Road Trip: Memories of the Chattanooga Choo-Choo

30 10 2009

Ginger & LB at Chattanooga Choo-ChooYou know how sometimes when you look back on something you did as a kid, it’s always warmer, more colorful, exciting, and spectacular than the real thing?

If you get the fortune to go back and experience a beloved memory as an adult, it often isn’t as fun as your memory pedestal has made it. This was the worry I had when pulling up to the Chattanooga Choo-Choo on the first night of my second annual road trip with Becky. Here I had dragged her all this way out of the way to head to Tennessee, feeling responsible for the state, as I spent a good part of my teen years growing up in good ol’ TN. So I felt obligated to give disclaimers all along the way. “I hope it’s what I remember. You never know how something might change in 10 years…”

You see, I remembered the Chattanooga Choo-Choo as this bright, colorful place, full of action and laughter. But then again, I hadn’t been there since a silly 8th grader, fresh off a musty bus full of other junior highers, bursting with energy from a long ride. Bright-eyed, young, surely crushing on some boy, with my best girlfriends around me, we had tumbled out, and been let free to roam around, chaperone-free until the technical guys had set up our equipment and stage and the time had come for us to give our show.

So this is what the experience had to live up to.

And it did.

Ah, sigh of relief and delight to my dear Chattanooga. We arrived after dark, so while the bright memories of my trip looked instead warm and dark, and just straight like something from a 1940’s, it was still, just as I had remembered it. Maybe better.

The gardens were still just as immaculately kept, fountains sprinkling. The shops just as quaint and charming. The trains just as brightly painted.

We had a grand old time just walking among the trains and exploring the train station (now a gorgeous hotel). So grand, in fact, that we had to go back early the next morning before we snuck out of town for one last look.

So now I know. The memory is just as good as the reality. That’s the South for you. Always surprising, never disappointing. I should have known.

What childhood places would you like to go revisit?




2 responses

30 10 2009

Oh, and please don’t laugh at that picture. I didn’t know that you weren’t supposed to wear mom jeans as an 8th grader!

1 12 2009
Road Trip Re-Cap « Sweet Iced Tea

[…] Memories of the Chattanooga Choo-Choo […]

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