Monday, January 2, 2012

Chattanooga, TN and environs = Days 1 - 3

For Christmas I went with my girlfriend to visit her parents, who live outside of Chattanooga, TN. It was a fantastic trip, and it allowed me to discover a corner of The South that I hadn't previously explored. Here's the first batch of photos showcasing the highlights.

My girlfriend's parents live up on Lookout Mountain, which rises dramatically above Chattanooga. Their house is palatial, but costs less than a simple two bedroom house in the Bay Area.

Everywhere you go in The South, you see signs saying "See Rock City." So we did.

Rock City is located on Lookout Mountain, but on the Georgian side (all of fifteen minutes from Chattanooga). This is my girlfriend crossing the rickety bridge en route to the grand viewpoint.

Lover's Leap, Rock City, GA

I personally don't buy the oft-referenced "See Seven States from Rock City." From this Georgian lookout, you can legitimately see Tennessee (a half mile away), Alabama, and kinda-sorta North Carolina (you can definitely see the Smokies, which form the border with NC). South Carolina is a pretty big stretch, but I'm a firm believer that you cannot see Kentucky and Virginia (120 miles away).

Still, gorgeous view.

Rock City is, of course, named for the rock outcroppings that form a sort of city, complete with crevasse-avenues as well as overhangs like the one here.

One of several photos of me wearing local garb.

Next up, we went back to the Tennessee side of the mountain to visit Ruby Falls, which shouldn't be missed if you're visiting Rock City. Rock City needs to be visited during daylight hours, but you can go to Ruby Falls once the sun sets.

That's because it's located inside a fantastic cave system.

When you enter the chamber that has the natural waterfall, the lights remain off as cheesy music crescendos to a triumphant blast, at which point a series of colorful lights illuminate the falls. For all of the sophomoric production values, the waterfall itself is certainly impressive and definitely worth seeing (although be warned it's a pricey $18... Rock City is even more, at $19).

Cynicism aside, it's a wonderful piece of nature (and according to the literature, it's the highest underground waterfall in America).

Plus, the gift shop gave me yet another opportunity to try on local attire.

URBAN STACK = the greatest burger joint you've never heard of, located in Chattanooga proper.

Without hyperbole and at the risk of carelessly throwing around superlatives, Urban Stack makes the greatest burgers I've ever had in my life. This particular burger is Wagyu beef (essentially US bred Kobe) with blue cheese and bacon.

Each bite was moan inducing. Also, their onion rings were top notch, and their bourbon list is comprehensive (including some 23-year old Pappy Van Winkle, a sort of holy grail for bourbon connoisseurs).

My girlfriend and her mother have a wicked sense of humor when it comes to streets named after Union generals.

Point Park on Lookout Mountain, part of the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, a site run by the US National Park Service.

At this location, the Union forces routed the Confederates in what was coined "the Battle Above the Clouds." Thus, the Union gained control of Chattanooga, a major railroad town, which crippled the Confederacy's ability to transport goods, etc.

History aside, the Point offers fantastic views over Chattanooga and the Tennessee River.

Monument to soldiers in the battle

When I sat on the cannon, I didn't realize how close to the edge I was perched. Oh well.

Remains of a fortress at the Point, presumably used by the Confederacy (since the Union actually routed them off the mountain from below, without fully ascending the mountain).

In preparation for dinner = bacon strips, and bacon strips, and bacon strips (Epic Mealtime would love this place).

Link 41, whose motto is "For the Love of Pig." Highly recommended.

A visit to the Terminal Brewhouse was also in order... I had their White Shadow and Magnum P.A. I love the name of their Maibock. :-)

Downtown Chattanooga is undergoing a bit of entrepreneurial revival, from what I'm told. In any case, the Terminal was another excellent dining and imbibing location.

Tennessee River

On the morning of Day Three, we crossed the bridge seen above to get to Aretha Frankenstein's, a local hotspot. Kim Jong Il had just died, hence the allusion at the bottom of the sign.

Their pancakes were delicious, but even better were their omelets.

Fortified with food, we made the short drive across the state line to the Chickamauga portion of the military park.

Luckily for me, my girlfriend is also a history buff. This trip could have been miserable if it were otherwise. ;-)

The Spencer rifle, a highly sought-after weapon during the Civil War, as it dramatically increased the number of shots one could fire within a minute (a normal rifle could be shot around 3x a minute, but this rifle could be shot around 15x).

Chickamauga is set up as a driving tour, with many wide expanses punctuated by artifacts such as this cannon.

Monuments are essentially "littered" throughout the park. I believe this one had to do with soldiers from Indiana.

There are much larger monuments that were erected by the many states represented on both sides of the war. Chickamauga was an especially bloody battle, which the Confederacy won. However, in a matter of weeks the Union redeemed themselves at Chattanooga, and Chickamauga proved to be a fleeting and inconsequential victory for the Confederacy.

More to come, stay tuned!


Betty Kennedy said...

Great remembrance of your trip, Dustin. Sounds like you had a great time. Happy 30th birthday on Tuesday. Love ya! Gma

ZeroIndulgence said...

Cool! I spent one evening floating on the Tennessee River back in May (although I was further down the river from where your pictures are). It was pretty sweet.