Day 7 – The Hall of the Mountain What Now?

Day 7 – The Hall of the Mountain What Now?

Chattanooga to Atlanta

A day of mountains today, of which I thoroughly approve of course. We started the day with a visit to Rock City on Lookout Mountain, the sole purpose for us including Chattanooga in the trip. Those who have read American Gods will know that it is one of the key sites in the book, but I won’t add any spoilers for those who are just watching the series (should arrive about season 3 or 4 at the current rate I guess!).

Rock City seems to have started as someone’s garden on a cliff with a view over a number of states and in true American style was seized upon as potential gold mine. It follows the standard pattern of taking a natural wonder and “enhancing” it with some bizarrely manufactured kitsch. The “Enchanted Trail” is all very pleasant (piped soothing music notwithstanding).

Fat Man's Squeeze

… and yes I did make it through! Things get decidedly

Things get decidedly weirder as you venture into the Fairytale Cavern.

Moonshine Gnomes

Moonshine Gnomes

Red Ridng Hood

I love this stuff. There is something very appealing about a personal folly elevated to the level of obsession and shared with the public (it’s what makes the internet great after all). If you are going to do it, may as well go for it! I can see why Neil Gaiman latched onto these places as places of power.

Anyway, having had our fill of gnomes, it was on to Atlanta via Stone Mountain. Stone Mountain is America’s version of Ayers Rock – a huge granite monolith (only about a tenth of which is above ground), rising 1700 feet just outside Atlanta.

Stone Mountain

Granite Iceberg

Stone Mountain

We toyed with the idea of walking up for all of 4 seconds before leaping on to the cable car to the top. Stopped for a snack in the cafe, but the only veggie option was fries. I went for the cheesy option, thinking UK style cheesy chips and then looked on with horror as they piped some noxious gloop on top. Ethan was very amused.  It is a bizarre concoction which seems to combine a very unpleasant slimy texture with a thoroughly bland taste, and yet not quite bland enough…

Didn’t stop me eating the fries of course, but I felt dirty.

At least the dining was better in Atlanta later, even if it was in a restaurant famed for its bison.

Westin

Home for the next few days

Day 6 – Elvis has (largely) left the building

Day 6 – Elvis has (largely) left the building

Memphis to Chattanooga

Today could be a struggle. We started off with a trip to the pharmacy to get some drugs for the poorly one and I can feel whatever lurgy he has burrowing its way into me.

Still, a trip to Graceland beckoned so we manned up and hit the road. The actual mansion turns out to be smaller than expected

Smaller on the Inside

but it manages to cram in a fair amount of tackiness. Any room that has carpet on all surfaces is pure class. I would say that the decor is of its time, but I don’t quite remember the 60s and 70s like that.

Onwards with the tour and a visit to the grave. People were still genuinely upset visiting the grave 40 years after his death. Given the sombre atmosphere, I felt that reenacting the scene from Spinal Tap might be considered inappropriate. All those hours learning the harmonies to Heartbreak Hotel wasted…

Since my baby left me..?

Leaving Graceland, we girded our loins for the long drive to Chattanooga, passing through Mississppi, Alabama and (briefly) Georgia (tick, tick and tick). We were both a little nervous about stopping for food. Spotted a shack called the Camo Cafe and wondered whether to stop. Not so much. A Burger King further down the line seemed a better bet. The staff were the friendliest, most helpful people I have met on the trip so far. That will teach me to harbour unwarranted prejudice based on shallow media stereotypes! Alabama also looked pretty pleasant and (mostly) devoid of Confederate flags, so there you go: more civilised than Norfolk. Move on. That said, I was very careful not to give any excuse to be pulled over by a southern sheriff.

Sweet Home Alabama

In Huntsville we passed the space centre. Had I realised that we would be passing that way I would have tried to spend some time there. The Saturn V and space shuttle looked pretty impressive even from the road.

 

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