Chattanooga (and its Choo-Choo)
Other than the humidity, one thing that always strikes me about the South is the pace
here. For some reason (perhaps because of the humidity?) the pace is a lot
slower here than just about anywhere else in America, even the rural
Midwest. Whenever I travel through the South, everything seems to move in
Compared to the South, the West Coast -- even a
relatively-mellow city like Portland -- seems incredibly frantic, and although I
suppose many people like a frenetic pace, I definitely don't. There are
some things that I don't like about the South, namely the humidity and a higher
level of intolerance than in many other parts of America, but the pace here is
definitely more relaxed and it seems that there's more of an emphasis here on
personal relationships instead of making money and consumerism.
Here's Glenn Miller and his
orchestra playing Chattanooga Choo-Choo.
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It was still
humid on Saturday morning, though a few degrees cooler, as I checked out of my
motel and drove into downtown Chattanooga to look around for a few hours.
Chattanooga was once an important railroad hub but it's now filled
with lots of abandoned red brick buildings. Although I found some interesting sites, such
as the Tennessee Aquarium and the Chattanooga Choo-Choo (yes, there really was a
choo-choo), I thought the city was a little depressing and, despite the friendly
folks I met, I was glad that I didn't live there.
I think the most interesting
place in Chattanooga is nearby Lookout Mountain, the site of an important Civil War battle.
I must admit, though, that the main reason I liked Lookout Mountain so much is
about 2,000 feet higher than Chattanooga and about 10 degrees cooler, so I
lingered there quite a while. After a few hours, though, I reluctantly dropped back down into the
steamy soup (there's that word again) of the Tennessee River valley.
I left Chattanooga
on Saturday afternoon with both windows rolled down and
thought I'd have trouble finding a campsite, since Saturday is the
worst day of the week to find a quiet campsite, or indeed, any campsite. Sure 'nuff,
the two campgrounds that I stopped at that afternoon, both on reservoirs of the
Tennessee River, were overrun with huge RVs, beer-swilling guys wearing muscle
t-shirts, and little kids zipping around on tiny dirt bikes -- your
typical power-boat crowd and definitely not my kind of place, so I got back on
the highway and headed north.
Above left: This is what happens to your shoes when you travel through the
South in the summer. It was between 93 and 102 degrees each day for a week
here, with very high humidity. As hard as I scrubbed, I just couldn't get the mold
off my shoes. I still can't.
Above center: Here's the Tennessee Aquarium, one of the main attractions in
Above right: The Market Street bridge across the Tennessee River.
Above left: Broad Street, the main drag in downtown Chattanooga.
Above center: Chattanooga has lots of old brick buildings that make
Above right: Pardon me boy, is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo? The Choo-Choo doesn't run anymore between Chattanooga and Cincinnati,
but it's a popular tourist attraction. Idiots like me enjoy climbing into
the cab to ring the bell.
Above left: Cannon on Lookout Mountain, overlooking Chattanooga.
Above center: Union soldier loading his musket during a demonstration at
Lookout Mountain, a Civil War battlefield near Chattanooga.
Above right: Best friends.
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