the evening.

From the hotel was a pretty simple & straight drive out to Tulsa – but never underestimate simple and short drives. Somehow they always get interesting along the way…


Monday, 01-Jun-2015

  • Leave Soddy-Daisy a little late, but I can grab lunch on the way to make up the time, so it’s ok.
  • Rain rain rain rain
  • Stop for lunch… wait… time change yes! Extra time to eat!
  • GREAT fried chicken lunch, nice and slow while reading. It’s excellent.
  • Head out, put the top down since it’s finally nice…. crunch. Broken window.
  • Drive to Nissan dealership, he gives me tips & location of Home Depot
  • Clean out most of the glass with boxes and papers and bags
  • Get “clear” plastic & gorilla tape & a brush, clean out the rest of the glass
  • Search for a vacuum… nothing, drive a mile or two to find a car wash, which is run by a dude from CT. Sure, why not?
  • Clean out the back, patch up the window and the front fender… now I’ve wasted 3 hours. Fuck.
  • Drive fast for Jack’s Distillery, make it in time for a 3:45 tour
  • Tour’s done a little after 5:00… too late to make it to Memphis. Go into town to get food… no toys though, nothing interesting.
  • Drive on. This is a really long drive. A very long, very tiring, very unpleasant drive. This is not good. I am not doing well. Eat lots of cinnamon Altoids to stay awake and alert.
  • Hotel in AR, drag damn near everything into the room, just to be safe.
  • Sleep



Tuesday, 02-Jun-2015

  • Wake up, and make a few calls for the Mustang. Nothing good… no one can do it easily / quickly, because… <drumroll> the entire top has to be replaced! Yay!
  • Call insurance, fight with that (they need to send an adjustor, who won’t call me)
  • Forget it. Move along. Move along.
  • Thankfully they don’t charge me for a second day in the hotel, since I take so long getting out…
  • Lost jacket. Forget it. Move along.
  • Long drive, but do it fun and chill with the top down, so that I can… you know… actually see?
  • Arrive @ Jig and Dave’s place, and hang out with Dave for a short bit until Jig gets home. Showers, and then roll out the the bars!

Visiting the Jack Daniel’s Distillery

Visiting the Jack Daniel’s Distillery

Monday, 01-Jun-2015


I’ve been trying to make it to the Jack Daniel’s distillery for years.

One of the first real roadtrips that I ever went on was an attempted pilgrimage to the distillery – My friend Big T and I rented a car from Boston, and took the roads (we actually used an atlas to plan the trip, instead of the current “just Google it, dummy” model) down to Tennessee.

But instead of making it there, we got snowed in at the campsite we chose. Literally the worst snowstorm of the last 10 years hit Virginia the night that we set up our tent. So… we took half a day to dig out and clean up, and then gave up on trying to follow the snow-clogged roads. We turned around, defeated.

This time, I was already in Chattanooga. I couldn’t turn around and give up – My goal was still far to the West of me. So, I finally made it.

The distillery was big… a lot bigger than I expected, but smaller than I logically assumed it must be. After all, every drop of Jack Daniel’s Whiskey comes out of this one facility – they don’t have any secondary distilleries or anything. So from that perspective, it was pretty small. Meh. Whatever. It was awesome!

Trivia facts from the tour:

  • All the Whiskey is made with water from a small cave near the back of the distillery. The water comes from deep in the Tennessee mountains… and by that, they mean that no one knows where it actually originates. But it’s super pure and clear, and I really wanted to explore the cave. But they wouldn’t let me.
  • Jack’s whiskey is aged in barrels, duh. But they don’t re-use the barrels… so they sell them. To, for example, Tabasco sauce is aged in old Jack Daniel’s barrels.
  • Much of the equipment that they use in the distillery is almost identical to what I used to help design at Artisan Industries. Neat.
  • Jack Daniel’s himself died when he came into work early one day, and couldn’t get into the main safe. He got so frustrated that he gave the safe a swift kick… leading to a broken toe, which became infected, which led to the end of his life.
    Which leads to the moral of the story – don’t go into work early. Haha. So funny. I stole that from the tour guide.
  • You can buy entire barrels of Jack Daniels – and if you do, they’ll put you/your groups name on a plaque in a special room.  Some of the people who have bought these barrels… maybe are a bit worrying.  Nuclear Operators of Illinois, for example.  Or Boeing Aircraft maintenance and repair.

After the tour, I headed into the main town; which is basically just one huge JD gift shop. I debated getting something, but nothing was that useful or interesting, if we’re being completely honest with ourselves here.

So instead, I got some BBQ dinner at The Barrel House – a local place that’s been mentioned in a fair number of shows and articles for it’s excellent food.  And I loved it – simple and efficient.  They served it all with picnic style; paper plates and plastic forks, with a big glass of lemonade.  And the pulled pork was amazing… I love me some pulled pork, and this was some of the best I’ve ever had.

And then I headed back onto the road toward Oklahoma.

Climbing around Chattanooga – Stone Fort (Little Rock City) and Rocktown Boulders (Part 3 of 3)

Climbing around Chattanooga – Stone Fort (Little Rock City) and Rocktown Boulders (Part 3 of 3)

This leg of the trip was the chance to visit somewhere that I’d been hearing about for a long time. Daniel, being the southern boy that he is, would tell me about the Triple Crown bouldering series that was held down in the South. Near Tennessee and Georgia, on the Southern Sandstone boulders, they’d have some of the best short-route climbers in the world come and show off.

So, I’m driving all the way down to Oklahoma and Arizona already… may as well hit Tennessee, right?

Monday, 01-Jun-2015


Rain makes Ben go slowly… and this morning was no exception. Seriously, I’m starting to think that I’m just dragging rain clouds behind the car as I drive… did I forget to disconnect the cloud-hooks or something? What the heck?

But since I had set up the tarp over the campground, I didn’t have too much trouble packing up. I took a break for breakfast (oatmeal again, with the last of the Vermont Pepperoni that Marla gave me), the finished up the packing and headed for a quick last visit to Stone Fort, aka Little Rock City.

The rain did let up as I drove, but the mist never did – I found myself walking through a primordial world, free of humans or any other modern interference. I mean, there were some trails, though they were really faint. And there was always the markings that boulderers leave behind; faint patches of chalk, and small scraps of athletic tape on the ground.

But it was all faint enough that I could pretend that a dinosaur could explode out of the underbrush at any moment. And that’s what matters, right?

And honestly, the climbing was amazing! Even with the spattering drizzle and ever-present fog, the routes were good. Like yesterday, I steered clear of any slopey climbs, focusing instead on cracks and overhangs; basically anything with a roof or with huecos. I had a ton of fun, and would easily have stayed there all day and not even scratched the surface of the real number of climbs in the area.



But I had a pretty long drive, with a few really cool stops, still ahead of me. So I packed up, said goodbye to the guy at the front desk of the golf course, and hit the road out of Tennessee.