Chick-fil-A Dwarf House, Hapeville, Georgia

This outlet of the politically controversial but highly popular Chick-Fil-A fast food chain, in Hapeville Georgia, is the location of the brands first restaurant.

 

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A lot of my friends boycott this chain, due to their stand on LGBT rights… because the owners donate VAST sums to lobbying groups that try to keep same-sex marriage illegal and members of the LGBT community oppressed…  as someone who rejects single issue politics, I tend to be a bit ‘flexible’ in how I look at this business. That said, I can’t discuss this chain without addressing the problem.

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Let’s be clear…I strongly disagree with Chick-fil-A’s politics regarding LGBT issues, but at the same time I do respect them for their general lack of hypocrisy with regards to their interpretation of what it means to be a good Christian. What a lot of people don’t realize is that Americans eat more chicken on Sundays then they do any other day of the week. That said, Chick-fil-A, whose main product is chicken, is closed on Sundays… ALL of them without exception. Even if they are located in malls. The company in effect is choosing to lose $1.019 billion+ per year rather than go against their religious beliefs — and that amount is only the cost of being closed one day out of the week, it does not take into account the BUMP that comes from most Americans consuming more chicken on Sundays. Ergo, for a food chain whose main product is chicken to choose to be closed on a Sunday because that’s God‘s day –a day when they believe their workers should be at home with their families or at church, THAT is really putting your money where your mouth is …. although, that said… others have argued that being closed one day a week is part of WHY the chain is so profitable.

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And their adherence does not end there…. for instance, just a few weeks ago, I went in to one in Strongsville, Ohio in order to get a cup of coffee (I REALLY needed some caffeine, the only coffee at the adjacent Costco was full of carbs I didn’t need… and I couldn’t spot a McDonald’s).  When I walked in the door this store had hired a girl with a serious case of downs syndrome to open doors for customers (clearly they made work for her so she could have the self-respect that comes from making your own money and having a purpose).  Then, when the manager discovered that I was only there for a cup of coffee he gave it to me for free. This is NOT in any way unusual to my experience for Chick-fil-A outlets, in fact its more likely than not.

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Truett Cathy, the company founder (memorialized in the sculpture above), and his brother opened a diner at this location, in 1946 and called it The Dwarf Grill because of the little red door in the picture above. The Diner was later renamed the dwarf house, but of course this was back before it was highly politically incorrect to call little people Dwarfs because of their Dwarfism.

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Apparently he then had the idea to open a smaller version of the diner (apparently without his brother) that just sold his popular chicken sandwich at a mall (this was well before food courts existed in malls, and the idea was therefore radical) … and thus the chain began

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The interior of this location is a Diner, unlike the rest of the chain which is fast food

New Echota Historic Site & Museum; Calhoun, GA, (2 years later)

This was my second visit to the New Echota historical site. A memorial to, and attempted recreation of, the former capitol of the Cherokee nation — a city that was modern for it’s time ….  until it’s people were uprooted and moved west during the trail of tears — one of the more disturbing events in US history — even after they had fought their case all the way to the Supreme court (at the time headed by John Marshall) and WON their case, to which President Andrew Jackson replied:

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My first visit was by myself in 2016, this time I was touring around my childhood best friend (who has joined me previously in my travels, but only ever for a few days at a time, in: Victoria, Washington D.C. and DisneyWorld; usually we’ll go to do a High-Tea together when she visits, but this time I wasn’t able to find a good one nearby). She had asked if she could visit me wherever I was going to be in March…  at which time I was planning on staying not at an Airbnb, but at the home of another old friend who lives in Dalton (I said, “you can, but you’re going to have to find someplace else to stay”).

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As such, since this is a second visit… I’m not going to repeat what I wrote then, but rather focus on any updates and or changes I find interesting or relevant.

As I commented last time I was here, “while I’m glad they built/are building this place, and I doubt it’s much of a money-maker… I question the motives that created it as much as I appreciate the results.” So, … it’s been two years… what’s new you ask? Not much. There was evidence of some construction/repairs going on at the front entrance/ roadway, but even though the last time I was there they said they were going to add to the “reconstructed” homes of the town, I didn’t see ANY evidence of said additional homes being built.

