When last we left our intrepid travelers, they were headed back to the hotel with no plan in mind for the next day.
Well, that's not exactly true. Our plan was to head to Lookout Mountain. Or maybe back to the Bluff View District to peruse the galleries and the Hunter Museum. Or MAYBE we would go to the aquarium. We're just that sort of wild and crazy, travel by the seat of your pants kind of people. We're rebels, people. REBELS. Fear us!!!
As it so happened, Mother Nature made our decision for us. We couldn't even SEE Lookout Mountain. And it was raining. I wasn't perusing anything from under my umbrella, and I didn't relish wet feet. The aquarium remained. And what an aquarium it is!! So beautifully designed. Perfectly laid out. Staffed with friendly people,most of whom are volunteers. How great is that!? And did I take my nice camera??? Nope. I took my little point and shoot. So bear with me, because the photos aren't up to snuff.
When you walk into the aquarium, you're funneled onto an escalator that takes you to the top floor, an open jungle of tangled foliage and humidity. We were greeted by their talking parrots, who were too busy grooming each other to say more than a litany of "Hello! Hello! Hello!" But they were still very sweet.
And then it was on to the "touch and learn" tanks. Rays! I love rays! I was a big girl, a brave girl. I could face the animal that killed Steve Irwin and survive. Okay, okay it was a tank of tiny rays, but I did touch them. While Ton talked with one of the many volunteers we encountered that day. They were getting along famously and talking of Amsterdam.
But perhaps the highlight of the aquarium is the butterfly center. I have NO idea why they have a butterfly house in an aquarium but they do. And it is GORGEOUS.
This is the time I really started kicking myself for not wanting to carry the camera around. SRSLY.
Anyway, after being checked for "hitchhikers" we left the butterfly house and rambled down level after level of beautiful tanks and mysterious sea creatures. The layout is such that the walkways spiral around a huge center tank where they house the major tropical fish—sharks, giant rays, as well as a coral reef with anemones, clowns, triggers and the like. It's dark, cool and lovely.
Housed in a second building is the freshwater and smaller saltwater fishes and reef creatures. Once again it's the same spiral pattern with the corridors featuring different exhibits about American river life, ecology and as I said, fresh and salt water creatures. Including my favorites: seahorses, seadragons and jellyfish!
They had really cool jellies that I hadn't seen before—bottom feeding upside down jellies!
And I have to include this photo because it's very indicative of the jellyfish area. It was very cold in there and very very dark. Dark to the point of being spooky. I suppose they were being atmospheric but it felt like Scully and Mulder should burst through the doors and save me from an attacking alien, or Frankenstein-esque monster.
But there was no sign of Cancer Man or Mulder and Scully. So we left the aquarium and found partly cloudy skies and warm weather. We picked up the DSLR from the car and headed up the hill to the Bluff View Arts District.
Remember the bakery I mentioned yesterday?? Well here it is. They make all the bread for the hotel, for the restaurant, as well as the pastries for the restaurant and coffeshop.
It's my dream come true. I wonder if I could throw the woman out and take over without anyone noticing??
Directly across from the bakery is the sculpture garden I was mentioning. The sculptures are for sale, but until they're sold they're enjoyed by everyone in a publicly maintained park.
But Icarus had to be my favorite of all!!
Ton was rather fond of this one. As was I.
Just past this "Garden", up a small hill and around a corner actually, is the Hunter Museum. They also have a lot of sculptures outdoors! Can you STAND to see more???
Ah, I knew you could! I won't make you beg. I'm a kind and benevolent mistress!
This was my favorite. It's so happy! So free! And it reminded me of a certain Dutch boy and myself. We're cute, offbeat, quirky, dancing fools. Too bad we don't have bags of money to dance on. But, eh. You can't have everything.
The other really intriguing statue was the skeletal horse, entitled "Boreal" by Deborah Butterfield.
Looks like weathered wood, right?? Nope. It's bronze with patina. Gorgeousness.
