Next up, we left Calera, AL around 8am and traveled through Huntsville on the way to Tennessee. I know Huntsville, aka Rocket City, because this is where I was fortunately enough to go to Space Camp one summer when I was middle school age! Jeri was able to take some pictures as we passed by since the camp is right off the interstate and funny enough, some of the buildings had not changed much if at all. They still had the full size mock up of the space shuttle and the tubular structure that was the dormitories back in the day.
Our goal for the day was to drive 180 miles to Tim’s Ford State Park, hopefully be able to check in early and deploy the motorhome, then drive into Lynchburg for our 1:45PM tour of Jack Daniel’s Distillery - so we were on a tight time schedule. One thing we’ve learned is that it always takes far longer to get somewhere than Google Maps indicates since we are usually below the 70mph speed limit. Even getting a good start in the morning and with a reserved spot, we barely made it to the campground by about 1pm. We’ve never unhooked the tow car from the dolly, backed into our spot, and deployed so fast and smoothly - it must have been 10 minutes tops! Then a short 15 minute drive later, we made it to the distillery about 1:35pm with only a few minutes to spare since the tours leave on time every 10-15 minutes and if you miss it, you’ll have to be slotted into a later one. Whew!
The tour is about 90 minutes and they walk you through the distillery grounds and share the history and process of making their whiskey from start to finish, with interesting stories about Jack Daniel’s throughout. All the Jack Daniel’s for the world is made here so the production is absolutely massive. For example, they have 89 barrel houses that can store a million gallons of whiskey at a time. All the water used in their whiskey comes from their own onsite cave spring which is a cool 58 degrees year round and the most comfortable place on the tour. We did the Angel’s Share tour which includes a tasting at the five of their high end whiskeys: Gold, Sinatra Select, Single Barrel, Single Barrel Barrel Proof, and Single Barrel Rye. Single barrel whiskeys result from barrels that age at the top of the barrel rooms where the temperature fluctuations are greater producing a richer flavor. The grounds were very well maintained and it was a nice place to visit. We took a picture with a life size statue of Jack, who was only 5’2”. Afterwards, we walked into Lynchburg which is pretty small (population is in the 300s), basically a town square with a lot of stores selling this and that, and a few restaurants. There looked to be a really good BBQ place, but unfortunately it had closed early due to it being Memorial Day.
Back at Tim’s Ford State Park, we were able to make a campfire for grilling our dinner. I’m not used to the parks here allowing you to use dead fall wood which was nice. It seems like every place in California required you to bring your own firewood. There were a few great hiking trails and we found a path that led down to the lake. This would be a great spot for kayaking and we saw a few.
Next day we had a departure mishap where we were forced to choose one of two ways to get to the exit: 1) was a path with lots of low hanging branches that could have dragged hard on the roof or worst yet did some damage to all the equipment up there. I opted for 2) a more direct path with no overhead obstructions but had a fairly steep downward and sharp left turn to navigate. As luck would have it, we were just a few feet short of making the turn and the motorhome got pretty close to scraping the front and end caps on the ground (but hey, as long as it does not hit no foul!). Unfortunately, we cannot really back up and correct the angle due to the tow dolly + car like you can with a trailer so that means hopping out and taking the tow car off, taking the dolly off, and then doing a three point turn so the motorhome is aligned with the exit road, then hook everything back up. Luckily, we waited until last minute to check out and we have the entire process down to a science so we weren’t blocking the road for long. Always an adventure!