Sunday, August 7, 2011

Begin the Begin

I've never really even considered having a blog, but after a gentle push by my wife, Amber, I decided to start one for my latest endeavor. But I guess the best place to begin is at the beginning, so without further ado. 

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 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.


  1. A few comments:
    1)I've never seen Phish, but I did see R.E.M. at the Hampton Coliseum (which ties in nicely with you title). Saw them with a casual work associate of mine who I became good friends with, largely because of that R.E.M. concert.
    2) Should you and Effrin make your way to PA, you can crash at my place and I can accompany you to Buchanan and/or Cleveland. As a bonus, I can take you to the PA governor who is buried in Morris Cemetery just a few blocks from us.
    3) Are any Tennessee governors buried outside the state? If so will you be visiting them as well?
    4) Looking forward to following this blog!

  2. In response to your comments.
    1) I've seen REM twice..once in Atlanta and another time in Nashville at the Ryman. They are easily one of my favorite bands of all time. I actually contributed to a friends blog reviewing all of the albums. I will have to link you to it!
    2) Thanks so much for the offer! We may well take you up on it...planning a trip to OH next year.
    3) I am still researching the locations of all of the graves but I know for sure that Sam Houston is buried in TX and I plan on visiting there for sure. I am doing a google map with all the Governors and will post it.
    4) thanks so much! I will try and keep it fun and make lots of music references!

  3. 1) Probably my favorite band as well. First saw them in 1983, at noon on an very hot August day, opening for the Police, and have seen them about 10 times since then. I really am the stereotypical '80s college guy whose life soundtrack was the early R.E.M. albums (but I like nearly all their stuff--I even figured out a way to like Around the Sun. I'd enjoy reading your R.E.M. reviews and, if you're interested, I can lead you to at least two or three R.E.M.-related entries that are scattered around on my blog.
    2)When your plans start leading you to Pennsylvania, definitely let me know.
    3)You've got me wondering where all the PA governors are, and even how many we've had. I'll let you know.
    4) Sounds like fun!

  4. 1) The REM posting is actually over on William's blog (Guess What I'm Listening to?). That is absolutely amazing about seeing them in 1983, I saw them on the greatest hits tour in ATL and on the Around the Sun tour at the Ryman here in Nashville, which was a really cool experience. You know I've tried and tried to get into Around the Sun but I just don't think it is going to happen for me.
    2) Thanks so much for the offer and I will let you know as plans start moving in that direction! While my house is too small to offer a place to stay let me know if you ever make your way to Nashville and I can show you around some...I work in the music industry so I can maybe get you into a recording session or two and we could check out the Grand Ole Opry. (even if you're not a huge country fan it's pretty amazing)
    3) You should definitely check it out. Wiki has a nice article for you to start with.
    4) Yeah, outside of family and friends my passion in life is history and music so I'm sure as this blog gets rolling I will have a sort of soundtrack rolling. We'll see.