Posts Tagged With: Chickamauga

A Rare and Perfect Day of Honor and Reflection

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “All It’s Cracked Up to Be.” Tell us about a time when everything actually turned out exactly as you’d hoped.

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I was slightly anxious to be driving alone through a strange city,hauling my tiny camper, watching for road signs and listening to Siri’s annoying GPS voice directing me to the Chickamauga Battlefield.  Anxious because the previous day I got stuck on the top of Lookout Mountain and was rescued by angels – but I’ve already told that story.

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The morning was perfect; no clouds, in the low 70’s, sunny and bright.  I drove through Chattanooga without mishap arriving safely at the Chickamauga Battlefield and Chattanooga National Military Park. I pulled into a perfect parking space for the camper (meaning I didn’t have to back out) and had wonderful ingress and egress to parking throughout my tour.

I entered the museum as the award winning film depicting the battles on Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge began.  “The Campaign for Chattanooga: Death Knell of the Confederacy” is a haunting film of the men from rural farms and small towns who fought and died at the Battle of Chickamauga. Their dashed hopes and broken dreams as the Civil War raged is profoundly sad and thought provoking.

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General Rosecrans commanded the Union Army of the Cumberland and General Bragg commanded the Confederate Army of Tennessee

I was given a map to the Chickamauga Battlefield that features a 7 mile self-guided auto tour, monuments, historical tablets, hiking trails and horse trails. As I drove from site to site I was struck by the number of people touring the battlefield; young people on motorcycles, retirees, the aged with walkers, and families with children. 300B8D1A-1DD8-B71C-07163CE398CD7C8D-largeI was touched by the beauty of the site and the interest and respect shown by the visitors.

The battlegrounds and roads have been maintained in their original state even to the placement of the cannon and surviving structures. Only brush removal is allowed. As I enjoyed the perfect weather and the beautifully maintained historic park, I reflected on how time can erase the physical scars to the landscape but we must maintain the memory of the battles. It is easy to forget that the Revolutionary War forming the United States had been fought only 87 years before.

A short 152 years ago, over a two day period in September 1863, this beautiful park saw 16,000 Union and 18,000 Confederate casualties, making Chickamauga the second bloodiest battle of the war after Gettysburg.  That’s 34,000 soldiers wounded or killed in two days.  Keep in mind that these battles were fought face-to-face, hand-to-hand with soldiers seeing and sometimes recognizing the faces of their adversaries.

I am grateful for the hours I spent honoring all the Civil War heroes who fought in this corner of Tennessee.  The day was everything I hoped for.

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Categories: Daily Prompt, Life, Retirement, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

I Met Angels on Lookout Mountain

It was snowing last April when we arrived at our cottage in Michigan after driving our new 17-foot Casita travel trailer from Florida.  I was expecting lilics and cherry blossoms and I only lasted three snowy days before  I told my husband I was heading back to Florida.  He was to fly home whenever he was ready and I took off on my first solo adventure towing my little Casita behind me.  My only fear was that I would have to back it up since I had never practiced driving in reverse with the camper.  But I figured it was a straight shot south on I-75 from Michigan to Florida, what could go wrong?

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The snow followed me to Chattanooga, Tennessee and I spent the night in a Comfort Inn since it was too cold to set up the trailer on a campsite. The morning dawned bright and sunny so I decided it was a perfect day to drive up Lookout Mountain to visit Ruby Falls, an underground waterfall, before continuing to the Chickamauga Battle site to do a little Civil War exploring.  I planned to reach Atlanta before nightfall.

Lookout Mountain

Lookout Mountain

The drive to Lookout Mountain was easy but I must have taken a wrong turn because as I drove up the mountain higher and higher, the road got narrower and the houses scarcer.  I figured what went up must come down so I would just drive to the top and then drive down the other side and eventually find my way to Ruby Falls.  I figured wrong.  The pitted one lane road ended abruptly with a sheer drop to infinity on the right and a steep rock wall on the left.  There were a couple of shacks that looked abandoned.  I was too nervous being a woman alone on an isolated road in the middle of nowhere to approach either of the dwellings.  I started sweating and praying since the only way down was in reverse.

I tried backing up inch by inch; the same six inches in reverse and then forward again because the trailer and the car kept going in opposite directions.   Alone on a 10 foot wide road at the top of a mountain was not the time to practice backing up a travel trailer.   My face and neck were flushed with tension, I was practically sweating blood and I was jibbering.  Every time I checked the road on my right I was looking at a drop off down to the treetops below.   I was scared to move forward or back.  I was alternately cussing and praying.  I eventually t-boned the car and the trailer and was good and truly stuck with my trailer about 12 inches from infinity. For one of the few times in my 60+ years, I honestly did not know what to do.  I didn’t know who to call.  I didn’t know where I was.  So, I just sat in the car to get my heart rate under control and when my breathing stabilized, after  two puffs from my rescue inhaler, I decided to lock everything up and hike back down the road to civilization.  I wasn’t worried about leaving my car and camper since I was literally at the end of the road and I hadn’t seen a soul since I started up the road 30 minutes before. I grabbed my purse, locked the car door and turned around to begin my hike.

Standing behind my camper were eight children where there had been no one before.  They were a diverse group; Anglo, Latino, black and Asian carrying rakes and shovels and hoes.  They appeared to be as astonished by me as I was by them.  “Where did you come from?” I asked.  They pointed down the road.  “Do any of you know how to back up a trailer?”  They shook their heads which was understandable since they appeared to be 12-14 year olds.  They told me they were with the Lookout Mountain Conservancy and maybe their counselor could help me.  Around the bend came a sweet looking woman who assured me she could get me turned around since she was a FedEx driver.  She handed her hedge trimmers to one of the kids, got into my SUV and with the help of the kids, we maneuvered the camper in reverse to a small dirt turnoff where she got me headed in the right direction. She told me the teens were inner-city kids who volunteered once a month to help keep the brush and trees from overgrowing the roadway and I was just lucky it was their volunteer day.

I don’t know why or how those children were at the top of that mountain at that exact time on that day but I know they were angels.   And, I will pass their good work forward so I, too, can be an angel to someone in need.

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Categories: Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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