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Picture from last my 2016 visit, the area was JUST as empty in 2018….. except for more grass

That said, there seems to have been cuts to their budget, as evidenced by not only the lack of developing the property, but also they are now selectively mowing the lawns, rather than doing it regularly and completely (like in the picture above from 2016)

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Rather than mowing all the lawn, they’re just clearing paths

… and in the age of a high risk of catching Lime disease (which has serious derailed a few of my friends lives, one of whom used to be a researcher for NASA and now can’t hold down a job) from something as simple as a SINGLE tick bite, that’s a MAJOR issue

Please note the OLD picture on the left, the lawn was mown all the way out to the far trees, while in the most recent photo (on the right) they are only mowing the most high traffic areas and cutting some narrow paths for people to walk on. This is a problem because, to quote this website: “Ticks are attracted to areas with tall grass, moisture, and shade, so keep your grass cut short, your shrubs trimmed and your leaves raked up.” The first things I asked the park staff member when we were paying our entrance fee was how bad the ticks were in the park were… she responded that just yesterday she had pulled three of them off her body, and she didn’t remember going into the deeply wooded areas that day, i.e., she probably got it just by walking through the unmown lawns.

Last time I talked about how one of the coolest elements was they had created a narrated walking tour that you could call up with your phone, or by scanning the QR code with an application in your smart phone. What I hadn’t mentioned at the time was that you of course had to do it with your phone, and the free WiFi that is in the building (and insanely slow) does not extend outside of the that build’s four walls. As such, you’re reliant on your phone’s data signal to be able access it… and on while it had worked relatively well the first time I was there, this time… not so much. That said, the grounds are small enough, that it would be relatively easy and inexpensive to create free WiFi that covered that grounds… again, hasn’t happened (as I noted in my update on Ruby Falls, which is located about a half hour drive away, they HAVE wired all the caves for free WiFi).

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The first time I was here I commented about how “What I would have liked to see but didn’t (which does not mean it isn’t happening, just that it wasn’t front and center in the museum) evidence that tribal elders are somehow involved in this site, etc.” Again, I really didn’t see much of that. However, one thing I noticed (it wasn’t new, but last time I didn’t really notice it) was this one hand cranked device that included descriptions voiced by individuals with distinctly Native American accents… that said, it would be SO easy to attach a solar panel to this…. cranking it was kind of a pain (we ultimately figured out you can crank it slowly).

As I said last time: “Counter to the Hollywood stereotype, The Cherokee lived in western type wood homes, grew crops, had their own written language using a unique alphabet (actually a syllabary) developed by Sequoyah;

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That said, a few weeks after visiting New Echota the first time (back in 2016) and learning about Sequoyah and his invention of the Cherokee syllabaryI was able to visit his birthplace.

So, not only did the Cherokee have their own democratic government systems, but they also had their own newspaper called the Cherokee Phoenix (written half in English and half in the Cherokee language) edited initially by Elias Boudinot  (the paper is still active) which had a world-wide distribution (according to the docent), and literacy level among their people that was actually was higher than among the surrounding white communities (but at the time that wasn’t all that hard to achieve).”

Another difference I noticed between the two visits was when visiting the Print shop, which in my mind is probably the highlight of the who park; last time, visitors were allowed full access to the print shop to the extent that children and parents were even allowed try their hand at using the printing machine (under supervision)

This time, we were kept firmly behind various barriers (one being a rope extended across the work space), even thought there were only two of us, both adults. And when the guy printed something he did not ask us if we wanted to try our hand.

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That said, I did learn a bunch of interesting printing related fact from him, a collection of everyday phrases that were inspired by printing,

 

A Girl and her Hair

For a while now, since I’m not working and no longer have to conform to “work appropriate” hair, I’ve wanted to experiment with colors and cuts that would have shocked and offended my parents (were they still alive).

