Now we are solidly in the South. We drove the Old Road from Nashville to Chattanooga, Tennessee, with the Interstate Highway occasionally visible to starboard. Too many miles of auto dealers and fast food shacks suddenly yielded to country, with grass of an amazingly bright green, horse properties with white fences and large stables, then small homes with gardens, fields planted in corn and beans, pastures filled with cows, goats, llamas, horses and chickens. Kudzu vines strangle trees
Some of the amazing green is due to kudzu, an invasive vine which has won all of its battles. Originally imported as cheap and easy to grow cattle feed, the kudzu vine quickly took root and has proceeded to swallow up the countryside, covering smaller shrubs, trees, telephone poles, junk cars, just about anything. To the traveller, the scene is peaceful and soft-edged, but to any householder with landscaping or gardening ambitions, it's a true menace.
We stopped to see a yard full of chickens busy scratching and running from the rooster. We were reminded of the bright yellow egg yolks of English eggs from free-range hens.
Our old road led us up and down twisting roads through the hills and mountains of eastern Tennessee, at the end probably twice as long in miles as the freeway but much more peaceful -- and a good thing, too, because the road is very narrow with deep ditches on either side. Passing oncoming farm equipment in our truck can be an adventure. Lookout Mountain tram
Nearing Chattanooga, we decided we needed to see Lookout Mountain, site of several decisive Civil War battles and a prominent tourist attraction, judging by the advertising signs. Of course, on the old road, the signs, painted on the roofs of collapsing barns and fading on billboards now being swallowed up by kudzu vines, were a half-century old.
But there's plenty to see on Lookout Mountain, even for those uninterested in the Civil War. First, there's Ruby Falls, apparently a waterfall in the middle of an underground cavern. The entrance was so elegant, with uniformed young men waving passing cars towards the valet lot, that we decided to keep moving. Farther up the mountain we entered the Lookout Mountain residential community of substantial houses on beautifully landscaped grounds. And near the top of the mountain we found the terminus for the Incline Tramway, "World's Steepest Tramway, established 1895".
Our return trip down the mountain took us through another small community, named Fairyland, where each street is named for a fairytale or children's lit character, e.g., Little Red Ridinghood Trail, Peter Pan Road. And finally we passed (we were getting hungry) the gardens of Rock City.
In downtown Chattanooga, the Chattanooga Choo-Choo is a railroad museum. Perhaps on our next visit...