A Chattanooga Excursion

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We made a mid-week trip last fall – an easy drive from Atlanta, with many things to do located in the downtown area which appears to be at the tail end of being fully reborn.  In short order… we checked in to the hotel, then walked to the Walnut Street Bridge, which was converted from railroad use to provide a walking path from downtown across the Tennessee River.

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This leads to the “NorthShore” community, which is largely residential but with a good variety of shops, restaurants and pubs along the river.  It’s where Coolidge Park is located, which includes green space, a water fountain, and a carousel that dates to 1894, apparently rescued from a warehouse in Atlanta.

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After a bit of a walk (easy, some hills in downtown Chattanooga), it was time for an Old-fashioned at Barrel + Beast.  Why a mixed drink instead of a fine craft brew?  Well, those are particularly rare to find, at least made within the State (Bearded Iris in Nashville is their only example of “above average.”)

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In any case, a nice place to hang out.  There’s also an alley favored by graffiti artists.  As it turned out, this worked out well for me, actually.

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We returned as the sun was setting, and we were not the only people capturing a sunset.  iPhone to the rescue, such as the top of the carousel pavillion.

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The next morning, literally on the back side of the hotel, we enjoyed two things.  1) Breakfast at Maple Street Biscuit Company and 2) Ignis Glass Studio, where you can make your own glass ornament… kind of.  You pick the colors of the final ornament, the assistant mixes them and places the glass into the furnace – rotating the shaft to form a round ball, you get to rotate it briefly, then he withdraws it, and you get to blow into it as he shapes the ball.  Not exactly exciting and not a lengthy process, but it’s something you don’t often have the opportunity to do.  While the end result looks great, you don’t have a lot to do with it.  It was fun, but I’d rather spend $40 and suffer the consequences of my errors.  I guess most people just want the ornament.  In any case, a good amusement, and the ornaments are fairly large (other options available).

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I indulged my wife with some gallery visits in the afternoon, and she indulged me with a visit to Hutton & Smith, a small brewery that was a manageable walk from downtown.  A good place for locals to hang out, with decent beers.  On the way, we encountered an odd piece of street art…  It had instructions but needed a model.

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This was a planned walk to ultimately end at Champy’s, ranked #8 of 662 restaurants in Chattanooga.  Okay, we knew this was about fried chicken, crawfish, etc. – by no means fine dining, but a former coworker had recommended it.  And it was good.  It’s also a local dive. 

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In the men’s bathroom, they feature some of the more notorious receipts left with their waitresses.  (Warning: adult material follows, of the teenager variety, or, more likely, the UT-Chattanooga students).

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    • “Can I follow you home?  My mom always told me to follow my dreams.”
    • “Do you work for UPS?  Because I could swear you were checking out my package.”
    • “On a scale of 1 – America, how free are you tonight?”
    • “The girl beside me questioned her sexuality because of you.”
    • “You must be a ticket because you have FINE written all over you.”
    • “I would drink your dirty bathwater.”
    • “Call me.  I’m always available – 911”
    • “Is your name Google because you have everything I’ve been searching for.”
    • “I was going to ask if heaven is missing an angel, but I kinda hope you’re a slut.”
    • “Twinkle Twinkle little star, let’s have sex inside my car.”  At least the meter was right.

To be fair, the tip amounts were often 20% or better, and posting these in the men’s restroom encourages the behavior.  Afterwards, it was our first Uber ride, because… dark streets, long walk.

The next day we started early with Chattanooga’s billboard attraction, Ruby Falls, located on Lookout Mountain.  I had never done it, and now I have.  And… it was worth it.  You get marshalled along, and the guides have the talking points down pat… maybe too much so, but that’s okay.  There are no rubies, but they provide colorful lighting throughout the cave. 

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Overall, it’s hard to imagine being a cave explorer, and at the same time, how awesome it must have been to discover this.  Afterwards, and further up the mountain, we went to Point Park, a ten acre site not quite a Confederate battleground but overlooking one.  This is a very nicely built and maintained park, with good views and a historical area.  It oddly has a statue commemorating Union soldiers, offered as a tribute to both by New York after the war.

I’m fairly shy about photographing other people, but I managed to snipe this one, with which I am very pleased.

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Chattanooga is the perfect 2.5 day visit.  The city appears to be pretty safe for walking at all hours, and it’s affordable with many things to do – many of which we did not, such as the Chattanooga Aquarium (been there – a good one), Hunter Museum of American Art, and kayaking, to name a few.  October was the perfect month for it.

Additional photos are available on Flickr.

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