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Chattanooga (and its Choo-Choo) 

(Reprint from News: July 8, 2001)

July 7, 2001


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 slow-motion. 


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 that it's 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 Chattanooga.

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 interesting photographs.

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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