Back in Georgia (in March), I’d started the transformation from my old self to my current one, but as my hair when I first walked into the salon back then was still in it’s virgin state (aka, utterly natural, and gray), the colorist, who had only just met me and didn’t seem to quite trust that I could really wanted what I’d asked for — she knows me MUCH better now. (To her credit, let’s face it, I’m odd, and hair stylists have been sued by unhappy customers before.) At the time, I tried to explain to her how my inner soul really was not reflected by my current appearance; that I had needed to appear professional in my old jobs, but that now I was free of that and I could return to being more myself — and that I wanted my hair to reflect a truer version of me… the former art student me more so than the business school professor me.

I remember her saying things like, “if I do what your asking for you won’t be happy with the result,” and instead of what I had initially asked for she produced something that was radical by local standards (from what I’ve seen, middle aged, upper class, well educated women in Dalton, GA just don’t do this sort of thing with their hair) — driving around Dalton I found most women to have almost identical dye jobs and hair cuts, that were usually of the sort that required bi-weekly hair appointments to maintain. And while I’ll grant you that what she created was VERY pretty, it was not quite as ‘fearless’ as I was ready to go … however, that said, I really did like the end result as it was a bit like having a head of full of firey embers still burning in blackened ash — and I have a personal connection to that sort of energetic. Also, it could be argued that this dye job flattered me more than the one I ended up getting in Victoria.

Now… it was a few months later and the hair had to be redone. While walking around Victoria I spotted this dress in a shop window, and knew THIS was the color pallet I wanted to go for — only with more of the orange and red, and less of the yellow — so I snapped a shot of it, posted it to Facebook and asked the friends to chime in on what they thought about it. I decided, based on the comment of my friend who authors the blog, rover@home.com to describe it to whomever my colorist turned out to be as a “Caribbean sunset.”

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Now granted, between the Georgia hair coloring and when I finally went in to a salon again (almost five months) my hair had grown out (about two inches) and faded out almost completely, from dark hair with fiery highlights, to something which was now brown with the fire faded to mostly orange… although you can still see some red in there.

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As I discussed in a later post, on the distinct nature of homelessness in Canada, I had actually gotten the referral to the Aveda Beauty School from a homeless chick I ran into who had wildly colored hair. I’d been wanting to get creative with my hair for a while, and based on my experiences in Georgia, realized I’d have to find a salon that regularly did this sort of thing, or at least do it in a town where it was far more ‘normal’ to request it. The first day I drove around Victoria I knew I was finally in the right place, so it was a question of finding the best salon for it, at the cheapest price. And the Aveda Beauty School turned out to the be the right place.

I will say however, that at first they rejected my request. “We don’t do that sort of thing here” but… let’s just say I when I’ve set my mind to something I rarely take no as an answer. After a while they of negotiating they gave in, and assigned me to Jessica (the girl in the pictures) who was just a few salon hours short of graduating, and who had exhibited a real flair during her training in the use of color. She was both excited, and a bit intimidated, but we talked about it, and there was a full week between my initial consultation and when she would start the job… and she said she had gotten increasingly excited about it as she had time to mull it over in her brain. “I’ve always wanted to do a job like this one but the customers who come into aveda aren’t asking for it.”

With regard to the gray left at my sides, that was my choice. When I had the last coloring done, in Georgia, I had asked the colorist NOT to color over grey at my temples… which she did, but not as MUCH as I had wanted her to, so with Jessica I was much fiercer about it, but it turned out that again what I was asking for wasn’t as radical a notion in Victoria as in Georgia … it is in fact from what I saw it is beginning to be a THING now for older women to NOT completely cover our gray… or even try to. All over Victoria I was elderly women who had embraced their silver and only added dark highlights in creative ways to to compliment their appearance. I saw this one woman who had short curly hair, where her first two inches were kept completely gray, and only had the tips of her curls made dark… it looked amazing, emphasized her curls, and her face… think of it as older women reclaiming pride in their age.

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The whole job had to be done in two steps, in large part because it was going to take 8 hours and the students only work in four hour shifts. Fist they needed to cut my hair to remove damage from the previous dye job, and because they refused to do what I wanted on very long hair (to expensive). Historian type that I am, I told her to think 1920’s inverted bob, long in the front (enough so that I can still pin it back on bad hair days, but short and layered in on the back… and then they did a base dye of a an ashy brown in order to obfuscate the transition between new natural hair and the rest of the head.

