Ricky Racoon & the Choo Choos?

With elderly relatives with a partiality to Glenn Millar & the big band sound it would be impossible to not to have heard the song ‘Chattanooga.’

Whilst considered a big hit back in the 1940’s the lyrics may not be so well thought of today. However it did bring people’s attention to a place called Chattanooga & its rolling stock.

Trundling along we happened on Manchester which is nothing like its English namesake. Then dipped our nose into Georgia & out again ratcheting up the number of states we had visited or driven through bits of.

As it sort of was on our route we opted to stay on the famous Raccoon Mountain & indulge in a little underground exploration. Communing with our inner womble we opted for the quick & relatively easy tour as time & light was limited.

Lots of tall tales later. With anecdotes about the caves & it’s history. Most relating to the people who had been involved in the ‘discovery’ & subsequent ownership whiled away some time. Clearly the caves had been there for a very long time & likely had provided shelter to animals & humans alike for centuries.

Racoon Mountain Caves

Sadly we did not spot any salamander or spiders that inhabit the caves. The Crystal cave Spider it would seem is only found in the caves. Nor did we see any bats or raccoons ( called Ricky or otherwise) but the geology of the caves was interesting. Come to think of it we didn’t see any of the ghosts said to lurk about the caves either but never mind. Think it was Macca who crooned the Ricky the Racoon song which got played on a previous trip in honour of the racoon on a lead we met. Might start a band & call it Ricky Racoon & the Choo Choos although very debatable what genre the music a band with such a name might produce.

Modern “Chattanooga Choo Choo’s”

After a cool swim we had a bite to eat & got the van ready to depart the next day. High hopes of a tranquil nights sleep were dashed by the modern ‘choo choos’ that obviously still relentlessly haul freight & tooted their horns. Given the length of these trains & the miles they cover the drivers get to break the monotony by hooting the horns. I couldn’t decide whether this was a necessary safety precaution or just because they liked driving trains & wanted everyone to know regardless of the hour.

The dreary grey wet weather complemented our mood after such interrupted sleep. We didn’t have time to stop in Chattanooga itself or have a go as planned on the scenic railway . Seemed little point as it was so claggy we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the view.

So we pointed Van Morrison to Pigeon Forge & hit the road through the Nantahala Forest & through the Great Smoky Mountains.