Feb 7, 2011

TN: Chattanooga, The Delta Queen

I did time in Chattanooga, once upon a time, a long, long time ago.  I did 9 months in the '82/'83 Winter, a blusstery, wet winter that left me believing it always rains in Chattanooga.  While I "did time," I wasn't incarcerated as you might think, it was a prison of different sorts, in a dismal, dirty and often mean city, but when I returned to Chattanooga 28 years later, I found that she had grown up and what a beauty she had become!

It was like the high school reunion where the girl that was so gawky, weird, stinky, ugly, mean or whatever has evolved and become a stunning, gracious beauty, the belle of the ball and I just really can't believe my eyes.  I have to wonder:  How did this happen?

With my one night in Chattanooga, I made the fantastically lucky decision to stay on the Delta Queen.  The Delta Queen is an old steamboat with a lot of history and a few ghosts.  The Delta Queen isn't for anyone, it's quirky, old, rickety, a little musty, and doesn't offer a lot of physical comforts or five-star services.  My room, a berth, had a twin bunk bed, tiny bathroom, no tv, not many electrical outlets (2).  It did have free wifi and was not only facing the Tennessee River, but actually ON the river.  I sat outside my room and watched the sunset, then came back out to watch the sunrise much later.

The Delta Queen sits on the North Shore adjacent to Coolidge Park.  I was there on an unusually warm winter day and the park was full of happiness.   I walked across the park and up to the eclectic Frazier Ave.  I promised Good Dog and Clumpie's that I would return tomorrow and I popped into Hill City Pizza for a slice.  Magnificent, a must-do for you NY Style Pizza Lovers.  Embedded on the sidewalk on Frazier are several dance moves.  The Mamba, the Waltz, that sort of thing, footprints embedded in concrete.   Clumpie's is locally made ice-cream and I later tried the cookies n creme and banana moon-pie. I asked for chocolate moon-pie, but they gave me banana, a big let-down.  The cookies n creme is outrageously good.  At Good Dog, I tried their special cheese sauce on one dog, the cheese wasn't special at all, pretty bad, but I had the german sauerkraut on my other dog and it was awesome.  The dogs themselves are really, really, really good.

After trying to learn the Mamba, I walked across the walking bridge and got some great views of the river and the Bluff View/downtown area.  Head to the Bluff View for shopping and dining.  The museum and aquarium are nearby as well.  There are some boat tours that leave from the aquarium that might be worth checking out in warmer weather.  The Chattanooga Zoo is supposed to be pretty nice, but it's across town and I didn't get there. 

I returned, at dusk, to the lusty Delta Queen.  Enjoyed the sunset, ate a prime rib (not so great) and read long into the evening overlooking the Tennessee River, happy as a clam.  I spent a few hours in the morning doing the same, ate their huge breakfast that comes with your room fee, and packed up.  I have to advise you not eat there.  Both of my meals were pretty bad.  But every single other thing about the place was so excellent, I didn't mind the food.  It was worth it, to me, to enjoy the boat and not have to leave to eat.

If you're going to Chattanooga, check out the Delta Queen.  There are bigger rooms with bigger beds, but the tiny berth-style room on the outside was truly an experience I'm glad I didn't miss.

The Delta Queen was a workhorse back in the day and I'm glad I got to be a little part of her history.


Fern said...

Did you check out the carasoul near the walking bridge? We went there years back and Tucker sat on one of the animals and to our surprise it had his name on it, very cool!!!

Poof said...

I saw the carousel from a distance, but didn't approach. That sounds neat though, I bet he liked that.

Mom said...

Nice to see the change in that place, it was one of the MOST depressing places I have ever been and after dropping you off I cried all the way home--------------six hours of crying can you just imagine what your old Maw looked like!!