Sunday, August 3, 2014

A fabulous a "twist."

Our son recently announced his engagement.  We had already become acquainted with his fiance during her visit to our place in April (brave girl).  Thus, it was finally time for us to meet her parents and family.

The easiest way to reach their place was to take the train to Atlanta and drive north to Chattanooga.  We had planned this trip a while back, regardless of the engagement, because last-minute sleeping car reservations can be hard to come by...  It was definitely good planning, as the two sleepers on the Crescent were largely full on the days of our travel.

Here's a picture of our table in the diner, as we prepared to order our evening meal...which was good, but not superb.  At least they still offer food service on trains, and 1000-Island salad dressing is available, unlike at many other establishments:-)  So we're not complaining!

        Dinner in the diner...nothing could be finer!

The entire trip was basically uneventful, and operated on time.  Quarters on a sleeper are a bit cramped, but worth enduring for the overnight trip, as the drive south would have taken longer, and would have put a lot of miles on our still-relatively-new car.   (Not to mention the stress and exhaustion on both of us, from spending about 12 hours driving over a day and a half, in the peak of the summer vacation season.)

Enroute, I wore my white capris, a short sleeve women's polo (with necklace), pantyhose, ballerina flats, and my purse.  Fingernails were freshly done, but without the iridescent silver polish (see prior post), and my long hair was also freshly done.  I was "Miss-identified" a number of times, but heard the "S" word more frequently than I'd like to.  Mostly, folks just omitted any greeting, which is OK with me.

We picked up our rental car in Hotlanta (no Miss-identification there - they had my drivers license, and actually read it, despite my feminine appearance) and headed north on I-75.  But we turned east, to a place called Kennesaw, to visit the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History, where The General, a restored historic locomotive, and other relics of the American Civil War, are located. 

Do any of you remember the "Great Locomotive Chase" from History class?  Here is the restored "General."

For those of you not familiar with it, the General is a steam locomotive built in December of 1855 in Paterson, New Jersey by Rodgers, Ketchum & Grosvenor Locomotive and Machine Works.  It provided transportation and freight service between Chattanooga and Atlanta on the Western & Atlantic Railroad.  The train was hijacked on April 12, 1862 during the Civil War by a group of Union sympathizers (civilians AND soldiers) - the "Andrews’ Raiders" - at Big Shanty (now known as the city of Kennesaw), in what history (and a big-screen motion picture) refer to as the "Great Locomotive Chase".  The Union raid was unsuccessful, as the group was captured by the Confederates and many were executed.  However, we all know how the story ends...   This was a classic case of "winning the battle while losing the war." 

We met our son's fiance's parents and family...and spent a lot of time with them over our visit, as we expected.  My attire around the family was planned to be shorts, pantyhose, closed toe sandals, and women's polos, and it was - initially.    However, I was shocked when on the second day, my wife told me "No more shorts, sweetie.  I want you to look nice today, in white capris with pantyhose and ballerinas."  That was an interesting "twist" -  she must have suspected (or knew) we'd be going out with the family and some friends that evening and I wouldn't be able to change.  Unfortunately, the only pair of white capris I'd brought along was dirty (I had spilled something on them - go figure!)   I could NEVER have foreseen her telling me to dress that way, thus I didn't bring any extra white capris.  So we had to settle for jean capris.  But nobody batted an eyelash at either my capris or pantyhose and ballerinas.   Next time, I bet I end up spending more time in white capri outfits - and can leave all the shorts at home!

Just not light colors around their dogs...more on that later!

Most of the details of our family visits cannot be written, for obvious privacy reasons.  What I can say is: we did some wedding planning with our son's fiance and her mom, and helped decide on the venue for the wedding.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) our son couldn't be there - he was sent out of town on business at the last minute by his employer.  And I can also say that they're all fabulous folks, very hospitable.  It seemed like we had known each other for years!  And likewise, some of our future daughter-in-law's friends. We now look forward to returning there in the future!

One of the places we visited in Chattanooga was Coolidge's a popular spot on the North Shore of the Tennessee River, where kids can hop on a century-old carousel (we were there, very pretty) or enjoy acres of open green space. During the summer, you can come here for concerts, festivals, and outdoor movie screenings.

Nearby is Chattanooga’s Walnut Street Bridge, one of the world’s longest pedestrian bridges. Its wrought-iron trusses stretch across the Tennessee River, which bisects the city’s downtown.  And it's from that bridge, where the following view of the old paddle-wheeler Delta Queen can be found.

