|Phish, Hampton, 2009|
Many years ago I made a deal with my friend, Effrin, that I would go and see the band Phish with him. Now I've never been a fan, but Effrin had already seen them well over 70 times and had been telling me for several years that, if the band (who at the time was on a hiatus) ever got back together, I would be going to see them on his dime. So in October of 2008, when we heard that Phish was doing a residency at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, VA, we immediately started planning our trip. Effrin set himself about at securing tickets, booking a hotel and planning the trip to see the band and I immediately started looking for graves along our route.
|Everyone we know got one of these from our Virginia trip because they're available for free at all rest stops!!|
Now I know that this might come off as a little morbid to some, but I've personally never felt that graves were a morbid or sad place...in fact quite the opposite. I have many a many fond memory from my childhood visiting both my maternal and paternal grandfather's graves with my Nanny and Mawmaw. Both my grandfathers had died before I was born so the only way that I ever knew them was through these visits and the stories that I was told every time we went the graveyards. I've always seen grave visits as a way to show your respect and admiration for the deceased and the only way to be 'physically' close to those who have passed. So you tie this in with my love of history and grave visits have always been an interest of mine.
|Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson chilling out at Stone Mountain, GA.|
In routing out our trip, I located the graves of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson in Lexington, VA, and the graves of Jefferson Davis, George Pickett and J.E.B. Stuart in Richmond, VA, which, based on my love of Civil War history, I was quite excited to see. I also figured while I was in Richmond, as almost an after thought, I would visit the graves of former Presidents, John Tyler and James Monroe. Little did I know that the visit to Tyler and Monroe's graves would be one of the catalyst to my latest history related obsession...visiting the grave's of all of the Presidents.
The other catalyst was a random Christmas Holiday trip to see the former residence of TN Governor and U.S. President, James K. Polk, where I picked up a copy of the Brian Lamb book, Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb? A Tour of Presidential Gravesites, which for anyone interested in history and/or graves is a must read. For you trivia nerds out there, U.S Grant and his wife Julia are buried in Grant's Tomb.
Over the past few years, I, along with Effrin, who has picked up my obsession and is my official travel buddy on (almost) all of my Presidential trips, have visited the following Presidents: James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, John Tyler, James K. Polk, Zachary Taylor, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Benjamin Harrison, William Taft, Harry S. Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.
|Harry & Bess Truman lie side by side at the Truman Library in Independence, Mo.|
So, back to where we started, I have recently decided that, in addition to the Presidential graves, I am going to try and visit all of the past Governors of Tennessee, two of which share the honor of having held both positions (James K. Polk and Andrew Johnson). I have yet to hear of anyone else who has completed this journey and there certainly aren't any books about it, so I figured I would keep a running journal of sorts about my trips and interesting things I encounter along the way. I will also probably mention my Presidential trips as they happen so be on the look out for those as well. As a side note, Phish was every bit as good live as Effrin said they were. Enjoy!
|The Standard of the Governor of TN apparently has a Christmas Theme.|