The Dread Dormomoo and I took a couple of days off, and lo, the Earth did NOT spin off its axis, nor are dogs marrying cats, except maybe in old musical cartoons. It only took thirty years, and now I'm hooked. We left Thursday afternoon, met with Vidad, Rachel, and their younglings at Fuji outside Nashville. Sushi was the order of the evening, and we all had a good time. As I have become accustomed to driving late and long on the way to convention gigs, I opted to push on to our destination, Chattanooga, where we found lodgings at the La Quinta. We have stayed at far worse places. The loathesome practice of motels allowing pets in-room makes me nervous about anyplace anymore, but LQ is a clean and neat place, this one newly renovated. We awoke Friday morning, and breakfasted at the City Cafe Diner downtown. Their food is wonderful, and is also far better than their website.
Sated, we drove to the Tennessee Aquarium, where we spent at least six hours wishing we had brought a rice cooker. The DD has been to the Aquarium more than once before, on homeschool junkets, but it was my first experience there. I cannot recommend it more highly. It is fun, pretty, breathtaking, informative, and other adjectives I am too tired to access.I got to pet a shark, as well as a stingray. There was one ray that would come up the side of the tank, partway out of the water to be petted. It acted like a cat! The shark felt rough and peculiarly dry to the touch. The rays were smooth, almost slick, but not slimy. Really neat creatures. The Tennessee River Aquarium follows the habitats and creatures from the headwater streams down to the Gulf. I was in awe of the engineering required to duplicate those environments indoors. They did an outstanding job. I will leave the Aquarium website to tout itself, but allow me to encourage you all to GO. There are even year passes to the entire museum system - even family passes. You can get a major discount, and the chance to enjoy super-cool and groovy learnification at many and varied museums. (Ha! The spell checker couldn't even handle "learnification"!)
Speaking of coinages, on the way home on I-565 in Huntsville, we saw a highway sign pointing to the "Agribition". What is that, farmers Being Uppity in public? That is worse than the '50s elementary school portmanteau word "cafetorium".
Downtown Chattanooga has a circuit of electric buses that go from the Aquarium area to the Chattanooga Choo-Choo and points between. And it is a free ride (though they do have a donation box by the exit. It's just good form to donate. You're saving the Earth, you know.
Saturday, we got up, and opted to go to Lake Winnepesauka, a MOST excellent family amusement park dating from the 1930s (View their website with Winders Explorer). It is a smaller, more laid-back park than the big names like Six Flags and Busch Gardens, and as such, is far more attractive to the likes of us. It is fully outfitted with higher-tech rides, but it also has a full complement of older rides, including a couple of truly unusual ones. The Fly-o-Plane pictured above dates from the 1940s, and is built like a battleship. The operator, who had all his teeth -this is not a "carnie" operation- told us that it was originally built for the Air Corps as a trainer. You can control altitude, and move the wings with the stick, and you can roll 360 degrees by shifting your weight. Most riders wind up upside-down for most of the ride. The planes are classic in their styling, but also have a little Flash Gordon action, with a cluster of rocket tubes in the tail. After Dubya-Dubya-Eye-Eye, the trainers were released and converted to amusement park rides. This is the only one running here in the States.
The Boat Chute was, well...let the site tell you:
The Boat Chute was designed and constructed by the founder of Lake Winnepesaukah, Carl O. Dixon. Built during the winter of 1926-1927, it was the first ride in the park and remains one of the most popular rides today. The Boat Chute is the oldest mill chute water ride in the United States according to the National Amusement Park Historical Association. No matter its age, a thrilling splash into the cool waters below awaits all guests!
It is a very long, dark tunnel (hmmmm, I wonder why it is so popular...) through which up to six people can ride in a boat. You can cuddle REAL close. So I'm told. We were in the front seat, as I observed it to be the safest. We bumped our way slowly through the very dark tunnel, and I shrieked "There's something moving in the floorboards!" to the amusement of all. We rounded a 180 degree turn, and saw the light at the end of the tunnel. We also saw a chain-driven hill, which pulled the boat up, and up, and over into a long free-fall hill which levels off at the lake surface and SPLASSSSSHHHH! We went through a fountain of feathered spray of our own making, funnily drenching us all. Except me. I got a little damp. Heh. It is a really great ride, slow, cool on a hot day, and crazy wet at the end.
I am not an amusement park freak, saving my pocket-change 'til I can afford the Next Big Coaster trip. I AM, however, sold on Lake Winnie! There are even places where the little ones can play without tickets!!!
Then we came home.
We DID succumb to curiosity, and stopped by WORLD FAMOUS UNCLAIMED BAGGAGE
in Scottsboro, AL, where we watched people buy other people's clothing. It is a colossal waste of time, because collectors and flea market and fleaBay geezers show up first thing in the morning and buy up the primo stuff.
OH! A commercial Word for Eidson Restaurant. It is the classic "Friday night out, after church on Sunday" restaurant. Excellent food, comfortable surroundings, swell tea, and cloth napkins, too. I had a Reuben sandwich with crisp shoestring fries, and the DD had broiled red snapper with green beans and marshmallow yams (which had a hint of orange in the flavor). The sweetened iced tea is endless, and not too sweet When you visit Chattanooga, check out Eidson. You will NOT be disappointed. It is the sort of restaurant you make excuses to be able to go to.
The DD and your Aardvark had a wonderful time away, and found that we can stand each other when no-one else is around. This is an important skill when the kids are growing up and going away.