November 26, 2016


“We must adjust to changing times and still hold to unchanging principles.”  Miss Julia Coleman, high school teacher of President Jimmy Carter

Carol writes:  We seemed to be traveling in time through a perpetual fall season as we moved south.  Our next campground was on the grounds of gorgeous Stone Mountain Park, a privately run campground and theme park just outside the beltway around Atlanta.  Fall colors were at their peak at Stone Mountain, 

best known for the memorial relief carving of three Confederate leaders— Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis— on the world’s largest granite monolith.

With the exception of the carving, there was little of interest to us in the theme park that has been developed at the foot of massive Stone Mountain.  In fact, to my way of thinking, the whole theme park idea seemed jarring and inappropriate.  The artificial snow slides built of gaudy red construction, center stage at the base of the carving, looked especially tacky,

especially in the view from atop Stone Mountain.

The reason for our stay in the Atlanta area was twofold: 

connecting up with old friends…

and visiting the Carter Presidential Center. 

We had another very delightful visit with Al’s classmate Pem and his wife, Lucy, in their lovely home.  We were excited this time that Todd, another classmate from the class of 1969 that Al hadn’t seen in 37 years, could join us for dinner on the square in downtown Marietta. 

In spite of vastly different career paths spanning several decades, it was obvious the bonds of friendship formed as classmates so many years ago were deep and strong…

Al, Pem, and Todd
We were determined to brave notorious Atlanta traffic and head into the city to visit the Jimmy Carter Presidential Museum.  The museum’s architectural style of unobtrusive circular buildings nestled into the landscape appeared to reflect Jimmy Carter’s unpretentious style and simple southern roots.

The museum and library complex were located on a lovely 30-acre high point on the outskirts of Atlanta on the site of a former plantation residence that was used as the headquarters of Union General William Tecumseh Sherman as he commanded the siege of Atlanta.  Today, the skyscrapers of Atlanta could be seen peaking up over the hill.

We found the Carter Museum to be excellent!  As always, we were fascinated with the intriguing life story of a man of such humble beginnings who once held the most powerful office in the world.

Personal memorabilia from President Carter’s boyhood were particularly fascinating…

his birth certificate on which it was written that he will be called

Jimmy now— but later, of course, I will be “Jim”

 I wondered why that didn’t happen…

his naval officer shoulder boards, Naval Academy class ring, and submariner insignia.

As always, the oval office replica was fascinating.

As the museum pointed out, the Carter presidency was dominated by the Iran hostage crisis, which only came to a resolution the very moment President Carter left office and Ronald Reagan was sworn in. 

It is perhaps Jimmy Carter’s post presidential accomplishments that are the ones for which he is most universally admired:  his work building homes with Habitat for Humanity, a prolific author of 29 books,

winner of a Grammy for one of his audiobooks,

recipient, along with wife Rosalyn, of the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor,

and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the Carter Center, a nonprofit international organization he founded to advance human rights, prevent disease, and deal with conflict resolution.

Since we had already braved bumper-to-bumper traffic into Atlanta, we decided to make the most of our day in the city and head over to CNN Center for a behind-the-scenes studio tour.  The multistory atrium of CNN was impressive.  We couldn’t help noticing that there was a very heavy security presence, for obvious reasons. 

The tour itself was mildly informative.  The most interesting part was the view down into the news gathering section.  Sadly, there were no pictures allowed…

After the CNN tour we took a short walk through nearby Centennial Olympic Park, a permanent legacy to the 1996 Olympic games.

Our friend Lucy graciously asked us to spend a day with her in Atlanta at the Atlanta History Center.  Inspired by her deep love for her home state of Georgia, Lucy proved to have a wealth of knowledge about Atlanta’s history.  She guided us expertly through the History Center’s exhibits  of Atlanta-connection treasures and provided additional commentary to further enhance our understanding...

The history center reminded us that Atlanta is the home of Chick-fil-A,

Coca Cola,

Hank Aaron,

and golf legend Bobby Jones, one of the greatest ever to play the game and winner of golf’s Grand Slam—all four major tournaments of his era in a single calendar year.


The tour through the classically styled Swan House mansion on the grounds of the History Center was entertaining.  Our tour guide assumed the identity of Philip Schutze, architect of the mansion which was built in 1928 for wealthy Atlanta residents Edward and Emily Inman. 

Lucy greets "Mr. Schutze"

The rooms of Swan House clearly demonstrated the opulent 1930s Atlanta lifestyle of this rich and famous family…

the dining room,

the unusual green-plastered morning room,

and the library.

We had a delicious lunch with Lucy at the History Center tearoom, and that put the exclamation point on an all-round fascinating day in Atlanta with Lucy as our guide!

