The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is a beautiful campus. Most of the buildings, with an exception of a few modern ones, are brick with gorgeous details. It looks quite like Hogwarts.
The art building is in the middle of renovations, with an expected completion date in a year and a half, so Derek and his colleagues are in a temporary setting, the Collins Annex. It’s at the edge of campus, and interestingly enough, there is a Confederate Cemetery right across the street.
The first thing my parents and Derek and I all did together during their visit was go to the Chattanooga Zoo.
It is a small zoo, but it still has a large variety of animals, some that I have never seen before at any zoos.
They are missing some of the bigger, and my favorite animals, the lions and tigers, but that is okay. I saw banners around the zoo saying that there is an expansion in progress for an African section, which will bring in giraffes and lions.
They did have plenty of other cats, which I all love, including cougars, a serval, a sand cat (which ended up being my favorite), jaguars and a snow leopard. The leopard was either out of his exhibit or hiding well when we checked out its area, but I am sure I will be back in the future.
The animals that I haven’t seen before included the sand cat, and fennec foxes, which also became another favorite.
We walked around and saw the whole zoo in about two hours. I recommend it to anyone who visits the Chattanooga area.
I left Houston on September 12, and I am now in Chattanooga for good.
I drove “home” for the last time on Thursday, and my parents drove from Maryland to visit us for a long weekend. We have not seen them for a year and a half. Driving to Tennessee is much easier than driving all the way to Texas.
Over three days, we saw and did a lot, some of which Derek and I had already done together in the previous month, but some things were new as well.
Some things that we did and went to included the Chattanooga Zoo, Coolidge Park, the carousel at Coolidge Park, explored the town of Signal Mountain and Signal Point park, Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel, explored UTC’s campus, the Chattanooga Market, Moonpie General store and Clumpies Ice Cream.
Instead of posting hundreds of photos in one long post, please look for individualized posts about some of these places in the near future.
My parents’ first impression of the city was a good one. My dad said to me, “I think we are going to have a lot more fun here than we did in Houston.” Nothing against Houston, of course. I believe that Chattanooga is just a better fit for all of our interests.
In our exploring, we also discovered some things that we would like to do in the future. We would like to do a dinner or lunch cruise on the Southern Belle River Boat, go to the Tennessee Aquarium, Rock City and Ruby Falls. Mom and dad are closer now, so there will not be years between visits. I am sure Derek and I will also do these things on our own as well.
We had a good three days, but in the meantime, now I have to get back to “work.” Derek and I spend the mornings together, and when he leaves for work, I do chores around home, and apply for jobs. Hopefully something works out soon.
We walked around the Chattanooga National Cemetery on Friday. The cemetery was established in 1863, as a place to bury Union Civil War soldiers after the Battles of Chattanooga.
It was a beautiful, somber place. We have been to Arlington National Cemetery, and it felt similar, yet different because of the surrounding mountains.
We made a special stop to see the Andrews Raiders Memorial, which features a bronze statue of The General locomotive, featured in the Great Locomotive Chase of 1862.
From Wikipedia: “The Great Locomotive Chase, or Andrew’s Raid was a military raid that occurred on April 12, 1862, in northern Georgia during the American Civil War. Volunteers from the Union Army, led by civilian scout James J. Andres, commandeered a train, The General, and took it northward toward Chattanooga, Tennessee, doing as much damage as possible to the vital Western and Atlantic Railroad line from Atlanta to Chattanooga as they went. They were pursued by Confederate forces at first on foot, and later on a succession of locomotives, including The Texas, for 87 miles.
Because the Union men had cut the telegraph wires, the Confederates could not send warnings ahead to forces along the railway. Confederates eventually captured the raiders and quickly executed some as spies, including Andrews; some others were able to flee. Some of the raiders were the first to be awarded the Medal of Honor by the US Congress for their actions. As a civilian, Andrews was not eligible.”
I had only vaguely known about the Locomotive Chase up until this point. I am enjoying living in a new area, and learning about its history.
“Pardon me boy, is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo? Track twenty nine! Boy you can gimme a shine Can you afford to board a Chattanooga Choo Choo? I’ve got my fare and just a trifle to spare You leave the Pennsylvania station ’bout a quarter to four Read a magazine and then you’re in Baltimore Dinner in the diner, nothing could be finer Than to have your ham ‘n’ eggs in Carolina When you hear the whistle blowin’ eight to the bar Then you know that Tennessee is not very far Shovel all the coal in, gotta keep it rollin’ Woo, woo, Chattanooga, there you are…”
I quickly learned the words to Glen Miller’s Chattanooga Choo Choo when I found out that we were moving to Chattanooga! My dad loves trains (he works as a breakman on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad as a retirement job) and he instilled that love in me. Seeing the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel was at the top of my to-do list in Chattanooga.
