Tennessee has an odd custom called Fall Break. Students get a week off in mid-October. Some people say it’s leftover from when youngsters had to help with the cotton harvests, other people say it’s to make up for school starting in August. Whatever the reason, we took advantage of the time and scheduled some campus visits for my son. He’s in 12th grade, and if all goes well, he will be starting college next year.
He is interested in UTC (University of Tennessee at Chattanooga), and we had visited there this summer. His father suggested making a second trip in the fall, to see what the campus was like when there were more students there. I suggested detouring north to Clarksville, for some comparison shopping at APSU (Austin Peay State University). He’s been to the University of Memphis for a campus tour, to Rhodes College for a Knowledge Bowl tournament, and to Lyon College for the Arkansas Scottish Festival. Before he makes his mind up, I want him to consider several schools so he can make an informed decision.
Saturday we left home, later than my husband wanted, earlier than I expected to get out the door. We drove to Jackson, TN, and stopped for breakfast at Denny’s. We continued eastward, stopping at Franklin for lunch at Culver’s. We passed fields white with cotton, and fields where cotton or hay were being harvested, and pastures of cattle. The trees, for the most part, were still green; fall foliage was just barely beginning. Then on to Chattanooga. We ran into traffic snarls in the mountain, road repair plus an accident or two, which delayed us considerably. We arrived in Chattanooga, checked into our hotel, dropped off our luggage, and went to the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, where we had dinner at the Grand Junction Deli, and then rode the Halloween Eerie Express. It’s a train ride that leads to a Halloween stop with storytelling, a fun house, carnival games, etc. It’s meant for grade school kids, but it was fun anyway.
Sunday we went to Raccoon Mountain to visit the caverns. There were several impressive stalactites, stalagmites, and columns.
After exploring the part of the cavern open to the public (only a small fraction – the rest isn’t safe for casual visitors) and the inevitable gift shop, we had a late but hearty lunch at Cracker Barrel, then returned to our hotel for a rest. We went downtown in the afternoon and rode the free electric shuttle bus. We did some window shopping and a little exploring of the city that might become my son’s new home for the next four years. Afterwards we went back to the hotel and dinner at Wendy’s.
Horse and carriage, with the Tennessee Aquarium in the background.
The Market Street Bridge over the Tennessee River.
Monday was the big day, the campus tour. We looked over the buildings, classrooms, administration, student center, etc. We visited a dorm room (many dorm rooms at UTC are apartments with four small bedrooms, so students have apartment-mates but not roommates, sharing living room, bathroom, and kitchen). We had lunch at Crossroads, the school cafeteria, and discussed the various meal plans. We double-checked that my son’s paperwork was in order. That evening we ate dinner at Mr. T’s, at the foot of Lookout Mountain, which in my opinion has the best pizza in Hamilton County.
Tuesday we went back to the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, to see the old trains and to take an unhurried look at the gift shop.
We had lunch at Hardee’s, and went downtown to explore further. We checked out the English Rose, a tea shop that we might visit on a future occasion. Again we rode the free electric shuttle bus. We wandered down Broad Street, window shopping (and stopping at All Books for some actual shopping), and went past the Tennessee Aquarium down to the Tennessee River. The Riverwalk is thirteen miles long. We strolled a mile or two, no more, and stopped at the Southern Belle for some air conditioning and cool drinks. We walked back to the shuttle bus depot, and transferred to the northern route, which goes across the river to see a bit of that part of town. Then we went back to our hotel and had dinner at Fazoli’s.
Wednesday morning we checked out of the hotel and headed northwest to Clarksville. Unfortunately, we were unable to take the train. We had lunch at Culver’s, then went to APSU, where we met with the head of the computer science department and he explained the various concentrations within the computer science major before we took a campus tour. Afterwards, we went back to Culver’s for ice cream. We debated staying in Clarksville overnight, possibly doing some sightseeing in the morning or heading for home. (Clarksville is supposed to have several good museums, parks, and Civil War sites.) Being sight-see’d out, we debated Hwy 79 (allegedly shorter) vs Hwy 24 to Hwy 40 (allegedly easier) and started for home. We stopped for dinner at Loretta Lynn’s Kitchen in Hurricane Mills. My daughter said she wasn’t feeling well, and the driver was tired, so we decided to call it a night and spent the night in Hurricane Mills.
Browning Building, Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, TN
Thursday, back on the road. We stopped for a comfort break in Jackson, at the Casey Jones Village, then on to home. We took it easy the rest of the day, beyond going out to the grocery store to restock the refrigerator. And now it’s Friday, and I have a suitcase of dirty laundry to wash.
Well, that was my week. How was your week?