Hungry in Chattanooga

So, Chattanooga.  Where were we?

Sadly, I spent most of my visit to “the highest rated aquarium in America” searching for food, since the planners of the Pro Walk Pro Bike networking party felt the need for the food to be spaced out ALL OVER the place.  Lucky for the aquarium inhabitants that I’m not a pescatarian.

This guy, on the other hand, holds no qualms about eating fish.  By the time I found the station with great vegetarian options and refueled, I felt totally wiped out.

I skipped the after party on the Delta Queen in favor of the private party in my hotel room — a little thing I like to call sleeping.  By invitation only, of course.

I woke up bright and early on my last day in Chattanooga for a bakery run (or, more accurately, a bakery bike).  If I’d had any foreshadowing of what was to come, I would have stocked up even more.

The closing plenary of Pro Walk Pro Bike 2010 was scheduled from noon until 2:00pm (and the last breakout session ended at 11:45am).  We shuffled into the room shortly before noon and were met with the sight of a decidedly unlunchlike set-up: just chairs.  No tables and no food.  What???

Stay calm.  Maybe they would talk for an hour and then feed us at 1:00pm.  Not ideal, but I could handle it.

But no, there was no lunch, and everyone else seemed equally baffled and annoyed by this turn of events.  Especially when the closing remarks dragged on PAST two o’clock.

The St. Louis contingent finally managed to escape and make a much-needed lunch stop (was it even lunch at this point?) before embarking on the bus ride back to the Lou.  All-in-all, Pro Walk Pro Bike 2010 was a decidedly amazing conference with an anticlimactic and disappointing finish.

And the thing was, it didn’t have to end that way.  At one point during the closing plenary, one of the speakers had the entire (hungry and tired) audience on our feet, a crowd of people working to push this movement up to and past its tipping point, with our fists in the air, responding enthusiastically to his prompts:

“What do we want?”

“More walking and biking!”

“When do we want it?”

“Now!”

And that’s how I want to remember Pro Walk Pro Bike 2010 in Chattanooga.

Chattanooga, you had me at hello

Market St. bridge across the Tennessee River, taken from the Walnut St. bike/ped bridge

Hello from Pro Walk Pro Bike 2010 in lovely Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Ya’ll (I can say that because I’m in the south now), Chattanooga is a lovely city that has made huge pedestrian and bicycle enhancements in recent years and I’m surrounded by fabulous and inspiring people from across the country (and the globe, in some cases) who are working hard to create safe, viable transportation alternatives.

Art Museum at Bluff View Art District

I packed for the conference after looking at the weather forecast and seeing temps in the high 80s (i.e., almost 90 — ugh, hot) all week instead of the reality that I would spend 8am to 5:30pm in a refrigerator an excessively (and wastefully) over-air-conditioned building.

After hours, I’ve been exploring Chattanooga by bike.  Given the conference hours, this means that I’ve been exploring Chattanooga by bike IN THE DARK, both a.m. and p.m., which wouldn’t be a big deal if I had Baby Jake and my usual riding gear, but it’s a little iffy on the rental with no lights or reflective vest.  Note to self: always travel with reflective vest, you never know when you might want it.

I’m only scratching the surface here, but so far I’ve enjoyed the Walnut Street Bridge, the Tennessee Riverpark (an 8-mile long multi-use greenway), and biking around downtown in general.

Spinach walnut ravioli at 212 Market Restaurant

The food scene (normally, I would consider this the most important part, but I’m so enjoying the biking and the beautiful riverfront):

However, eating out is not nearly as fun without Matthew.  I can try many more things when he’s there to share in the fun and food.  I’ve already informed him that we’re coming back to Chattanooga together 🙂