Following this little jaunt through sculpture, we noticed it was getting late. Too late to go into the museum. Oh, well! Did that get us down??? Nope!! We took a stroll over the Tennessee River Walk, a pedestrian bridge that spans the Tennessee River and wandered through Coolidge Park. (Where I have to insert a note to say they have a FREAKING AWESOME carousel there!!!) At the start of the riverwalk is this happy guy, greeting you, paw offered in friendly greeting. Awwwwwww, he's so sweet!!
I don't know if the scarf was an artist choice or a later, passing addition. But that pup knew how to work that scarf, baby!!
While walking through Coolidge Park, we notice the Delta Queen. It's a riverboat hotel. Ton had wanted to stay there but I balked. Ya see, I don't like water. Water likes to drown people. It has a mind of its own and it doesn't obey my every command. That's an issue. But anyway, Ton wanted to see the Delta Queen. And when he wants something, he goes for it. He walks up the gangplank to the hotel and wanders in, telling the concierge (okay, blonde woman behind the desk who wasn't busy doing anything) that she has a lovely hotel. Tells her we made a mistake and booked the wrong hotel instead of this beautiful old boat. He smiles at her, he is Mr. Unassuming. She is charmed (must be the accent. Or his bald spot temporarily blinded her judgment) . She encourages us to wander through the boat and look at everything. And we do. Rooms are tiny but beautiful. The boat is charming in a quaint, old-world way. I would even bite the bullet and stay next time. We tell Ms. Ultra-Nice Lady that as we leave.
We decide to take in an IMAX production back at the aquarium as it's on the way to the car. Our choices were "THe Ultimate Wave-Tahiti" or something about the Space Shuttle mission to repair the Hubble Telescope. REmember what I said about water?? Yeah. NOT watching an Imax where they are going to visually submerge me. The only other time I watched one of those type things on Imax I spent the whole hour gasping for breath. Who needs that. I like space. I like stars and planets. I like going fast and I LOVE flying. So, shuttle mission won! Whee!!
By now it's getting late and I'm starting to get hungry after all that flight time. Time for the NEXT place on my must eat in Chattanooga list, The Terminal Brewhouse. Which has the added benefit of being next door to the Chattanooga Choo-Choo, the rail station that was turned into a hotel.
But first, on the way back to the car we passed this pub. If you look carefully, you'll see they had a sign that says, "Hippies Use Backdoor". This made me smile.
Terminal Brewhouse. I've got mixed feelings about it. It's young, it's funky, and it's a bar.
The food is good but not amazing. The beer? Is pretty damned good and this is from a girl who doesn't like beer all that much. I went with the suggested pairing of a Belgian White Beer (called The White Shadow. Does anyone remember that show?? ) with The FruFru—a grilled chicken breast marinated in brown ale, topped with sliced pears, bacon and brie cheese.
The sandwich looked better than it tasted, the pears and brie were lovely but the chicken lacked flavor. It did pair nicely with the beer, though. For dessert it was cheesecake again. (Notice a theme in my desserts?? ) It was their seasonal dessert and I honestly don't remember what kind of cheesecake it was. I believe it was toffee with some sort of beer mixed in, but don't quote me on that!! Whatever it was, it was delicious.
The inside of the Brewhouse is lovely and I'm not at all upset we went. I didn't like our seating, side-by-side at a bar area upstairs, with a large group wedged behind us. But it was a particularly busy night and it's all they had available. The building is beautifully done, with a very open layout.
I think that it would be a great place to go with friends and have a few beers and some snacks. But not a great place for a casual dinner.
As I said earlier, next door is the famous Chattanooga Choo-Choo.
Once again, Ton pushed right in to look around. There was no one at the desk, and the restaurant was not very busy so it must not be very good ( I can't say, but at that time of night, it's sad to see a place that empty). The building is just impressive. They've kept the features from when it was a Terminal Station and worked with the art deco theme that I love so much. We wandered into the bar and it felt like a movie set. In hindsight, I wish I had sat down at the bar and had a drink. It's what Rita Hayworth would have done.
Instead we headed back to the hotel for the night. The next day would bring an end to our trip. And I still hadn't seen Lookout Mountain! Maybe the skies would clear! Maybe angels would sing as I gazed over seven, yes count them SEVEN states!! Will it happen, won't it happen…it was up to fate. And we all know how fickle she can be.