Monday, April 21, 2008

The Carpet Capital of the World

I have to admit, until a few days ago, I'd never heard of Dalton before. Mortis mentioned resupplying in Dalton shortly before we arrived in Cave Spring, and I asked him, "Dalton, Massachusetts?!"

The Appalachian Trail does run through Dalton, Massachusetts--I had a wonderful act of trail magic manifest itself in a heaping bowl of ice cream with syrup and raindow sprinkles on a top there. No, I won't ever forget Dalton, Massachusetts, but who ever heard of Dalton, Georgia?

Apparently, it's not nearly as unknown to folks who live out here as it was to me. It's a sizeable city--easily the largest I've been in since Montgomery--and bills itself as the carpet capital of the world. I passed a couple of warehouses and what seem to be manufacturing facilities for Shaw (a company I know of only because it's owned by Berkshire Hathaway, of which I own one class B share). I assume this is where Shaw is based, or at least is where a good portion of their carpet business is run from. Who knew? =)

You learn a lot of things while hiking the trail, and I'm learning a lot about Dalton.

I had camped, I figured, about nine or ten miles before reaching town, and annoyingly, I could see civilization down there off the mountain ridge I followed for most of that time, while I grumbled about why the trail was following this ridge line instead of going 'down there' to Dalton. I wanted civilization!

The trail finally decended from Dug Gap, where a historical marker told about Confederate troops who defended the gap and Union troops who tried to take it over a couple of times.

The road emptied out at a busy on and offramp for I-75 with all sorts of wonderful establishments as far as the eye could see. Mostly gas stations, hotels, and restaurants, but they all looked so exciting and fresh.

My first order of business was lunch, so I hoofed into town far enough to pick up reading material--a USA Today with news of Charlton Heston's death on the front page--then to Taco Bell for lunch and a place to sit back, relax, and read my newspaper. Pure joy, you have no idea. =)

It always seems like you're the last person in the world to find out news while off in the woods hiking. I knew Heston was pretty old, so his dieing wasn't a shock to me. (John Ritter, however, when I was told he died at a shelter on the Appalachian Trail, I thought was a stupid practical joke and didn't believe it until I read it in a newspaper two days later.)

But despite this long article about the life and times of Heston, I never saw anything about how he died. Was that already old news?

Very perlexing, so figuring out what day he died became something of a mission for me.

After finishing the paper, I walked back to a hotel, America's Best Inn, and checked into room 222. I asked the clerk behind the counter where the nearest place was for Internet access, and she suggested the library, but that, "It wasn't within walking distance."

I couldn't help but laugh. "Try me," I told her. "I walked here from Key West. You might be surprised at what I consider walking distance."

She figured it was about one and a half miles away. Indeed, easy walking distance. Perhaps a half hour walk away.

I went up to my room, took a shower, then hit the town. I figured I'd try the library first. I didn't know if they were still open or not (it was already 5:00 in the afternoon), but it didn't much matter. It would give me an excuse to walk around a bit and see some of the town.

The library, much to my delight, was open until 7:00, but it took me nearly an hour to walk there so I figured it's distance to be three miles away. Unless there was some other closer branch I didn't know about, which was entirely possible.

I was only able to use the computer for a half hour before it kicked me off, then I followed some back roads back to the hotel to make a proper loop of my walk.

On the way, I stopped at Big K figuring I could find a magazine or book that I could take with me on the trail, and ended up walking out with about $62 in junk. They had these ENORMOUS bags of peanut M&Ms with dark chocolate, and a lot of other junk food in bulk. Then, since I was already there, I figured I'd look at their shoes because hey, I was stuffing leaves into my current ones each night which strunk me as a sign as perhaps they should be replaced.

I'm sure the shoes would have gotten me to Springer Mountain so I wasn't worried about shoes, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to look at their selection which is how I ended up with a nice, new shiny pair of shoes. They ought to last me for months after I finish my hike this time. (I intended to dispose of the Sears shoes immediately after finishing my hike.)

And I did buy a book--The Borne Legacy, I think it was.

And finally headed back to my hotel having decided to zero the next day in Dalton, the carpet capital of the world.

The next afternoon was spent running around town, mostly sightseeing and relaxing. I walked to the library to use the Internet, then spent hours and hours reading through magazines like BuisnessWeek and Civil War Times. I'd never seen Civil War Times in a library before. Only in Georgia. =)

Interestingly, it had an article about fences. The fence posts would often be used as firewood by the roaming armies, and apparently it caused all sorts of problems for the south (where most of the fighting took place) since animals like deer were then able to eat the crops being grown. The article asserts that the destruction of fences was one of the factors that accelerated the south's defeat.

The part that amused me most, however, was that it mentioned a Confederate soldier in Dalton, Georgia, had used a fence post as an improvised bat for a game of baseball. What are the chances of that? I'd never heard of Dalton before, and now I read about it in a national magazine while at the main library in Dalton itself! Bizarre coincidence, but otherwise not really noteworthy.