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Nice, but oh so mundane…. I think I look a bit like pictures of my grandmother taken in the late 1920’s. This was done on the Tuesday.

Two days later, Thursday, I came in again, and the first step was to bleach may hair light enough to allow for the other colors…

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The result was a sort of bright orange with some red highlights left in it… To be honest, I always wonder why they can’t just leave hair THIS color — which is what happens when you strip brown out of hair, because I think it’s cool, but they won’t. No colorist has ever explained to me the reason why. That and, as I was not used to seeing myself this way it was kind of a shock… still can’t decide if it’s a good color for me.

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The 2nd girl is a friend of Jessica’s who came in to help. Jessica applied all the color, but this girl functioned as a 2nd set of hands, holding bits of hair out of the way, and handing Jessica things as she needed them.

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Then we entered the coloring stage. Three colors were used, a purple, and orange, and yellow… and rather then applying the colors in vertical stripes, as is normally done, these were applied horizontally, in a technique now known as decoupage.

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And this was the final result…

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This is my hair blown out and curled with a curling iron

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This is what it looks like when it’s just wash and wear

I’m sad to say that the colors only lasted a few weeks, with the purple disappearing almost immediately, so that two months later (when I’m finally writing this) the hair is mostly orange (close to the color of the hair when initially striped) and a yellow that turns almost neon in the sun… So it will soon be time to try something else.

I’ve sort of been considering the Miley Cyrus inspired haircut (Miley had it when she was in the TVshow, Two and a 1/2 men) that Jessica was sporting… but it actually requires MORE upkeep to get the hair to stay up like that, not less…. and I would need to loose a more weight, as right now my face is too fat

Ruby Falls: underground waterfall & caves

Worth the ~$20/adult entrance fee, but ONLY if you come on a non-vacation weekday

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Also, I strongly suggest buying the combination ticket with Rock City and Battles of Chattanooga. Be warned, if you disregard my warning and come to Ruby Falls with the tourist crush you’ll feel like you were ripped off; Firstly, there’s insufficient parking so you might find yourself having to walk a fair distance up a steep hill. Then you’ll enter, only to find you have to wait as long an hour to be able to take the elevator down into the caverns. Once there you’ll be herded quickly like cattle through narrow caverns that aren’t wide enough for more than a single file of humans — with barely a chance to take photos of said caves, and after that, once you get to the room where the falls are, you’ll be forced to stand in line to get your picture taken by the falls, and only allowed about 30 seconds to do it, all for the low low price of about $20/adult. I have this on very good authority from numerous fellow tourists I met who had made that mistake, and were very very unhappy with their experience.

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I however, heeding the warnings of my fellow travelers, arrived on a weekday, when there was intermittent rain and no schools were out on vacation. I arrived mid afternoon and parked three spaces away from the main entrance. I bought my ticket, and had to hustle to the bathroom because the next elevator ride down was in five minutes. Once down there I was in a group of maybe 20 people, and while down in the caverns we only had to wait by the side to allow one group to pass us going the other way. When at the falls there was no line to take photos, and instead we could just do it as we wished.

The only bad thing, and it was pretty bad, was that after almost five years of dutiful service and managing to remain in pristine condition that whole time, I made the mistake of asking a Korean tourist, of the variety who used to live in my neighborhood when I taught University in S. Korea (fitting into their groups is such a priority for Koreans that they almost wear uniforms that help you to identify which ‘class’ they belong to), to take a picture of me, and he proceeded to drop my iPhone 4S onto the cave floor smashing the back screen to smithereens

— right after this picture:

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On the upside, the iPhone SE was due to be released in a week or two, and I finally had justification for buying a new phone.

Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden

The former back yard of an artist: Remember the iconic talking heads album cover? Well this is the home of the Howard Finster, the Baptist ‘tent revival’ preacher who created those images.

