August 19, 2011 (Happy Birthday, Peggy!) Cullowhee, NC to Fairburn, GA

John: This morning we say thank you and goodbye to Sophie, Al, Melissa and Tyler. We have had a wonderful two days but now it’s time to move on to our next destination near Atlanta GA. Al tells us our first few maneuvers and off we go down the other side of the (exceptionally beautiful) mountain. It is very good that Al has done this for us. Missy, our GPS, is in a snit for my having taken her to task in the previous post. She takes her sweet time acquiring her satellites; we are nearly beyond Al’s routing before she decides to share her deliberations with us. Fortunately, we appear all to be on the same page.

Mary: It’s good we have Clark, Lewis and Missy to talk to when we get tired of talking to each other. They’ve all taken on distinct personalities.

Stone Mountain

John: Voila, we are in Georgia. We head down US-23 passing through towns such as Tallulah, which we discover is a Cherokee word. Our destination is Stone Mountain just east of Atlanta. Jonathan has told us about it and encouraged us to see it. For some reason, Missy, who must still plotting revenge, takes us on surface streets from I-85 to Stone Mountain, despite what is obvious from the map is a superior route involving freeways. But we do find the west entrance to the park, pay our $10 for parking, and plan our afternoon. First problem, it’s 98 degrees. And second problem, we are quite sore from having played tennis on a clay court for the first time in a couple of years. So climbing an 800 foot granite dome or traipsing around an amusement park is out of the question.

John at the bottom of the trail not taken

Mary: Like typical Westerners we spend the last 10 miles before reaching Stone Mountain trying to find it. Where’s the mountain? Stupid trees, we can’t see anything. We are practically at the entrance gate before we see it.

John: But wait! We find a visitor center that shows films: one about the role of Atlanta and Georgia during the Civil War, concentrating on Sherman’s March to the Sea and another that describes the on-again off-again design and carving of the Stone Mountain memorial relief of three heroes of the Confederacy: Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson.

Carving exhibit in the museum

John: The films are quite good. But the star of the show, in our eyes, is the geology and ecology exhibit across the hall that describes how the granite dome that we know as Stone Mountain today was formed. We have been to many geological displays before. The one in Denver on this trip was really good. But this one at Stone Mountain is the best we’ve ever seen. Simple enough for kids to grok while packed with enough detail and useful cross-reference to satisfy picky amateur geology buffs (such as ourselves– we’re all about the plate tectonics, you know.)

Clark and Lewis enjoy the hands-on exhibits

Next we go to the Skyride for a short but exciting ride up a cable gondola to the top of Stone Mountain. On the way we get a closer view of the carved relief on the mountainside. It’s big. Three giant figures. What can I say, it’s big.

Mary: This is about the same reaction we had when we saw Mount Rushmore. Kind of like, huh, big, giant heads.

A bad job by Mary trying to get John to look like he is falling off Stone Mountain.

We’ve enjoyed our visit to Stone Mountain and make our way to our hotel south of Atlanta. Tomorrow, we’ll get an early start on our trek through Selma, AL to Meridian, MS…

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