Tag Archives: San Francisco

The Man From Little Cedar Lick

10 Jul

I have been reading Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S.C. Gwynne. As you can tell by its title, historians like long titles, and it is about the Comanche.

It is a great book filled with information that I already knew and a lot of information that I had never read before. There are names of interesting people on both sides of the struggle between the Comanche and those encroaching on their territory. These are people who fought for what they thought was right and may have been well-known in their day. However, many of them have faded from history.

I am far from finished with the book, but one name has already stood out. John Coffee Hays is described as the greatest of all Texas Rangers. In fact, he is the one who taught the rest how to do their jobs. His exploits provide great reading, but a tidbit about his early life is what intrigued me.John Coffee Hays

Hays was born in Little Cedar Lick, Tennessee. When I read about his birthplace, a small memory crept to the front of my mind. Several years ago, I was speaking at Rotary about Tennesseans who became famous in the American West. I mentioned the obvious ones like Sam Houston and David Crockett. However, I also talked about John Chisum, Clay Allison and Peter Burnett.

When the presentation ended, a man in the back asked if I knew anything about the guy from Wilson County who became a Texas Ranger. At the time, I did not know anything about him, but this book may have made the introduction.

Like all great investigators, I did a Google search and discovered that John Coffee Hays was born in Wilson County. I also discovered that all of the sites that have information about Hays must have been copied from the same source. Almost all of them were word for word duplicates. The only differences were about his relationship with Andrew Jackson.

I read that his grandfather sold Jackson the land that would become the Hermitage. There was also the story of Jackson being John’s uncle. Also, his father fought with Jackson during the War of 1812. Oh yeah, another said that John spent many days at the Hermitage.

All of that may be true, but, around here, everyone wants to be connected to Jackson. If your ancestors lived in this area while Jackson was alive, then they were best friends. If your name is Jackson, then you are descended from him, which would be difficult since he did not have children.

I will have to ask my colleague, who has a great blog called Jacksonian America and who is one of the leading experts on Andrew Jackson.

Then, I remembered that I know someone named Hays. I sent a text to Nick Hays, who is running for County Trustee, and asked if he was related to John Coffee Hays. He replied that he was, but the family did not have much information on him. He learned most about him from Monty Pope. On the first day he walked into Monty’s class, he asked Nick if he knew about the Hays who became a Texas Ranger.

By the way, if you live in Wilson County be sure to vote for Nick.

As I read about Hays, I began to wonder about the place where he was born. I have lived here all of my life and have heard many stories about its history, but I have never heard of Little Cedar Lick. I thought about asking the folks at the Wilson County Archives, but I do not have much faith in them these days.

Instead, I went to good old Google. Man, that thing is as handy as a pocket on a shirt. All I found was Little Cedar Lick Church. With nothing else to go on, I drove to the location. It was on a road that I had never been on, and I had no idea what to expect. The picture in my mind was of a little country church.

Instead, I found this.image-3

I have no idea if this is the same area where John Coffee Hays was born. I only know that he was born in Wilson County and made his name as a Texas Ranger. Then, he moved to California and became the sheriff of San Francisco before being one of the founders of Oakland.

Throughout all of that, Hays may have looked back and remembered Little Cedar Lick, but I am afraid that place may have disappeared through the ages.

 

Listeria – Inspiration Point

24 May

In the last post, I wrote about the list by True West of historic sites “that will make you weep.” That article contains a couple of secondary lists. One of those is “10 Western History Shrines That Will Inspire You.” Following are the ones that I have visited.

1. The Arch, St. Louis, Missouri – It is impressive to see. Driving into St. Louis, anyone can see that it dominates the skyline. However, I never saw it as inspiring. That could be because I have never been in it. I have been at its base and in the underground museum about westward expansion. However, my dislike of heights has kept me from going to the top. By the way, its real name is the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.

2. The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas – In the last post, I wrote about my disappointment with the Alamo. Any place where people gave their lives is a place of inspiration. However, I cannot get over my initial feelings about the site.

