Tag Archives: Monteagle

Hilton Head – Driving Down the Musical Highway

23 Oct

We got a late start on our trip to Hilton Head because I had a midday meeting. This meant that we would be driving through the late afternoon and into the night. On top of that, we had to hit five different interstates to get there.

Whenever I am on a long drive, my mind starts to entertain itself. This means that useless trivia moves from the back of my brain and dominates my mind. It is a good way to stay awake and a good way to go crazy. On this drive, music was the category of choice, and it all started as we made our way over Monteagle.

For those who do not know, Monteagle is a ridge that has to be crossed just north of Chattanooga. The grade is steep and trucks have a hard time making their way up one side and down the other. Each time I drive over Monteagle, I think about the opening song of Smokey and the Bandit and start singing it under my breath.

In case you do not remember the opening to one of the greatest movies in cinema history, the song recounts how the Bandit became famous in the truck driving world. I wrote an entire post about it, but, simply, it talks about how he lost control of his rig on Monteagle. With heroic driving skills, he was able to make it to the bottom.

(Brief Interlude: While writing that post, I looked up the lyrics of the song. All of the sites had him crossing something called Montvale. It is not Montvale. One of my life’s goals is to get those lyrics corrected and give Monteagle is rightful place in Smokey and the Bandit history.)

Of course, driving through Chattanooga brought to mind “Chattanooga Choo Choo”, but the route through north Georgia made my mind go musically dead. Atlanta played a big role in that. It does not matter what time you drive through Atlanta. The traffic is always bad, and your focus needs to be on the road. However, I still heard Ronnie Van Zant telling Billy Powell to “play it pretty for Atlanta.”

Eventually, we made our way to Macon and hit a desolate stretch of road toward Savannah. It was getting later. It was getting darker. That is when I saw a sign for Statesboro, Georgia, the subject of “Statesboro Blues” by the Allman Brothers. That meant that the next several miles were filled with an internal soundtrack of their tunes.

After several days in Hilton Head, which I will write about in the next post, we retraced our journey. This time, the excitement of a vacation was behind us, and we were making that long, tired drive toward home. That does not mean that the musical journey was over. As the miles passed, I tried to think of songs that have Georgia in their titles.Georgia

I ended up with the following.

“Sweet Georgia Brown” (I can see Curly Neal dribbling around Meadowlark Lemon.)

“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” (Charlie D. lives not too far down the road.)

“The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” (Yep, Vicki Lawrence can sing, too.)

“Midnight Train to Georgia” (The Pips make this song stand out.)

“Rainy Night in Georgia” (The Tony Joe White version is the best.)

“Georgia on My Mind” (It is hard to beat Ray Charles.)

“Marching Through Georgia” (I only know this one because it was mentioned in a John Wayne movie.)

“Walkin’ Back to Georgia” (One of Jim Croce’s lesser known songs.)

Before I knew it, we were back at Monteagle, but it was not before I thought of something else. Does anyone remember a television show called Carter Country?

 

 

 

Play It Pretty for Atlanta

16 Apr

This weekend, I did something that I never envisioned doing. I went to market, the industry name for a women’s clothing convention. My fiance, owner of Beauty Boutique, needed to attend because that’s what boutique owners do. I needed to go because, well, I just wanted to. Life is full of experiences, and this would probably be an interesting one.

Shockingly, we got a late start, but, once we hit the road, it was smooth sailing. Actually, there was one rough patch. When we crossed Monteagle Mountain, I serenaded her with the theme from Smokey and the Bandit. She laughed hysterically and wrote about it on Facebook. Did I mention that I hate Facebook?

My sentiments exactly.

My sentiments exactly.

We arrived in Atlanta, and, after some fancy driving on my part, we made it to the hotel. She immediately wanted to head to market to check in and browse before they closed for the day. I had no idea what to expect, but I felt like that I had walked into the cantina on Tatooine at closing time.

The girls all get prettier at closing time.

The girls all get prettier at closing time.

There was some strange-looking creatures hanging around, and they all looked worn out. That’s not totally correct because there were some fair looking creatures there, too. However, they looked just as tired.

We went back to the hotel and started wondering about dinner. We didn’t want to venture too far out, so I looked up the hotel restaurants. That’s when my eyes bugged out. The lower level of our hotel housed Trader Vic’s. I only knew two things about Trader Vic’s. It is a hangout for werewolves who like pina coladas, and I had to go there.

I didn’t see any werewolves. However, I felt like I had walked into a 1950s postcard from Hawaii. I don’t even have the words to explain this surreal experience. Imagine getting swallowed up in a song by The Ventures and being served an umbrella drink. That’s Trader Vic’s.

