While Alabama was planned as a transit stage to whisk us expeditiously toward the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Tennessee and Kentucky, we couldn't resist the urge to slip off the superslab so that we could investigate the Lookout Mountain Parkway. Tracking the Little River toward the DeSoto State Park, this pleasant secondary road is rife with elevation changes and unencumbered with traffic, but the curve count was too low for our tastes.
The yard cars, on the other hand, were delightful. This southern specialty ranges from collectibles unworthy of garage space to dilapidated pickups patiently awaiting their trip to the scrapyard. Not far from a Trust Jesus sign posted high in a dead tree, we spotted a rusty 1955 Studebaker sedan slowly succumbing to a full vegetation embrace. A lovely white Chevrolet Corvair coupe smiled pleasantly from its owner's well-trimmed yard a few miles later.
Back on Interstate 59, we merged into light semitruck traffic anxious to leave Alabama a parting gesture. On a downhill run for the Georgia border, the Infiniti G37S found sufficient running room to twist its speedometer to an indicated 157 mph. At this velocity, the G37S needs no more than subtle changes in finger-tip pressure to maintain a bullet-straight trajectory.
Our first two-hour stint revealed a BMW that's always competent and supremely comfortable versus an Infiniti harboring a couple of warts. Upholstery seams running down the seat's center chafe at the driver's spine, and it's difficult to work a hand down between the seat and the door panel to operate adjuster switches. A finger-pinching fight occasionally erupts between the Infiniti's backrest release and its shoulder-belt support. What BMW's motorized seatbelt presenter lacks in simplicity, it makes up in functionality.
After a night's rest in Chattanooga, we were pleasantly surprised to fill thirsty fuel tanks with premium gas costing barely three dollars per gallon. We also discovered an irresistible souvenir at the gas station: a packet of Horny Goat Weed "dietary supplement" capsules, said to bring out the animal in men and women.
Forty miles east of our second day's starting point, we entered the Cherokee National Forest near Cleveland, Tennessee. Routes 30 and 315 heading north toward Tellico Plains were the pay dirt we sought--curve after tight curve, impeccably surfaced pavement, no cars for miles. The lack of shoulders, deep drops on one side of the road and sheer rock faces on the other, called for lower gears and rapt attention.
The BMW relished the opportunity to flaunt its fine breeding. Like sweet cream, energy pours out of the 335i's engine throughout the rev range. Step deep into the throttle with only 2000 rpm on the tach, and there's but a hint of hesitation before the rush to the redline. The charge continues with gusto to 7000 rpm, where the payback for interrupting the surge with an upshift is another satisfying dash up the dial.