3. Custer National Cemetery, Little Big Horn National Historic Battlefield – Before you get to the welcome center or the battlefield, you pass the cemetery. Like other military cemeteries, this one makes you think about all of those who gave their lives for their country. Our nation has not always gone into a fight for a just reason, but that does not lessen the sacrifices of those who served.Montana 2012 and Other Stuff 123

4. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho – The last time I was in the park was with my dad, my brother and my nephews. We did not go into the heart of the park but walked around the Mammoth Hot Springs and the Yellowstone River. The natural wonders are amazing, and the power of the earth is inspiring. Everyone should see Old Faithful at least once.Montana 2012 and Other Stuff 275

5. The Palace of the Governor’s, Santa Fe, New Mexico – I could have been there this week but had other things to do. It is the oldest government building in the United States. Today, it is a museum, but it has witness great events in history. It has been under Spanish rule and American rule. Heck, it has also been under Confederate rule. Governor Lew Wallace finished his novel, Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ, within its walls.SONY DSC

6. The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California – My wife and I drove across the bridge on our honeymoon. It is a cool feeling to drive across one of the most famous bridges in the world. However, I did not expect all of the people walking and cycling across it. Just thinking about the power of the currents underneath is enough to inspire.image-25

8. Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Keystone, South Dakota – This is truly an amazing site. Looking up at George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln is an inspiring view. However, I cannot help but think that the Black Hills were taken from the Native Americans to get at its gold.

9. Crazy Horse Memorial, Custer, South Dakota – This one is also in the Black Hills and is the Native American answer to Mount Rushmore. Crazy Horse was a famous warrior, but I wonder what he would think about a mountain being carved into his likeness. There are no known photographs of Crazy Horse, so we have no idea if this looks like him. On top of that, they have been carving the mountain for decades, and it is nowhere near finished. When I see it, I cannot help but think that the Native Americans are getting shafted again.

There is another list called “10 Western Sites That Will Make You Misty.” Next time, I think I will skip that one and move on to another subject. I do not find it very interesting or misty.

The Honeymooners – From the Streets of San Francisco to the Hills of Tennessee

24 Jul

Normally, I wouldn’t write about the return to Tennessee, but a couple of things happened that I found interesting. We scheduled an early flight home in order to arrive at a decent hour. Necole had to go to work the next day, and both of us were anxious to see her daughter. We missed her and everyone else back home.

This meant that we had to wake up 3 o’clock. That’s 5 o’clock in our time zone, but, by now, we had adjusted to San Francisco time. Getting up that early is never fun. We got into the car at 4 o’clock. It was dark, and we were fuzzy on the details of the route. I studied the route the night before, but I don’t think clearly before daylight. This meant that we needed the lady inside Necole’s phone – the one that tells us which way to go.

She took us through the heart of San Francisco. It was dark. The traffic lights were blinking. It was us and a few taxis. One of America’s major cities was deserted. In a few hours, these same streets would be packed with traffic and pedestrians, and we had them all to ourselves. It felt surreal. On some level, I felt like Robert Neville.

We didn’t run into any mutants wearing sunglasses and got to the airport in plenty of time. On the way, I said something about the flight not being delayed because it was one of the first ones out. I was wrong. This meant that the connection a Midway in Chicago was going to be tight.

At least, we thought it was going to be tight. After we boarded the plane for Nashville, the vehicle that pushed the plane away from the gate slipped a break and slammed into it and cracked the nose. Yep, our plane was in a head on collision while sitting still. We sat on the thing until a maintenance crew replaced the nose.

What’s interesting about that? Although the pilot tried to reassure everyone, it’s a strange feeling to go up in a plane that just had a new nose put on it. What if the workers didn’t tighten the bolts? What if the new nose fell off? All kinds of stuff goes through your mind.

Well, the nose job worked, and we made it back to Tennessee. My mom picked us up at the airport and had a big homemade meal waiting for us. We had drank wine, eaten fancy meals and had a few ordinary meals. Now, it was time to get some southern food and get ready for the rest of our lives.

