Day 2: September 14, 2010
Cannonball, Canyon, Cave
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Sunrise was still a few minutes away but lots of Cannonballers were moving with purpose when I arrived at Coker Tires. There is no precisely coordinated start. The Cannonball isn't a race. Riders head out by ones and twos in the general vicinity of their established start time. I got a smile from Katrin Boehner when I first saw her but she turned to fastening her vest before I could bring the camera up. By the time I'd walked through the garage, she was gone. That 103 year old motorcycle needs to start early and run late to cover the allotted miles.

It had not registered with me that there were two Sears motorcycles in the group and I hadn't seen any in the lot last night. Bill Nugent is #27 so the bike with the jacket covered number must be Matt Olsen's. The next two photos were taken back to back. Almost immediately after I'd taken the picture of the idling Militaire, a rider, who I assume was Jim Dennie but do not really know, climbed aboard. There was a problem -- or at least some confusion -- with raising those "trainer wheels" and there was a thankfully slow speed collision with the trailer across the street. There was no real damage to either motorcycle or rider.

Details of a day's route only become available on the morning of that day. Some may carry them in their pockets but most riders have them in a clear plastic sleeve or taped together in a scroll box. That's the high-tech approach. Today I learned just how many men it takes to "download" a route into a scroll box.

ADDENDUM: Sep 15, 2010 - Shortly after posting this, I learned that Matt Olsen had an accident on the Sears. Matt's injuries include a broken left arm but he is expected to recover completely. The Sears is believed to be totaled. More details at the Cannonball site.

ADDENDUM: Oct 11, 2010 - It seems reports of the demise of the 1913 Sears were greatly exaggerated. Although it was riding in a side car at the time, the motorcycle did reach the finish in Santa Monica and will likely be repaired.

Here's another picture of the 1911 Velie; This one with its driver and navigator, Howard & Janet Sharp, in place. Several bikes were already on their way before the pace car rolled out but you can get away with that when you're "ceremonial".

I think I saw all of the Class I & II motorcycles start out but decided to move on when I learned that most of the Class III entrants would not be leaving for another hour or so. Class III is the multi-cylinder multi-gear class. They move a little faster than the Is & IIs.

Moving on meant moving about a half mile away to the City Cafe Diner for breakfast. I ordered a Swiss cheese omelet then asked if mushrooms could be added. The waitress was laughing when she sat the plate down. "Looks like you got plenty of mushrooms", she said. Indeed I did. I don't know exactly what the add-on was for the mushrooms but the whole tasty meal was about $8.50.

I'd recently read some praise for the scenic drive through Little River Canyon about fifty miles south of Chattanooga. I noticed a "176 Detour" sign just before reaching the start of the Little River Canyon Rim Parkway and soon found out why. I returned to the detour and was able to connect with the parkway about four miles from the start. That may not be a lot but that four miles contains stops with names like Little River Falls Overlook and Canyon View. Even so, I got some good peeks at an impressive canyon. At the other end, I opted to skip the drive to Little River Canyon Mouth Park. The description didn't scare me but I thought that the effort might be better spent when I could see the whole park; including that closed off four mile stretch.

Little River Canyon is near Fort Payne which is the home of Alabama the band. I didn't know this but saw a museum and fan club near the south edge of town. I like their music well enough but am not a fan and the museum did not interest me all that much. But a corner plaza with life sized statues of each band member? That's a different story. And here's a readable copy of the story on the wall behind the statues.

When I was in town over 2009's Fourth of July weekend, I thought of rounding out my Chattanooga experience visits to Ruby Falls and the Tennessee Aquarium. Both were packed. Today I parked almost next to the Ruby Falls entrance, walked right up to the desk, and joined a tour a few minutes later. The place wasn't deserted -- our tour and another we encountered in the cave were sizable -- just comfortable.

As with most commercial caves, this one has plenty of cleverly named formations such as the Donkey and the Potato Chip, but the real draw is the nation's largest and deepest underground waterfall. One of my pictures shows members of our tour group taking pictures of the 145 foot falls while I bounce flash off drops of water in the air. Next is my own photo of the falls with a little lens flare added to the reflections from the water drops.

The last picture is of the city off Chattanooga taken from atop the tower built with rock carried a bucket at a time from inside the cave. The rock was blasted away to make walking to the falls possible. Even in the 1930s, when the falls became open to the public, the number of people willing to spend money to crawl half a mile through a two foot tall passage was limited.

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