Life on Lookout Mountain: Summer 2015

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Life on Lookout Mountain

text and photography by JOHN DERSHAM

Ok, so I am not from here and it took a good chunk of my life to get here. The truth is I had never visited the Lookout Mountain region other than to pass through it until Eastman Kodak offered me a great promotion to become the general manager of a division in Birmingham, Ala.

By that time, Kodak had moved me, my wife and kids several times to locations including Philadelphia, Nashville, Tenn., and Hattiesburg, Miss. And Kyle (my wife) and I had both lived a number of other places prior to that. Our journeys brought us together 38 years ago in Nashville via a mutual friend.[s2If !is_user_logged_in()]

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[/s2If][s2If is_user_logged_in()]You might be wondering what this history has to do with the Lookout Mountain region. The truth is – everything. Kyle and I moved to Lookout Mountain because while living in Birmingham we, like many other people from that area, became tourists here.

Our kids were grown and had both moved to Nashville. We started coming here on weekends, doing many things other tourists do when they come to Lookout Mountain: camping, hiking, visiting parks, eating at unique restaurants, shopping for art… and, most of all, relaxing and enjoying what we considered the most beautiful area we had ever visited.

As time went on, Kodak began the struggle to keep its 120-year-old business model alive. Film, processing, photographic paper and chemicals were where the profit was, and it was declining quickly. The company started downsizing, closing offices and divisions. At that time, I was responsible for retail sales and service for many of the southeastern states, and the company did not care where I lived as long as it was in my region.

Kyle and I decided to sell our house and move to paradise. Kyle loves horses, and I love land, so we both wanted acreage. Before we knew it, we were living on top of Lookout Mountain near Fort Payne, Ala., and loving it.

Kyle and I picked this place as the one where we wanted to live. All our prior moves were chosen by our parents or Kodak.

For those of you who have never been to Lookout Mountain, it runs from Chattanooga, Tenn., through northwest Georgia and into Alabama, terminating in Gadsden. The majority of the mountain, which is 100 miles long, is in Alabama. In reality a plateau, Lookout Mountain is covered in deciduous woodlands and features state parks, a national preserve, a host of bed and breakfasts, rental cabins and campgrounds. It is home to great artists and artisans, restaurants and boutiques.

Once you visit the Lookout Mountain region, you are likely to be hooked. Our area boasts a high return rate for tourists. After all, who does not like beautiful scenery, wonderful parks, comfortable weather, great attractions, one-of-a-kind art and fun places to eat, drink and soak up a relaxing and magical ambiance?

John Dersham is president/CEO of DeKalb Tourism.text and photography by JOHN DERSHAM [/s2If]