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One of the most acclaimed (by the mass media — but not so much the art world) folk art artists of his day, he even did Jonnie Carson, Finster was the darling of the rock and roll world since REM filmed one of their early music videos in his back garden.

Howard Finster had been a tent revival preacher who felt a calling from God to pass ‘his’ word via art rather than in preaching… Creating art then became a compunction for Finster. He was initially ‘discovered’ by art professors at the university of Georgia, Athens.. And then by one of the most influential gallery owners in NYC (soho), and then by the likes of REM and the talking heads. According to the intro movie Keith Haring did a pilgrimage to here before he died and as you walk around you can see clear evidence of his handiwork.

 

When I got here originally I drove up and there was this smiling guy sitting on a grass cutter the kind you can drive around and according to go to the guy at the front door I was the first person to show up today. I had the place to myself, at least or a while. As soon as I got to the front door a big orange tabby walked up and demanded entrance and the guy working the front door dutifully let him in.

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When you first enter the museum you directed towards watch a half hour movie about the artist; it explains his life and motivation for his work (serving G-d). The moment I sat down to watch it the orange tabby came right over, jumped on my lap and proceeded to demand to be petted, so I scratched him about the ears for about 10 minutes, till he decided to get even more affectionate. Now I love cats, used to have three of them, but I have since been diagnosed as seriously allergic to them (which is why I no longer have any), so I had to nudge him to the floor. He gave me a pissed-off glance and walked away. Clearly from the cats perspective the job of any visitor is to pet him. As soon as the movie was over I ran to the bathroom, to wash my hands & arms which were now covered with cat, and splashed water on my eyes which had gone all itchy (I respect and obey cats to my own detriment). I later learned that there were in fact three orange tabbies who see it as your job as a visitor to pet them. 

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Otherwise, you are left alone to wander his mazelike gardens. Towards the back he constructed a house of mirrors that I suppose was intended to create the infinity of spirit ….
By the way, this is what I saw in the sky on the way driving to here

…. so that by the time I arrived to his Paradise Garden I was already predisposed to see ‘the spirit’ (if you will) in Finster’s art.  

All in all, this place was pretty amazing. Also, I had apparently unplugged the cork because after me a few car loads of artsy types just pulled in 

1885 Grill

Tasty and affordable restaurant that’s conveniently located to many of the Chattanooga tourist attractions: Ate here four times, working their way through their menu, and didn’t have a single bad meal.

I discovered this affordable and tasty chef driven restaurant via Yelp, and have been there four times — and except for the last time when I had an extremely pretty blond imbecile for a waitress, I enjoyed ever visit (but that’s clearly not the cooks fault). It’s located at the base of Lookout Mountain, somewhat equidistant to both of the two most convenient roads up to the top (where the tourist attractions are) from both Chattanooga and Dalton; and as such this restaurant is incredibly handy if you’re headed to Rock City Amusement Park, Ruby Falls, or the historical/civil war tourist locations. It’s also walking distance from the base station for the Incline Railway (but I don’t suggest taking that as it is overpriced and pretty useless, in my opinion, if you have a car). If this eatery were located in Dalton, where I’m staying at a friend’s home, I’d be eating there every night.  It’s one of the many chef driven eateries in the Chattanooga area located in a refurbished brick building. The food is incredibly tasty and steaks are the only things on the menu that cost over $17. The servings are southern sized, and are more than enough for two normal people to share (excepting perhaps the shrimp and grits)… so if you do it right you can share a meal and walk away more than happy at $10/head.


