Blurry photo of road

Kept a Road Trip Journal?

February 14, 2008 - The Journey Begins

This is TGA’s first BIG field trip of the year (even though the school IS just a field trip). This is our trip across the state on I-40 or, technically, Discovering the Geography and Geology of Tennessee and How it Impacted our History.

Photo of Dr. Duck and TGA students

Butch Cross and Suji Jeong with Dr Duck and the TGA Sign on campus at the Tennessee School for the Deaf.

Firstly, we would like to explain the duck that you might see in many of our photos: on the way back from Oak Ridge National Laboratory yesterday, we thought that it would be a cool idea to have an item that we could take everywhere and take pictures of. So we would like to introduce another member of the TGA family: Theodore Gregory Anton Sr., Ph.D. or, as we loving call him, Dr. Duck.

So far we’ve taken Dr. Duck to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

Dr. Duck in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Dr Duck on the Dash

Here we hiked to Look Rock, where Dr. Ted Labotka talked to us about the geology of our state. We learned about how the valleys and mountains of Tennessee formed: though the valleys held rock originally, the rock was soft and was washed away over millions of years, while the harder rock stayed where it was and formed the mountains. Dr. Labotka also talked about the variety of rocks and minerals that can be found in east and middle Tennessee such as Zinc, Tennessee Marble, and Coal for example.

View from Look Rock

And then…We played in the snow!

Photo of Dr. Duck in the snow

Ben Owens with Dr Duck

Photo of Dr. Duck and Brittany

Brittany Lucas with Dr Duck

Our next excursion of the day was a drive to the Cumberland Plateau along with Dr. Ted Labotka. He told us about all the interesting land formations of Tennessee. We could see several of these land formations from the top of the plateau.

View from the Cumberland Plateau

View from the plateau of Rockwood

Dr. Duck with kids on the plateau

Gina Lebkuecher, Suji Jeong, Dr. Duck, (in Suji Jeong’s hand), and Ben Owens at Cumberland Plateau.

We then drove to Fall Creek Falls where played on the swings while we waited for our park ranger: Stewart Carroll.

Students on swings

Andy Castillo and Ben Owens on the swings

When Ranger Stewart showed up, we learned about the Geology of Fall Creek Falls National Park, and why there are so many waterfalls. We also learned about the people who lived there before it was turned into a national park. He took us across the bridge that was used in the live action Jungle Book.

Students crossing the bridge

Ben Owens, Gina Lebkuecher, Ethan Sanders, Lauren Leggett, Bob Shi, and Bennett Adkinson on the bridge.

Students pretend to attack Bennett with icicles

Gina Lebkuecher and Ethan Sanders "attacking" Bennett Adkinson with icicles

We went to the Nature Museum, took a bus tour of the park, and headed in for night. Some of us also went on a constellation hike, where we learned about Cherokee myths of why the stars formed constellations.

Group photo

Before we went to bed, however, we found that Dr Duck was taking a swim in the lake:

Dr Duck in the lake

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February 15, 2008 - Of Duck's Eggs & Old Hickory

After spending most of the night in the lake, we treated Dr. Duck to a good breakfast:

Dr Duck and his breakfast

After breakfast, we hiked to the bottom of Fall Creek Falls where we learned about the geography of the park.

The group at Fall Creek Falls

After lunch at Fall Creek Falls, we drove to the Hermitage where we learned about Andrew Jackson and his accomplishments as president.

Dr Duck at The Hermitage

After the Hermitage we spent some time at the Battle of Franklin and then drove to Nashville, where we ate and had a recruitment meeting.  

Unfortunately, Dr. Duck is M.I.A.!  A ransom is being offered if you have any information that leads to the capture of the kidnapper.  Dr. Duck's last known whereabouts was the Fairfield Inn pool.  

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February 16 - Even Bill Bass Can't Find Dr. Duck

After not being able to locate Dr. Duck, we are sorry to inform you that there will be no more Dr. Duck pictures taken on this trip—but there will be plenty of other amusing photos.

At the start of day three of our six day road trip across the state, we went to the Carter House in Franklin, Tennessee, where the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Franklin, happened. In the museum, we found the coffin of Colonel Shy, whose body was misidentified by Dr Bill Bass by over 100 years. We read Death's Acre by Bill Bass earlier this year and in the book, Dr Bass talks about his experience with Colonel Shy and how it served as a catalyst for the idea of the Body Farm.

Our tour guide was Mr. Fraley, whose amazing knowledge of the site and storytelling abilities helped us envision what actually took place the night that the Battle of Franklin was fought. He cut no corners and sugar-coated nothing when he told us about the boot-deep bloodshed, which made it all too real. However, it hit hardest when we saw the bloodstains on the floor. A few years earlier, the FBI came and sprayed a chemical which fluoresces when it comes in contact with blood proteins. Mr. Fraley said that you could read a book by the light the chemical gave off, and the FBI agents, who were experts in their fields, were shocked and speechless by the amount of blood in just one room.

