So we’re now at a lovely marina in Georgia called “Brunswick Landing”, this little haven is tucked right down the St Simons Sound, under the bridge and up a little tributary called “Fancy Bluff Creek”, it lies alongside the old town of Brunswick and is perfectly positioned for great little restaurants and life that a small southern town provides. Another small detail is that it has a clubhouse that has a free beer pump, it’s not the only reason we chose this marina, but it sure helps.
Life here in Brunswick slows right down, its a very chilled environment, assisted somewhat by the heat this time of year, which makes working after 11 am quite impossible, or moving around at any speed very difficult.
So we decided as we had carried out lots of work on the boat in Fort Lauderdale, we should take some time out a do a mini road trip, also its a litle cooler the further inland you go.
Our first stop was Atlanta – to get there we drove through mile after mile of pine forests and soon enough fields and fields of peanuts – which we mistook for potatoes until Google helped us out – sorry peanuts..
Atlanta is a diverse city and you could easily spend a few days there. We only had a couple of days and we wanted to make sure that we hit 2 sights.
First off was the Martin Luther King Jr area of town called Auburn Avenue. This includes an education centre/museum which tells the story of the Civil Rights Movement and the part that he and his wife played in it – she was incredibly active for decades after his assassination. We were reminded of what we knew and discovered a lot more. I never knew that they bombed MLK’s house in Birmingham, Alabama while his wife, mother and baby were at home – nor that someone slaughtered his mother in cold blood in church just a few years after his murder – wtf?!! He was arrested multiple times and yet he was just the most public figure in a movement which involved countless others who were jailed and worse, just so they could use any seat on the bus or attend any school. It was a very humbling experience and sad given that many people we talked to on the way admitted they think that the racial tensions in the States are seriously escalating.
Also, close by are MLK’s childhood home and the church where his Dad was a minister and he also preached – it’s now preserved as a sanctuary and was very peaceful. The whole area is actually a National Park in monument to him and let’s hope that someday soon we get another man and woman that can be as brave and inspirational as he and his family were – hopefully this time in public office!
After our day out Steve wanted very much to visit the local Ruth’s Chris Steak House, a small chain across the states which for over 3 decades has served up the most outstanding steaks. So we put on our fancy togs and headed past the throngs of football fans for a slap-up dinner. Of course, this needed to be preceded by a few drinkies at the bar and then we sat down eagerly only to be served up with cold tough steak and unappetising sides. After crying into our bottle of wine we backed the lot vowing never to darken their door again – another legend bites the dust.
Second on the list – and my choice – was the museum at the CDC (Centres for Disease Control – yes those of you who know my pandemic obsession can guess how I was beside myself with excitement) – the highlight for me would have been donning the Hazmat suits and pretending to be in the classic Outbreak – or Contagion at a pinch. Alas having dined only on cocktails and red wine the previous night I did not fancy hermetically sealing myself into anything that morning so instead, we pushed off to Tennessee.
Here’s how we could have looked and it’s definitely going to happen one day.
“Pardon me boy is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo”. Yes, it was and is still there – the railway stop itself has now been replaced by a fancier one on the Chattanooga outskirts. Not content with visiting the original station and trains, of course, we had to stay in one.
The nearby valley is insanely pretty and we took time out to go up Lookout Mountain from where you can see 7 States – up the steepest bit of railway line in the world.
Then it was on to Nashville for a couple of nights – to realise that we know about 0.000005% of all Country and Western stars and that we don’t mind that at all. Also to embrace our age which meant it was ok not to venture far into the Honky Tonk strip which was crowded with 20 something Bachelors and Bachelorettes. We have saved up our groove for a visit to New Orleans and their Blues Bars sometime in the next few years.
The final stop on our tour was the Jack Daniels Distillery – pause for angelic music. I will let him indoors take over again at this point as it’s his bucket list item.
So where to start, I grew up with G&T’s, earlier on it was Gordons & Schweppes and later on Tanquary & Schweppes and more recently Fever-Tree, probably secret sips of my mum and dads during parties and Christmas as they both were gin drinkers. I got into Jack the way most people change their drinks, staying late at a party and running out of Gin, so ending up drinking whatever’s left.
Over the years, I developed a bit of a penchant for Mr Daniels squared bottled wonder and as they introduced variations and special blends, learnt to appreciate those too. As anyone that knows me will tell, I like a story, I love a back story, I love to do a bit of research about the things I like, the wine I like to drink or the food I like to cook or eat, so I try to develop a little knowledge about these things I like so I can retell, (sometimes with a little embellishment) a little interesting fact about them, so you will imagine that one of lifes biggest disappointments for me is not being able to drink Scotch Whisky. I just can’t drink it, it sort of sits there and burns, it would have been great material to chat about as some of these tiny distilleries have amazing little stories to tell…………anyway I digress.
So of late Jack Daniels have been making a special versions of Jack daniels old No 7, Gentleman Jack, Fire, Rye and one called either Silver Select or Single Barrel, dependant where you buy it,(Silver’s export only) a much smoother flavoured version of the old classic, taken from barrels at the top of the storage barns, which because they are the top, fluctuate in temperature more and therefore the spirit goes in and out of the barrels more thus giving it a smoother and different taste – of course, there’s a premium for this stuff, but its very nice.
So now that we were doing a road trip across Georgia and in particular Tennessee, I could tick off one of the items from my bucket list, which was to visit the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg.
Some Interesting facts about JD;
- All of the JD for everywhere in the world is made in Lynchburg.
- Lynchburg has a population of approx 700 of which 50% work in the distillery.
- It’s the hollow spring water that makes JD so special, it’s why the distillery is where it is.
- The distilled grain spirit passes through charcoal for 3-4 days, that is burnt on-site, from local sugar maple wood.
- JD make their own barrels from American Oak, they are toasted to help the flavouring of the raw spirit.
- Jack Daniel chose a well-considered recipe of 80% corn, 12% barley and 8% rye.
- Its readiness to drink once in the barrel is all dependant on the weather and how hot or cold the seasons were, it’s ready when the tasters say it’s ready.
So as I said, I not only enjoy the taste but also the story, the “Angels Share” tour is by far the best, you get a 1.5 hour tour that takes you through the history of the man himself, the whole process from start to finish, including the spring water cave, culminating in a tasting session of there finest offerings.
If you’re in the area and you’ve got time its worth the Pilgrimage!
Our trip was topped off by meeting up with some lovely ARC friends Christoph and Angela from S/V ITHAKA who had flown up to Florida from Grenada on a little trip of their own, they were in Jacksonville for a couple of days (about an hours drive from us) so we jumped back in the GMC and had a meal in downtown Jacksonville, great to catch up, hopefully, we’ll meet up again next season as they are coming North!