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October 31, 2005

Tourism...

To get to the blogmeet this weekend we flew into Nashville, rented a car, and drove on 40 to just shy of Knoxville on 75. We went south towards Athens and our eventual destination of vicinity Etowah, in the foothills of the Smokies.

Damn that's some fine terrain, full of names any student of the Civil War will remember. And you can also see why the Cherokee, the Choctaw, and others were very sad when they surrendered to the inevitable and got frog-marched to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears. The US Government, being unable to control the whites, did a right dirty deed with the population they felt they could control.

That is right beautiful country.

Departing the region, we decided to head south on 75 for Chattanooga. Beth offered to go to Chickamauga (just as the darling woman also offered to let me stop at Murfreesboro) but while I would like to see Chickamauga again, better understanding where my Great-Grandfather fought, that can wait for while I'm at Benning the next couple of weeks.

No, this time we headed for Lookout Mountain. But not the battlefield - instead, we hit what I assumed was going to be an iconic 50's-era Highway 66 kinda kitsch tourist trap - one you've read about for decades if you live in in Dixie and adjacent areas and have driven the highways.

You know. This place!Hosting provided by FotoTime I couldn't have been more wrong. In my mind Rock City was like those 'mineral shops' in the Ozarks of Missouri and Arkansas, or a place like out in the west end of Kansas, that brays about "The largest prairie dog in the world!" which is really a poorly-done cement statue hidden from the highway by a ratty-looking plywood screen.

Not Rock City. When you initially pull up, it has the look of a 30's era WPA or similar tourist attraction... which it essentially is, having been created out of a natural rock formation by Garnet Carter, the inventor of Tom Thumb Miniature Golf, from the original idea of his wife, Frieda, who built a huge walk-through garden, gathering together over 450 species of local plant life, and building a meandering path through the rocks and boulders from which the place got it's name - as two missionaries in the 1820's described it as a place with roads and paths and bridges - much like a city.
Hosting provided by FotoTime
In short - the place much exceeded my expectations. By a lot, given how low they were (don't get me wrong, I like hitting kitschy peculiarly 'Murican tourist traps).

From the view north, to Chattanooga and beyond, to the view south, past Lover's Leap, and the flowers in between, it was worth the diversion and $25 cost for the two of us.

After a couple of hours there we moved on up 24, zipping past Stone's River and hitting Nashville in time to catch the dejected fans leaving the Titans game. Fortunately we were moving against the grain, and they just want to get home and drink, and didn't head down to Broadway to drink. Which is good, because that's what we did, having a fine meal at Demo's Steak and Spaghetti House. SWWBO had the seafood stuffed potato and I had the pepper steak. Good eats at a fair price. Then off to the Nashville airport which was full of gloating Raiders fans.

More alcohol consumed at the airport bar, then board the bird and head home, arriving back at the Castle just before midnight.

Which made today an early day.