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Monday, June 29, 2009

See Rock City

Perhaps you’ve seen these signs. They’re everywhere on the way to Chattanooga, like South of the Border and Wall Drug. But we had no idea what it was, and concluded it was a rock shop on top of Lookout Mountain. Okay, color us too lazy to do homework on it, but we had other things on our agenda.

Such as my trip to the local VA. When I called them, I got the place I was trying to find the previous day, and they told me to come back there. That would have been a 200 mile round trip! I said, “Uh-uh. Please get me in here.” So after some dialing around, they arranged a local visit and we went there. Joyce dropped me off and took the dogs to a local kennel. By the time she came back, I was done. Why? Well, it was 11 AM and they couldn’t see me until 4 PM. Laden with pills as I already am, I consulted with a nurse and he said if I could stand it, I’d be better off going home to Tampa, and I should drive there now.

When I got done laughing at that concept and explaining both how we drive, and that no one in their right mind drives around Atlanta on a Friday, he still thought it would be better to go home, even if it took two days. So I bade him a fond farewell and we went to see Rock City.

Consulting our schedule and location, we decided to let the kids stay overnight at the vet, and drove up Lookout Mountain, which as luck had it, was right by our hotel anyway. And on Lookout Mountain, part of which is in Georgia, there are three attractions: Rock City, the funicular, and Ruby Falls.

Did I say it was hot as hell? Well, consider it said and repeated ad infinitum. So when we got to the Ruby Falls visitor center, even Joyce was willing to go into a cave, because they’re cool. If you remember, she backed out of Wind Cave and I went by myself. And again, people problems. Joyce goes up to buy tickets, and an older man is explaining her options. Up comes another man, and the clerk (same age as other visitor) assumes he is speaking for Joyce, cancels her order and ignores her to talk to the man who pushed in.

She went ballistic. I thought she was going to rip his throat out. The fool behind the counter made a sexist, stereotypical assumption because the other visitor rudely pushed in next to Joyce instead of waiting in line. Guess who’s getting a letter when we get home. So after she refused the apology and left, we sat outside for a while, and then I went back in and got different tickets from another clerk.

And eventually we got down into the cave, still in a very bad mood, but Lauren, the guide, was sweet and funny, and it was wonderfully cool and absolutely beautiful. The Falls themselves are among the most beautiful things I have ever seen. You must go. Seriously.

A link to get you started:

And a few pictures.

The second one was the best I could do in a cave with water spraying all over. But Lauren told us if you google "Ruby Falls" you can find really great shots of every formation in there.

We were down there about an hour in a group of 60, including Boy Scouts from Texas, and while you might expect this to have been torture, they were really funny. In fact, Joyce, who had been so royally pissed off, and rightfully so, ended up shopping for souvenirs! We agreed that we hadn’t seen anything this good since the Black Hills.

And here's a couple more:

But that was only the first half of our experience, because we had also bought tickets to Rock City, and even at that point, we weren’t sure what it was. We thought now it might be a city made out of rocks, like Madurodam in Amsterdam, which is made out of Legos, or something. But we got back in the car and drove up there because we wanted to see the view from the top of Lookout Mountain, and Rock City was at the very tippy top, whatever it was. So back into the car and up the mountain, and into Georgia, to our surprise, and soon we were here:

Somebody thought it would be fun to enhance Parent Nature, and they did a decent job. It really didn’t need much enhancement, but in order to make it accessible, they may have fooled around with it a bit more than we would if we discovered such a phenomenon today. It’s private, so of course they can do as they please with it. Did I mention it was hot that day? Well, this was the place to be, because when you get down in these crevices and caves, it’s delightful.

There was also homemade lemonade and Dippin’ Dots and other cold things to ingest. Let’s just call it a gigantic rock garden on top of a mountain with some waterfalls thrown in for good measure. We were very pleasantly surprised by the whole thing, and selfishly glad we put the kids in the kennel or else we could not have seen it.

The pools were still unusable when we returned. The “Quality” Inn people shrugged when we complained the pool was still dirty, and the “Comfort” Inn people lied and said those were the legally required temperatures for their pool (hot) and spa (cold). And the reason their lobby is full of flies is that they serve rotten eggs for breakfast. So they went on our shit list, and we went to dinner. Did you know Hardee’s makes a Creamsicle milkshake? Try it soon; it’s seasonal.

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