Native American Ruins at Old Stone Fort in Manchester, Tennessee

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Old Stone Fort in Coffee County, Tennessee (about an hour and some change south of Nashville, also home of Bonnaroo) is not a fort. When it was discovered by white settlers, they mis-identified it as a fort, and the name has stuck. In fact, the stone walls covered in earth works were created by Native Americans in the Middle Woodland Period (1,500-2,000 years ago). The site has been studied by archeologists on and off since the 60’s, but we still don’t know for sure what it was used for. The low wall is build along the edge of a peninsula created by the confluence of two rivers. The placement of the entrance to the large clearing within the wall suggests the area was used for ceremonial purposes.

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There are some interpretive panels around the site that can tell you more, but they are rather old. You can’t really see much of the wall, since it’s covered in earth and forest growth, but the site itself is a great place to walk around and explore for a few hours. There are a few little waterfalls and you plenty of paths to take you down by the rivers. There are also some ruins from civil-war era mills here and there. Aleksi and I drove down there last spring, and had a grand old time. I highly recommend it if you are looking for a nice half-day trip from Nashville.

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[35mm taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. Click here for more photos of Tennessee.]

Nashville, TN: A Winter Stroll Over the Cumberland River

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One of my favorite things in Nashville is the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge over the Cumberland River. When the weather is nice, I cross it in the morning and evening on my bike commute to work. Most recently, I marched across it with 15,000 others to protest the Trump administration. These photos here are from last year around this time, when Aleksi first visited Nashville and we did some exploratory rambling together in bitter cold weather. nashville26

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nashville23[35mm taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. Click here for more photos of Tennessee.]

Monuments and Memorials in Downtown Nashville, TN

nashville9A few sites in downtown Nashville. Above: My former least favorite and now second least favorite American president, Andrew Jackson. Capitol Hill. Below: The historic Downtown Presbyterian Church. Built in 1848, but the site of a church since 1818. Very iconic double towers worth googling if you are interested in that sort of thing. nashville11Below: A statue at War Memorial Plaza. nashville10
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Above: My handsome Finnish fella.Below: A war (WWII?) memorial in the Bicentennial Mall State Park.
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[35mm taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. Click here for more photos of Tennessee.]

Clarksdale, Mississippi: Home of the Devil’s Crossroads

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About this time last year, I was feeling a bit cooped up and landlocked in Nashville, where I had just moved in September. It was a big change to go from two years in Iceland and Denmark to life in Tennessee. While feeling a bit sorry for myself, I happened to see on Facebook that an old friend from undergrad in Maryland was living in Clarksdale, Mississippi. After some quick calculations, I realized it was only a four or five hour drive away. I asked if I could come stay for the weekend, and all of a sudden my eyes were opened to all the interesting places you can get to from Nashville in under six hours.

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Clarksdale, Mississippi is a small city in the northwestern part of the state. It’s the seat of a country bordering the Mississippi River, and you can reach Memphis in about an hour and a half. It’s great claim to fame is as the hometown of many great names from the Delta Blues tradition. In fact, it is at a crossroads in Clarksdale where legend says Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in return for the Blues. If you aren’t up to snuff with your blues history, you may still be familiar with a version of this story told in O Brother Where Art Thou, where they pick up “Tommy Johnson” at a crossroads in Mississippi.

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I arrived late on Friday night, and we headed down to the main street where there was a cool place to pizza and some local beer. Saturday, we drove down to Glendora, where Emmett Till was murdered in 1955. There we visited the Emmett Till Historic Intrepid Center (ETHIC), where the Mayor of Glendora (population 285) runs a small museum dedicated to understanding and healing through knowledge of the horrible events surround the young boy’s death. It was rainy and somber that day we drove down to the Center then back up to Memphis to visit the National Civil Rights Museum at Lorraine Motel. More on that when I post the pictures of the site. But on Sunday, it was sunny and bright. The streets were completely empty as we wandered around the downtown area. The only exception was singing coming from the little town churches.

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The beautiful Americana downtown had clearly seen better days, but there was still some life left and hopeful pockets of renovation. Every year, Clarksdale hosts the Juke Joint Festival, bringing crowd of blues fans to the city to enjoy the music and culture of the Mississippi Delta. This and some blues tourism seems enough to keep the doors open on music shops and other creative small businesses.

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If you like celebrity happenings, you may be interested to know that Morgan Freeman, Memphis native and current resident of nearby Charleston, Mississippi, co-owns a blues club in Clarksdale called Ground Zero (as in ground zero for blues). It’s pictured below.
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[35mm shot with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. Click here for more pictures of my travels in the US.]

And don’t forget to check out my podcast about museums and travel, Museums in Strange Places, available on Apple Podcasts and wherever else you get your podcast fix.

Newport, Rhode Island

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Photos from our August 2015 road trip from Maryland to Maine and back. In Newport we skipped the Gilded Age mansions and explored some of the quainter corners of this quintessential New England city.

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[35mm shot with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. Click here to see all the posts from this New England road trip.]

MD: Hamden, Baltimore

hamden7 “No neighborhood says “Bawlmer” quite like north Baltimore’s Hampden, a 19th-century blue-collar mill town that has evolved into the epicenter of hipster Baltimore kitsch.

Made famous for its starring role in John Waters’ films and long known as the place where everybody calls you “hon,” Hampden centers on 36th Street – known to locals simply as the Avenue. You’ll find original shops and an eccentric array of cafes mingling with the barber shops and pharmacies that keep this authentic, hardworking neighborhood real.” (text via)

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[35mm taking in July 2015 with my 1999 Olympus 105G Superzoom. Click here for more pictures of Maryland.]

MD: Baltimore Inner Harbor

Baltimore1 These pictures are from a lovely day trip with Aleksi. We wandered around downtown after visiting the unmatched American Visionary Art Museum. I was most recently in back in Baltimore in March for the 2016 annual conference of the National Council on Public History, an organization closely connected to the history nonprofit I work for, the American Association for State and Local History. It was nice to be back in Maryland. We had the incredible opportunity to listen to a talk from Devin Allen, the Baltimore native and amateur photographer whose picture of the Baltimore Uprising of 2015 made it to the cover of time. If you want to know more about the Baltimore Uprising, check out Preserve the Baltimore Uprising, an effort by the Maryland Historical Society to preserve “and make accessible original content that was captured and created by individual community members, grassroots organizations, and witnesses to the protests that followed the death of Freddie Gray on April 19, 2015.”

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As I’ve mentioned before, I was homeschooled, and when we were younger, my mom would take my brothers and I to the harbor all the time to visit the Walters Art Museum and go on all the historic ships docked in the harbor. So, while I am certainly not a local, Baltimore holds a special place in my heart. There is so much to see and do and so much weirdness in that city if you take the time to look.

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baltimore2  [35mm taken with my 1999 Olympus 105G Superzoom. Click here for more pictures of Maryland.]

ÍS: The Southern Edge of the Westfjords

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Callie and I didn’t plan to detour off the Ring Road to the Westfjords. We only had five days to go around the whole island. But we were making good time, so we took the long, long, bumpy, gravely twisty, over-mountainy and around fjordy road along the southern coast of the Westfjords to get to Látrabjarg, so that we could see the puffins that nest there. We stopped at this gorgeous spot somewhere along the way. Mmmm.

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westfj6[35mm taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. Click here for more pictures of northern Iceland.Click here for more pictures from my late May 2015 Ring Road Trip.]