I can’t have a post without a picture, so here is the last one I took. It is the view of San Francisco from Alcatraz.Honeymoon 043

Thanks for reading about our honeymoon. Regular Surrounded by Imbeciles stuff will return in the next post.

The Honeymooners – We Made It In-N-Out of Alcatraz

23 Jul

The last full day of our honeymoon had arrived. At some point, we needed to pack and get ready for the flight home. However, we had something to do before that – tour Alcatraz. I was definitely excited about it because every trip needs to include a historic site. Necole said she was excited about it. At first, I thought she was saying that for my benefit, but, as time passed, I started to think that she really was fired up for this.

We had tickets for the 1:00 tour and needed to kill time before loading onto the boat. Walking out of our hotel, we instinctively looked for a place to have breakfast. All we saw was a Mexican restaurant. This wasn’t Santa Fe, so we weren’t down for that. Just as we were about to go back and talk to the concierge, I saw it. Angels sang as I looked upon an IHOP. Pancakes. Eggs. Hashbrowns. Here we come.

When that was over, we walked a block to the wharf. Sunday morning is a lot less hectic than Saturday afternoon. People strolled along peacefully. Others jogged from one end to the other. Up ahead, Necole saw a guy who looked just like Marlon Brando. I mean a living Marlon Brando, not the skeletal version. In all, it was a completely different atmosphere.

We took advantage of this and strolled hand in hand to the site of the Louis Vuitton Cup.Honeymoon 038

It is a preliminary round for the America’s Cup and was being held in San Francisco Bay. I’m not sure how someone watching a sailing race, but there was a lot of other cool stuff to do.

Finally, it was time to go to Alcatraz, one of my favorite places to tour. It’s amazing to walk through the prison and wonder what its inhabitants went through. This was definitely the end of the line in the prison world. Being sent here meant you were the baddest of the bad. From the island, the sounds of the free world can be easily heard. In some ways, that had to be the hardest part.

The prison wasn’t that large and didn’t have as many guards as one would think. The water was the ultimate guard. Although land is a short distance away, the waters are too treacherous to swim across. A few people tried to escape. Most never got off the island. Those who did have never been heard from again.Honeymoon 040

We escaped the island and found ourselves back on a crowded wharf. However, we weren’t wandering around not knowing where to go. We had a goal, and it was In-N-Out Burger. Everyone told us about the greatness of these hamburgers, and they weren’t lying. Necole and I both agreed that it was one of the most awesome hamburgers we have ever had. After lunch, we planned on riding a trolley, which would have been our second visit to a piece of preserved history, but the line was an hour long. After an entire week of eating, drinking and sightseeing. We were ready to pack it in.

There was one other thing to do, however. We asked the concierge if there was a place to have dinner that wasn’t touristy and wasn’t seafood. She led us to an Italian restaurant on the non-wharf side of the hotel. It was quiet and peaceful. The type of place we needed to have the first argument of our marriage.

The Honeymooners – “This Isn’t a Restaurant! It’s a Lobby!”

22 Jul

We were in no hurry to leave Sonoma, but it had to be done. First, it was to Carneros for breakfast, which wasn’t as good as the dinner we had there. Then, it was on the road to San Francisco. We had a room reserved on Fisherman’s Wharf. I know that it’s a tourist area, but sometimes you just have to do tourist things. Necole had never been there, and we thought that she should see it.

We retraced our trek and returned to the city by going over the Golden Gate Bridge. Necole put on Facebook that it wasn’t really gold, and one of her friends said the name had something to do with the type of paint they used. That’s not exactly right. The bridge spans over a waterway that is known as the Golden Gate. You have to watch out for those Facebook facts.

After crossing, we headed toward the wharf on streets that were filled with traffic. They were also filled with pedestrians, bicycles, trolleys and other untold transportation methods. Sometimes, I think that Necole is not impressed with my driving. On this day, she thought I was doing an excellent job.

