Lynchburg, TN - 18 NOV 2010

My adventure this week was not at the Post (Redstone Arsenal) or the town in which it is located (Huntsville, AL). Flying into Nashville, TN and driving down to Hunstville, I saw several hot air balloons: Because this was the first Army teaching location that was located off-post and the only location I've been to that did not have a free museum, I did not get to see the actual Post. Redstone was built in 1941 to produce conventional chemical ammunition for WWII, but for over 40 years it has been the heart of the Army's rocket and missile programs. As my class told me, after the war they brought over several German Scientists (rocket experts) to develop the first ballistic missile...which led to the establishment of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in 1960.
Huntsville is home to the spectacular US Space & Rocket Center museum, but at a ticket price of $25, with no senior discount, I decided I'd have more fun at the free Jack Daniels Distillery tour in Lynchburg, TN (on the way to the airport). Each year, around 250,000 people take their free tour which does NOT offer samples (free or otherwise), as it is located in a dry county. The Visitor's Center where the tour begins
The grounds of this distillery is a photographers' delight.
Everywhere I turned, there were artistic images bagging to be captured in my lens.
They put you on a bus, drive you around the corner, where everyone stands in front of a woodshed so the bus driver can take your picture:
After a few days, the photo can be downloaded from their website for free...I'm the one in the white scarf, coyly taking the photo of the bus driver:the white-haired lady on the left was our tour guide...her heavy Tennessee accent and the pattern of speech was a hoot to listen to. The sugar maple we're standing in front of, is turned into charcoal which is used to filter the distilled alcohol before being placed in charred white oak barrels for aging.The charcoal filtering stage, called Lincoln County Process, is what makes it a whiskey not a bourbon.
The distillery is located next to a cool, pure, iron-free cave spring water supply.
Just outside the cave is a statue of Jack, less his hideous full beard.
Born around 1850, Jack became a licensed distiller at the age of 16. Being a bachelor, his business was passed onto a nephew.
Everyone wants their picture taken with Jack:
He died at the age of 61 from blood poisoning from an infected foot, the results of an injury caused by kicking his safe. There are many stories about the number 7, but the real reason was buried with Jack.

They make three types: Original Black Label (a mix from several barrels), Single Barrel and Gentleman Jack (filtered twice through the charcoal). As soon as I left the dry county, I purchased a sample package of the three types. When I got to the hotel, I conducted a taste test before retiring for the evening. The Black Label is harsh but mixes well with code as the cola and sugar enhance its flavor. The Single Barrel is smoother and can be enjoyed on the rocks but the Gentleman Jack is by far the smoothest and best tasting.

Fort Stewart, GA – 05 NOV 2010

Located in Liberty County (an hour out side of Savannah), this 280,000-acre post is the largest military installation East of the Mississippi...which means it's bigger than last weeks Fort Rucker which felt like driving through a forest. I guess this one just didn't feel as remote since the gates were located close to town. This place served as a POW camp for German & Italian prisoners in 1943-45, but I didn't find any information about it in their museum. What I did learn was about the bikini:"On July 5, 1949, French designer Lousi Reard unveils a daring two-piece swimsuit at the Piscine Molitor, a popular swimming pool in Paris. Parisian showgirl Micheline Bernardini modeled the new fashion, which Read dubbed 'bikini,' inspired by a news-making US atomic test that took place on Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean earlier that week. In prudish America, the bikini was successfully resisted until the early 1960s, when a new emphasis on youthful liberation brought the swimsuit in mass to US beaches. It was immortalized by pop singer Brian Hyland, who sang "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini" in 1960, by the teenage "beach blanket" movie of Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon, and by the California surfing culture celebrated by rock groups like the Beach Boys." (Signage in Fort Stewart Museum)
I did get to see "Golden Guns;" Saddam Hussein had several gold-plated AK47s made as gifts.Tinky Winky takes a ride on a T-71M-1 tank. This was a Polish built export, the Republican Gard crewmen abandoned on a Rumalia Oil field in March, 1991, when we arrived.
TW poses with a marble nose-less Saddam Hussein...the sign read, "This bust of Saddam Hussein former Dictator of Iraq was located on a building near Forward Operation Base (FOB) Prosperity. It was placed on a building much like Gargoyles are placed on American buildings. Local nationals were in the process of removing and destroying several other busts from the building, when they gifted this one to I-76 HHB. (Note the battle damage to the marble)" These were outside the museum; unfortunately, they and no labels to tell me anything about them.

I noticed this emblem and the term 'dogface' so I had to do some research. I learned that during WWII, the Army infantry foot soldiers were called Dogface...reference linked to dog-tags, pup-tents, foxholes and the fact that they were treated like dogs during training. The 1955 film, "To Hell and Back" based on Audie Murphy's autobiography (he was the most decorated US soldier of WWII) included the song "The Dogface Soldier" which was popular during the was been adopted as the song of the 3rd Infantry Division. Although I did not get to hear it, I've been told it is sung every morning after reveille.

Fort Rucker, AL – 25 OCT 2010

Fort Rucker is 2 hours from Montgomery, snuggled in next to three small towns: Daleville, Ozark and Enterprise. This is the drive, after entering the Main Gate: Because it is the primary flight training base for the Army Aviation, it has flying machines of all types on display:This one looks like a giant dragon fly. Find Tinky Winky?
Yes, over the right wheel:Their Aviation Museum has the largest helicopter collection in the world. I like this life size winged man, hanging over the entrance:

Don't tell TW this plane isn't going anywhere.

TW takes control:
Cool to get a T-shirt of this one:
They had a room dedicated to the fallen pilots of the Vietnam War:
And of course they also had their own piece of the Berlin Wall:
Tinky Winky makes new time I let him dress in camouflage.
At the start of each class, I have an 'ice-breaker'...asking the students an interesting fact about their home town (telling them, I'm from the Halloween Capitol of the World: Anoka, Minnesota). There is usually a few people who were born, raised and lived their entire life in the small town near the fort. When pressed, they will come up with something interesting for me to check out, such as a prairie dog village, a wildlife sanctuary, a great rib joint or the oldest local cafe. This time I was told about the Boll Weevil Statue. That afternoon, after class, I had to find it: It was in the middle of the street and the stop light never turned to "Walk" so at some point I just went into the middle of the intersection to get my picture.
Why would anyone erect a statue to a boll weevil? Because around the turn of the century, the boll weevil wiped out 60% of the cotton crop, their main source of income, which forced the local farmers to expand into peanuts and other crops. Within two years, Coffee County became the nations leading peanut growers, with a crop that would stave off future economic disasters. In appreciation they erected the world's only monument to an agricultural pest.
Just as Atlanta has everything 'peach', this place has streets and shops named for their hero: