Campground: Harrison Bay State Park. $16, $20 and $25 premium sites. I picked the older camp loop at $16 where sites are paved, but not necessarily level. Elect/water. Lots of trees and lake and restaurant.
I left Rome Ga using my Droid phone GPS directions. It took me through Rome and up US 53 to I-75 and onto my campsite just outside of Chattanooga. You know, I gave my Tom Tom GPS away, as my Verizon Droid phone works just as well if not better and the maps are always updated free by Google.
It’s been raining almost every day for the past couple of days. Had quite a downpour while setting up at the campsite.
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Chattanooga is home to Rock City, Ruby Falls, Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga Choo Choo rail museum and lots more. I made it to two of the local attractions so far, the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park and Rock City. The first, the National Military Park, has a wonderful view from a mile up overlooking all of Chattanooga. It’s where a critical battle took place during the Civil War. Union soldiers climbed to the summit one mile up and took control thus ensuring a critical supply line thru Chattanooga for the Union troops. Countrymen fighting against countrymen to free slaves.
Later, after driving around the top of lookout mountain with it’s stately homes nestled in a thick forest setting, many perched on the edge of this steep mountain ridge, forming a unique community in the clouds, I drove down to a lower elevation and just over the Georgia/Tennessee boarder to Rock City.
We’ve all seen the signs for Rock City from Florida to Michigan and beyond, advertising, See Rock City. You’d have to live under a rock not to have see the signs. Well I finally did. It is of course one of those true old time road side attractions that continues to draw tourists today. About $18 to enter this world of trails leading one through a unique world of rock caverns, slot canyons (some where I had to walk sideways to get through), swing bridges over deep passes, and awesome cliff views overlooking 7 states. It is touristy and yet charming in it’s own right. Nature meets the Barnum and Bailey of the outdoor attractions.
Daily late afternoon rains have kept everything sparking clean and green, after a couple of years of horrid drought, the entire south eastern U.S. has recovered and overflowing with full rivers and lakes. This morning I awoke to a misty world of fog.
Well today was one of those just about perfect days out on the road. So let me describe what to me is the perfect day. First off, I got up and had my usual coffee and instead of a bagel, I had a banana, read my e-mails and decided to go into Chattanooga for a boat ride. On the way I stopped off at the local post office and picked up my mail I had sent General Delivery a few days earlier. Since this was the beginning of the River Fest downtown, I had called ahead for info and was told if I could find a metered parking spot, it would be free on the weekend. Didn’t take me long and I found a free spot, so I saved about $10 on parking. You know me, that was a great way to start off my adventure.
As I walked down Broadway, one of the main streets downtown, passing a homeless person, I noted all the new buildings and refurbished older building that have been turned into shops, coffee shops and restaurants. I decided to try Peppers Deli. What a good choice. Had a super Cuban sandwich with the best potato salad I’ve ever had. It’s a small chain of restaurants in the south and if you happen to go past one, stop on in. The food is awesome and with a great atmosphere and really cool music.
After the early lunch, I headed down to the Aquarium and Visitor Center where I got my ticket for the high speed catamaran boat ride. Since I had time and was just outside the aquarium area where they were having free performances throughout the day, I was able to enjoy a couple of really great music acts. One, a local swing band with really great singers and then a couple smaller groups. One of the big band singers sounded just like Mike Bublea. A solo artist performed some great blues music. And did I mention it was free. Gad the day was just getting better and better. Even though it was hot out, I found a few shady spots to sit and listen to the music and even joined the kids and parents as we all soaked our toes in these wonderful concrete rivers throughout the beautifully landscaped park setting. Stepping stones across the winding river and fountains with lots of great places to sit and wade at the waters edge.
I talked to a number of locals and told them how Impressed I was by the downtown area. Everything is so vibrant and alive. They told me about 15 years ago you’d never see anyone downtown, except bums and hookers. The city put in the huge Aquarium along the river walk and that started a downtown revival that has continued. With new shops, apartments and condos. What a come back for a super nice city.
Finally it was time to go on the catamaran, which had indoor air-conditioned seating for about 75 passengers on a sleek new powerful boat that travels at speeds up to 55 miles an hour. We traveled down the Tennessee River to the gorges where we could go outside and take pictures from the top deck before going back upstream for the return trip. A fun ride, though nothing terribly exciting to see.
Listened to a bit more free music before stopping by the coffee shop on the way back to my truck and got an iced coffee, which for me is so decadent as I’m not really supposed to have caffeine with my blood pressure. But it was just so darn good and just a great way to cap off a fun day.
So that to me is a perfect day of fun and discovery.
Until I describe the next adventure, have a great day of discover yourself.
PS lots more photo's on my PICASA web site.