Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Heart of the South Ride: 3 States and Lookout Mountain

I have been wanting to complete this ride for a long time.   Huntsville Alabama to Chattanooga TN over Lookout Mountain.  An incredible trip one that you must do yourself.  These are some unknown roads with some of the best scenery in the South.  Throw in a stop at the National Cornbread Festival you really have something to remember, something uniquely southern.  This is what this ride is all about; riding the heart of the South.

After a long ride to Huntsville Alabama we rest up and head out the next day.  We take US Highway 72.  This a marvelous cruising road that follows the Tennessee River Valley.  You are surrounded by the remnants of the Cumberland Plateau and Lookout Mountain as it cuts its way into Alabama from Tennessee and Georgia.  The river valley narrows as we cross back into Tennessee at South Pittsburg.

We stop for the National Cornbread Festival, what a great festival to see, a great southern town and a chance to eat some cornbread.  We don't stay long but we do take in the Quilt Exhibit.  We grab some lunch and some Italian Ices to cool off.  Then it's back on the road. This is the Heart of the South; Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee.  All brought together by the geological feature of Lookout Mountain.

We cross the Tennessee River on State Road 156.  The Tennessee River is breathtaking, after a few miles we take a right on State Road 377 which changes in Alabama to State Road 73 as we cross the state line. We climb the ridge that overlooks Tennessee River valley.  Once on top of the ridge, we take a left on Alabama County road 90.  We cross into Georgia then start traveling down the backside of the ridge.  The twisting turns will challenge any motorcyclist skills.

We travel through the valley arriving in Trenton Georgia for the climb up Lookout Mountain again more twist and turns until we make the turn onto Lookout Mountain Parkway. We stop at a Hang Glide launch site for some pictures.  As we ride the parkway the views are spectacular.  On Lookout Mountain, during a clear day, it is possible to see 6 states.  From Georgia, we cross back into Tennessee on the Mountain Parkway.   The town of Lookout Mountain sits above Chattanooga.

We make our final descent into our destination of Chattanooga.  We complete our ride in North Chattanooga where we will rest up for the final push back to Clarksville the next day.

Friday, April 8, 2016

A River Road and its Spring Time Gifts

I love a river road.  There is something about a winding road along a river that stirs the soul.   US Highway 41 from  Powell's Cross Roads to Chattanooga is one of those roads.  It is spring here in Tennessee and the world is coming back to life.  This time of year reminds us that we are alive and the world is there for us to live in.

This life seems to be exceptionally better today, but it always does riding on a river road.  I have ridden or driven a lot of river roads.   There is something special about each one.  It always seems the one you are on at that moment is the best.

We leave Interstate 24 at the Powell's Cross Roads exit on the north shore of the Nickajack Lake north of Chattanooga.  We stop at the Marion County Park on Nickajack Lake it is a beautiful peninsula park surrounded by water on 3 sides.  It would be a great place to camp and spend a few days.

As we continue on Highway 41 we cross over the Tennessee River which is dammed to form Nickajack Lake.   There is a smell of blooming wisterias in the air.  The purple blooms litter the roadway enhancing the drive.  I have driven this road before but have never seen this spring color.  It was a sight to behold, with each curve revealing another outburst of purple.  I can only say it is these little gifts from nature that make a travelers life worth living.

We make a couple of stops along the river.  The Tennessee River cuts through the Cumberland Plateau as it flows from Chattanooga.  With high limestone cliffs, it gives the River an enhanced scenic beauty.

We leave the river for the cut around Raccoon Mountain and our destination of Chattanooga.  A river road once again enhancing our lives another time.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Don't Rock the Jukebox I want to hear some Jones: Nashville the George Jones and Johnny Cash Museum's

Nashville never ceases to amaze me, yesterday we went to the George Jones and Johnny Cash Museums.  These were places I have wanted to go to for a long time.  Nancy Jones was working the front desk at her husband's Museum.  Not really knowing her she told us to tell our waitress to give us 2 free fried pickle appetizers. While eating with some diehard Jones fans they said that's his wife. Oh well; Nashville is like that you'll never know who will run into.  The Johnny Cash Museum was much more crowded; of course, his music transcends all music genres it was a great experience.  It was amazing a number of young people into Johnny Cash.  They were eating it up, I was happy about this.
I already knew the Cash story, for the most part, it was still good to see.  

The Jones Museum was a much nicer venue with a great restaurant and a rooftop bar, with a band playing in both.  It was a genuine honky-tonk experience. I learned a lot on this trip.  I knew of George Jones mostly from his trouble with the law.  In the early 90's he ran his Cadillac off the road into a creek.  There was a big scandal because the Nashville Police tried to cover it up. His famous nickname "No Show Jones" for frequently being to well lubricated to take the stage.  What I didn't really understand was his music and contributions to country music in general.  Sitting here listening to Chris Stapleton you can hear George Jones and the blues.  This music is something that is handed down like the family bible. Jones was a great contributor to all American Music.   Even though not as well known as Johnny Cash. He is an Icon in his own right.  The blues flowed strongly from both these men.