How can you go wrong with a menu with this cover?

How can you go wrong with a menu with this cover?

The next day, we got up bright and early for market, and it was a completely different experience. The cantina crowd was ready to go and buyers from stores throughout the nation were cramming the aisles between the booths. They had everything that a woman could possibly wear, and there was a thousand varieties of each item. Heck, there were ten stories filled with stuff. As a crowd watcher instead of a buyer, I started to figure out the difference between the serious buyers and the sightseers. I could also pick out the guys who were doing the exact same thing that I was.

However, that was just the appetizer for what I really wanted to see, the runway fashion show. I couldn’t wait to see a bunch of models strut their stuff on the catwalk. I wasn’t disappointed because they looked like I imagined. But, there was a problem. There was a woman in front of me wearing cat ears, and she was blocking my view. I promise that there is nothing worse than sitting behind a woman wearing cat ears at a fashion show.

After the show, we needed to eat. There wasn’t much around, so we ended up at The Hard Rock Cafe. The cheeseburger and 80s videos were great, but there was another form of entertainment. Atlanta’s version of The Amazing Race was going on. Some teams were taking it serious, and other teams were coming into the bar to get drunk. After this much activity, I needed a nap.

I slept most of the afternoon and woke up hungry. I didn’t want Trader Vic’s or a cheeseburger.  I wanted something good. Not knowing anything about Atlanta dining, we searched for Atlanta’s best restaurants and found Rathbun’s. I have written about Nashville’s booming food scene and know that we have some great restaurants. Rathbun’s would fit right in. The duck breast was awesome but not as good as the appetizer. If you ever go to Rathbun’s, then you have to get the Pan Fried Kefalotiri Cheese. It’s the most awesome thing ever.

Yesterday, we packed up to head home but not before going to Lenox Square Mall. I have heard of people going to Atlanta just to shop, and now I know why. It’s a cool mall. Wait, I went to Atlanta just to shop didn’t I? Weird. Anyway, we drove back to Tennessee and crossed Monteagle Mountain once again. This time I just hummed.

A Southern Legend

4 Oct

A few weeks ago, I was making a late night drive from Atlanta to my home in Tennessee. This trip requires taking Interstate 75 before veering onto Interstate 24 in Chattanooga. Just north of Chattanooga the road crosses a steep ridge known as Monteagle. The route up the ridge is relatively straight, but the way down is winding to say the least. It’s steep, curvy and takes concentration to get to the bottom safely.

I like the drive because it is fun and because it always brings to mind a story that I heard as a kid. It is the story of a truck driver who became a legend while delivering a load from Atlanta to Tennessee. Some people compare his story to those of John Henry and Jesse James – real people whose stories are clouded in song, myth and the need for heroes.

The year was 1963, and the driver hit the climb at Monteagle in a driving thunderstorm. I imagine the going was slow up the ridge because trucks have difficulty there on a good day. Heck, they say he couldn’t even see the passing lane. He probably stopped at the town on top of the ridge to take a break and get out of the storm. However, the load needed to be delivered.

As he started down the mountain, the rain had not let up, and the driver realized that he needed to gear down. He missed his gear and hit the breaks as the truck started to speed up. The breaks didn’t have air, and the truck driver realized that he was in trouble. However, more trouble was ahead as the trailer jack-knifed.

Now, he was going down Monteagle backwards with no breaks and in a driving rainstorm. He flew by cars and trucks. Later, the drivers of those vehicles reported that he had his head out the window and was yelling for everyone to get out-of-the-way.

Finally, he made it safely to the bottom, and people gathered around to ask him how he had gotten down the ridge. His reply has gone down in southern lore – “Folks, when the truck picked up too much speed I just run along beside it and drug my feet.”

It wasn’t long before word of this feat spread through the trucking world, and he became known as the driver with ice water running in his veins. They say he had a foot like lead and nerves like steel. With this newfound fame, the driver was paid to attend truck driving rodeos throughout the south and, honestly, became a shell of his former self.

Fifteen years after his experience on Monteagle, the driver was offered the chance to make another legendary run. The trick was that he had to drive from Atlanta to Texarkana and pick up a load of Coors. Then, he had to return to Atlanta within 24 hours. It was an impossible run that included breaking bootlegging laws. However, being the driver that he was, the bet was not going to be turned down.

The truck driver’s real name was Bo Darville, but in legend he is known by his CB handle, The Bandit. A southern legend, his story has been remembered in cinema and song.