Day 9: August 29, 2010
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I've seen the sign many times before and often thought I'd stop someday and today was the day. The Museum of Appalachia isn't far off I-75. I'm not sure what I expected but I know I found a whole lot more. The museum certainly isn't a secret -- it's a member of the Smithsonian Institution's Affiliate Program and has appeared in numerous magazines -- but I'd either forgotten or hadn't paid attention. It's the dream and life's work of John Rice Irwin who, in order to give it life beyond his, turned his collection over to a not for profit organization in 2000. His daughter is the current Executive Director and John is a member of the board.

Items on display include those from the famous and the not so famous. There's John Hartford's first derby and Sargent Alvin York's table along with Asa Jackson's perpetual motion machine, which he was working on before the Civil War, and many of H. Harrison Mayes' signs. Hayes was likely more famous than I'd have thought. He started fulfilling his promise to God by painting "Sin Not" on the side of a pig and eventually managed to get his signs placed in all 50 states and 82 countries. Even so, Mayes did not realize all of his goals. Working without spellcheck, Mayes left behind some advise.

Tom Cassidy's home is one of the most recent additions to the museum's collection of buildings. Tom lived in it until his death in 1989. It and its furnishings were moved to the museum in 2007. Look inside here and read about it here. If, like the Blue Ridge Parkway, people celebrated birthdays based on the start of construction, Mark Twain would be nine months older and the cabin in the second picture might be known as his first home. There is a fair amount of support for the belief that the John Clemens family moved from this cabin just a few months before their son Sam was born.

Daniel Boone lived in the next cabin pictured -- sorta. The early 1800s cabin played the role of Daniel's home in all four episodes the 1977 Young Dan'l Boone TV series. That's the Big Tater Valley Schoolhouse in the fourth picture. All the buildings are filled with authentic furnishings though the items did not necessarily originate with the building they are in. Here are glimpses inside the schoolhouse and the Clemens and "Boone" cabins.

"Porch Pickers" appear daily and today Judy & T.J. had the honors. T.J. not only plays a variety of instruments; He makes them. He made the beautiful resonator guitar he plays with a slide. T.J. corrected me without sounding like it when I called it a Dobro. Dobro is the tradmark, now owned by Gibson, for the instrument developed in the 1920s by the Dopyera brothers.

CDs were available from both performers. Impressed with his picking, I purchased T.J.'s offering. As the place was rather empty on a Sunday morning, I had been treated to a personal concert. It was break time when I walked on. Judy ended the silence with a song about a bird. I didn't recognize the song but stood listening by the path as she sang. The sweet voice seemed to fit the setting perfectly. I thought of returning for that other CD. I didn't and I've regretted it ever since. I hope I get a chance to correct that.

I knew that Don "RoadDog" Hatch was planning a trip to visit family in North Carolina but figured I would be long gone before he got close. It's not too surprising, I suppose, that I was a little slower than anticipated so it started to look like he might be driving toward Asheville while I was headed away. I called "RoadDog" before leaving the motel this morning but had to settle for leaving a message. I took I-75 to Caryville then moved onto US-25W to drive one of my favorite sections of what was once the Dixie Highway. But, when I reached La Follette, I had a change in plans. I hadn't heard from "RoadDog" and wasn't even sure if he was on the road. On impulse, I followed the signs toward Cumberland Gap and US-25E instead of staying on US-25W toward Jellico. Fortunately the phone rang before I'd reached the point of no return. "RoadDog" was near Louisville and headed toward I-75 on US-150. We guessed there was four or five hours driving time between us and agreed to recalibrate in a couple of hours. I turned around and retraced the few miles to La Follette.

So I got to drive that favorite section after all and that's where the pictures are from. There's great scenery, of course, plus Henry's One Stop. Maybe it's new or maybe I just hadn't noticed it before. I believe I've always driven southbound. Henry's is hard to miss northbound.

I stayed with US-25W and discovered there's more than chicken in Corbin's past. According to Corbin Tourism, this "train sculpture garden" opened in October, 2009, and will remain for a year.

In our coordinating phone call, our GPS units indicated that "RoadDog" and I would reach Mount Vernon pretty close to the same time so that became our meeting target. Since I was a tad closer, I would reconnoiter and pick a spot. The only restaurant actually in the town is closed on Sundays. I pulled into the IGA on US-150 at the west edge of town and gave Don a call. And that's how Don Hatch and I came to be sitting with a couple of soft drinks at the employee break table in the parking lot of the Mount Vernon, KY, IGA. A friendly employee told us of some fast food places near the expressway and we did eventually relocate to the McDonalds but that didn't seem photo worthy at all after the IGA.

"RoadDog" headed south on I-75 while I continued north on US-25W for another thirty miles or so. Then, just north of Richmond, KY, I declared the road trip over, put a lid on it, and hit the expressway home.

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