Mini road trip - Knox Knox, who's there?

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In summary, I drove across the mountains to Knoxville TN for a stamp show. I did the show Saturday afternoon and spent the night at a nearby hotel. On Sunday, I went downtown and looked around for a few hours before driving home. The big attraction there is the site of the 1982 World's Fair, which is now a park. Only two of the fair's structures remain: The Sunsphere (an observation tower), and the Tennessee Amphitheater which is used for concerts etc. It's the tent-like structure in the second picture below. The weather was obviously nice, so I went up in the Sunsphere. You have to buy a ticket online in advance, for a specific half-hour time slot.
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jtbell

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Last weekend I drove across the mountains to Knoxville TN for a stamp show. Did the show Saturday afternoon and spent the night at a nearby hotel. On Sunday, I went downtown and looked around for a few hours before driving home.

The big attraction there is the site of the 1982 World's Fair, which is now a park. Only two of the fair's structures remain: The Sunsphere (an observation tower), and the Tennessee Amphitheater which is used for concerts etc. It's the tent-like structure in the second picture below.

wfpark.jpg


wfpark2.jpg


The weather was obviously nice, so I went up in the Sunsphere. You have to buy a ticket online in advance, for a specific half-hour time slot. I bought mine about 15 minutes beforehand. You don't get a tangible ticket as a PDF file or QR code or whatever. An attendant comes down in the elevator at the beginning of the time slot, and checks your name against a list. I suppose if there's a problem, you can show your confirmation e-mail.

The view is nice, although not spectacular. The mountains are a bit too far away. Also, the gold-tinted windows mess up the colors.

sunspheredeck.jpg


sunsphereview.jpg


In the second picture, the University of Tennessee is to the right. Downtown Knoxville is out of view to the left.
 
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In the lobby of the Knoxville Convention Center, next door to the Sunsphere, is a remnant from the Hungarian pavilion of the world's fair, claimed to be the world's largest Rubik's cube.

rubikscube.jpg


Note, however, that the cubes don't rotate the same way as a real Rubik's cube, i.e. around all three perpendicular axes.

Scattered through the park are signs marking the locations of the long-demolished pavilions.

china.jpg
 
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Tucked away in a corner of World's Fair Park is a statue of pianist/composer Sergei Rachmaninoff:

rach.jpg


He gave a concert at nearby U of Tennessee on February 17, 1943. While traveling to his next concert, in Florida, he fell ill, canceled the rest of the tour, and returned home to Los Angeles. He died on March 28, making the Knoxville concert his last one. The statue was dedicated in 2003.

Not far away are the "Hypnotic Stairs", painted in 2017. Because of the sunlight angle when I visited, they were more impressive from the top than from the bottom.

steps1.jpg


steps2.jpg
 
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I continued downhill (south) all the way to the Tennessee River, which you can see in the second picture from the Sunsphere.

river.jpg


I turned left along the path which runs along the river and walked east / upstream a bit. Along the way I passed some railroad coaches parked on the track which runs next to the path. They belong to the Three Rivers Rambler, an excursion train which apparently runs mainly in the fall (Halloween trains) through December (Christmas trains).

rambler.jpg


Then I headed back uphill, returned to my car, and headed home. This took longer than I expected, because I ran into a huge traffic jam on Interstate 40, just east of downtown Knoxville.

traffic.jpg


I crawled along for more than a half hour, during which the traffic squeezed first from three lanes to two, then from two to one, and finally moved over onto the shoulder of the highway. It turned out that a large overhead electronic message-sign that spanned the entire highway was being repaired or replaced, so that all the traffic lanes had to be closed. I suppose Sunday afternoon was the least inconvenient time to do it.

Later on I-40 going through the mountains in North Carolina, I ran into another traffic jam at a construction site where they were rebuilding an exit, and lost another 15 minutes.

The net result was that the trip home took six hours for about 220 miles, including two rest stops, even though it was all on Interstates (motorways to you people outside the US). This was an hour longer than my outbound trip on Saturday, which used the two-lane US-25 over the mountains between Asheville NC and Newport TN.

At least the weather was good both days.
 
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I like Knoxville. I've been there a few times to visit folks at UTK or passing through to ORNL. I like the Bristol area - both the Virginia and Tennessee sides. I probably prefer Chattanooga though. I visited often with colleagues at TVA.
 

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