Some couples choose to spend their anniversary sipping champagne in a swanky hotel.  Vickie and I celebrated our 23rd year together by traveling to southeastern Tennessee to see a concert – in a cavern,  (that’s a story – -for another time). On our way driving to a new destination from West Virginia, we left the interstates and took Highway 27 through Kentucky and Tennessee.  Getting to be lunch time, we wanted something light. We stopped for gas in Dayton, Tennessee – and missing a turn, drove into the small the downtown area. Out of the corner of her eye, Vickie spotted “Scopes Trial”  on a historic marker in  front of an old Courthouse.  Checking that marker out gave us a fantastic lunch and history stop.

This was the courthouse where the famous 1925 “Monkey Trial” was held. Creationism vs. Darwinism.  We took pictures of the courthouse and next to the two statures of lawyers William Jennings Bryan and    Clarence Darrow. We found a door cracked open on the basement level that said “Museum” and wandered in.

What we came upon was a new and shiny display detailing the historic trial covering the entire basement – and not a soul around.  A security guard came in and asked if he could help us.  We said we just wandered in and complimented him on how new everything looked. He said it should, we’ve just finished a major museum renovation, and no one has seen it yet. In fact, the guard said the Governor was coming Monday to dedicate the Rhea County Heritage and Scopes Trial Museum.  We apologized for barging in, the guard said no problem, look around. He even took our picture together.  I casually asked him if there was anywhere good for lunch downtown. He said “we have a monkey brewery a few blocks down.”  Being the craft beer enthusiasts we are – Vickie quickly replied ” Yeah, we’re going there.”  Before we left, the guard directed us upstairs to the courtroom. It was still lunchtime, no one was around, and we  entered and marveled at a grand old fantastic looking courtroom, the very place the 11 day long trial was held 93 years ago.

Then, still amazed at what we happened upon, we strolled  down a lovely main street to the “Monkey Town Brewing Company.” – – We enjoyed a great chicken salad lunch and one of their fine craft beers.

When we got home, we watched ” Inherit the Wind” and did some research, discovering the statue of defense lawyer Clarence Darrow was only put on display last year.  Prosecutor Bryan’s statue was erected in 2004.  Checking out what happened at the dedication ceremony, we saw there were still protesters 93 years later, holding signs that denounced Darwin’s theory and said “Darrow was Wrong.”

Dayton was lovely and the museum and courthouse – – were fascinating.  And it all happened as we went off the beaten path, just monkeying around.

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