Number Forty Seven: Georgia, Jimmy Carter, and the Silver Comet Trail

The Silver Comet Trail starts (or ends) at Smyrna, near Atlanta, runs 62 miles to the Alabama border, and becomes the Chief Ladiga Trail for another 33 miles. This allows a 190-mile round trip if you are so inclined. We were not so inclined. Right in the middle (actually mile marker 45.8), the trail has the additional feature known as “Surprise Hill”. The infamous hill is taller than it looks and once you get to the top, surprise, there are more rolling hills that continue west to Cedartown. Some of the rolling hills are steep, with unexpected turns and limited sight stopping distances. We skipped that experience as well.

We did the eastern end of the trail, Smyrna, more or less, to Pumpkin, more or less. That gave us 54 miles (27 times two). While we avoided Surprise Hill, the part we did ride had more ups and downs, twists and turns than a self-respecting rails-to-trails trail should have. Rails-to-Trails doesn’t describe it; it’s a trail near an active rail line, more or less, but is more scenic than most of the conversions we have ridden.

This leaves 68 miles of trail we have not done yet. Overall, a very positive experience apart from the over-used car section.


The one advantage of bringing a wheel chair to CNN is we got our very own guided tour. The reason for that, and the downside of that, is we didn’t get to take the escalator. With a tour group of two, one gets to hang around the various news rooms more and one gets plenty of opportunity to ask and be asked questions. And of course the downside is one is expected to engage; I’ve always tried to avoid that.

Carter Presidential Library and Museum

We have visited a few Presidential Libraries and Museums and been positively impressed with all of them. Noting, of course, that the editorial content of Bill Clinton’s was not controlled by Fox News, nor was the content of Gerald Ford’s controlled by MS-NBC.

My editorial content for Jimmy Carter begins with a rather chaste version of the Oval Office; Carter’s hand-written first draft of the Sinai Agreement; and a fully executed version of the Agreement. The Sinai Agreement ended Israeli occupation of the Peninsula, which seemed to me as we passed through was a lot of sand with frequent machine gun emplacements, now unmanned (or unsoldiered) and unused.

Then we have a portrait of President Carter, followed by close-ups of detail in the portrait.

And I’ll end my tour with two serious notes that speak for themselves and a reminder that the Library is managed by people who shared Jimmy Carter’s commitment to human rights, civil rights, and energy reform. They did not spend much time on Bert Lance, other than noting he was eventually cleared of all charges.

The list of achievements not withstanding, the Museum side, which dealt more with the post-Presidency, is perhaps more impressive than the Presidential Library side, which dealt mostly with the Presidency.

Hill Museum of Art

The Hill Museum is also impressive and worth more time than we had. We should have learned by now that we generally spend more time in museums and less time shopping than TripAdvisor advises. You can not take pictures of everything and I will not include all the ones I did take. The special exhibit in progress featured “Infinity Mirrors” of Yayoi Kusama. You tell me what it means.

Based on the pictures I took of the ‘unspecial’ exhibits, there were strong African, Black, and slavery influences on the collection begun and donated by the Hill family. I’ll begin with an exception, a marble statue by Hiram Powers of the character Melancholy from a poem by John Milton and I’ll finish with a collage of found objects by Thorton Dial, Sr., as reflections on 9/11. Somehow, the red, white, and blue splashed around indicates national pride coming through in spite of it all.

In between is an unarbitrated collection of other exhibits, which I will not attempt to interpret, either the art or the selections.

The whirly-gig thingy, carved by retired employee of the National Public Health Service, shows Bill Clinton spinning in the wind, Hilary Clinton and Bob Dole engaged in a tug of war over health care reform weighted down by the Republicans. I seem to gravitate toward realism. Here are some details of the painting, by Eastman Johnson, that interested me most.

It was described as the “Uncle Tom’s Cabin of painting” with both pro- and anti-slavery factions finding support (although it is dated after “The War of Northern Aggression”) depending on whether you focus on the deplorable living conditions or the vibrant community.

Dinner with Drs. Judith Monsaas and George Engelhard.

A description of our conversation concerning Rasch Measurement as a progression from Thurstone, Likert, Guttman, et al. versus Rasch Measurement as a Kuhnian Revolution may not be beyond the pale for the backroom of Jimmy’s Woodlawn Tap but it is for this post.

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