In any case, I had a grand time, reading for hours on end and relaxing. I then walked to Walnut Square Mall where I hoped to see a movie, but alas, it didn't open until 6:30. Then it was back to the hotel.

That evening, Mortis and I headed to Cracker Barrel for dinner where we planned to meet with a few letterboxers including Ghopper, 4 Little Piggies, one-half of Two Wild Sisters, and Isabeau.

Mortis, not actually being a letterboxer, seemed to fit in surprisingly well and got a quick lesson in cooties, exchanges, and the usual stuff. I warned everyone not to leave any cooties on me since I would NOT carry them on the trail.


Anonymous said...

I was pleased to read about your time in Dalton. I planted the Carpet Capital of the World box there when I was visiting (from Oregon) in March. Sorry to hear from the other LB'ers that my first finder prize was "too heavy" for you to keep! I didn't know that John Ritter died on the AT, Sarcasmo and I hiked parts of it in NC while I was there. Isn't it funny to learn what different people find to be NOT walking distances and QUALITY cultural reading material?! Welcome back! Stinkerbell

Sarcasmo said...

Glad you were able to relax in Dalton! Was sick as a dog or would have met you and gang at Cracker Barrel, from Chattanooga. Did you guys find the Candyland box I planted at Walnut S Mall in Dalton? It had coupon for candy (m&ms) or anything else on menu board. Never knew that about the fences but then being a Yank in the south I'm finding out all sorts of odd things....culture shock is a mild symptom of living here. Being wordly (having been across the state line) is just one example. I was mildly disap. at seeing NO wildlife while lbing parts of AT several weeks that your feeling as well? Stinkerbell and I armed ourselves with syrup bombs (hotel syrup packets) just in case tho...

Anonymous said...

boy you can sure tell that you were on the end of your hike. most hikers toss $67 worth of stuff out on the trail and not take more with them.

hey i finally found me a bag of them dark chocolate peanut M&Ms.......oh yeah, they could be the down fall of my diet.........or maybe they could easily become my diet........i kind of like that thought.....

do when you walk off the trail with shoes stuffed with leaves that i can only imagine the smell.....into a town the size of dalton or any city of size.......what kind of looks do you get?????????
and then you shower, all squeaky clean and slide into the leafy shoes........don't your feet just scream at you to being clean one second and the next all slimmed with rotting leaves............

wondering minds you have created with your wandering postings :J


cath said...

I don't know what the fences were like during the Civil War (War of Northern Agression--as my friend from TN has corrected me), but I've seen the deer around here easily jump over a 6 foot fence. Maybe they jump higher here in the North. I find it hard to believe taking down some fences caused a Southern defeat--but what do I know.

Anonymous said...

Cades Cove in SMNP, TN/NC has the pre-Civil War fences up around various buildings. I think they were used to keep the boars from rutting your property and wandering into your homestead...and something about bears. Yup, us Yanks were aggressors. I found out why we are/were called crackers...something to do with the cracker line esp near Brown's Ferry.

Ryan said...

Yep, I was the first finder for the box in the Walnut Square Mall. I bought lunch there where the box is on my way out of town and got $2 off my meal. I still haven't logged all my finds, exchanges, from the trail as of yet. Someday.....

If it wasn't clear, John Ritter died while I was *hiking* the AT--he didn't actually die ON the AT. Big difference! I think he was filming for his TV show the day he died.

There's lots of wildlife on the AT if you know where to look and you're patient. ;o)

I can't believe a post about fences is getting more comments than my post about being slimed by snails. What is WRONG with you people? ;o)

Anonymous said...


I thought about your sliming, after coming across a big garden snail yesterday that was leaking *GROSS* and laughed out loud thinking about a hiker who will spend money to stay in a hotel room but hike with leaves in his shoes! :D That's like hiking with military ponchos ON in a torrential downpour but still having to pour over a cup of water out of each boot.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe everyone doesn't know about The Carpet Capital of the World?!? For us locals--it is funny to go visit another city and see the places that specialize in selling carpet all the way from Dalton. :-) Ryan, my husband (Mooneyes) will be disappointed to know that you haven't heard of Shaw. He claims it's his second home when overtime is abundant. I am glad you got to visit, sorry I had to miss meeting you in person. The timing was off for me. I had to take Little Man to Atlanta on Wed. to get a new wheelchair and the rest of the week was spent doing March of Dimes things. I am really glad you had a good visit and are doing okay. My hats off to you!! GroovyChick

ipsquibibble said...

Ryan said: "
I can't believe a post about fences is getting more comments than my post about being slimed by snails. What is WRONG with you people? ;o)"

I can't believe that anyone who lives in the PacNW even bothers to mention snail slime! ;)

Poodle Dudes

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

How perfectly fitting your Atlas Quest widget was for this post: "You're Free to Roam" it said.

With all the walking and roaming you did in Dalton, I'd say that statement was right on!

Hike on!
~Twinville Trekkers