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The South, University of

Posted on October 18th, 2007 after 10006 miles by Dean Croshere.

How would you begin to express this?

My host suggested that he would start with a b minor 7.

I went with a 1/500 of a second exposure with a 26mm lens at f/4.2.

I’m not sure I captured it. I’m not sure it is possible. There is something infinitely majestic about sitting atop a plateau in Tennessee watching the sun set off in the distance on a perfectly clear day with just enough clouds to show off the magnificent coloring in the sky.

It also helps to be sitting underneath this enormous cross.

The cross was a war memorial covering several wars. I'm not sure if it was a memorial to all soldiers, just Christian ones, just soldiers from the area (presumed to be Christian), or what exactly is going on there.

Picture the University of the South. Imagine a school that embodies everything that is the South. Know that it is in central Tennessee. What do you see?

Is it the above view on a hill? Is it something like this?

Personally, I expected to hear banjos, see confederate flags, and watch guys in big trucks chew tobacco.

I was entirely wrong.

Well, I was wrong about the last one anyway. I did hear a guy playing a banjo, and there was this confederate flag. It’s just that the guy playing the banjo was in a nice suit and the confederate flag is an actual civil war battle flag. I didn’t see any big trucks, instead I saw a bunch of cars with bumper stickers like these.

All told, the school was absolutely beautiful. It was about the size of Pacific in students, but it owns the second largest amount of land of any campus in the States. The food service, like that of Pacific, is provided by Aramark. It was quite tasty. They were also not secure at all. If you walk in the front door you have to swipe a card. If you walk in the back door, no one notices you. I used this back door method to get four free meals. My host told me if anyone asks why I was there, I should claim I was his prospective student. Just the day before I was claiming I was already a student to get cheap aquarium tickets. It seems I’m regressing with my lies.

I had a great time in Tennessee. My host is a very active guy and loves to play the same sports I do. I unfortunately missed the Ultimate Frisbee game, but we wasted little time to head to the schools gym to start playing racquetball.

I lost the first game of horribly. I got back into the rhythm of the game and won the second match by a pretty good margin. Then I crashed and lost the third and fourth. All in all, it was an excellent cardio workout, the likes of which I haven’t had in quite some time.

After the game of racquetball, he went to a class and I hit the library to post about Atlanta. The campus was beautiful and everything was really nice, save for the internet speeds and the cell service, both of which were terrible.

I had been enticed the entire time I was considering heading to Tennessee that there was some great places to go climbing. The school had an indoor wall and, while I generally prefer indoor climbing, outdoor is where the experience is. That is when skin touches rock and the air is fresh. The holds are tougher to see, likely sharper, and the fall is much less comfortable. The benefit is that it is natural. It is the element to be conquered.

Unfortunately, I simply don’t have the muscles for climbing anymore. I don’t have many other ways to work out my finger or forearm muscles. It was a little depressing given that I used to love climbing and was quite good at it.

Whatever I do later in life, I hope I find a way to climb. There is simply no other sport that can compare to the exhilaration found in climbing. First, it is incredibly mental. Sure you can power through the moves, but often times it helps to slow down and think about how your body has to be situated to make that next hold work. Do I need my hips to be in or out? Do I need my feet higher or lower? Should I flag my foot to the left? Should I stack on that crimper or mantle on that sloper?

Then, and I think I like this part more, the sport is a combination of power and mental work.

There is only the climber and the rock. I will stay on that rock as long as my fingers grasp it. I have to physically let go in order to fall. Unless the rock breaks, I have to fail or I succeed. Fall, or reach the top. It is a competition against my own desire to stop the pain in my hands. As I said, I was really out of shape. I fell a lot.

The next day, on the way out of Tennessee, headed to Kentucky, I got lost.

See, I was supposed to take TN-41 alternate south, which, I found out later, was headed north. Instead, I got on TN-41A north, which was headed south. After a while I found myself considerably too far west of where I wanted to be.

It all really didn’t make much sense.

I was about to pull over to figure out where I was when I saw a sign at a crossroads that cheerfully informed me that the Jack Daniels Distillery was straight ahead.

Turns out I wasn’t lost at all. Turns out I was going on a distillery tour.

There were a few interesting tidbits about Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey that I picked up.

1. Jack Daniels is NOT bourbon.

2. Jack Daniels, the guy who started the largest whiskey distiller in America, stubbed his toe on a safe, got gangrene, and died.

3. Lynchburg, the town the distillery is located in, is in a dry county. With the exception of on the premises, no alcohol may be bought or sold in the county. There are 74 million gallons of Whiskey in this dry county.

4. Jack Daniels, unlike bourbon, is charcoal filtered.

5. The sugar maples are turned into charcoal after they are soaked in high proof whiskey and lit on fire.

6. Historic Lynchburg should really be called, “the worlds largest seller of Jack Daniels memorabilia.” There are about 20 old looking shops here. They all sell Jack Daniels memorabilia and little else.

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