Hope everyone had a great weekend celebrating independence in whatever way you chose. Ours was both traditional and unique. We were lucky to have time with Krissy (my daughter) and Ben (Jerry's grandson), two of our favorite people.
On Friday, the 3rd, Krissy, Jerry and I went on a short trip, about 40 miles south of Murfreesboro, to the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, TN. Krissy is known to sip a little JD, so she was enthusiastic about the idea. Taking I-24 and US82 south through Tennessee walking horse country is a very enjoyable drive. We chose to go on Friday thinking that we would beat the holiday weekend crowds. No such luck! Lots of people had the same idea. But, actually, we caught someone leaving their parking spot and the JD folks are prepared for onslaughts with tours every 15 minutes. We had a friendly and informative tour guide lead us through the entire process – the bubbling vats of mash with yeast smells floating through our nostrils, the whiffs of whiskey dripping through the special JD charcoal and the three-story barrel houses with the brew just waiting to be approved by the panels of tasters.
Did you know that their oak barrels are made onsite and burned inside to give the unique charcoal flavor? Or that it takes about seven days for a drop of the 140-proof-stage liquor to filter through the charcoal in the final processing? Also, we learned that there is no set time frame for aging the world famous Jack Daniel's Tennessee sipping whiskey. It's not three, or five or seven years. It's strictly determined by taste. When the panel of tasters says it's ready, it's ready.
In case you don't know, Lynchburg is a dry county. The owner of the distillery succeeded in getting the legislature to allow them to sell the collectible decanters with Jack Daniels inside. No one wants to open them, right? We also learned that the reason it is a dry county is that in Tennessee there must be over 2500 registered voters in the county before liquor sales is allowed. And this is a very small county that will probably never reach that point. In fact, our tour guide lived outside the county. We enjoyed hearing stories about Jack Daniels, a 5' 2” determined entrepreneur, and many local history tidbits.
Fortunately, on July 4 the volunteers working here at Stones River National Battlefield were learning musket and cannon firing. Our photo here is (L to R) Jim Lewis, the ranger providing his expertise in artillery; and three soldiers for the day, Scott, Edmond - aka Elena, and Ricky- aka Rebekah. The historical displays were just in time for Ben to come visit with us. The four of us enjoyed watching the booming demonstrations together. And also learned more from the excellent exhibits in the museum inside the visitors center. We also had a chance to show Krissy and Ben where and what we are doing for these two months of volunteering here.
When it was time to take a break, we had some nice sweet watermelon that we found at a roadside stand on our way back from Lynchburg. Later, everyone agreed that the 4th wouldn't be complete without a burger. So we dodged the downpour and made our way to the Red Robin Gourmet Burger restaurant. Our first time to try this place. I have to say that's the best burger I've had in a long time. I splurged with bacon, guacamole. Jerry went for all the traditional fixins. Ben, just catsup. Krissy had a red-hot, deep-fried jalapeno concoction. Everyone was pleased.
Then we chose to just relax and visit for the rest of the evening. We even found a vantage point in the cemetery near our parking spot to watch a little fireworks with our 6,000 soldier friends. It seemed appropriate to celebrate with them.