Before we get started, a couple of amendments to the last post.
In addition to the Fuji X-T2 and triumvirate of lenses discussed last time, I had also packed the Fuji X-Pro2 with the XF35mm f1.4, and a XF18mm f2.0 in the bag:
With that out of the way, we can continue our birthday present tale;
After arriving at the Chattnoogan, we crashed into the room, fell into bed and had a very sound sleep.
In the morning after waking around 9, I called the front desk to see what time breakfast was served. Breakfast was served until 10, so after the obligatory morning yoga practice, I headed down to the restaurant.
As the Chattanoogan’s clientele is usually from the convention center next door, the hotel was virtually empty, and the restaurant showed that. I was literally the only customer in the place. The breakfast special was a decent value, so that was ordered, and on this day it was a very nice breakfast.
The biscuit was particularly nice….
On the way back to the room, I stopped to talk to Michelle, the day manager about our upcoming room swap. I replayed the events of the night past, and paid Brendan high compliments, which she agreed as he was “something special”. She played what she called Tetris with her room planning software and told me that she had arranged for us to move literally next door to our current room on the same floor. The room wasn’t open yet, but she would let me know when it was. Returning to the room, Melanie was getting a shower, so I began to plan the days adventure.
Melanie got out of the shower, had some yogurt and Michelle called saying we could take possession of the suite. Wow. I went downstairs, got the key, we moved and were done, just like that. Nice.
Our first day in Chattanooga was spent literally driving around town. We had a couple of houses that were for sale we wanted to drive by and they were on the other side of the river on Signal and Lookout Mountains. The views from both mountains was amazing and we could definitely see the plus of living up there. One of the more interesting things we came across was this poor house:
This was a fairly new house that had literally split in two. Oopies. Imagine waking up one morning and asking yourself “what’s that noise?”, as half your house slides down the mountain.
After that excitement, we wound down the side of the mountain and saw a sign for River Drifters, which is a local haunt for tubers and such, but advertised fresh food. It was a kitchy kinda place, as we found a lot of the local Chattanooga restaurants. Melanie and I both had the daily special, which was catfish and their “beer battered side winder” fries, which was indeed very special. Very, very nice. If you are in Chattanooga, make a special trip to eat at River Drifters. Seriously.
There are 4 major “sections” in town and using the tourist map we had after lunch, we literally drove every street in the downtown area. The thing that jumped out at us was the virtual lack of blighted areas within the community. There was the odd house or two that needed attention, but none of the widespread urban blight so common within inner city areas. Kudo’s to the Chattanoogan’s, nicely done.
After our drive we found ourselves at a Greek restaurant for dinner, out in the ‘burbs, which I won’t name as it was highly forgettable. Nothing to see here, folks.
On Thursday, it was my birthday so we decided to do some touristy things. A quick check on the innerwebs and a reservation was made to tour Ruby Falls at 1 o’clock. Melanie decided she sit in the lobby while I went cave spelunking as she isn’t much of a caver.
If you have been there, this is an amazingly well developed tourist attraction. Everything is very structured and organized, which makes sense as this place has been in existence for nearly 100 years. Saying all that, it makes the experience a bit sterile and convoluted, particularly with the different colored lighting schemes. Can’t say I’m a huge fan.
In any event, we were early so I went to find the official entrance and the attendant asked me when my reservation was for. I told here 1, and she said the 12:30 booking was nearly empty so I could just jump up. So I told Melanie and joined the dozen or so others in the 12:30 group. This was just sheer luck, as we happened upon the 1 o’clock group on the way out and there were more like 50 people, so this worked out beautifully.
Anyway, it’s a cave, and I was very glad we were a small group. It could definitely get a bit tight with a large group, as was with the group following us.
I had the X-Pro2 with the 35mm f1.4 mounted for maximum light gathering capability. As it turned out the 35 was bit long for the experience, and for the trek out from the falls, I switched to the 18mm.
A plethora of images were captured, and honestly a small percentage were of note. I’m definitely not particularly skilled at cave shots. The plus was that I had captured a lot of images, so there were some notable captures. As you can see the lighting was, well, less than optimum. I prefer white light and natural colors to the myriad of colors presented by the variable lighting.
At this juncture, I switched to the 18mm for a wider frame of view. Significant difference in view angle, without a noticeable difference in light gathering capability.
After the cave tour, I went up to the observatory, which was nice as it overlooked the valley below, but not so nice as there were several sets of high voltage transmissions lines between observatory and the valley. Definitely not photography material unfortunately.
After rendezvousing with Melanie, we headed toward town and decided to pop into the Purple Daisy Picnic Cafe for lunch. The Purple Daisy touts itself as serving World Famous BBQ, so why not? Not the best BBQ I’ve ever had, that award would go to Williards in Chantilly, but very good nonetheless.
After lunch we decided to drive the last of the fours sections of the map we hadn’t done yesterday, call the Red Bank. Heading back through town, we crossed the river and began our tour. Nothing significant to note here, other than there seemed to be a goodly number of smaller, older houses being gussied up after falling into a bit of disrepair. Most of them had signs outside indicating the renovations were being done by one of a number of community action groups whose sole purpose was to help those who weren’t able to maintain their homes. This sense of Community Action came back to us time and time again in our short visit to Chattanooga.
We crossed back across the river into town and then crossed back (dizzy yet) to drive the final part of our tour map. While doing that we came upon Renaissance Park and decided to take a lookie see. Renaissance Park is an area on the river, which was once heavily industrial, but has been restored to it’s natural beauty once the industry died off. It’s a nice park, and I was able to grab some good shots:
It was getting late-ish in the day by this point and we were hungry. Being my birthday I decided I wanted Fried Chicken for dinner. I’m something of a sucker for good fried chicken, A quick innerweb search said Champy’s was the place to go, so we went.
Like many of the restaurants we visited in the area, Champy’s is kinda kitchy, in a good way. We were seated against an inside wall looking out toward the street:
It took a while to be served after ordering, as the chicken is cooked fresh, and yes the chicken was excellent. The sides were merely adequate, but I’ve often run across that with chicken places, the focus is on the chicken.
After we left, my “friends” at Google asked me to review Champy’s. I gave them 5 stars and left this comment:
“Good Fried Chicken is a religious experience, and after having the chicken at Champy’s I’m one step closer to God”…..
After that pithy comment, I think we’re going to end this episode, with the completion of our birthday trip coming next time.
Y’all take care now,