Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Every year since 1999 Anne and I have taken a road trip to a different part of the United States and seen attractions, marvels, history, and institutions we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. For 2007 we changed up our strategy a bit and designed an itinerary for what would prove our most kid-friendly outing ever. Granted, my son was now twelve years old and less kid-like than he used to be, but the idea was sound in principle.
Thus in this year of our Lord did we declare: the Goldens are going to Florida!
Driving through the Appalachian Mountains and/or its various spinoffs on our way to Florida had been one part traffic ordeal, three parts staring at sightly scenery. For the return trip we knew we had to view some of that ruggedness up close. Lookout Mountain, right around the Chattanooga area and nearly reaching 2400 feet in elevation, was the perfect opportunity for one last round of exploring the sort of stupendous terrain we don’t have back home in Indiana. Granted, we have caves not unlike Ruby Falls (and we have better photos of one of them). But mountains in general are nearly as foreign to us flatland Hoosiers as Martians.
Our last stop in Tennessee was at Chattanooga’s other major natural billboard celebrity — Rock City, whose driveway is a few miles worth of narrow, winding, inclined road up the side of Lookout Mountain. At times it felt dangerous on a Hitchcockian level. I was grateful to find it was paved. Rock City itself is a sizeable rock garden that provided a cornucopia of visual treats, from the elaborate stone architecture to the assortment of oddly shaped formations, several of them bearing clever names.
We appreciated Rock City’s whimsical self-awareness along with the overwhelming views. Also satisfying in a practical way was their lunch cafe, which served surprisingly tasty meals for a tourist attraction but of course required a long wait because competition is scarce that high above sea level. As added incentive to rate them all the possible stars, Rock City’s snack shop was accommodating enough to sell sugar-free fudge, a rarity that I liked keeping in stock for those intermittent moments of sticking to my diet.
And if that hadn’t been enough to contain us, we found later in this remote location on the side of a mountain, miles away from heavy traffic or haute couture, perched across the street was that quintessential 2007 punchline, a Starbucks.
To be concluded!
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