Quick Trip to Chattanooga

Last week another opportunity came up to take a really fast trip with DH.  He had a small job to do in Chattanooga, driving over one day and back the next.  It was too good to pass up, so again I packed a bag and tagged along.  We drove over in the morning, and there is nothing like going over the high pass on I-40 in the morning light.  The mountains are just gorgeous green now!  There was a bit of overcast sky part of the way, but no rain.

Hwy I40 - 11

Hwy I40 - 16

Very little traffic for a good part of the way made for a relaxing drive.

Hwy I40 - 17

Arriving in Chattanooga just after lunchtime, I dropped him off, and went shopping all afternoon.  I started at an enormous bookstore called McKays.  You have to see it to believe it.

McKays Books Chattanooga 1

Reading and video are on the ground floor, audio cds and vinyl are on the second floor balcony that ran all the way around the building.

McKays Books Chattanooga 2

This is the hardback fiction aisle, it keep me occupied quite a while.  Then the cookbook aisle was calling.  I know I was there at least 2 hours!

McKays Books Chattanooga 5

The result of my browsing was a small haul, with an author signed, first American edition, hardback copy of the Jeffrey Archer book I was missing for just $7. All the other books ranged in price from 50 cents to $1.50. Yep, that little!  The cookbooks , Best of the Best, were just 50 cents each.  I plan to attempt making paper soon, and found a book on that subject as well. The other books have been on my hunt list for a long time, over 2 years for On Rue Tatin!  Finding treasure is exciting, but finding it at $1 was a special thrill.

McKays Books Chattanooga 7

The rest of the afternoon was spent in the thrift stores, but that wasn’t a fruitful venture.   The one I spent some time looking for was closed on the weekday that I was there.  Several more thrifts were visited but nothing spoke to me.  Back at the hotel, I asked the nice, and very helpful young man named Rhett at the front desk for a recommendation for dinner.  We were directed to Mount Vernon, a Chattanooga institution since 1955.  As luck would have it, it was only about 10 minutes away.

Mount Vernon Restaurant 9

Rhett had given us a coupon for a free appetizer of fried green tomatoes that came with a horseradish sauce.  Yum!!

Mount Vernon Restaurant 1

DH and I both had fish, mine was salmon with a lovely garlic and parsley butter.

Mount Vernon Restaurant 2

He had grilled haddock, and we both got the squash casserole.  I’ve been working on a squash casserole recipe at home, and I’ll be posting that soon.  I want to make it one more time to be sure I have it the way I want it.

Mount Vernon Restaurant 3

I liked the ambiance of the place, so inviting with low lamps and nice decorations in the lobby.

Mount Vernon Restaurant 7

So many times, older restaurants like this get stagnant and stale, but not this one.  The music was low, modern jazz.  It looked like it had been updated with soft colors in yellow and blue with off white trim, warm and elegant but not dated.

Mount Vernon Restaurant 6

Service was outstanding.  The menu was fresh and on trend with locally sourced food as much as possible.

Mount Vernon Restaurant 5

The next morning, while DH was working again, I drove up to Lookout Mountain and was surprised to learn that there are no lookouts. I am spoiled by the Blue Ridge Parkway with its many overlooks and free parking areas to take pictures of our magnificent views. But, the only way I found to get even an idea of the view was to park at a meter regulated space, and try to get a picture across a private garden of the valley beyond.

Lookout Mountain 2

It looked like a lovely space, but it was posted as private, and surrounded by fencing, with the entrances gated and locked.

Lookout Mountain 3

There are a few attractions to see, but they were really pricey and didn’t have views. I thought the underground caverns would be fun, along with seeing a very high waterfall that was in the caverns, but I wanted to do that with DH, not by myself. So, I went down to the Riverwalk.

Tennessee Riverwalk 5

It is a beautiful area, clean and nice for a long walk on the Tennessee River.

Tennessee Riverwalk 2

Heading back toward the area where I had parked, I spotted a blue heron on the walk.

Tennessee Riverwalk 6

Amazingly, he wasn’t afraid of me at all.

Tennessee Riverwalk 8

I asked him what his thoughts were this fine morning, but he didn’t care to share them.

Tennessee Riverwalk 9

Walking a bit further the other direction, there are bridges for cars and pedestrians, along with the lovely shoreline scenery.

