I am always fascinated by the impressions that visitors have of Chattanooga, and the impression of cycling visitors is of special interest to me. I have written before the visit of Laura and Russ of PathLessPedaled. They are the couple who gave up life as they know it to live on the road-the road on bicycles that is.
Laura wrote yesterday of their impressions of Chattanooga:
We found Chattanooga to be a really wonderful city with a “small town” feel. It’s an active city, with a city-sponsored focus on how many amazing outdoor activities are nearby. And it’s fairly easy to get around on a bicycle, as there are a lot of low-traffic side streets and a beautiful greenway that runs for many miles out of the city.
Of course, when people say that Chattanooga is a “working” town, they’re absolutely correct, and this distinction colors everything that happens in the city. You spend time in Chattanooga and you can feel the work ethic that runs through the veins of the city. Even with all the recent progressive changes, it’s a definite Southern, old-money, conservative place (with a long history as such). But it’s also a city that’s not afraid to get its hands dirty, and Chattanooga has put itself to work transforming itself from the most polluted city in American to a gem of an outdoor recreation destination (Chattanooga is host to the highly successful Head of the Hooch Regatta, which now rivals the Head of the Charles).
It sounds like they got a good impression of Chattanooga and got the nail on the head. But she framed this impression around another impression that we are envious of Asheville. That caught me by surprise, and by the talk around here, it caught a lot of us by surprise. Asheville? I can't say that we talk about Asheville often and as far as I know, it is all positive. A getaway to Asheville is considered a nice thing indeed. But wanting to BE Asheville. I don't think so. We do talk about become the Boulder of the East, but as far as I can tell, it has not been expressed that we are trying to be Asheville. Jim Johnson posted a wonderful reply to that impression. Mostly, I think we are fashioning ourselves with waht we have-a unique mixture of southern conservatism and progressiveness. We are following our own path into the future. We might take our clues at times from other cities but the expression is always our own. So much so, I know that other cities come to study how Chattanooga has done what it has done and how to emulate it.
But over all, I think Laura and Russ enjoyed their time here and we enjoyed having them. They are getting to a lot of towns and I am sure they have learned how to read them. I find reading about their observations and experiences immensely interesting. I am glad we were part of it.
To read their compete post go here