Day 3 November 26, 2005
The East Bound Leg



Looking at a map, I had seen a vertical blue line near the motel and figured that might be a good express route to US-70. I didn't study the map nearly enough so thinking north-south and faced with east-west I made the wrong choice at I-24 and found myself heading south. I recovered by heading to downtown Nashville and picked up US-70 there. During some web wandering, I had seen this review of the Hermitage Cafe and, when I spotted it on my right, decided it would be a good place for breakfast. It was but I did have second thoughts when I saw the two ambulances parked out front. It turned out just to be a group of EMTs having breakfast and I took that as a good sign. The food was good & reasonably priced and the service was good & entertaining. That's my waitress, Alice (honest), at the cash register. She and the fellow on the phone kept up a constant banter that at first made me think that a real fight might break out between them at any instant. But it was all show to amuse the customers and themselves. A bit of Nashville that's not on any of the packaged tours.

Note that the MrBreakfast review has the street wrong (or there are two Hermitage Cafes). The place where I stopped was at 71 Hermitage Avenue.

There is construction in progress all the way to Lebanon. This entire section of US-70 seemed ready to turn into divided four lane any minute. At this intersection on the east side of Lebanon, it's all Seventy. East 70, East 70N, or Business 70. Tennessee likes to split its US routes more than most and there is even a 70S on the other side of Nashville.

Who knew there were two Rock Citys in Tennessee? The view from here comes within a half-dozen states of equaling that of the other Rock City.

This bridge is not on US-70. The first picture is pretty shabby but it is the view that first caught my attention. I just had to travel over the span to the town of Carthage. Once on the other side, I got a better view plus a shot of the Smith County courthouse.

There is good scenery and semi-wriggly roads on both sides of Cookeville. Tennessee Guard's 278th Regimental Combat Team recently came home from Iraq and there are many welcome signs in the area. It's not really readable in the picture but that's a big "Welcome Home 278th" banner tied to the pillars of the Putnam County courthouse.

Here's the guy who turned me on to the Rockin' Robin in Ripley, OH, and, for this trip, suggested 70N over 70 and pointed out that I would be passing close to The Hermitage. It's Baby Boomer Bob from Loudon and today he met me at the base of the Homestead tower. I didn't get any pictures of the whole tower but you can see it here and learn about this twentieth century "homesteading" project, too. We climbed the tower and learned of its many uses. It's a great observation deck, a functioning water tower, and a very effective "stairmaster" for middle aged males.

In addition to treating me to the museum, Bob chauffeured me around the Homestead area and the nearby Cumberland Mountain State Park. The bridge in the first picture was a bit of a surprise to both of us and I'm not entirely sure just where it is. The second one crosses the Byrd Lake dam. We climbed down the west side of the dam then walked over the bridge and down to lodge at the east end. There is a picture of the lodge taken across Byrd Creek and one of the dam taken from the lodge. The lodge can be rented and sleeps sixteen in bunkhouse style. A couple were there preparing for their son's birthday party and graciously allowed us a look inside. Bob and I both thought that being twelve years old and spending the night with your buddies around a fireplace beside a creek looked pretty inviting.

After picking up my car at the tower, I followed Bob to Harriman. The pictures are from the Mount Roosevelt overlook. That's the town of Rockwood and Watts Bar Lake on the Tennessee River. Down from the overlook, we drove a section of the old road through Rockwood then headed to Harriman. In Harriman, we stopped at a diner which had actually been a candidate for our meeting point. Good thing we opted for the tower as Chase's is a lunch only diner; Open 11:00 to 2:00. From there, Bob headed home and I headed for the Best Western.

Big thanks, Bob, for that Tennessee hospitality. Sorry that Susan couldn't join us but hope to meet her someday. Take a look at some of Bob's many travels here.

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