That Vacation Trip, Day 1: Dukes and Ghosts

I never did get around to blogging the vacation trip I took with Diamondqueen and the Hooligans in mid-June of last summer. At the time, it was partly because our Internet connections were so wonky at the hotels where we stayed in Nashville and Memphis. (By Bowling Green, KY, the trip was about over anyhow.) It also was partly because I just wasn’t feeling great. The intense heat wave in Tennessee just then had a big impact, but so did the pain I frequently suffered (usually after every bathroom visit) because of the untreated radiation wound. (I wasn’t scheduled to see the wound specialist until the following Monday; that Wednesday I would have my first hyperbaric treatment.)

I discovered that Diamondqueen confesses she gets a little “twitchy” when she looks back on that trip as well. For her, too, the heat was unbearable. She also had way too much driving to do; we (actually, mostly I) had scheduled the things we wanted to see too far apart.

She also was having some problems with S.Hooligan, who at least was speaking to us most of the time but also threw a few fits that really made no sense to anyone but her. (There were emotional reasons, but it’s not my place to discuss them here.) So, generally, the trip was a strain on everyone. However, I’m determined to get the events down on paper, so to speak.

Diamondqueen behind the wheel of the General Lee.

Diamondqueen behind the wheel of the General Lee.

Our first stop was to be Nashville, TN. Our reservations were at a hotel in Franklin, but en route we wanted to stop at Cooter’s Place. Or, at least, Diamondqueen wanted to stop there. It’s a combination gift shop/museum run by the guy who played Cooter on “Dukes of Hazzard.” Diamondqueen is a devotee of the Dukes going back to her childhood when the show was originally airing. We’d already seen a similar place in Gatlinburg a few years ago, but that paled in comparison to the Nashville version.

We arrived in early afternoon after a fairly uneventful drive through Kentucky. No, that’s not 100% correct. There was one instance that stayed with us the entire trip: Near Mammoth Cave we passed the dinosaur park we’d visited years ago when the kids were small and J.Hooligan was obsessed with dinosaurs. All you can see from the expressway is a huge figure of a dinosaur (T. Rex? not sure). We pointed it out to the kids, reminding them of that long-ago visit. S.Hooligan took one look and shrieked, “Agggh! Dino-Jesus!”

This was a new concept to the other three of us. Diamondqueen and I went into a fit of laughter, it was such an outrageous concept. We were also quite impressed with S.Hooligan’s quick wit and originality. Even J.Hooligan gave her props. We complimented her throughout the trip whenever the memory recharged our amusement. Later we learned the truth. (More about this on Day 4.)

Cooter’s Place was everything Diamondqueen could have wanted: lots of vehicles from the show, lots of memorabilia, lots of memories. She had her picture snapped in every car and jeep and bought a few souvenirs, including a General Lee-style leash for her beloved mutt, Daisy Duke. (Nothing with a Confederate flag on it, though. This was before the tragedy in South Carolina and the ensuing firestorm about the flag, but Diamondqueen has never been comfortable with the symbol.)

After Cooter’s, we drove south to our hotel in Franklin. After a nap, at least for Diamondqueen and me, we ventured out for dinner before our scheduled ghost tour in downtown Franklin.

Dinner times turned out to be difficult with S.Hooligan. She never wanted to eat anywhere we suggested but had no suggestions of her own. This, probably, because she doesn’t eat much. To complicate things, we weren’t familiar with the area. With all the hotels in the vicinity, we assumed we’d come across an Applebee’s or the like, but somehow we missed these and found ourselves in downtown Franklin. If we’d stuck near the Interstate we would have done fine, which we discovered later. As it was, we cruised unknown roads while S.Hooligan stormed at us. Finally, so we could eat before we missed the ghost tour, we went back to a Wendy’s we’d passed. Not really what any of us wanted, but at least it was fuel.

One of the oldest (and most haunted) Franklin buildings. There's an "orb" in the grass, for what it's worth.

One of the oldest (and most haunted) Franklin buildings. There’s an “orb” in the grass, for what it’s worth.

Our Haunted Franklin Tour started on the picturesque town square in front of the county courthouse. We were to learn that the balcony before us presented ghostly visions to many over the years, but we weren’t lucky enough to see anything exceptional. The tour was long and interesting, winding through streets near the square. The guide shared some good sightings, not to mention images on a tablet she exhibited to the crowd. (UPDATE NOTE: Diamondqueen said in a Facebook comment:  “I’m surprised you didn’t mention J. getting freaked by some of the ghost photos the guide showed. I still have the image in my mind of that big, sweaty clunk clinging to his foot-shorter aunt in fear.” Ah, indeed, this did happen; in fact, we were behind the building pictured above. At the sight of one particularly creepy image, J.Hooligan shrieked and fell on me from above and behind, his arms wrapped around my neck. I was so startled I couldn’t have protected him if I’d wanted to. And it was too frigging HOT to be engulfed in those sweaty arms.) The only downsides were 1) it was a long time to be on our feet, although there were spots where we could at least sit on porch steps; 2) it was so damn hot. Long after dark the heat was smothering. I was drenched all evening, frequently blinded by the perspiration that dripped into my eyes. Still, it was an experience I was glad we had, and it was a great way to roam around the unfamiliar town and hear a bit of history besides.

By the time we got back to the hotel room, it was late. Another reason why I didn’t feel up to blogging. I’m not sure how long the Hooligans stayed awake, but I gladly crashed on the cool sheets and feel asleep.


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