We had a head start on Saturday morning when we woke up in Morristown, Tennessee -- 58 miles closer to home than we had planned. This worked out perfectly. Our main goal at this point in the trip was to get home, but we were more than willing to plan a few extra stops if we had the time.
We had the time, and I had a certain destination in mind -- Andrew Jackson's Hermitage in Nashville, TN. We were going through Nashville anyway, and it was our opportunity to visit another president's home. I visited the homes of the first six presidents -- could I add the seventh to my list?
1. We visited George Washington's home in 2008 -- near my aunt's home.
2. John Adams' home was a homeschool field trip when I lived in MA.
3. We visited Thomas Jefferson's home on the way home last year.
4. James Madison's home was the day before.
5. We toured James Monroe's home after Monticello last year.
6. John Quincy Adams' home -- same trip as the 2nd.
Well, we got to go. I had no mental picture in mind when we went to The Hermitage. Unlike some of the other presidents, I have no great admiration for Andrew Jackson. I do approve of some of his policies. He is the only president to pay off the national debt and he opposed the national bank. On the other hand, he is responsible for the removal of the Indians and the Trail of Tears. Also, he wanted to do away with the electoral college. He is a difficult man to like (from my limited historical perspective). He married his wife before her previous marriage was ended, and (unlike the Virginia presidents) was a harsh slave owner.
Touring his home and grounds was a unique opportunity to get to know the president better. The home is in wonderful condition. The carpets, wallpaper, furnishings, books, paintings, etc. are original. In many ways, it was as though the Jackson family was away for the day, and we were given the privilege to see inside. The portable audio tour was a big hit with me, so we spent a couple hours wandering the grounds with earphones on our heads.
We drove several more hours that afternoon and evening. Our goal was to spend the night in Memphis and have a good meal. My dad told us over the phone that Memphis is known for its barbecue, so we used our GPS to help us find a restaurant. But how were we to find a good place? The GPS doesn't know good BBQ from bad BBQ!
We randomly picked one from the list. The directions landed us in a neighborhood we weren't comfortable with and next to a "place of entertainment" we were definitely not comfortable with, so we decided to leave and randomly pick a new place.
I know you can't choose a restaurant by its name, but that is all we had to go on. Some said "So-and-So's Delicious BBQ" or "Someone Else's Best BBQ" or Third Place's Memphis' Favorite BBQ." We decided not to try a restaurant that had to tell us they were the best. We wanted the actual best. So, we randomly chose Neely's Bar-B-Que.
The decision had been made, and we were on our way when Susanna realized that there is this family on the Food Network named the Neelys, and aren't they from Memphis? Don't they do BBQ? I didn't have a clue. I knew who she was talking about, but I don't watch their show, and I didn't have a clue where they were from.
We arrived. It looked like a normal BBQ place -- which means it doesn't look like too much on the outside. We went inside. We could hardly believe it when we saw the posters inside for the show Down Home with the Neelys. Their baby pictures were in the lobby, and the dining room was full of photos of the Neelys with other Food Network stars.
The food was good too. It is sweeter than our favorite BBQ places in Oklahoma, but it was delicious. My only regret is that I wasn't hungrier. I shared a plate with my mom, and it looked like we barely touched it! I had some of the leftovers for breakfast, so at least I was able to spread mine out over two days.
Our hotel was over the Arkansas border in West Memphis. It was our cheapest night of the trip, and there was good reason for the "great deal," but we were happy knowing we would see Dad the next day and have our own beds to sleep in.