We made it to the hotel, got into the room and said, “What the heck? Let’s go out amongst them.” Let me tell you, there were a lot of them. People were everywhere. Necole said that it was worse than walking in New York City. Crowds gathered around street performers and blocked the sidewalks. Bicycles whizzed by. People were wandering around and not looking where they were going. It was chaos. It was also linguistically chaotic, as we heard dozens of languages.

Anyway, we went to Pier 39, the heart of tourism along the waterway. This is where you can find the Hard Rock Cafe, Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Company and a guy pretending to be Jack Sparrow. It is also where you can find the sea lions that are always hanging around. Except, they don’t hang around this time of year because they are busy repopulating the Earth with more sea lions.Honeymoon 037

There was one guy swimming around. I didn’t see a pocket protector, so I don’t know why he couldn’t get a girl.

By this time, we were becoming overwhelmed. We probably saw more people on the wharf than we had in Half Moon Bay and Sonoma combined. We were tired. We were hungry. It was time to find some food and some relaxation. Taking the advice of our bellhop, we went to Scoma’s. That was crap. He probably got a cut for sending people there.

We sat at the bar to wait for a table, and this crusty old bartender asked what we needed. She looked older than the wharf. Necole wanted something specific, and they had a little go around before coming up with a drink. Necole wasn’t happy and spoke in hushed tones about the bartender’s attitude. When we got up, she said, “That’s what you call a broad. Not a woman. A broad.” I was so proud of her. That term hasn’t been used since the days of Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney. Necole went all historic on me.

The waiter was nicer, but I didn’t think the food was any better than the bartender was. After that, we walked some more and made our way to the hotel, which had some fire pits set up outside. Having some of that good Laxton wine with the twist off cap, we decided to take a bottle street side. That’s when Necole got into it with another broad.

Apparently, there is a $20 bottle fee at the fire pits, and the woman working in the deli shop inside was going to get her $20. We paid it but not without getting our money’s worth. The lady was told in no uncertain terms that we had paid hundreds of dollars for a room and should be able to drink our wine anywhere we wanted. She retorted that no restaurant would allow us to do that. That’s when Necole replied, “This isn’t a restaurant! It’s a lobby!”

Some guy from Los Angeles was sitting with us when that happened. We found out that his father used to be the mayor of Los Angeles, and that he was in San Francisco with a bunch of buddies. They were going to show up at any time. They never did show up. I think he was he San Francisco by himself.

Oh, I forgot that a homeless man was sitting at another fire pit when we sat down. They didn’t charge him a bottle fee for his tall boy.

Eventually, some people from Seattle sat with us. They were interesting and taught me a lot. Namely, the South does not have the monopoly on rednecks.

The Honeymooners – The First Tastes of Sonoma

19 Jul

And on the third day, we left Half Moon Bay. However, we didn’t leave before having lunch at an awesome sandwich shop. All of the ingredients were fresh, and they put a bunch of them on the sandwiches. After lunch, we drove up Highway 1 toward San Francisco. We had no idea what we would see along the way, but we knew it would be different from what we saw going south.

The road had a little more traffic, and the coast had a little more development. Before we knew it, we were on the coastal edge of San Francisco. It was like driving anywhere else, but I noticed something strange. You couldn’t turn left at any intersection. Necole and I had a whole conversation about how you can get anywhere without turning left.

Some of the neighborhoods we went through looked somewhat rundown. But, we also passed a mall with a Nordstrom, which I know is fancy because Necole and I saw Nicole Kidman at the one in Nashville.

As we went further up the road, Necole was getting more nervous. Once, she had panic attack going over a bridge in Florida, and this road was taking us over the Golden Gate Bridge. She asked if it was a suspension bridge. When I said yes, she began to squirm. As it turns out, Necole did great. She busied herself by taking pictures and felt better when she saw people walking a riding bicycles next to us. Unfortunately, she took those pictures on her iPhone, and I don’t have any to put in this post.

