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Unread 21 Oct 17, 11:04 AM  
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CrispyA
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Join Date: Oct 11
Touring Tennessee: Day 15 Frozen Head State Park & Crossville

We slept well and were up and dressed at a reasonable time. We didn't get breakfast at this hotel, so we checked out and got on the road, heading for a Cracker Barrel we had spotted on our route out of Knoxville.

We had a lovely breakfast there, having got there just in time to get a table before the main rush started. Having never visited before this holiday, we were now huge Cracker Barrel fans and particularly loved the biscuits.

The boys enjoyed a game of checkers on the porch outside while me and Hannah chilled on the rocking chairs and listened to country music. It was lovely.



The next stop was Frozen Head State Park. The reason for this was to make a pilgrimage to the yellow gate, the start of the Barkley Marathon. The Barkley Marathon is a 100 mile ultramarathon, consisting of 5 loops of around 20 miles. The route is unmarked with no aid stations, apart from a couple of water points and around 54000 ft of climbing. Very few people have ever finished all 5 loops. As each runner drops out, a bugler plays "Taps" for them.

The inspiration for it came from James Earl Ray's escape from the nearby prison - he was on the run for 55 hours before being captured and only managed to cover 8 miles. The organiser of the Barkley, Lazarus Lake, reckoned that was somewhat pitiful and that you should be able to run a lot further in that time. If you are interested, there is an excellent documentary called The Barkley Marathons: The race that eats its young on Netflix. We watched it before we went and spent it being amazed at the feats of endurance of the runners and really getting into rooting for them.

We passed the prison on the way into the park, then called at the Ranger station to find out where the gate was. It is near a campsite, so we parked up and then walked over to have a look, while the campers presumably thought we were somewhat crazy, getting very excited by a yellow metal gate.



While we were there, a runner came by. We asked if he was training for the Barkley. He laughed and said that he was training for the Barkley Fall Classic, shorter race at a mere 50km(!), however it is a similar route the full race and very tough. We wished him luck and he headed off up the trail.

We got a picture of Paul running up to the gate and tried to imagine how it would feel to finish a race like this.



After our pilgrimage, we headed out, planning to visit Rubgy, which is supposed to be an "English" village in rural Tennessee. The satnav took us on a somewhat strange and winding road and we felt as though we really were in the middle of nowhere. We passed an old guy sitting on his porch in his dungarees, who gave us a wave, and we did wonder if we had stepped back in time a few decades.

Once we arrived in Rugby we realised that while it was quite picturesque, there wasn't a whole lot there. We parked and had a brief stroll up and down the road, then got back in the car and on the way to Crossville, our next destination.

On the way, we stopped at a gas station for a quick comfort break. It felt very Southern - the people were super friendly and there were free books of sermons for you to help yourself to on the walls.

Coming into Crossville, we called at Dairy Queen for blizzards and then to Walmart for some supplies, including my Gotham frying pan as we thought we may as well get it once we saw it.

We were staying at the Super 8 in Crossville as it was right in the path of totality for the Eclipse, which was happening the next day. We had booked this hotel a year ago and it was a good thing we had booked so early, as everywhere was sold out. They were turning people away at the front desk as we arrived and I can imagine it was the same story all over the area.

Once we had checked in, we headed out to Chuckles, a "fun spot" nearby. Evan was keen to try a batting cage and we all fancied a spot of mini golf. I have to admit, with a name like Chuckles, my expectations were low. I expected it to be supremely tacky and a bit grotty but we were pleasantly surprised that it was really rather charming.

The staff, who were all very young, were really friendly and quite surprised to meet some English people in the middle of nowhere in Tennessee. We explained that we were here for the eclipse and had chosen Crossville for that purpose.

The batting cage was really good fun. Hannah and I had a go and managed to hit a few of the balls, and Evan and Paul hit most of them. Evan did try the fast pitching machine which was hilariously difficult but the slower machines were a bit more fun.





We also had a round of mini golf on a deceptively difficult course. Although Paul was the ultimate winner, he never managed a hole in one. The rest of us did though and may have mentioned the fact once or twice or 50 times over the course of the next few days . . .







Back at the hotel, we planned to go to the Mexican restaurant over the road for our tea. As the hotel was so busy, I thought it might be wise to try and book a table so gave them a ring. Unfortunately, Paul decided to blow his nose really loudly as the person replied to me about whether or not a reservation was needed so I couldn't hear a word of what they said. There was a full and frank exchange of views about this afterwards, especially as the restaurant had put down the phone after answering me so we were none the wiser.

As a result, we headed out early and fortunately for my husband, we got a table straight away. So no harm was done by the ill-timed nasal evacuation. It was still annoying though!

We had a lovely meal and then went back to the Super 8 to watch Game of Thrones, feeling fortunate to have accidentally booked hotels with HBO for all the Sundays on our trip.
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Unread 21 Oct 17, 12:03 PM  
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Melbatb
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It must take you ages to research all these off the beaten track places!

Fun afternoon by the looks of it!

Hope it was clear for the eclispe!
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Unread 21 Oct 17, 10:40 PM  
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CrispyA
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Originally Posted by Melbatb View Post
It must take you ages to research all these off the beaten track places!

Fun afternoon by the looks of it!

Hope it was clear for the eclispe!
Research is one of the best parts of planning a trip - I love it! But then, don't we all?
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Unread 22 Oct 17, 07:54 AM  
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WileyCoyote
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No picture of this Gotham pan ! I must go and google it ...
Another interesting day off the beaten track. That marathon sounds utterly horrendous. What possesses people to do these things. Good sporting afternoon there, do like a bit of competitive crazy golf. Did laugh at the ill timed nasal incident. It's the same as people who absolutely must speak to you / ask questions/ issue instructions in close proximity while you are on the phone- isn't it totally annoying !
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Unread 22 Oct 17, 01:26 PM  
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#5
CrispyA
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Originally Posted by WileyCoyote View Post
No picture of this Gotham pan ! I must go and google it ...
Another interesting day off the beaten track. That marathon sounds utterly horrendous. What possesses people to do these things. Good sporting afternoon there, do like a bit of competitive crazy golf. Did laugh at the ill timed nasal incident. It's the same as people who absolutely must speak to you / ask questions/ issue instructions in close proximity while you are on the phone- isn't it totally annoying !
The race looks totally insane - the documentary is worth watching and gets quite absorbing.

As for other people making noise when I'm on the phone - it drives me nuts! I was once leaving a long voicemail for a yoga teacher when Paul decided (for reasons unknown) to make a really loud mooing sound right by my ear. I then dissolved into hysterics and had to ring back and leave another voicemail apologising for both the mooing and the snorting laughter. I could never really look the teacher in the eye again after that.

Try this for the pan - you'll want one!
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Unread 22 Oct 17, 02:21 PM  
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RachelM
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What a great day. I am looking forward to planning our trip for 2019, although feeling slightly bogged under already with all the ideas.
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Unread 6 Nov 17, 09:45 AM  
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Mortimer Mouse
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Yeay - you bought the pan! Is it as wonderful as the advert suggests?
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