Monday, May 18, 2015

GJJ: Knoxville to Atlanta

Big day on the adventure!  We tour Virtuals, pose for webcams and even grab a Jasmer. But it was not all geocaching - we saw some amazing sites off Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga and Stone Mountain in Atlanta, too.

Note: There are no spoiler pictures for the Virtuals.  Just a bunch of selfies for our qualifying logs.  
And not even good selfies - it was hot!  Even at 7:30 at night it was over 90 degrees and sticky!

Our first full morning found us packing and having breakfast at the seriously unfabulous Knoxville Clarion Inn.  But that's OK because we knew we had some miles to go and many, many, many stops along the way. The town of Cleveland, TN was a two-fer: a webcam and a virtual. Not much else.
The Village Green Webcam Cache GCHFG6 - it was down. Bummer.
This is a tiny Mausoleum in the middle of the town housing the Craigsmile family, a tragic story about a little girl killed in a train accident and the sad story of her remaining family.  Per the cache page:
Today, if you visit the mausoleum, you will notice red streaks the color of blood appear on it. The stories say that the bloody stains first began to appear on the Craigmiles mausoleum after Nina was interred there. With the death of each family member, the stains grew darker and more noticeable. Some of the locals began to believe that the marks were blood, coming from the stone itself, in response to the tragedies suffered by the family.
The Blood Stained Mausoleum GCKNVT
After Cleveland, we headed down to downtown Chattanooga for another series of Virtuals. First stop is a long-forgotten Confederate Cemetery that housed the remains of 155 unknown soldiers who died in hostpital during Bragg's Kentucky campaign.

The Unknown GC518E
Afterwards, we visited the Chattanooga National Cemetery.  Beautiful, isn't it?  

Here is a fascinating story.  Look at the train atop the monument.  Here's a snippet of the story:
The Great Locomotive Chase was a military raid that occurred April 12, 1862, in northern Georgia during the American Civil War. Volunteers from the Union Army commandeered a train and took it northward toward Chattanooga, Tennessee, doing as much damage as possible to the vital Western and Atlantic Railroad (W&A) line from Atlanta to Chattanooga as they went. They were pursued by Confederate forces at first on foot, and later on a succession of locomotives. 
Because the Union men had cut the telegraph wires, the Confederates could not send warnings ahead to forces along the railway. Confederates eventually captured the raiders and executed some quickly as spies; some others were able to flee. Some of the raiders were the first to be awarded the Medal of Honor by the US Congress for their actions.
 The next day we visited Oakland Cemetery where the captured had been interred, hung and buried in an unmarked grave (they were eventually reburied here).  In Oakland Cemetery (somewhere... we ran out of time plus it was so blasted hot!) is a headstone for the Confederate conductor of the train.

The Great Chase #3 GC5148
 In the background, you can see Lookout Mountain looming.

Rest in Peace GC4E66
 But before heading up that mountain, another attempt at a webcam.  Again, not working.

I See You! GCPB7G
Lookout Mountain was the scene of the 'Last Battle of the Cherokees' during the Nickajack Expedition, which took place in the 18th century, as well as the November 24, 1863 Battle of Lookout Mountain during the American Civil War. [Wikipedia]

They have an Incline Railway

The Most Amazing Mile GCMFYC
A fascinating exhibit detailing movement of the Civil War Battleground (played out overlooking an amazing view).  The best part is when JimLob65 told me the history of the battle on this mountain - I have no idea how the Yankees managed to gather the resolve to ascend, and I am amazed at their success.

And, of course, it's now a tourist destination.  

Unfortunately, we dallied in Chattanooga longer than intended so we moved onto Atlanta.. via Alabama. Thanks to Ratspazum who reminded us that a slight detour of a few miles would add another state to our stats.

The visitor center was absolutely beautiful, lined with the state flower.  But outside of that, it was terribly poor and very sparse.  

Our first Alabama cache: Barn Art GC3W3RJ
As per our regular routine, we stopped in every state at the gas station. We discovered that the drive from Detroit to Atlanta (and South Carolina to West Virginia) was all uphill.  Thankfully, gas prices were half as much as last year so it wasn't as painful going twice over our budgets.  We averaged from $2.22/gallon to $2.57/gallon.  This stop threw us for a loop.  As we pulled up, I asked TaGeez, "Do you know how to run these?"  Luckily he's a jack of all trades and a keeper of useless knowledge.

I sent this picture to my Dad, laughing at our Alabama 
experience.  He promptly told my brother (who lent us
his car for this adventure).  It wasn't long before I receive
the text from him.  Uh oh! Busted! He said we're nuts!
After driving up one side of an Alabama mountain range and down the other (passing a dead armadillo in the road (I've never seen a real one before! He looked like he was napping), we eventually made it into Georgia.

The Chieftains Trail - Chieftains Museum GCG00X
By now things were running very behind - after dinner - and we hadn't accomplished any of our Atlanta goals.  Although it was a beautiful drive into Atlanta, we needed to keep going through and head East.  There was no way we could reach Atlanta and NOT get our target JASMER cache: Beaver Cache (the beavers have left) GC1D hidden June 3, 2000.

Fearful that the neighbors would have issues if we attempted this past dark, we skipped the hotel and dealt with Atlanta rush hour traffic to reach the small residential community.  These people have money!  Pulling into the designated parking near the tennis courts and swimming pool, we headed around the courts and towards the pretty little pond (lined with oh so many No Trespassing signs!).  Walking 300 feet, brushing off mosquitoes and watching the sun dip down, we found our prize.
We did it! Beaver Cache GC1D
The container was a little wet so we cleaned it out, deposited some Michigan path tags and dropped TaGeez's NCEES trackable. Funny epilogue on this trackable.  We drove it all the way down from Michigan to release it in Georgia only to have the next finder drive it all the way back to Michigan again!  It's in the U.P.!

After discussing our options, TaGeez and I decided we should stop at Stone Mountain on the way to our hotel.  We figured we'd have no time in the morning, and we had hoped it would be a little cooler than midday.  We were correct about the former but not the latter - 91 degrees after dark!

The beginning of the famed Appalachian trail, Stone Mountain is equal parts state park and tourist mecca. It is famous for it's Confederate bas-relief (and light show) on the North wall of the mountain.  It took three artists 56 years to complete - the first artist, Gutzom Borgium, went on to create Mount Rushmore.
The largest high relief sculpture in the world, the Confederate Memorial Carving, depicts three Confederate heroes of the Civil War, President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. 
The entire carved surface measures three-acres, larger than a football field and Mount Rushmore. The carving of the three men towers 400 feet above the ground, measures 90 by 190 feet, and is recessed 42 feet into the mountain. The deepest point of the carving is at Lee's elbow, which is 12 feet to the mountain's surface. 
Now, before you ask, no, we didn't get the Tour of Stone Mountain (June 2000) Multicache.  There was too many stages, too much climbing and we were running out of time.  We did, however, grab a few more Virtuals before riding into the sunset.

Appalachian sunset
Our next adventure will feature a White House, a giant silver bird, a home run king, a Confederate Lion, Oakland cemetery and the trials of reaching one of the oldest caches in the area: Modoc Stash GCF4 (December 2000).

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