Prater’s Mill

Picturesque spot for a nice picnic, or to fish: This is an historic site that’s technically in Dalton, even though you’ve got to drive past a few other towns to get to it… I think it’s a bit like O’Hare Airport being in Chicago (It’s ORD designation refers to it historically being located in Orchard Place, which Chicago annexed in the late 1950’s via a thin strip of land, against the wishes of the surrounding suburbs, so as to be able to claim the income generated by the airport). Even though it’s supposed to be in Dalton, on the map it’s much closer to Varnell, GA … and if you are from here Varnell is pronounced Varr-a-nell

It’s Historic (pre-Civil War & Trail of Tears, and listed on the list of Historic places), and pops up on all the ‘things to do lists for the area — even though they haven’t actually put in the effort to give you anything to do when you get here. In spite of it being a working mill (the product of which is sold at a local shop) it’s apparently only open to the public once a year in October, when they have a festival here — makes no sense to me either. If it is a working mill, why not just set a schedule and allow folks to visit while its happening, talk to the kids about the process, etc… more often than just once a year. There is a visitor’s center and ‘historic’ store across the street, but it too is rarely open. As such, this is more of picturesque place to stop and eat than really an educational experience (although there are the obligatory signs scattered around). Knowing this (thank you to Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews – by other confused visitors), I had picked up a Ruben sandwich from the butcher shop/deli near here and am eating it as I watch three old guys who are sitting pretty spread out from each other along the river bank, fishing silently.
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The most entertaining thing that happened while I was here was a car and a truck drove into the lot, and a young dark haired woman got out of the car, ran over to the truck, got up on the running board and started repeatedly head slapping the poor guy sitting there who looked to be in his early 20’s. After she was done she ran back to her car. He then slowly got out and went over to her car to talk to her… At that point one of the fishermen and I made a quiet retreat.

Dalton, GA: Hamilton’s Food & Spirits/Pizzeria

If you’re looking for an upscale eaterie in Dalton, GA, the fact is you’re best off opting for a national chain.

This review reflects my first attempt, and probably my last, at the only upscale non-chain restaurant in the Dalton area. Apparently (based on conversations with locals) the town used to support a few very good eateries but they all failed, mostly due to mismanagement. Relative to it’s competitors this place is incredibly expensive — its competition being the myriad of other chef driven establishments that Dalton locals consider “in the area,” which seems to be from just north of Atlanta (slightly over one hour south) to Chattanooga (about 35 minutes north).  Thoughts, 1) this appetizer’s big enough that if you added a veg it would be a big meal for one person, as it is I am already full having only eaten half of it & with no vegetable side  … And 2) the risotto is slimy and gross tasting, and I usually love barley. What really killed me was the waitress said, as I was eating it, “most of the locals order the quail on a salad instead of the risotto.” … so WHY you may ask, isn’t the chef putting that on the menu instead? That, and while the balsamic works well with the quail, it is NASTY with the risotto. Seriously, the mind boggles. Based on what I have seen of the portions on other customers’ plates, if these guys halved their servings and their prices, they’d probably do a lot more business because they’re the only upscale eaterie in town that is not a national chain, and hence, travelers who are crashing for the night at a local hotel (Dalton is off one of the major north/south arteries to Atlanta and Florida) of the sort who utilize smartphone apps would come here… just because.

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Bacon wrapped quail with a balsamic glaze on barley risotto

excuse the lack of a map, but for some reason it refuses to load for this location.
The address is: 243 N Hamilton St #5, Dalton, GA 30720, and it’s in the historic part of Dalton, rather than highway off ramp section.

Alleia (Italian)

Alleia is a very upscale, tasty, romantic, and (by Chattanooga standards) expensive, chef driven rustic Italian eaterie. It is located in a renovated brick industrial building that sits directly behind the historic terminal station for the now defunct passenger railway line that used to pass through town, and was made famous by the Glen Miller mega hit “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” I was invited to dinner here by my Dalton friends, as we were going to go to a Buddy Guy concert that night at the Tivoli Theater (one of the many former vaudeville & movie palaces nationwide that cities have wisely been saving from the wrecking ball). This is one of the oddities of travel, I’d never heard Buddy Guy live in concert before, even though he’s based in my home town of Chicago — I had to come to a much smaller city at the GA/TN border to do it.