Crossing the bridge took us into a completely different place. We went from city to suburb, and it must have been a heck of a suburb. We passed a Ferrari dealership and a Bentley dealership. We also passed another Nordstrom. Nashville thought it was a big deal to get one, and we saw two on the same road.

We took this route because our next few nights were going to be in Sonoma – Wine Country. Here, we would see fields of grapes and wineries around every bend. We saw those things, but some other stuff surprised. The land without grapes reminded me of Montana. Also, we passed a race track. Somewhere in my mind, I recalled that NASCAR has spent time racing in Sonoma. There’s just something not right about that. The people I see at Talladega don’t seem to be the Wine Country type. In short, NASCAR needs to run where they make whiskey, not wine.

We made it to the city of Sonoma and our hotel, The Lodge at Sonoma. It was not the Ritz, but it was an alright place to stay. The put us in a dinky room, so we had them swap us to a bungalow. This room was better but not great. However, what we found around us was awesome.

After checking in, we went to the Sonoma Plaza. This thing was huge and dwarfed the plaza I have visited many times in Santa Fe. City hall sat in the middle. I thought it was interesting and took a picture of it.Honeymoon 014

I wonder if I am the only person who ever took a picture of city hall. Anyway, we immediately went to a wine tasting. After all, that’s why we drove all the way up there.Honeymoon 015

After some wine, we walked around the plaza, ventured into some art galleries and had dinner at this cool restaurant. Then, it was on to another wine tasting. Little did we know that this was just the beginning of our tasting experiences.

We went back to the hotel and found a spot in a bar/coffee shop/cheese place. I had beer and cheese. Necole had wine and cheese. The beer was good. The wine was good. The cheese was awesome.

The Honeymooners – Puttin’ on the Ritz

16 Jul

Necole and I just returned from our honeymoon, and I know everyone is anxiously awaiting a detailed report of the trip. At least, I am anxious to let everyone know what happened on the trip. It was a completely new experience for me. I had never been to the places that we planned to go, and I had never been a honeymooner before. These were uncharted waters.

We flew Southwest to San Francisco, and that meant a couple of things. First, we had a layover in Las Vegas. I must say that it felt funny flying in Las Vegas without plans to gamble. Necole and I planned a trip there a few months ago but couldn’t go because she bought a local business. I really want to take her there and just hanging out at the airport was not enough.

I hate connecting flights, but the man we were sitting by on the plane had a real connection story. He had been in Florida for a funeral, and this was the second leg of his journey. It went from Florida to Nashville to Las Vegas to Tucson to Amarillo. Then, he had another 90 miles to drive to get home. That means that he lives in the middle of nowhere.

Second, we were going to be delayed a little heading into San Francisco, which was probably because one runway was closed. As the world reported, there was a tragic plane crash there a few days before. We wondered if we would see some remnants of it. In fact, we landed on the neighboring runway. It’s a weird feeling to land in a plane while looking at a crashed plane out of the window. Literally, it was right next to us. It was also weird to see people moving around an airport like nothing had happened.

We got our stuff loaded into the car and headed to our first destination, Half Moon Bay. Along the way, we passed orchards, fields of flowers and greenhouses. It was truly an agricultural area. I didn’t realize it at the time, but we were going to spend a lot of time in agricultural areas.

Half Moon Bay in a small town on the coast, and we had no problem finding our hotel, the Ritz-Carlton. Hey, I figure it’s a honeymoon, so we should stay at a nice place. The lady at the guardhouse greeted us by congratulating us on our marriage and wishing us a great honeymoon. The people at the desk did the same thing. The Ritz-Carlton really knows how to treat guests.

After unloading in the room, we went outside to see this.Honeymoon 001

I have never been to Scotland, but I have imagined that it would be something like this. To get a good view of the coast, guests can sit here.Honeymoon 002

Not knowing where else to go, we dined at the restaurant inside the hotel. The Ritz-Carlton is fancy, and that means they have fancy food, too. Small portions. Artistically placed on the plate. Pretty to look at but not very filling. We knew what we had to do. We went to the concierge and inquired about the nearest Baskin-Robbins.