Monday, May 2, 2011

Whoo whoo Chattanooga there you are!!

Well, it’s been a month since our latest adventure and I have yet to update. Let’s fix that, shall we?? Ton and I decided (you have my permission to read that as NICOLE decided), to take a trip to Chattanooga. Home of the Chattanooga Choo-Choo! Home of Lookout Mountain!!! Home of the Tennessee Aquarium!! Home of the Chickamauga Battlefield!! Home of the…well…LOTS of other things!!!
We drove out on Sunday, arriving in Chattanooga at a respectable 1:00pm and decided to head for the most depressing spot we could think of…a Civil War Battlefield where thousands of men lost their lives! What better way to spend a gray, chilly Sunday afternoon?? We stopped in the visitor’s center, watched the video (don’t bother. SRSLY) and spoke with the ranger on duty (bother. Ask question. Listen to this guy. He knows STUFF. Important stuff). I asked about walking trails and was informed that the park is over five thousand acres criss-crossed with trails but it had rained so hard the day before that we shouldn’t venture far from the pavement. Now, everyone reading this has a pretty good idea of how my mind works. I scoff at things like that. A little bit of rain was not going to deter me from my red-hot date with a genuine Civil War ghost! No sirree Bob. Ton and I set off on our drive around the park. The place is so huge that it takes 45 minutes to drive the entire route. We stopped at marker number one because I saw monument in the woods that I wanted to see!
You see, not long after the Civil War, the families of the regiments who fought in the area, Union and Confederate, gathered together and agreed to honor their dead with memorial statues of where each regiment fought and died. All through the forest, monument after monument! I wanted to see them. All of them. We were walking and damned be he that said we shouldn’t because of “a lot of rain”. So, we walked.
Pretty, see?
And we walked.
And then we came to the BIGGEST freakin’ bog I’ve ever seen. Water was ankle deep off the pathway, and the path itself was muddy. The place was a MOSH pit. Okay, the Park Ranger was right. (Found out later they had indeed had “a lot of rain”, to the tune of four inches in twelve hours). We walked back to the car and our drove around the park.
We did venture out at Wilder Tower to climb to the top of the eighty-five foot tall structure, dedicated to Col. John T. Wilder and his men. Looks forbidding, no??
I had my doubts. The sky was darkening and the stairs were a tight spiral and not well-lit by the narrow windows.
But Ton had a flashlight, so I agreed. I probably wouldn't kill myself. After all, the stairs weren't any worse than the ankle breakers I had encountered in Holland. Up, up, up the stairs…
IMG_8252 (Okay, so this is a view from top, looking DOWN. Shoot me.)

To a great view of Chickamauga.
See the standing water among the trees??? Told ya it was a mosh pit!

I’m PRETTY sure that these marks were made by aliens. Or they’re junior crop circles made by teenage aliens who are getting their crop circle license.

Then there was a sign, very near Wilder Tower, that made Ton laugh. It was just an empty field marked with a sign on the site where the Union general Rosecrans had taken over a home and made his headquarters. He insisted I take a photo. Ton, not Rosencrans. He wasn't there anymore. I don't think Widow Glenn was very accomodating.


On the way back to the parking lot near Wilder Tower, we found a beautiful old tree, a little bit twisted, and clearly all alone. I can relate to that. I'm gnarly, I'm twisted and people tend to avoid me like I've got root rot. I've been called many things in my life, not all of them kind. But now, you can add tree hugger to the list.

Luckily for me, Ton is just as weird as I am.

As much as I like that tree, it was a cold, wet tree and it didn't make lovin' fun. Onward, we went to our last stop at Chickamauga, an old cabin that had served as a hospital.

If there was a ghostly presence, sure this would be the place to find it. I had been joking all along about ghosts, not ever having heard of a famous ghost story of the area, but I finally admitted to Ton, I simply didn’t feel any presence at all. It was a peaceful, beautiful place where very horrible things happened. But nothing scary remained. Later, of course, I found out it is one of the most haunted battlefields in North America. Goes to show you, I have NO psychic abilities. None. Zilch. Zippo. Nada. So don’t expect me to come to your house and give you a reading. Unless you want me to read dust bunnies or the latest issue of Us Magazine.

