Saturday, September 5, 1981

76. Duluth, Georgia

Day 76:  Saturday, September 5, 1981
Stone Mountain to Duluth

Poor planning and the lack of a definite itinerary are really leaving their mark.  I had thought that four days in Atlanta would give me plenty of time for a variety of activities, but two days are now gone and I've accomplished very little.

Tourist trap choo-choo
Tourist trap choo-choo
The state has managed to turn Stone Mountain into a fair-sized tourist complex, complete with fake Civil War trains, a paddle-wheel riverboat, exhibits and monuments glorifying the Confederacy, and Muzak.  The Stone Mountain sculpture itself, though much reduced from the one envisioned and begun by Gutzon Borglum, is still impressive in scale.  Borglum worked on his design for three years before quitting over disagreements with the project's sponsors.  Another sculptor removed the figure of General Lee that Borglum had chiseled, and worked for three years on the present design before running out of money in 1928.

Stone Mountain
It looks kinda like a big loaf of bread.

The mountain sat for almost 50 years before the tools were once again picked up - for the final time.  The sculpture was completed in 1970, and shows Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson, the two generals on horseback, looking out over what remains of their dream of a separate nation.

I climbed the footpath to the top of Stone Mountain - most tourists take the aerial tramway.  There was more schlock at the top.  On a clear day, the view must be magnificent, but today's haze made it impossible even to spot Atlanta, which is 12-15 miles to the west.

At the bottom, I met a couple of former Michiganders (he had attended MSU) who had moved to Atlanta four years ago.  They loved the city, in spite of its extremely high humidity - "You get used to it," they said.  "Just think of it as a steam bath."

I frittered away most of the day at Stone Mountain.  Around 4:00, I set out for Tucker, where I stopped at a bike shop, and Duluth, where the Southeastern Railway Museum is located.  It was closed when I arrived, but I'll camp here tonight, cycle downtown tomorrow morning, and catch the railroad museum in the afternoon, when it'll be open.  The bike shop was also closed when I got there, but one of the guys (he was from Flint) opened it up for me, oiled my chain, and gave me a beer, and we talked for a while.  He's moving to Key West, where everyone rides bicycles, but nobody goes very far.  He says there's a huge bicycle shop there - 300 bikes on the floor, and the business is great.  Here in Atlanta, he's helped put together a criterium-plus-easy-bike-ride, which will be held on Labor Day.  I might try to catch that, if I can figure out how to get there from here.

Hint for bikers:  Don't stay in a big, crowded campground on Labor Day weekend.

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