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Chatt and Nooga; Riverpark; The Delta Queen; Almost Flying; Dam! Kudzu with Your Kale? Georgia on My Mind

Lest you think the lead title of this post is a misspelling, let me set you straight. Some locals use two abbreviations for this charming, vibrant city: “Chatt” and “Nooga”. We saw the Nooga Paws Pet Store and the Chatt Tri Club (for triathlon athletes). It’s also the home of the song “Chattanooga Choo Choo”, originally recorded in 1942 by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra. RCA awarded him the world’s first gold record award for selling 1,200,000 copies of that song.

We knew we were lucky to be in Chattanooga when we were unable to fit The Coach in Unity of Chattanooga’s parking lot due to some overhanging branches. That sounds very strange, but I’ll explain… near UofC is an industrial area with seven or eight large buildings and some decent (read “almost flat”) parking lots. Thinking like a true Aide-de-Camp, My Lovely Bride jumped out of her seat and went door to door until she found an Angel-in-the-Flesh named Elaine, at The Tile Store, who contacted the owners and granted us permission to “dry camp” right next to their building since they would be closed for the weekend. While we had no electricity, water or sewer hookups, for a few nights that is not an issue, and we were only a two minute walk from Unity. “All was in perfect order!” (Even better, there was no Grumplestiltsken to harass me…)

After Friday night’s successful showing of the Messages of Hope documentary at Unity of Chattanooga, we wanted to see more of this scenic city. We awoke to a chilly 41 degrees, a cold front having gone through while we slept. After breakfast, we decided to ride the city’s famous Tennessee Riverpark Trail, which stretches 8.5 miles from the Chickamauga Dam to Downtown. Crossing the Tennessee River gave us a panoramic view of the city.  That’s the famous Delta Queen behind My Lovely Bride; built in 1927, she is moored at Coolidge Park, and is a floating hotel for the moment, although there is a serious effort to get her back cruising the Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. She has logged over 2 million miles and 500,000 passengers to date. As a kid, I rode her in New Orleans for the day.

The Riverpark trail was the best maintained and most scenic urban trail I’ve ever ridden. Spotlessly clean, we passed scores of runners and walkers and a few bicyclists, but we deduced that most bike riders were waiting for warmer afternoon temperatures before venturing out into the 50 degree cold and brisk northwesterly winds, made raw as they blew from the river onto the trail.

I had the opportunity to take a short flight while on our ride. This over-sized mosquito hawk (AKA a dragonfly) graciously offered me a tour of the playground area. But just as we were about to take off, a City Park vehicle approached; Suzanne suggested that I might be arrested if we didn’t get on our bikes and vamoose…

The turn-around of the trail was at the base of the Chickamauga Dam, a Tennessee Valley Authority hydroelectric dam that impounds 36,000 acre Chickamauga Lake. Construction by the US Army Corps of Engineers began in 1936, and 903 families and 24 cemeteries had to be relocated. The dam produces 160 megawatts of electricity, and is 5,800 feet long and 129 feet high. 18 spillway bays allow a maximum discharge of 470,000 cubic feet of water per second.(That’s more than I use in the shower!)

The trail passes through marshland and past some industrial areas, but it is well-landscaped, and clear of almost all vehicular traffic except at a few small road crossings, so it is a very safe place to ride. These marsh grasses made for a nice contrast against the cloudy azure sky…

I’m not sure, but I suspect that the vines covering these trees and bushes are kudzu (Pueraria montana), which grows so quickly that it kills trees and shrubs by heavy shading. Kudzu is edible, and is used in hangover medicine and herbal teas; there are reports that kale- and quinoa-eaters find kudzu quite yummy. (MLB knows not to serve me any of those three vegetables/plants.)

In the downtown area, high on a bluff overlooking the river, we found the Hunter Museum of American Art, with its classical revival Faxon-Thomas Mansion and modern extensions of the museum. Regrettably, we ran out of time, and had to postpone our museum visit to a future date.

After our bike ride, we took Rudy and Gretchen into the trendy North Shore area for a walk. They saw a huge squirrel under this bridge near Renaissance Park, and enjoyed a brief chase until the chubby rodent ran up this trestle.

Our last event on this summer’s tour was Suzanne giving the Sunday message and her Making the Connection presentation at Unity of Chattanooga. A large, very enthusiastic crowd “topped the charts” and the energy was spectacular. We were also honored that the editor-in-chief of Unity Magazine, Katy Koontz, even drove in from Knoxville for the event. We definitely want to return to Chattanooga and see the Unity congregation again! Special appreciation goes to the Unity Volunteers – musicians, singers, audio visual techies, and those wonderful people who provided a full lunch for all of the congregation… and of course to Penny Werth, whose idea it was to invite us to Chattanooga in the first place!

I managed to get one more PT in before we left, a five mile run down from Unity to the Tennessee Riverpark. I even ran into an old college girlfriend there… at least she looked very familiar, but she’s aged just a bit and turned green…

We got underway after our final Unity event, headed south for home. We wanted to miss Monday morning rush hour traffic in Chattanooga, and only drove until dark, arriving at Dobbins Air Force Base in Marietta, Georgia where we again are dry camping, as the campground was full by the time we arrived. We still have a two day drive home, but the checkered flag is in sight on our GPS…

1 Comment

  • Anonymous
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    Great post. Heard Suzanne over the internet. Love the net!


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