The Carter House
The outside of the Carter House (we were not able to take pictures of the inside to protect the historical site from damage)

After leaving the Carter House, we went to the Carnton Plantation which, like the Carter House, served as a battle hospital for the Battle of Franklin. We learned how Carrie McGavock grieved for every single soldier that died for the Confederacy, which gave her the title of "Widow of the South." We also saw the bloodstains that still remained after over 100 years. What was even more gruesome, we also saw one of actual operating kits and a replica of operating table, and where the blood seeped through the carpet and stained the entire corner of the room with blood.

Carton Plantation
Picture caption: Aly Brunson in front of the Carton Plantation

After the Carton Plantation, we dropped in for a visit and a bite to eat with Jay Wilcox's family. We wound up staying a bit longer than anticipated to socialize…and play a few games…

Jay Wilcox
Jay Wilcox playing croquet

Suji Jeong

Suji Jeong and Margaret Sudderth playing croquet

Bob Shi, Sam Wilcox, Aaron Smith

Bob Shi, Sam Wilcox, and Aaron Smith running after the football

Gina Lebkuecher, Emmanuelle Torchon, Suvam Kabir

Gina Lebkuecher, Emmanuelle Torchon, and Shuvam Kabir playing football

Ben Owens

Ben Owens catching a Frisbee

Brian Wilcox

Brian Wilcox (Jay Wilcox's father) throwing the Frisbee to Ben Owens

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February 17, 2008 - In the Court of the King

In the morning, we drove to Memphis, where we spend the first half of the day at Graceland. We took and audio tour of the house and outlying facilities. There we saw some amazing sites, like an ENTIRE room devoted to his jumpsuits and gold albums.
Bob and Ben at Graceland

Bob Shi and Ben Owens face the camera at the front door of Graceland

Suji at Graceland

Suji Jeong next to the swing set that was originally Elvis' daughter's

Ben Owens as Elvis

Ben Owens channeling the King

Elvis's suit and guitar

Elvis' jumpsuit and guitar, flanked by gold and platinum albums

After a refreshing lunch at Huey's, where we shot toothpicks into the ceiling (as is customery there) we went to the civil rights museum. We learned about Dr Martin Luther King Jr's accomplishments, along with other civil rights revolutionaries including Gandhi and Rosa Parks.

Civil Rights Museum
The outside of the Lorraine Motel where Dr King was shot

After a very educational experience at the Civil Rights Museum inside the Lorraine Motel, we ate at the Spaghetti Factory.

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February 18, 2008 - TGA Goes Underground

Although we were not fortunate enough to stay in The Peabody while we stayed in Memphis (due to the hotel not having enough rooms available), a few of us were fortunate enough to visit and see the Duck Palace, as well as several other art works, such as the lobby ceiling mural and various paintings around the hotel that Elizabeth Roadinger's (one of our students) grandmother had created. Bottom line, it was awesome, and kinda amazing!

The Duck Palace

The Duck Palace on top of the Peabody, with Elizabeth Roadinger standing next to it

The ducks of the Peabody Hotel

Some of the world famous Peabody Ducks

After seeing the amazing ducks, we loaded back up on the bus, and went to the Dunbar Caves. There Dr Jan Simek met us and took us spelunking in the caves. We saw cave art that was thousands of years old and graffiti from the Civil War era.

Group outside Dunbar Cave entrance

Our group standing in front of the entrance to the Dunbar Caves

Brittany Lucas and a cave formation

Brittany Lucas in front of a cave formation

After a tiring experience in the caves, we went back to the hotel where we took a nap and then went out to dinner at Maggiano's, an absolutely fantastic Italian restaurant. We ate a ton, but still had a lot of food left over that wasn't even touched, so we gave the rest of the food to the homeless.

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February 19 - We Conquer the Athens of the South

The last day of the trip we were in Nashville again! Because it was the last day, we got to sleep in a few extra hours. After those hours we drove to the Frist Museum for the Visual Arts. We weren't able to take pictures in the museum, but we did get to see the Aaron Douglas exhibit, along with other works by Monet, Picasso, and Dalí.  We were also able to do some artistic expression in the exploration part of the Frist. We also saw the amazing needlework skills of an up-and-coming artist named Angelo Filomeno.

After the Frist, we walked around the Parthenon, and described the stories that adorned the top. It also got our legs working, as we had to go to lunch and leave right after that.

Frieze at the Parthenon in Nashville

The top of the Parthenon, with the Battle over Athens adorning the top

Brittany and Andy at the Parthenon

Brittany Lucas and Andy Castillo standing at the base of the massive pillars that hold the Parthenon's grand roof aloft

After loading the bus, it was loud for few minutes, but then our lunch at the Calypso Café and the rest of the trip soon caught up to us. Most of us were asleep by the time we got on the interstate.  When we finally got back to the cottages, we ate some dinner and then collapsed in our beds as we reminisced about our amazing trip.

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I-40 sign Dr. Duck is on the loose