Tennessee Riverwalk 11

I also visited a really wonderful quilt shop, I’ll show you that with the next Be My Neighbor block.  Picking up DH, we decided to have lunch before beginning the drive back home, spending barely a day in Chattanooga.  I am certain we need to go back again, there was a lot to do, and I want another meal at Mount Vernon.  On the way home, we stopped in Knoxville at the other McKays Used Bookstore, and yes I found a few more books, just as inexpensively too.  This was a really fast trip, but enjoyable with a nice bit of time to just talk while in the car.  I left my laptop at home, and just enjoyed the scenery and the time with my dear husband.

Have you made any quick trips like this?



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26 thoughts on “Quick Trip to Chattanooga

  1. Lee Brinkley

    Carole, I love visiting Chattanooga!! We have a friend living in that area and love visiting! Didn’t know about this book store but will definately visit it on our next trip!!! So glad you had a great visit!! If you haven’t been to the aquairum down by the river I strongly suggest it!! It’s amazing!

  2. Oh my goodness! That bookstore looks like a reader’s heaven, and haven! All that is left in our area is one locally owned shop and I’m happy to see that each year it is growing. Electronic readers are convenient (I enjoy mine), but there’s nothing quite like holding a solid book and flipping those pages!

  3. Jennifer Rauch

    Oh my goodness! I’m salivating over that bookstore! I’ve read Hotel On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet & so has my daughter. We both really liked it, & have very different reading tastes, so I predict you’ll like it too! We passed Chattanooga on our way home from Myrtle Beach (got to go to Brookgreen 2x this trip!), but didn’t stop – but I made note to go there someday. Now I have ammo for the sell! Glad you were able to have a quick getaway with such nice weather & scenery. . . always enjoy your posts. I’ve started telling my family & local friends “My friend online Carole says. . .”, because your interests are so much like mine I feel I’ve met you. Bagged some scrapbooking stuff at garage sales this weekend, only I plan to use them for card embellishments. Have a great day back home!

  4. Lois Stimax

    I’ve driven throng that Rt40 pass many times and it is often raining on one side or the other! I might be heading to Beaufort, SC soon and can’t wait for their beautiful bike trails and great thrift stores.

  5. Evie H

    Oh, that book store looks like heaven! When I next visit my niece I will have to have her take me there.

  6. lois92346

    So glad you had such a nice day trip with your DH. You certainly have a gift for “capturing the moment” with your camera and your descriptions. I feel like I was there with you. I truly enjoyed reading your post.

  7. Ann D

    My husband and I visited Chattanooga last September and we took a funicular to the top of Lookout Mountain. From the station at the top we walked a block up the street past some beautiful homes and arrived at a National Park which celebrated a battle which took place during the Civil War. We had wonderful views from there. My suggestion is to try visiting again. We also went to the Coker Tire store downtown which has a wonderful free tour a couple of times each day. We saw some great restored cars and other vehicles.

  8. very familiar with that stretch of interstate having been on it numerous times over the years. I have never heard of that bookstore – it is the type of place that I would have great difficulty getting numerous family members out of – myself included!!

  9. I just know you waved to my son in Cleveland as you pasted by. Too bad I couldn’t join you. Maybe next time.
    Glad you had a great time.

  10. Melanie

    Have never been to Tenn., but it looks like a great place to visit, and what fun you had in the book stores and other spots. The heron wasn’t in a talkative mood, thought you had food stored in your pockets! Your dinner looked to be outstanding; I love horseradish sauce but have never tried it on fried tomatoes. The entire dinner made my mouth water, and such a restful, relaxing atmosphere at Mt. Vernon restaurant. A nice time for you to spend with DH w/o LT (laptop).

  11. Cheryl Buchanan

    Such a cute rendition of your quick trip to Chattanooga. You sound a lot like me, an adventurist. I love to go somewhere I’ve never been and explore and I guess I should be, but I’m not afraid to do that even by myself. I just got back from a trip to Sanibel, Florida with several stops along the way. Loved the description of the restaurant and will have to venture that way sometime. Thanks for sharing your delightful trip. I love reading about your adventures.

