Monday, November 05, 2007

Toot Toot!!

The above picture is just a few miles before you get to Blue Ridge facing the highway. It is a junk person’s paradise. From the highway it looks like just a pile of junk in no kind of order. Then, I got a glimpsed of the mannequin in the bathtub. Now, that is order – or maybe just a system to the junkman’s madness.

Two weeks ago we called and got reservations for that upcoming Friday to ride the Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad. We requested opened to the air cars, to get the most out of the scenery. Then it rained and then it rained some more. On Wednesday before our reservation Friday the weather prediction was that it was 70% chance of rain in Blue Ridge. We could cancel and trip in 48 hours and get full credit. Then the chances fell to 10% for Friday.

I don’t want to know if it really rained or not.

The next Wednesday we checked the weather forecast and it said there was just about no chance it would rain the upcoming Friday (which was last Friday). We called and got our reservations. By this time we were getting to know the ladies in the ticket office.

Friday morning we got up early and headed north to Blue Ridge. We parked at the Depot. There was only parking place left. Anna called her mother just to make sure everything was ok before we went to the ticket office to get our tickets. Anna’s mother did not answer the phone. Marie very rarely leaves her house before 10:30 or 11:00. It was 9:39 and she wasn’t answering her phone.

We decided to hurry up and drive back to Kennesaw (near Marietta) and check on her mother. Before we made the trip back Anna went to the ticket office and got a voucher for our rides – so late in the game they don’t issue credit, they give vouchers which must be used within a year.

When we got to Anna’s mother’s house her car was not there. That was good new. If she was able to drive she probably was okay. Later we found out she went and had her hair done, which she usually does on Saturdays. She has a cell phone but has never gotten the hang of turning it on when she leaves her house. Well, I haven’t either, so I understand. But I think there is something to learn from that.

Which reminds me, later that same day Anna and I were shopping and I felt something vibrate and it startled me… something like a joy buzzer was vibrating against my stomach from something in my jacket pocket… then it chimed. It was my first unexpected cell call. It was Rocky asking were we on the train ride.

We gave it another try the next day, Saturday morning.

On the drive up I noticed a couple of storage companies in or near the little towns we drove through. I remember years ago when you see an old home in the mountains chances are the yard is full of junk, old appliances, old rusting trucks, maybe a school bus with vines growing all over it… but not so much now. The whole country side has that neat yuppie look! I bet those storage companies are partly to blame for giving it that new boring yuppie look.

The day before the train left the depot at 11:00am. We had no reason to believe the departing time would be any different. On the way up when we got in the town of Blue Ridge area it was very foggy and we went by a couple of wrecks of people that were not lucky in the fog. We were in the area at about 9:30 and thought we had about an hour and a half to kill, so we just about decided to ride by and see my old high school friend’s house that he bought and moved in after he retired. But I decided no, with the fog I couldn’t take any good pictures of his house anyway – only about 20 feet visibility. So, we went to historical downtown Blue Ridge and had to park a few blocks from the depot, there were no spaces available closer.

When we went into the ticket office to swap our voucher for tickets for an opened-air car. I almost expected them to ask how Anna’s mother doing and we call them by their first names… I think we may have been a topic of conversation there after we left the day before.

We went to the train and the lines of people were in front of each car. I asked somebody what time did the train leave on Saturday. At 10:00 was the answer. We would have missed it again if I tried to look up my old school chum’s home.

As we pulled out of the station in the opened air car I was amazed at how junky the back of some of the small old houses were. One house had a commode on the back porch. I tried to take a picture of it, but wasn’t quick enough.

Outside of town the scenery is beautiful. For a while it is rolling hills.

And then the tracks come up parallel with the Toccoa River and runs along beside it all the way into McCaysville, Georgia.

See the V in the river in the above picture? (center) That was an Indian Trout Trap… that would be hard to say quickly – Trout Trap! The trout swims in and when the try to leave the Cherokee Indians would be at the mouth of the trap and the trout would crowd at the point, and they would just have to wait to be picked.

