So. Here we are. Day…the last. So what to do before we began our trek down that winding mountain path to North Wilkesboro?
We awoke early and I threw open the curtains to find….a fog bank of Stephen King proportions. Little pink suckers should have been flying into the glass and latching on with voracious gaping maws. Luckily, there were only the spatters of raindrops. Now, I've heard there's a mountain in Chattanooga that you should see. It is the stuff of legend. Heck, we even drove past a big sign declaring its existence and pointing the way. But I never saw a mountain. Just a curvy road around it and wall of fog. Three days. Three strikes. It's the mountain's loss, I say. It missed the opportunity to take my money and steal my heart. I pouted through breakfast.
Then I got over it. I've got mercurial moods, ya know?? Ton says I'm moody. But English isn't his native tongue and he is easily misunderstood. And mercurial just sounds better.
ANNNNNNNYWAY, I know you're dying of curiosity…what did Nicole do on her last day??? The art museum?? Nope. Only had a couple of hours and Ton drags his feet in an art museum. I couldn't have seen but a smidgen of the collection.
It's Tennessee, people. I had to ride a freakin' train, didn’t I??? You betcha!! *Winks*
We opted to go to the Tennessee Valley Railroad and take their Missionary Ridge Run. It's about an hour long trip, including the time spent at the railroad museum, and they give you a brief history of the area as you travel along Missionary Ridge.
It was fun and the conductor was fantastic—once again he was a volunteer with a real passion for his job.
At the endpoint of the line, they of course had to turn the train. They led everyone out to the turntable and explained the entire process.
Then we were taken to the "garage" area where they restore the old steam engines to their former glory. This one had been a long labor of love and was almost ready to return to service.
They have this sign hanging in their shop to remind them that no task is impossible. I don't know about that, but I admire the attitude.
Then it was back on the train and back to the station. On the return trip we were STUPID. (Notice when it's something smart, I did it. And if it's stupid it's we??? ) We chose to ride in the open air car because, get this, it's not really OPEN. It's enclosed but there's no heat. WTF. Why don't they say the UNHEATED car, the car that will make your teeth chatter because it's March and it's freakin' raining and cold??? We knew the "open air" car was not heated. But we also assumed that meant it was, ya know open to the air. Ugh. At least there were no screaming children or obnoxious teenagers fighting with their parents on the return trip. Just a bunch of frozen, blue lipped people. It was sort of like the end of the Titanic, without the icebergs and floating bodies.
But I digress. We arrived back at the little station and looked around for a bit.
As you can see, there wasn't much to look at. It was just delaying the inevitable. The journey home.
We made it as far as Bristol, Tennessee before I demanded food! That's not true. We had stopped at a McDonald's to steal wi-fi and pick out a restaurant nearer to home. I had packed enough snacks to get us through most of the journey (homemade currant buns, Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Granola and some veggie chips) but it's tradition we have one last hurrah before arriving home. We figured we would land in Bristol, so I hit up Urbanspoon and found The Mad Greek. Ton and I both adore Greek food. And this place has awesome Greek food. Best choice I could have possibly made!!! w00t!
We started out with an appetizer of tzatziki and warm fresh pita bread. I would have gladly made that into a meal!
But y'all know I didn't stop. I ordered the Greek Chicken ( Grilled chicken, topped with sun-dried tomatoes, sauted onions, feta and black olives).
Ton opted for a Stromboli. I believe it was the White Stromboli with basil pesto, mozzarella, feta, and tomatoes. But what was in it isn't as important as the size. It was HUGE. Hanging off the plate huge. And it was a SMALL. Who could eat a large one???
After that, I had to have my last dessert for awhile. That's when the waitress pointed out the dessert case. Row after row of cheesecakes, chocolate cakes, baklava, greek pastries…it was overwhelming. And all delicious, I'm sure. I believe I opted for the chocolate mousse torte, but I honestly don't remember. I didn't take pictures of it!! I know I wavered over the Greek pastries but decided against it. I adore baklava but it can be too sweet for me after a meal. And yes, I know that sounds weird. I should have bought some to bring back. They would have been awesome with some espresso. Ah, well. Maybe next time.
But while making my dessert selection I noticed something else. They sell that delicious feta by the pound. It's made in house and they sell it to anyone—I could take it home!! And I did!! To the tune of $5 a pound!!! Cheap!!!! This excitement is probably why I don't remember my dessert choice.
Then the heavens opened and choirs sang when Ton reported there was ANOTHER case around the corner with more Greek delicacies like Dolmadakia (aka Dolmas, I believe). I can only tell you this: I wish I lived in Bristol just because of the food I could buy from those cases. Forget the restaurant; I want that kind of deli in my town. Unfortunately, we don't and we had to go home. But this restaurant put Bristol on the map for me. I'm out of feta and that's excuse enough to drive there. It's just that GOOD. Next time I'm just going to order a bottle of wine, all the appetizers on the menu, followed by coffee and pastry. And a nice lump of feta, to go.
So, that was it, the climatic end of the rails for our own Chattanooga Choo-choo. Chattanooga was fun, it was rainy, but we didn't get snow like they did in North Wilkesboro. And all that rain is giving me a reason to go back. I have to find that damned Mountain. I'm sure it's there somewhere.