Atlanta from the Ashes:  The Phoenix
A week in the Atlanta area proved to be way too short to see all that a world-class city such as Atlanta has to offer.  It struck me with great irony that the President Jimmy Carter Museum and Library complex… dedicated to a boy born in rural southern Georgia... is situated on land where General Sherman once plotted the destruction of Atlanta and the death knell of the Confederacy.  It seemed most appropriate that the symbol of the phoenix has been adopted by the city of Atlanta to celebrate its rise from the ashes of the Civil War. 

“I want the American people to understand my character, my weaknesses, the kind of person I am.”  President Jimmy Carter

November 20, 2016


“If we can hold Chattanooga and Eastern Tennessee, I think the rebellion must dwindle and die.”  Abraham Lincoln

Carol writes:  As winter approached and we moved slowly southward in eastern Tennessee, our next stop was Chattanooga, where we looked forward to visiting three historic sites where, over a 2-month period, key battles of the Chattanooga Campaign were fought which turned the tide of the Civil War. 


Lookout Mountain,

and Missionary Ridge would capture our interest for the better part of the next week…

For our stay in the Chattanooga area, Al selected a family-run campground.  In an interesting even-handed manner, the North-South streets of the campground were named after Civil War officers—the North end after Union Commanders, and the South end after Confederate Generals.  Our street was named Longstreet in honor of Confederate General James Longstreet.


By the summer of 1863, the midpoint of the Civil War, the Union Army had achieved significant victories at both Vicksburg and Gettysburg.  With over 51,000 killed, Gettysburg was by far the costliest battle in terms of total casualties on both sides.  Sadly, the Battle of Chickamauga, where over 32,000 were killed, holds the record for the second bloodiest battle of the Civil War.  Echoing eerie prophetic overtones, Chickamauga is a Cherokee word meaning “river of death,” perhaps in remembrance of the creek where the Cherokee were said to have contracted smallpox.  The Battle of Chickamauga was a decisive win for the Confederacy, although a costly one in terms of total lives lost.

A self-guided auto tour of the battlefield gave us an appreciation of battlefield tactics.  For an emotional connection to an historic battle, there is nothing that compares to an actual visit to the hallowed grounds where the contest was waged, and so it was for us at Chickamauga.

Surrounded by the splendor of fall colors, if you stood quietly and closed your eyes, you could almost imagine the beat of the battle drums and the crack of the muskets…

The battlefield grounds were covered with dozens of monuments to the units that fought at Chickamauga.


One of the most iconic geologic features of the city of Chattanooga is the impressive ridge of Lookout Mountain, which dominates the skyline of the city.  We got a great look at the dominance of aptly named Lookout Mountain from the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge.

Downtown Chattanooga was quite lovely!  The residents we spoke to seemed quite proud of their city.  There was much to appreciate during our day downtown—the highly rated Tennessee Aquarium,


the creatively placed Hunter Art Museum high above the Tennessee River,

the artfully colored blue tree branches,

and a stunning riverfront landscape.

However… it was the Civil War history on Lookout Mountain that was calling to us for a closer look.

The winding switchback road up Lookout Mountain took us to the gates of Point Park, built by the Army Corps of Engineers and designed as a replica of the Corps “castle” insignia.

Inside the gate we took a short stroll through a lovely treed area to the overlook 1500 feet above the winding Tennessee River and the city of Chattanooga in the distance.

After defeat at Chickamauga, at the base of Lookout Mountain bleak days settled in on the Union forces who were huddled in Chattanooga and slowly being starved to death.  However, once the new “Cracker Line” food and supply route opened up, Union forces believed they had an opportunity to seize the high ground over Chattanooga.

It is hard to imagine Union troops charging up fog-enshrouded Lookout Mountain and winning the battle, but that is what happened in the “Battle Above the Clouds.”

The loss at Lookout Mountain was a huge blow to the Confederacy because this was just the opening Lincoln wanted to cripple the supply lines in the industrial heart of the Deep South.  At the tiny Ochs Museum overlook, old photographs of Union soldiers posed on the very tip of Lookout Mountain were fascinating…


As a further dagger into the heart of the Confederacy, the next day cries of “Chickamauga!” were shouted by Union Forces as they charged up and seized nearby Missionary Ridge.  A turning point in the Civil War had been reached.  Chattanooga was now firmly in Union hands and the way had been paved for Sherman’s March to the Sea, depicted so dramatically in Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With the Wind.”

Although the Civil War ended over 150 years ago, the city of Atlanta has a long memory… and that will be our next destination.

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”  Abraham Lincoln