Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Road Trip: Chattanooga

I have had the world's worst flu, and haven't been able to post for a while.

I went to Chattanooga on the Sunday after my birthday. We went for a riverboat tour sponsored by the Tennessee Aquarium - not realizing, as we booked, that the Tennessee Aquarium would be 140 miles from Nashville, where we had been staying.

After a long drive through the green and lovely southlands, we got to Chattanooga and learned that the choo choo had last departed in the fifties, as far as we could tell. Their great marshalling yard was completely abandoned and rusted, and no current choo choos were noted.

We got to the riverboat tour and learned that the boat was basically the biggest Sea Doo ever made. The endless explanations of how the boat was like a Sea Doo, but the biggest and fastest and hardest and most masculine one ever, took up most of the commentary. And truly, it was fast. The boat got up to fifty non-nautical miles per hour in a flash, and (more to their coastguard-limited point) stopped in half a second if it saw a boat go by that we were not allowed to rock with our wash.

We heard the history of Lookout Mountain, and the history of John Brown's Ferry Landing. We learned that, as far as I could tell, Chattanooga had done okay up to the early fifties, when, as did the rest of America, it took a tumble.

They flooded the river to make it less difficult to navigate, but even so, businesses died along the banks (above). Yuppification seems to have worked to some extent - hence the river tour, and the nice aquarium, but one wonders if the business will ever come back on the shore.

I was there a couple of days before the tornadoes. Chattanooga was glancingly hit, but Tuscaloosa was wiped out. My spare dollars are going, once again, to the Red Cross for the American South.

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