Saturday, August 25, 2012

What We Learn...More Thoughts from Bristol

Bristol Caverns Bristol, TN
What did we learn in the last few days on our continued adventures in Bristol, TN?

I don't like grits.  I tried.  With some cajun spiced shrimp, mushroom gravy and cheddar cheese.  Everything in the dish sounded good--including the grits.  They are corn.  I like corn in almost every iteration.  Popcorn is possibly one of the most divine creations on the planet.  Corn bread, corn dogs, hush puppies, on the cob, with I couldn't imagine I wouldn't like grits.

But I don't.  There's something missing.

Richard does not like white lightning, also known as moonshine.  Even when sweetened with Mountain Dew.  Still, the mason jar the drink was served in is really cool.  In case you're thinking we went up in the hills and found a local still, nothing so exciting happened.  They're selling it at the track in collectible jars.  We like the nostalgia associated with it, though.

Yesterday afternoon we visited the local tourist spot, The Bristol Caverns.  I've done the cave tour thing before, and it's always cool to look at our planet growing and changing from underneath.  But there's usually a story that goes with the cave.  In this case, it goes back to the early settlers in the area and their relationship with the Cherokees.

Now, in my everyday world they are definitely referred to as the Native American Cherokee tribe.  They suffered at the hands of the white man and we are admonished to remember this in our daily lives.  In the Bristol Caverns, we were told the Cherokee Indians used to pillage the locals' crops and use the caves to hide in, using a tiny entrance that required extreme agility to climb down the 180 ft. to the bottom and escape through the underground stream.  And then the Cherokees would attack again.

Eventually, the Cherokees left (insert your own history is not discussed in the tour) and the locals opened a better entrance and used the caves as a giant root cellar.

I found it interesting what is important to the area is not the Cherokee history, but the mayor's use of the cave as a conference chamber because it has awesome acoustics. I felt something is missing here.  Then again, the geography was only briefly talked about and more time spent pointing at formations that look like hamburgers, sharks, the nativity, etc.  And the gift shop sported lots of trinkets from China, a few made in Ohio.  Even the duck decoys were carved in Indonesia. Something better could be made out of this little tourist spot.  Just sayin...

Meanwhile, this area is undoubtedly suffering from the economy.  Many strip malls are empty, corner stores hidden beneath a carpet of kudzu. We drove down back roads where tiny houses are decorated by sad looking dogs and a single rocking chair on the porch.  It speaks of a depth of poverty I haven't seen since living in Downeast Maine.  The green hills and city of RV's that currently decorate them is misleading.  This neighborhood needs something more than a single race weekend.

Well, that's all for today.  NASCAR thoughts?  There will be my usual column in the Frontstretch Newsletter on Tuesday and probably another blog for the extraneous thoughts the column doesn't fit.

No comments: