Chatannooga to AlpharettaJune 17, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C
I woke to our lovely light and airy room at The Dwell Hotel and while Mike still snoozed I tried to work out how to make the morning coffee. Some places give you a filter machine with large coffee bags but the result is usually weak and bitter, so we have bought a reusable plastic filter which slots in plus some nice ground coffee. This time though there were just cups and two brown thick paper packets with vague instructions on the back for opening and placing on top of the cups for you to pour boiling water through to get a cup of coffee. Could I work it out! No! For about five minutes I turned them every which way until I noticed a faint instruction on the coffee bag itself to tear off one end which then turned it into a tiny filter bag. Once this was realised, it became a good idea and the resulting coffee was pretty good.
We went downstairs to the large dining room we had not noticed the night before. With high windows, eclectic furniture, lovely decor and complementary artwork, it demonstrated that the designer is a genius and it was a very pleasant room in which to eat. With a lot of choice on the menu, we had a nice breakfast but when I went upstairs I began to feel unwell and soon had a bout of ‘dodgy tummy’ which was very concerning as we had a long drive before us. We had to check out though, so feeling reasonably ok we packed the car and went off to the art district by the side of the river. It was extremely hot and being in a state of fragility decided to avoid the riverside park and went into the Hunter Art Museum, constructed around a grand porticoed mansion set high up on a bluff overlooking the bend in the river and commanding great views. Inside was one of the best exhibitions of American art we have seen and as usual, well exhibited. The modern building had also been cleverly designed to wrap around the mansion and also take advantage of the views. Apart from excellent paintings, there was an amazing display of decorative glass, not just the usual vases and bowls but imaginative and technically difficult pieces. One was a woman’s flowing gown, laid on its side as if still being worn, but without a wearer. That took real skill! The old house itself contained some of its original paintings but was almost like an artwork, itself on display in the museum. It had a beautiful staircase which split and swept down into the hall on either side of the front door. The house was post-civil war but reminiscent of ‘Gone With The Wind’.
Afterwards we walked down to a flimsy metal bridge constructed in about 1890. Originally the only bridge, it was designed in the time of the horse and cart and would have proved totally inadequate for the increasingly heavier weights made possible by the internal combustion engine, so wisely it has been retained as a pedestrian bridge and it is a very pleasant walk. Today at just after midday it was ferociously hot and sticky, so a walk across and back was enough before we fled back to the car and air conditioning.
Leaving Chattanooga we decided to take a longer but more scenic route through the Blue Ridge Mountains and it was rewarded by a lovely, easy drive through forested valleys beside fast flowing rivers and more rolling country, still forested but with wide, long, straight roads giving more extensive views. We stopped at one point where an amazing number of people were waiting to launch rafts into a river for white water rafting. It was a traffic jam of rafts and excited, expectant participants. We also stopped at another ‘Piggly Wiggly’ where I bought another T shirt but they did not sell ‘liquor’ (booze to us) so we couldn't buy a gift for Malcolm to whose place we were heading. Even a later supermarket, where we stopped for a break and a coffee, only sold wine. For the hard stuff you have to go to a liquor store.
American drivers have little understanding of lane discipline as we know it. You can pretty much drive in any lane at any speed and overtake on either side, which results in a lot of weaving in and out of lanes by drivers who wish to go faster, a recipe for mistakes. Nearing Atlanta on a two lane highway travelling at about 60 mph, a gray car suddenly pulled out of the right lane into the left lane, causing the red pickup truck behind to swerve to avoid a collision. There then followed a lot of tailgating. Nearing some lights, the gray car indicated to go right and but then went into the filter lane to turn left. The red truck drew up alongside and the driver, thrusting his head out of the window, proceeded to give the other driver a, presumably, expletive laden mouthful. Unfortunately they were still travelling at speed and intent on what he was doing, he proceeded to collide heavily with the car in front to his right. As we passed we saw bumpers flying into the air and a large dent in the front wing of the red truck which stopped and the chagrined driver got out. Presumably the gray car made its escape unscathed. The moral of the Jack Daniel safe story came to mind!
Malcolm was waiting to show us how to get into the car park and then took us up to their spacious apartment (it is America after all). Drinks flowed but I stuck to tea. We took advantage of the wondrous, enormous American washing machine and drier and went out to a local Italian restaurant where we had great meatballs but not particularly authentic spaghetti sauce. During the evening I had been developing a sort of migraine type headache & had taken something for it, but I didn't feel great and kept feeling faint, which is unusual for me. Going to bed my head was hurting and pulse racing, the pillows too hard and the room too hot, so sleep eluded me for a long time. Eventually I dropped off and awoke this morning with a residual soreness where the headache was, but no headache. Today I'm going to take it easy and there will be no driving, at least for me.Read more