Tuesday, July 04, 2006

2006 Day 10

Head down to Chattanooga today, to see the Chickamauga battlefield. Stormy and Joker accompany me. The battle site itself is sprawling; part of the road follows the Union entrenched line and the Confederate soldier ghosts charge out of the woods on my left, in my imagination. We run out of time (I would have liked to dwell a while on Lookout Mountain) when the weather starts to threaten quite severely. Here comes the thunder.

Somehow I've gotten turned around - usually I'm a good navigator, but the mountains have confused me - and I lead the gals in the wrong direction, and even get on I-75 heading the wrong way. Takes me three exits to realise my mistake, and we turn around, only to head into a dark-looking storm filled with streaks of crackling lightning. In less than 10 miles I pull us off again, in a Circle-K parking lot, to discuss what we collectively want to do. We vote to don our raingear and go on. Looks like we're gonna get hella wet.

The downpour really comes when we are navigating the hairiest part of Chattanooga proper - I-75 merges with I-24, and trucks are changing lanes, and lanes are appearing and disappearing. Visibility is cut to almost nil, with the driving rain and the spray from the tires. I ride with my visor open and my glasses down on my nose, which is the best I can do and still I can see almost nothing. This is some of the scariest riding I've ever done, and lookit here, now a truck is coming over into my lane. My options are: a) stay where I am and get squashed, b) nail the throttle & try to get out of the way, or c) brake hard and risk a wreck from behind. I choose acceleration. Stormy goes with me, Joker can't, and we lose her in the traffic & zero visibility. I just want the hell OUTTA HERE and apparently Stormy feels the same way, she signals me to exit. Unfortunately the next offramp is a big swoopy curving one so Joker won't be able to see us getting off the road. Ah shit. There's a BP a half a block up and that's where Stormy and I take cover. This rain is so bad, the CARS are pulling off. We end up waiting for half an hour for the rain to slack.

Turns out Joker rode it out, and got out of the rain after ten miles or so. She is pissed at me for losing her, and I feel bad, but honestly don't know what else I could have done. Sometimes, all the choices suck.

I'm more happy than I can possibly express that everyone has made it back safe and sound.

On our way back, finally out of the rain, Stormy and I stop for fireworks at a local pyrotechnic stand. (My favorite? A 16-load combo box named "One Bad Mother.") We have LOTS of fun setting them off for the 'Zons after dark, while also trying to evade the security guard who has come to stop us. Hee hee hee.

Next: Day Eleven

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