A couple of years ago I had a business trip to Tennessee. It wasn’t a bad trip but it wasn’t particularly a trip of a lifetime either. It was very business-oriented and filled with work.
Tiff and I had left the hotel early on Saturday morning. I had done all that I needed to do for my business trip, and neither of us had to be back to work until Monday morning. That’s when I decided to take back roads all the way home. I thought “why waste a good Saturday on the interstate?”
I pondered at google maps. I jumped on Atlas Obscura for a moment. made sure there wasn’t something super interesting nearby. There didn’t seem to be. (For those of you that don’t know Atlas Obscura I’ll be doing a post about it soon!)
I picked a random east traveling road and we set out on our adventure. We traveled through lots of farmland. No big surprise there in East Tennessee. After driving for about 30 minutes, we passed this sign that said “unincorporated Chestnut Hill.” We drove over a slight bump and curve in the road where the valley opened up to this massive factory complex. Before I had a chance to form any kind of preconceived notions. We looked to the right and saw a big Bush’s baked beans sign. As long-time baked bean enthusiasts, we had to take in the museum tour.
As we walked into the gift shop we spotted the museum to the right and decided to take the tour. There was a small movie theater where you learned about the history of Bush’s baked beans. (I won’t get into that here because you should really go check it out for yourself.) There were items from the commercials with Duke the baked beans dog. There was an extra-large can of baked beans that you could walk through. Then make your way to some of the vintage equipment areas. Towards the end of the museum tour, there was a friendly man. He would take your photo in front of a Bush’s baked beans backdrop and give you a free copy.
We struck up a conversation with the guy who took our picture and he asks us what brought us to Bush’s. We told him we were out for a Saturday joy ride and he suggested we should take a drive to Dandridge.
After we left Bush’s we made our way to Dandridge, The second oldest town in the state of Tennessee. Dandridge is a nice small town surrounded by history. We took a tour of the local museum and walked almost the entirety of the small town. There were historic buildings and a Revolutionary war cemetery. We walked around the cemetery for a bit and we found the monument of a Revolutionary war prisoner of war. His stone had a few paragraphs he had written to his wife and how he was to be executed at dawn. But, none of that had happened. He was released before the execution had taken place and lived many more years. That was a pretty happy note to have found in a cemetery!
As the day pressed on we found our way to Cherokee Lake. we pulled over at a picnic area and stretched our legs for a bit. As we were leaving. We caught an elderly couple taking pictures of themselves with their old-school copper brown Cadillac. Looking back I wish I had gotten out of the car and ask to take a couple of photos of them. I feel it would have been a fantastic little photoshoot.
We made our way farther north and I found myself in some more familiar territory. I knew there was an antique place near Tazwell that I wanted to stop at. As we pulled into the driveway the sign said we had 30 minutes of shopping. I made a quick sweep of the aisles. I came across a brown leather pouch that concealed a Keystone K-8 8MM movie camera. The Price was right so I had myself a nice souvenir from Tennessee.
Before we got back to Kentucky we decided to take a pit stop in Cumberland Gap, Va or Tn. I’m not exactly sure which state we were in, Possibly both. I’d been by there many times, but every time I passed I was on my way someplace else.
Cumberland Gap was a nice small town nestled in the gap itself. Little shops and museums lined the streets. We parked in a parking lot and took a short walk through the treeline to an old iron furnace. There was a mountain stream rolling from high up in the hills. It was as picturesque as you would imagine.
As the sun grew lower in the sky our stomachs grew hungry and I already had a place in mind. We drove north to Pineville, Ky. I’d passed this place called Engles many times, and this time we decided to stop. I’m not sure if they even show up on the map but they had great food! At least the burger was good! when I go to a new place I usually judge the quality by the burger since it’s one of my go-to meals.
For a random Saturday out driving around, I thought we turned it into a heck of a trip! It just goes to show you that you don’t have to have everything planned out to have a fantastic day trip!
Editor and Chief, Cavalletto Magazine
Owner And Operator of Burton Media Group
Christopher Burton is a acclaimed Photographer and has appeared in many shows, galleries, and publications over the years.