Southeast USA Day 7

Today we had a lot of errands to run around Atlanta and we did not make it out of the area until after 1pm. On the list, we visited Garys sister and his childhood home, as well as his parent’s graves. I was glad that we got most of the family stuff done that we needed to, and it was worth being a little late.

Before departing, we made one stop at a KFC that had a huge mechanical chicken on top of the restaurant in Murietta, GA and then tried to find the world headquarters of The Weather Channel. TWC was not a well marked building and we had to make a grand circle before we arrived. I was disappointed there were not any gift shops or cardboard cut outs of TWC weathermen, but I did at least get to take a few photos.

It was finally time to collect our bags and hit the road out of town. Hunger didn’t let us get far so we ate at Mrs. Winners chicken restaurant for lunch and gassed up the Santa Fe before finally leaving the greater Atlanta area.
After almost two hours we arrived in Chattanooga, TN. We thought that would put us back in Central Time, but sadly not – the Central time border is just a little farther west. We first stopped at the old Chattanooga train depot where the station and the famous Chattanooga Choo Choo arrived and departed. It is now a Holiday Inn where you can sleep and have meetings in the rail cars. I think it is a cool concept and want to stay there sometime.

Next up, we headed up towards Lookout Mountain hovering above Chattanooga. Lookout Mountain is home to three attractions: The Incline Railway, Rock City, and Ruby Falls. Ruby Falls looked the most interesting to us and was open the latest so we headed there. The outside reminded me of the Loch Ness Monster Visitor Center in Scotland, but the inside was considerably more modern. We descended down into the mountain with a guide and walked along narrow paths stopping at various formations in the tight caverns. This is certainly not a place for claustrophobics! Finally, we arrived at Ruby Falls which has its own timed light show. I was impressed that the lights were all high efficiency LEDs. It seems the attraction was renovated recently to make it a Global Green Attraction that uses minimal power. I like that they timed the show to prevent people from lingering too long and to keep the groups moving through the area.

On our way out, they were prepping for the Ghost Cavern experience where they send you down one of their caverns they normally use for evacuations and scare you with chain saws and zombies in the dark. Somehow, I think the tight spaces lend itself to being more scared than your typical haunted maze.

We then departed Chattanooga and headed towards Nashville. We stopped for dinner after we careened down I-24 back into Georgia and then it curved back into Tennessee. We ate at a Western Sizzle restaurant which was a glorified Sizzler. It was good food, with the exception of toothpick remnants that I encountered in my fillet.

By the end of the dinner, it was late, but we gained an hour now that we were finally back in Central time. We decided to take the off-interstate detour to drive by the Jack Daniel’s distillery in Lynchburg, TN. It is way off the beaten path and in the middle of two interstates. It took us an hour to get there and then a little over an hour to get back to the Interstate. Google Maps again wanted to send us in the wrong area, but at least there are signs in the major tourist areas to keep you heading in the right direction. We did miss one turnoff on our way back to the Interstate, but at least we were still going in the right direction so there was only a minor delay. These rural areas must have had a great meteor shower show! We did have a full moon so even though it was dark, we could still see.

We finally made it to Franklin, TN and our final Residence Inn. This one had just opened and it showed. It was completely up to date with all the modern conveniences and decorations. The sofa bed was about the same as the rest, but it was nice to not see any weird stains or crumbs when you unfolded the mattress.

Tomorrow we fly home, and we plan on seeing historic Franklin and then do some last minute drive-bys in Nashville before catching our plane home.