DAY RIDE 1/28/2012

Fixin' What Tennessee DOT Broke

January 28, 2012
Now that I've got two good legs to stand on, I've been pushing pretty hard since before Christmas, trying to catch up on stuff around the house. I've also had some stuff that required working some Saturdays at the office, so I am past ready for a break. The weather is nice today so I'm off like a dirty shirt to do a bit of 'exploring'. One of my favorite routes east is along highway 30 from McMinnville to Athens. To me, it's one of the best roads in the State of Tennessee. Unfortunately, in my opinion, they have ruined some sections by making them 4-lanes where they were once lovely twisties. The most 'improved' section, as TN DOT would call it, is between Decatur and Athens - straight as an arrow and boring as can be. So I figure I'll make a little run up there to see if I can find a remedy to the problem. It's a little cold as I leave the Holler, but Mr.Gerbing is doing a fine job this morning and for that I am thankful.

Because I get off to a later start and want to get back to the house before dark, I'm slabbing it up to Crossville on I40. I'll drop off there and take a nice run down into Spring City then across 68 to 58 to Decatur. I40 is surprisingly quiet for a Saturday morning and I am glad to have it mostly to myself.

  The funny thing about this slab run that I've made a bazillions times before is you cross the Caney Fork River 5 times around mile marker 260 or so. I always wonder if somebody had a brother-in-law in the bridge building business. With all the rains we've had lately, the river is up and running pretty good.
  I get off at Crossville, being careful of my progress since they have diligent officers of the law located there. Crossville is one of my favorite towns in the state for many reasons. I remember as a youngin' coming up here before there were interstates to visit my grandfather on my daddy's side. He and my great uncle ran a chair factory up here. I still have two of their rocking chairs back at the Holler. Just as you get outside of Crossville you come to a place call Homestead. It was a government sponsored homesteading project set up during the Great Depression. All the little houses on the area, or homesteads, were built out of the local Crab Orchard stone that was quarried. It is amazing how some folks have added to these original little houses.
 Some have left them 'as is' and some have been quite innovative in their additions. But it's just a neat place to mosey through on a pretty day.
Just down the road from Homestead is one of the prettiest places I know of called Grassy Cove.
 It is a big bowl surrounded by high hills - don't know if you could call them mountains or not. 

Strangely enough, there were two small stores along the road, both run by folks with the last name of Kemmer. They are also the proud founders of a line of wild hog hunting dogs known as 'Kemmer Curs' and have farmed in this cove for a long time.

 It is a place right out of a Norman Rockwell painting, with the old community church framed in by the surrounding hills and farms.
 It reminds me of how life used to be before we got so progressive that we became foolish in a lot of ways.  
 Next on down the road is another lovely place called Grandview.
 And indeed it is, as you have a beautiful view of the valley as you crest the hill.
 It's a great run down the mountain with the Watts Bar reservoir off in the distance,
 I take 302 out of Spring City, located at the foot of the mountain, then 68 across the dam at Watts Bar. The nuclear power generating plant there is quietly and efficiently making electricity to the surrounding area. 
 I finally get to the object of my exploration, Decatur. I've done some serious map 'inspection' and have some roads I want to ride. I don't know if they will end up in gravel or just pig paths, but away I go. I am very pleasantly surprised at their good condition and the great twisties along the way. 

Every rise brings some more good riding and I am so glad I came this way.

 I do some various turnarounds and checking out, and actually find a section of the old road still in existence. Sometimes they leave the old road and sometime they eradicate. There's a good portion still left of the old 30 in place, but I like the new roads I've found much better. With mental notes made, I decide to hunt up some late lunch. If my memory serves me correctly, there's a Cracker Barrel near I75 at Athens. And fortunately for my complaining stomach, my memory is right. 
 It's getting late, so I figure I'll jump on I75 down to I24 through Chattanooga. Every time I pass this mountain I think about that great civil war battle, the Battle of Chickamauga, that took place here. My great, great grandfather fought in that battle with the CSA 17th TN infantry.  
 Fortunately today, Monteagle Mountain is pretty quiet and I make it over with no drama. It has a real reputation as a 'truck killer' as the east bound incline and descent is pretty tough. 
 It's been a good day of peaceful thoughts and wind in my face as I head back into Nashville proper by the 'Batman' building.  
  I found what I needed to fix what TN DOT broke, and have filed away those routes for the next day I'm headed that way. Now for a little time back at the Holler, sitting in my recliner by the fire and thinking about the next ride.