For some reason, that was the lame way I used to think about how to pronounce the town where my Dad grew up (after leaving Poland at the age of 9). Chattanooga, Tennessee – the perfect place for folks straight from the shtetl to land, right? Anyway, after living here in Atlanta for ten years, I thought it was high time to find a place for a quick retreat – especially considering it was our fifth anniversary weekend. So for the first time in probably twenty-five years, I returned to spots my dad had dragged me as a kid – Rock City, Ruby Falls, etc. And we had a great time! The waterfront area is really a jewel with great hospitality, walking distance to tons of attractions, lots of restaurants – although next time, we’ll know better than to expect to find a table at 7pm on Saturday night w/out a reservation with a grumpy Sam in tow.
The legendary Ruby Falls, (pictured at left) a subterranean cave complex discovered in the 1930s by a businessman who was drilling a shaft to reach another known (and less spectacular cave) which had been cut off by a railway tunnel a few years earlier, was just as stunning as I remembered. Despite the annoying guide pushing us along at a pace faster than I’d prefer, the place was magical. I hope Sam remembers a good chunk of this – I’m sure we’ll be back.
We also had to ‘See Rock City’ as the barn-side paintings from across the country tell us – and that was equally fascinating. Sort of a pre-Disneyworld theme park with a gnome instead of a mouse, the paths through the rock formations there are great fun, and the side attractions like the raptor show and the bygone-era ‘Mother Goose’ exhibit under black-light were big hits with the kids.
We also took in some Civil War history atop Lookout Mountain, driving the same roads that I recall my dad scaring the heck out of my mom (and by association, my brother and I) cruising around with not-very-significant guard rails along the outer edge. They didn’t seem so bad this time around, and hopefully no children were scarred. We’ll have to see!
On the last days, we checked out the Tennessee Aquarium, which I have to say was a very enjoyable change of pace from the over-packed Georgia version here at home in Atlanta.