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John B. Deitz

Build: 100521.2

Day 16
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Saturday, 13 August 2005.  Trenton, GA to Roanoke, Virginia

While I was up and out of the room by my usual 6:30-7:00 am, Mike slept late, and we did not get on the road until nearly 9:30 am.  The morning was damp and foggy -- and a day where mountaintop viewing was likely to be blocked by clouds.  But we set out for Lookout Mountain taking SR 136, then the Lookout Mountain Scenic Highway (SR 189). on the fringes of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park -- the first and largest of the four National Military Parks.  On these fields and hills, Union and Confederate armies clashed during the fall of 1863 in some of the hardest fighting of the Civil War. The prize was Chattanooga, key rail center and gateway to the heart of the Confederacy.   Lookout Mountain was key to the Confederate defenses with its commanding view of Chattanooga and the Tennessee River valley.  The trip to the top of the mountain took us along a ridge which apparently is a favorite of hang gliders.  Much of the mountain itself appears to be developed and has been incorporated as the City of Lookout Mountain, GA.

Butterfly protecting room while Mike slept.  His spirit perhaps?  It flew off just as Mike awoke.

Tennessee River and the City of Chattanooga from Lookout Mountain
While the fog had cleared off a bit, it was still very hazy.

After coming down off the mountain, we get on I-75 and then I-81 north.  I've been on I-81 many times, but not in the last few years.  It has become a much more busy highway.  I remembered it pleasantly as an easy and beautiful ride.  But it's now, quite obviously, a major north-south trucking route.

We stop in Roanoke, VA for the night.  After a brief rest, head into the city for dinner.  I remember Roanoke as a sleepy factory town, with almost no nightlife.  But "old" downtown  now has a vibrant few blocks of restaurants, galleries, museums and shops.  Lots of motorcycles about.  Had o.k. pub fare at a pleasant local bistro. 

Then decided to find out what Saturday night might be like at the gay bars in town.  While Roanoke is reported to have a sizeable gay population, I felt like I was being transported back 30 years.  One bar, Backstreet, was truly sleazy -- now I normally don't mind sleazy bars, but this was a place where you only drink bottled beer and wash your hands when you leave.  The other, the Park, was a dance club with a cover.  Both were in dingy industrial areas.  We were going to go into the Park, but when we parked our bikes there was this man, obviously drunk, soliciting us.  I got nervous about the safety of the Road King, and decided to leave.  Oddly, a few years ago this would  not have bothered me, but I guess I'm getting too old (and tire to early) for this stuff.

Distance:  About  396 miles Accommodation:  Days Inn (WiFi) Cost:  $65.95

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23 October 2007