  12. Terri Patterson

    I’ve driven I-40 before! How can you call it a “relaxing” drive?!??! LOL! 🙂 I even drove (I think it was I-40) when it was one lane, at night, going about 70 mph, with a semi on my tail! Talk about scary! I’m glad I don’t have to make that drive any more! 🙂

    I haven’t made any trips like that in years! Looks like you had a great time. River walks are always nice! So many cities are building/creating them now!

  13. Sam

    Thank you for taking me along on your trip! Like lois92346, I feel like I was there. What a charming tale of your adventures….NOW I have to add Chattanooga to my list of “go to’s” !!!!

  14. You drove within five miles of our house! McKay’s bookstore is amazing. Words would not have done it justice, so thanks for the photos. Your meal at Mount Vernon sounded great, making me want to go there the next time John goes. I’m so glad you shared your trip with us.

  15. Wow, the bookshop!!! I have that same paper making book, save all your very old blankets for the under couching pieces. Or try op shops for some, shredded paper, when I first made paper, we shredded it in the garden mulcher, thoroughly cleaned first!! Then down here, banks will supply shredded paper as well, but it wasn’t as successful as some other types. Beautiful river scenes.

  16. Brenda Ackerman

    Hello Carole! I am so happy that you shared your trip with us. Your photography is marvelous and with your special way of describing and including us (at least that is how reading your posts always make me feel) just makes me feel like I am right there with you. What treasures you found in the book store. How delightful for you, only weren’t you supposed to be getting rid of some …..LOL….awhile back? You are not alone in that fantastic collecting habit; I tend to mainly do quilt books and magazines, but I used to collect cookbooks until my memory really made it difficult and very often dangerous. I do hope that you and hubby enjoy a gazillion delicious meals as you go through and “experiment” to get it just right! Yummy, yummy for the tummy. LOL. I have had a couple of busy days with family and spent evenings marking almost two thousand white squares to make into half square triangles for a three quilts I am making of yours. I still think I have about a dozen five inch squares to mark, while all of the 3 inch squares are done. So happy, I am doing the happy dance!! So, off I go. Thanks for sharing your great beautiful, full of treasures, adventure trip with your hubby! Have a great day!!

  17. dezertsuz

    No, but if you’d let me know, I’d have met you in Chattanooga and showed you the absolute best quilt shop there … and it’s actually outside Chattanooga. Though you might have gone to that very one – Chattanooga Quilts? Too bad Spools closed, that was a great one, too. Or I would have met you at McKay’s here! It’s maybe ten minutes from my house.

    I’m glad you found lots of wonderful books, especially the signed copy! I’ll have to try Mount Vernon, now that you recommended it. Lookout Mountain has always been called that. LOL During tourist season, there are many Civil War sites, and a couple of homes you can visit up at the top. At the bottom, and along the street a way there’s also the rather interesting International Towing Museum. They have lots of old tow trucks and the history of the towing industry. I know it sounds weird – Paul and I laughed about it but went anyway, and it was interesting. I’ve since been again, and it was still interesting. I do love that drive over the big mountain. I’ve taking it in all seasons, going to see my son when he lived in Charlotte.

  18. What a fabulous post! I’ve never been to Chattanooga but I think it would be great just to go to that bookstore! You will love On Rue Tatin, I think. It’s one of my favorites. Recipes in the back, too! The place you stayed and then dinner look lovely. But too bad about the views. Rick’s dad lives near the Blue Ridge in NC and we always enjoy being on it. (But then we love the Carolinas just about everywhere!)

  19. Linda B

    Wow, wish we had one of those bookstores within a short driving distance of St Louis! Like an hour, Ha! That is amazing. What a treasure. If you go back to lookout mountain, try to locate a local..I understand there are wonderful off the beaten path places for good views, but probably need to be taken there. No personal experience…just what I was told. Glad you had such a great time!

  20. Only in the south would you find a concierge named Rhett 🙂 That restaurant looked fabulous! I hope you get to go back soon.


  21. Carole, you have me wanting to visit Chattanooga. That book store alone would be worth a visit. Amazingly huge! It is so rare these days to even find bookstores. The walk along the river looks like a great way to spend some time. Thanks for sharing your visit.

  22. That bookstore looked like so much FUN! I have never been to Chattanooga but it looks beautiful. You are lucky to be close enough so you can do a quick trip. I have a feeling you will be back! Thanks for sharing at this month’s Take Me Away party. It’s always great to have you!

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