Thursday, April 30, 2015

People standing on rocks

            People love to stand on rocks in the South. Maybe it’s because our mountains are tired after years on this earth, resting gently to let the moss grow on their backs as opposed to the majestic heights of the Rocky Mountains to the west with its sharp precipices and mighty peaks. In the South, there aren’t that many grand places to step out on to. (Considering Southerners and their love of hijinks, that could be a good thing.) But life in the South is more like a soft Blue Ridge vista or an Ozark overlook sporting fall colors down a gentle slope.
            I hail from the Deep South, a land created by mud deposits of the Mississippi River where rocks are purchased at lapidary shops. So naturally, I’m all about shooting a photo of me on top of Lookout Mountain.
            “Offbeat Tennessee” writes about one such place that has drawn visitors for years, Umbrella Rock on Lookout Mountain above Chattanooga, Tenn., where up to 30 people at a time can pose on the formation — and have! Even presidents Theodore Roosevelt and FDR (must be a Roosevelt thing) have visited Umbrella Rock for a photo opp. Of course today taking one’s photo would be too dangerous so the rock formation is currently off limits.
            You can view a collection of photos taken on Umbrella Rock here. And even more here.
            And by the way, visitors standing on Umbrella Rock can view seven states from that impressive rock collection! On a clear day.
            I’m going to end with a couple of my own. My grandparents took my father on a road trip to the Ozarks and visited Pivet Rock and Natural Bridge outside Eureka Springs, Arkansas (that's the threesome in the photo to the right). When I visited the area, I stopped at the park and gazed upon this rock formation that I knew I had seen before. No, my family didn’t climb on top for their immortal photo — my grandfather would have never allowed it — but they did bring home a photo nonetheless. 
             And guess what? So did I.

Cheré Coen is an award-winning travel writer specializing in the Deep South. She is also the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at

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