You probably don’t want Ton to do it, either. Come to your house, I mean. Would you really trust a man in your house who stands by a cannon and does this?
No?? Me neither.

Since we couldn’t find ghosts and we were reaching maximum history saturation, as well as maximum sock saturation (Let's state again because I believe in overkill, it was wet. VERY wet) we decided to venture into Chattanooga proper. We hopped back in the car, drove across Missionary Ridge and into downtown.

I knew I wanted to go to the Bluff View Arts District, so we headed their first. It’s very near the Hunter Museum and, of course, a few restaurants. That's right. I had an ulterior motive. I was starving. AND I had done my foodie homework and knew we should eat at Tony's Pasta Shop and Trattoria. Of course, I got my way.

The meal started with bread, made at the bakery in the same area. A decent white loaf that was tender with a light crumb and a nice chewier cibatta studded with garlic cloves. The oil wasn't great quality but it was fruity enough.

After that, Ton ordered a pasta salad (he stuck to his diet!).

While I had the Baked Pesto Chicken Ravioli, rosemary chicken ravioli and pesto cream sauce topped with mozzarella. It was FANTASTIC and went very well with the clean Sauvignon Blanc I ordered.

Clearly my diet was out the window. So I went for dessert, too. Bailey's Cheesecake. It was fantastic but after eating so little all day, the wine was hitting me too hard for me to remember to take a picture of it!!!!

We had to walk all that dinner off, of course, and opted to walk around the neighborhood and through a sculpture garden that looked out over the Tennessee River. It was gorgeous and I vowed to come back the next day to truly appreciate the art. But the city lights were pretty nice, all by themselves.

We also walked to the Hunter Museum, which was closed (you know that though because DUH Sunday night) but still had gorgeous outdoor sculptures to enjoy.

Ton was quite taken with the little structure with the brightly lit top(I call it the nuclear thingamabob). It was really cool, with little brass statues worked into the lattice. There were brass bells, artichokes, and other random things. You can't really see it well, but we tried to capture it.

And that, my friends, is a thoroughly detailed report of our first day in Chattnooga. The next day held more fun—a trip to the Tennessee Aquarium and another great meal. Oh, and a glimpse of that elusive choo-choo

If you want even more photos of Chickmauga (Chicka-make-a-move-a as I like to call it), you can view them on Flickr.


Eileen Peterson said...

This was great, Nicole! I especially liked the pics of the memorial statues. Such a great loss of life, the history there, and the weather makes for a somewhat creepy trip, I am glad you didn't run into any 'friends'. And the tree hugging is the best pics ever. :)

CountryGirlGourmet said...

Again, Nicole, you should do this professionally! You have a great eye! Loved the photos. If I ever get to Chattanooga, TN, definitely will try Tony's!

Nicole said...

@Eileen: Thanks! There's so many more statues there that I gave up trying to capture them all. It was row after row after row of them, scattered everywhere over 5,000 acres. Unbelievable.

Yes, I am a tree hugger. Never thought that would happen!!!

Nicole said...

@Karen: I don't know about professionally, but I know I love doing it! I highly recommend Chattanooga, especially the area around the museum and the university. There's lots of brewhouses and pubs. Lots of good food!

Knitting Pixie said...

Gorgeous Pictures! "I’m PRETTY sure that these marks were made by aliens. Or they’re junior crop circles made by teenage aliens who are getting their crop circle license." You Always Crack Me Up! Andrew loved this line too btw.

Alison said...

Ah, Chattanooga! It was like a home away from home when I was growing up. My dad was born there and I used to go a few times a year to visit my great grandmother who lived on Signal Mountain. Lots of fun memories exploring the area. It's so beautiful, even when the weather isn't perfect.