Free parking in that part of town is almost nonexistent, and it was raining, so I was incredibly happy to discover Alleia offers complementary valet parking. Directly behind the stand is the entrance to the restaurant, but good luck on finding the door during daylight. The contrast between the outdoor light and darkened space in which the massive ancient-keep-like wooden door sits, makes it almost impossible to see it till your eyes adjust to the difference — and keep in mind it was raining when I got there. As I had arrived a good half-hour before my hosts the restaurant placed me at a table right near the front windows so that I could spot them arriving, and while there I watched one befuddled elderly gentleman walk right past it — twice, trying to find the entrance. Once you’ve lugged open the door (it required grabbing the ring on the front and leaning back to get the thing to move) you enter into a darkly lit space reminiscent of a church, with massive candles that have been allowed to drip their wax to the floor, and hanging gas lanterns.

My meal was nummy. For my appetizer I had a very finely cut carpaccio with truffle and radish, and then for my main I had quail which lay on a fig, onion, and something else purée that was served with a side of sauteed purple cabbage and new potatoes … all of which was wonderful. The star of the show, however, was my dessert, an olive oil gelato (something that sounded incredibly odd but my friend promised me was something to be tried) with bits of salty pistachio in it. The gelato melted in the mouth in a way I’ve never experienced before, and the counterpoint to the pistachio was just amazing.

 

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Battles for Chattanoga, GA

Well worth the price! Probably the easiest to understand explanation of the civil war battles in this area, played out on a 3d diorama . Is it low rent? Sure, but whoever put the thing together did so with a spark of theatrical genius which makes the whole thing worth while. Great theater of the off off off Broadway variety if you will…

The Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park consists of three separate parks that memorialize one of the major/pivotal military campaigns of the Civil War (or what some Southerners refer to as the War of Northern Aggression).

They are: (listed in the order I went to them)

  1. Chickamauga Battlefield & Visitor Center (in GA)
  2. Cravens House located 1/2 way up Lookout Mountain (which I didn’t bother seeing the inside of because the original house was decimated during the battles, and what’s there is entirely a re-creation — and it’s only open on Weekends)
  3. Point Park & Lookout Mountain Battlefield Visitor Center (which the Park service thinks of as two separate things but I don’t think anyone else does)

Next door the #3’s visitor center is the tourist trap called Battles of Chattanooga which to be quite honest, completely beats the crap out of the paltry offerings at the tourist center next door; and, any traveler who wants a better understanding of the battles around Chattanooga should consider this a MUST do. In fact, this is the 2nd time I’ve gone to this attraction, the first time was maybe 10 or 15 years ago as a friend and I road tripped from Chicago to Disney World, and we spotted massive road signs advertising it. At the time we thought it was going to be hokey, but as we were both geeks we decided to give it a try. We ultimately agreed it was utterly worth the time as both of us had studied the battles in school, but the 3D blinking lights visual demonstration (showing troop movements up and down the mountains that surround the city, etc), allowed us to finally understand what had happened.

However, as it had been at least 10 years since my last viewing I decided to buy include the ticket to this as part of the Rock City/Ruby Falls/Battles combo deal which I strongly suggest buying if you’re going to be in Chattanooga for at least a few days. And I suggest seeing this demonstration and THEN going across the street to the National park at the point.

Since it was to dark inside to take any useful photos, let me set the scene with words:

Imagine if you will one of those massive sculpted 3d tables that shows the geography of the Chattanooga basin looking south across the winding Tennessee River —  with lookout mountain on the far right, and the hills of Missionary Ridge to the far left, effectively encircling the city below. Now imagine on the wall behind the table a movie about the long siege of the area, and how it went on until President Lincoln finally got fed up with General Bragg’s refusal to be aggressive (which was resulting in failing morale among the soldiers) and opted to replace him with General Ulysses S. Grant (sometimes referred to as Lincoln’s Butcher). From time to time the movie darkens, and the map comes alive with flickering colored lights demonstrating troop movements. For example: Federals floating past Confederate guards in the dead of night to attack the only viable ferry point, or racing up Missionary Ridge as, father like son, the elder (and horribly named) Arthur Macarthur (can’t you just imagine the ribbing he got growing up?) disobeys Grants express orders — setting the pattern for his son I suppose — and thereby wins one of the first Medals of Honor, as his son General Douglas Macarthur would later do in WWII (making them the first father and son pair to do so).  The whole thing is really quite exciting.