No Choo Choo In This Gig

2

June 24, 2019, Chattanooga-

I stopped here, “en route” from Crossville to Knoxville, as I have driven on through this fascinating city, several times, on the way to this or that appointment- when going from Atlanta to Nashville or Knoxville.  My idea was to visit at least one of Chattanooga’s Big Three:  Ruby Falls, Lookout Mountain Summit and Rock City. Ruby Falls got the nod, as it sits off by itself, whereas the other two are  closer together.  Of course, I could have walked the steps up to the Summit, after the two hours or so spent underground, but the heat was lingering-so, another time. Ruby Falls and Rock City are equally pricey-each is $21.95 for an adult; a package runs $43.50.  There is also the “obligatory” photograph, taken before one is allowed into the cave.  In the end, one can choose to purchase the photo ($40 per person/group) or, as I did, say “No thank you”.

The cave is privately-owned, thus the entrance fee.  It is, though, well worth the time and money, to see the deepest underground waterfall in North America.  ( I think VietNam has one that is actually deepest on the planet.)  Several tour options are available- I took the Classic Waterfall Tour, with a group of about twenty people.  Down we went, 26 floors, via elevator.

Here is some of what we saw, in Leo Lambert’s boyhood playground-which he later named for his wife, Ruby, after exploring professionally with a team of spelunkers.

Leo had to crawl, for seven hours, through places like this, to reach an area where he could actually stand.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Crystal deposits added a magical sense to his meanderings. (The blue lighting, of course, was added by the family, later.)

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

It looks like this stalactite is actually holding up the cave, but it just kept on going downward, until it met the ledge.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Here is where Mr. Lambert was first able to stand up, after seven hours of crawling.  I don’t know as my circulation would allow for that.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Below is one of the few formations which people are allowed to touch, and even sit.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The Leaning Tower actually does resemble the landmark in Pisa, though it’s not subject to shifting ground.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

This looks like it came out of a pasta maker.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Imagine tobacco, drying in the sun.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

This looks like a frozen waterfall, but it’s more mineral deposit.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The Falls!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

It was for this, that the Lamberts opened the caverns to the public, in 1929- a year when Americans needed all the comfort they could get.  So this afternoon, 24 of us stood, 1,120 feet underground, and marveled at what nature has put together.  It’s not Niagara, but it’s subterranean.

This is one place that Chattanooga Choo Choo isn’t going.  Once off the mountain, though, I took an hour to check out downtown and get some fine ramen, with bubble tea on the side.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESBack up to Knoxville it was, afterwards. I had seen a news report about a gas station robbery, on the east side, a day or so ago.  I ended up at a motel just down the street from that gas station.  No worries, though-people just did their own thing and left me alone, for a comfortable night’s sleep.

Life goes on.

NEXT:  The Little Town That Almost Became Home Base

 

 

On Solid Rock

7

December 31, 2015, Prescott-  “You need to step on solid rock!”  So advised an eight-year-old girl, to her grandparents, and anyone else who was listening, as several of us began descending Lookout Mountain, a couple of days ago.

From 1982 until 2014, this day was important to me primarily as my in-laws’ wedding anniversary.  Pop went to his eternity in May of last year, so now New Year’s Eve is, to me, what it is for everyone else: A turning of the page.

Here are a couple of photos of five of my favourite people.  Three others could have been included, but begged off, when we gathered at my brother’s house, last Sunday. Each of us is unique, and while that has caused one among us to feel a fair amount of discomfort, it remains how things are.  Being with those who love me is a great passion.

Following  are some scenes of Lookout Mountain, in Phoenix’s North Mountain Preserve.  Hiking remains one of my other great passions.  I took in Lookout, and Shaw Butte, on Tuesday, after flying back to AZ.  The two are moderate hikes, and not striking, scenery-wise, but they do allow some fine views from the top.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Lookout Mountain, 12/29/15

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Lookout Mountain, 12/29/15

There were several people at each location, including the girl who remarked about solid rock.  Here are some of the other views I found, on top of Lookout Mountain.

The lower right shot is of the West Peak, a boulder-strewn outcropping, where one of the men in the group climbed up and sought solitude.  I kept on going down, and drove over to Shaw Butte, the other peak in the North Mountain Preserve that I had not yet visited.

Shaw is just north of North Mountain, which Aram and I hiked a few years ago.  This time around, I meandered a bit, checking out a box canyon just to the west of Shaw Butte’s main trail.  Going up the side of the canyon was relatively easy.  The communications towers on the summit are a constant point of reference.

So, my year ends, on narrow, but still solid rock.  Things will get better in 2016, as long as I make them so.