Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Crashing and Modifying the Plan

There comes a point in every one of our genealogy road trips where we suddenly crash. We are tired of driving, tired of living out of a suitcase and just plain tired. We start looking for something that will boost our enthusiasm for the last days on the road. At the end of our Arkansas trip, we ended up in Hot Springs at one of the spa hotels and indulged ourselves with massages and hot springs baths. At the end of our cruise, we spent the last night in a Hyatt Regency in super lush surroundings.

So this morning we got up, looked at each other and knew it was time to deviate from our plans and do something off the cuff. But first, a little catching up. Last night I was too exhausted to file a report.

Yesterday we got the A+ Crittenden County tour from Cousin Marty Hodge. Bless his heart, he put up with us for most of the day, taking us to cemeteries, Hodge landmarks and to all the little cities that figure so prominently in my Hodge genealogy files. He never once complained. Marty is the one Hodge cousin whose research I trust as much as I trust mine. We hooked up years ago via the Internet and he went to bat for me against Hodge historian Barbara Knox who had misinterpreted some records and mangled my John Hodge line in print. I had been aggravated about it for some time, but wasn't in a position to argue with her. Marty took up the cause and got the record set straight. I owe him for that.

One of the major landmarks for us Hodge historians is Claylick Creek. Brothers Robert and William Hodge owned considerable land on both sides of the creek. We stopped for pictures and decided it was the perfect place for us to be photographed together, seeing as how Claylick Creek and being a Hodge goes hand-in-hand.

We had a great time and even regrouped later on, adding his wife Nancy to the party, and went out for some good food and fellowship. I think we all slept well last night, having completely exhausted ourselves.

After such a good day, it surprised us a little that we woke up feeling the need to make agenda changes. We headed to downtown Marion, toured the well-run Historical Museum, then hit the visitor center where the lady in charge recommended we run out in the country to see an Amish quilt shop. We did and thoroughly enjoyed our chat with the woman and both of us left with a wall hanging. I think that's the point we realized we were ready to shop. We had planned to visit a couple of stores in Nashville at the end of our trip and we decided that the sooner we got there, the sooner we could go broke, so we packed our bags and hit the road.

At the last minute, I suggested that we go to Nashville by way of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and get a photo of the mental hospital where ggg-grandmother Mary Hodge spent her later years. Along the way, I spotted a sign that reminded me of childhood vacation trips and I include this photo for brother David.

I knew before we got there that the folks at Western State Hospital will not release any information about patients, present or past. I stopped across the street from the Hospital and got a picture of the sign, then we decided that nothing ventured, nothing gained, so we drove up to the guard house and asked if we could drive in a little ways to get a photo of the building.

It was almost funny to see the contortions that passed across that poor guard's face. He hated so much to have to tell us we could not take pictures and could not drive up to the building. We tortured him for a few minutes, but finally agreed to leave. But there is more than one way to skin a cat, so we drove up the road a bit and then turned around and slowly inched our way back and Lana shot some photos out the window as we cruised by. So there.

We were about to make a U-turn and head back out, when I got one of my sudden impulses (I told you I would have one on this trip) and drove on into downtown Hopkinsville. We drove right up to the Christian County Historical Society and we decided to go in and ask them about the situation at the hospital.

We met one of the nicest men you could ever hope to run into on a genealogical quest. He had a definitive list of all the inmates who had been buried at Western State Hospital and he was able to confirm that Mary was not buried there. He promised to check a few additional long-shot sources and let me know if anything else turns up. As we were walking out, he asked us if we had been to Fairview to see Jefferson Davis' birthplace. We had not known we were anywhere close to it, so we altered our plans again and drove out to see the monument, which is quite impressive. It looks somewhat like the Washington Monument.

During the season, you can ride an elevator to the top, but unfortunately the season doesn't start until May, so I didn't get to give Lana a hard time about her aversion to heights.

About 40 miles later, we had a sudden inspiration and decided to indulge ourselves and spend a night at the Opryland Hotel. We got in for one night and are hoping for a cancellation that will allow us to stay here until it's time to head for the airport. We've eaten ourselves miserable, walked all over the three sections of the huge hotel and are recharging our cameras tonight so we can get pictures of all the beautiful plants that fill the atrium.

We have had another great day. Sometimes you just have to wing it and go where the wind blows.


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