m_walker26 Reader
4/12/16 4:34 p.m.

Reading the threads on this forum has been very inspiring. I'm considering a road trip out Route 66 to California and SWMBO has read enough to ban me from looking at bus listings on craigslist. In a more practical moment I decided to take a one-day trip to work out any kinks in my 95 Miata that has an engine swap, and upgraded suspension, a new radio, new windshield wipers, and new wheels and tires. The only barrier to successful completion of the trip that I was aware of was a flutter in the headlights at night caused by some worn mechanism. I didn't have time to replace everything before the trip so I did the GRM thing and taped the headlights firmly in place.

My son and daughter-in-law had invited us for dinner a couple of Thursdays ago so my wife and I dedicated the day to a Miata drive ending in Dayton, Tennessee for supper. We are both very fond of trips to Rugby, Tennessee to see the restored village that was intended to be a utopian setting for second sons of English nobility. Rugby failed to fulfill its vision but today you can see what life was like for these early settlers. Unfortunately Rugby wasn't quite in the right direction and we had been there several times.

Last year I had discovered a Miata for sale in Gruelti-Laager, Tennessee. Having never heard of that place I did some Google-fu and found that Wikipedia listed:

Gruetli was founded by German-speaking Swiss immigrants in 1869. The town was part of a greater initiative— conducted by an organization known as the Tennessee Clonisation Gesellschaft— to establish Swiss colonies atop the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee.

Now here was another European attempt to colonize the plateau! A place we had never been to that was in the right direction! We look forward to a beautiful drive with the top down celebrating spring.

Alas, the data held so much promise fell short. SWMBO was less than thrilled with my tape solution to the headlight problem. The headlights would have to stay up all day which did keep us in compliance with Tennessee state law since the headlights had to be on all day for the rain. As we left home at 8 AM rain was falling and temperatures were cool. I pointed out to her that this is why I had purchased a hard top for the Miata, installed new wiper blades, and liberally Rain-Xed the windshield. She congratulated me on my forethought.

Incessant rain continued until we exited I-40 in Kingston to switch over to the old highway. Immediately the new driver side windshield wiper disconnected from the wiper arm. Quick stop at a gas station (with a canopy) and another application of tape and we were on our way. We followed the old highway across the mountain, through Crab Orchard, and onto Crossville, vexed at every turn by rain, fog, mist, spray from other cars, and slow traffic. In Crossville we turned onto Highway 127 so that we could enjoy the view starting down the Sequatchie Valley. It's one of our favorites. Not today. Rain and fog obscured any view.

Starting to get hungry we planned to find a local diner in Pikeville. A quick tour of historic downtown Pikeville proved fruitless. And since the next part of our journey included no known oasis we opted for McDonald's. Perhaps the worst McDonald's meal we've ever experienced. The young lady who waited on us at the counter struggled to understand our order, struggled to enter it into their system, and struggled to make change for a ten. Our order when it arrived did not match what we thought we had ordered. Making the best of the situation we ate and ran back to the car through the pouring rain, getting soaked. So picture SWMBO soaked, in the Miata, having just had a bad McDonald’s meal that wasn’t what she ordered. Still she had a good attitude!

With a little extra time in hand we decided to head up the mountain, past an old college friend’s homeplace, and over to Falls Creek Falls State Park. Going up the mountain we encountered a long line of traffic sitting still. SWMBO questioned why would nobody be moving? When traffic finally moved we discovered that a section of the right lane approximately 10 feet square had fallen away down the mountain. This put us in slow traffic all the way over to the park. We toured the park but nothing was going on since it was the middle of the week and the rain was pouring. So on to the prime objective.

About another hour of driving on what I am sure were scenic byways got us to the beginning of the Gruelti-Laager corridor? The combined communities have a census population of about 1700 of whom we saw 6. The communities lie on either side of the state highway is no particular definition and the main commercial area consists of a Piggly Wiggly, a Dollar Store, and the post office. We drove through town twice to make sure we missed nothing. In the rain. In the fog. We didn’t.

We drove back to Highway 111 to see the views from the mountain and down into the gorge as it drops toward Chattanooga. We didn’t. Rain and fog. Could not see the tops of the waterfalls.

We had a lovely dinner with our son and our new daughter-in-law and then drove home in the dark.

In summary, we drove around all day in the rain and fog, in places we knew there were some spectacular views, saw nothing, to get to a place we have never been and probably won't go back. No pictures. Never had a chance.

Another great success story.

Happy Carmore
Happy Carmore MegaDork
4/12/16 4:41 p.m.

Ha! My old stomping grounds. Falls Creek Falls is nice.

ShawneeCreek Reader
4/12/16 6:17 p.m.

Hey, at least it was an adventure and worthy of a story. Sounds like you have a very tolerant wife. Thanks for sharing :)

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