She was ordered from a Scottish company in 1924, and shipped in pieces to Stockton, California in 1926. There the California Transportation Company assembled her (and the Delta King, too) for their regular Sacramento River service between San Francisco and Sacramento, with excursions to Stockton, on the San Joaquin River.  In 1946 she moved to Cincinnati via the Panama Canal (that would have been something to see...)  and began inland waterway service in 1948.

The steamboat "Delta Queen."  Yes, the real McCoy, moored in Chattanooga, TN

A 1966 Federal law regarding Safety at Sea spelled her eventual doom.  Without an exemption from a maritime law forbidding wooden-superstructured ships over a certain capacity (like the Delta Queen) from being used in marine passenger service, it can no longer be used for its intendcd purpose.  And that exemption (which expired in 2008) hasn't been renewed by what many perceive as a rather ineffective Congress the last few years. 

After it was taken out of active service cruising America's inland waterways at the end of 2008, the Delta Queen was towed to Chattanooga in 2009, where she was leased out, and functioned as a "boutique hotel" for a while.  However, its days at Coolidge Park are now numbered.  And looking rather "long in the tooth" - i.e.  badly in need of some TLC, soon she will be off to another location.  Hopefully she will not meet the fate that befell her predecessors....

 One of the few pictures taken of "yours truly" - at Ruby Falls.

There are a number of sights to see in Chattanooga.  Some of them (the incline railway, Rock City, Ruby Falls, and the Cravens House - of "Battle above the clouds" fame during the civil war) are located on Lookout Mountain.  We only had time to do one thing (Ruby Falls) there during our visit....and that was only our future daughter-in-law and wife doesn't do caves.  The above picture is one of the few "alone" pictures taken...

Ruby Falls is a cave with an underground walk through the cave in Lookout Mountain to get there.  It's commercialized, of course, but regardless - most everyone finds it unique and very picturesque.  There's definitely a "wow" factor as they take you into the room with the falls in darkness and then turn on the lights...

And together, both of our families visited the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel in the former Union Station, shown below.  Having been there years ago for a convention, it has only changed a little...and unfortunately, for the worse...while the layout is attractive, the decor is dated - lobby and dining area furniture are tired-looking, and paint is generally faded.  The old railcars they use as some of the  sleeping rooms are rusting, and definitely need body work/repainting.   A sign was posted saying they will be finished with a rehabilitation in 2015.  Bet that will drive the resort-style room pricing already in effect, to even higher levels.

Former Chattanooga Union Station, now a tourist destination known as the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel...

Stay tuned for part II


  1. Mandy -

    Any comments on how you dressed from the future in-laws?


    1. Not a peep out of anyone, and that's good news. But there's most likely a reason - it'll be disclosed in the next section.

      I won't spoil it for you...but you might be able to guess what it is.


  2. Great post and I enjoyed the informal travelog as well as the discussion on your attire and presentation.
    The photo of the dining car on the train is not far off from the diner on the Auto Train. Of course when I am on the Auto train I have panty hose on under my slacks and perhaps I should try to stretch that to shorts or capris.
    Tomorrow I have a 6 hour ride for a business purpose. I keep debating how I plan to dress for the trip. It will be mostly on toll roads and I know I will have to stop for bathroom breaks. I would like to get fully dressed but may go for a half way look with pantyhose under shorts. I will see what I do when I do it. Like with so many things with me it will be a game day call.

    1. Thanks for the kind words!

      You'll have fun on tomorrow's drive, I'm sure. I wear pantyhose with shorts a lot, and it's a complete non-issue for me. Your mileage may vary, but I enjoy that a lot, particularly with my ballerinas!

      And I've been in many (men's) restrooms thusly attired, with no repercussions from my pantyhose and shorts.

      Good luck...looking forward to hearing all about your travels!


  3. What a fabulous sounding trip! Such rich history on the East Coast compared to out here in the west :-)

    It's wonderful to hear that you can be yourself with your in-laws. I can't wait to read more in that next post you mentioned.


    1. Thanks! I enjoyed the trip, and part of the fun is telling about it in my blog.

      I'm hoping that my presentation can continue to become more feminine around the future in-laws, but time will tell! I have to respect my wife's comfort factor, too.