dixie wandering: tennessee heartland
There’s something that feels like home in the history-filled hills of Tennessee.
Despite being a true American mutt with family history from Britain to Germany to all over the United States east coast, I’ve always associated most with Southern Appalachia. As did my ancestors and many other Scottish immigrants over the years – hence the birth of bluegrass mountain music out of Scots and Irish folk music.
My maternal great-grandmother Beulah Mae’s family had lived in Podunk, Tennessee for longer than anyone could remember (they once tried to trace the family history and stopped searching after the shocking discovery that someone had been a Union soldier… a fact that I am very proud of, but for some reason, they were not). The family had been in the country since what seemed to be prehistory until Beulah and her sisters all ran off to the big city of Atlanta to become young brides and proto-feminist, union-running, working women. Even then, it seemed they knew you simply can have it all – why wouldn’t you?
For this reason and many others, to me, Tennessee feels like the birthplace and the heart of the best things about the South. Less a symbol of the racism and conservatism of the troubled past (though we can't forget about these things), and moreso the beautiful home of hearty, welcoming, working class people where the pine-filled hills echo with stories and music. A Southern heartland.
After traveling all the way to Knoxville to see yet another embarrassing loss by the University of Georgia footgame team, Cat Stew and I decided to leave our sportz woes behind and visit the charming, industro-chic city of Chattanooga. We stayed at a super 8 off the highway – the epitome of class & interesting smells – and started our day off right with some dry frosted flakes we stole because breakfast had already ended. Grrreat!
We headed towards downtown Chattanooga with no real plan except to eventually find some fabulously greasy food. So, when we saw signs for the historic site of the Chattanooga Choo Choo, we decided to take a peek because trains r cool & also because i am obsessed with Glenn Miller.
Turns out that you can spend the night in the old train cars as part of a hotel & the retro décor reminded me a bit of the new season of American Horror Story... but not like in a Vampire-Gaga-will-slit-your-throat kind of way, just in a spooky-but-fun ~~*totally vintage*~~ kind of way.
We also discovered that the top of the adjacent “Choo Choo visitors” parking deck has the best views of this cute part of town & is also the best place to take a nap if you're into cement pillows.
After getting lost for too long, losing our minds a little bit, and subsequently driving by some more spooky-but-fun warehouses on the north shore, we finally found our way to the mecca of funky 50's-style burger joints, Cheeburger Cheeburger.
(Chattanooga is not hard to navigate by any means but I’ve found that exhaustion & a diet of solely frosted flakes sans milk does funny things to my brain & my ability to drive… stay safe out there kids)
& of course, you can’t have a good ole American roadtrip through dixieland without some Steeldrivers, Johnny Cash, and Ray Charles.