Here are a few more river pictures.

It was very cold. Most people wisely wore heavy clothing. Not us! I am cold natured, but I was so turned on to the scenery I didn’t pay much attention to the coldness like other people I seen all wrapped up and shivering.

McCaysville is 13 miles from Blue Ridge. It took the train an hour to make the journey. So, according to my series of math formulas the train averaged 13 miles per hour.

McCaysville, Georgia, and Copper Hill, Tennessee, are one town. The state line splits a building, which must be complicated on property tax.

Back when I was a teenager I remember people talking of Copper Hill as a very mean and dangerous town. It was a mining town, which I suppose it was populated by mostly men. And the surrounding rolling hills of the surrounding area were stripped of any kind of growth and topsoil… which must have been an ugly site. But now, everything seemed laid back and nice and the river flowing through the community made it even better.

We ate on the Georgia side, about 150 feet from the Tennessee side at Georgia Boy’s BBQ. It is one of the best barbecue I had in a while. They do it right in Georgia.

We went back the same way. Actually there was an engine on each end of the train, they didn’t have to turn around or anything.

In our car their were two women, both with very pronounced north Georgia accents were sort of our guides or whatever. They were non-paid volunteers. I think their job was sort of being a hostesses and keep their eyes on guard for safety, in case somebody leaned too far out to take a picture or something. Both were very chatty one on one. They were not docents but just nice down to earth people who like to share what they know of the train ride and what you see.

One of the women, at the beginning of the trip made an announcement they we “have to wave” at people out walking or waiting at a RR crossing, on sitting on their back porches, and so on. I said, “We have to?” Anna and I joked about that off and on. As we passed a RR crossing and the couple in their car were waving I said in front of them is a sign on the black and white cross bar that read, “Wave at the Train! It’s the Law!”

Back in Blue Ridge we walked around with hoards of people going into antique, gift, boutiques, ice cream, and pet shops. Anna bought a silver chain in a jewelry store in Copper Hill and I bought an opened air bird feeder with rubber stoppers – the 2nd one of that kind for the den.

Oh yes! I almost forgot it was much warmer on the train ride back. Next time we go, if there is a next time, we agreed to get tickets for a climate controlled car – which I forgot to mention, there were only three opened air cars and maybe 7 to 9 climate controlled cars.

A nice outing day to break the routine of a daily grind.

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Blogger kenju said...

I love trains and I'd like to do that trip sometime. You had good scenery, even if it was a bit cold.

4:33 AM  
Blogger ET said...

It was worth the shivering for.

4:54 AM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

That certainly seems worth the weight as well.

One thing I have noticed in my limited train travel (Amtrak from NYC to DC or Boston) is that the houses that are near the tracks are almost always run down. Who would live near train tracks except people in poverty? Almost the entire section of Delaware and MD that I pass through makes me want to cry.

6:34 AM  
Blogger ET said...

The only other time I rode on a train was from Dalton, Ga., to Marietta when I was a teenager.... well, if you count the times at Six Flags and Disney World where Indians shot at the train and wild hips opened their huge mouths, maybe 5 or 6 more.
I agree, about the poor near the rr tracks. sad.

8:27 AM  
Blogger Deb Goodrich said...

What a beautiful train ride! I agree with you about the yuppiness of the landscape, though. While it is good to clean up nature, there is something missing of the nature of the people who settled the hills. Thank Goodness you saw that commode on the back porch!

4:33 PM  
Blogger ET said...

I wished I could have been quick enough to take a picture of it. On the way back when we neared town I moved to the opposite side of the train to get another shot, and again it went by too fast.
I feel the same way you do (I think) - the yuppies made the landscape more beautiful and environmental friendly - but I think they had to break the will of poor folks there to do it.. sad.

5:09 PM  

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