The hotel is in an old train terminal building which was built in 1906. It was supposed to be demolished, but it was saved and restored. Now, it is a beautiful hotel, and much more. There are shops and restaurants attached with a garden out back, and of course, the famed “Choo Choo.”
We explored the grounds this morning, and had brunch in the Frothy Monkey, which is a coffee shop attached off the lobby. It was a great morning. My parents are coming to visit in a few weeks, and I’ll be glad to get the chance to go back again so soon.
I have spent the last week in Chattanooga. It was good to be back with Derek for a full week, and not have most of our time taken up by unpacking, which left more time for exploring.
The reason for my visit was twofold – of course I wanted to see Derek, because we had been apart for three weeks, but then I also set up a meeting with the Vice Chancellor of communication and marketing at UTC, and I registered for a job fair. I was trying to be productive in finding a job.
Unfortunately, nothing panned out. I knew that there were no positions available at the university to begin with, but it was still disappointing to hear that confirmed. The job fair was disappointing. I was in and out in 15 minutes. There were only 12 companies represented, and only one of them was looking for “resume writers.” I went to them first, feeling hopeful. The website that the job fair was listed on said “interviews and hiring on the spot.” Maybe I could land this job? Maybe not. The man barely looked at my resume, handed me a pamphlet about the company, and told me to check them out online. I felt pushed aside. I guess job fairs don’t really fit into this type of world anymore. I’ll stick with searching online for now.
Regardless, it was good to be here, and it was good to get those things done. I can’t say I’m not trying.
I worked remotely for my job in Houston for the week, from our home office computer. I shifted my hours a little later than usual so I was working when Derek was working. He teaches two night classes. One of the nights I went to campus with him and worked from the campus library. We spent the mornings together going out to breakfast, watching movies, and setting up the apartment a little more each day.
We checked out a few coffee shops and restaurants together, as well as a bakery. We went to City Cafe, which is a 50s style diner. The place was packed, which told us it was a good, popular place. I ordered Greek food: stuffed grape leaves, salad and pita bread, thinking it would be a light meal. The plates of food were enormous!
We wandered the Riverfront one afternoon and came across a Naval ship on display. We also saw the Trail of Tears fountain. We also stumbled across a little flea market.
I’m going back to Houston tomorrow and I truly feel stuck between two states. I am glad that there will only be 11 days more until I can drive home to Chattanooga for good.
I’m back tracking a bit with this post. I had originally wrote this entry in the beginning of August, and I wanted to wait to post this.
Derek moved to Chattanooga on Wednesday, July 31, and somehow, everything worked out in a way that I was able to go with him, and help him get settled in.
In the middle of July, I applied for a copywriting position. The position opened up on a Friday, and I applied for it on Saturday. They contacted me on Monday. I had an initial screening interview. Then I settled in for an unknown waiting period.
I was just starting to think that maybe they didn’t think I was good enough for an in-person interview, when they got back to me with hours to spare.
Derek and I were up early, out to breakfast at one of our favorite places. The time difference was on our side. It was 8 a.m. in Tennessee, and 7 a.m. in Houston. I got an email saying they wanted to see me for an in-person interview.
We scheduled an interview for Friday afternoon. I called my boss in Houston at 7:30 a.m. to tell him that yes, I was going to Chattanooga that day. It’s okay, he knew it was a possibility, and he and my coworkers had planned for it.
So, to reiterate, I got the email at 7:15 a.m., and we left at 9:30 a.m. Derek loaded up the last few things into the truck and I quickly packed a duffle bag.
I drove our one car while Derek drove the truck and towed the second car on a trailer. It was a long 12 hour drive, made longer by having to tend to cats in the car, and Derek not being able to drive the speed limit with a large load.
We arrived in Chattanooga at 1:50 a.m., and I felt like I was arriving home. We crossed over the Tennessee River and we could see the other bridges all light up, with the lights reflecting in the water. It was beautiful. And we didn’t even get to see the mountains all around us yet because it was nighttime.
Our apartment is nice, and an upgrade from what we have in Houston. It is bigger, and townhome style with two floors. It’s also cheaper too. That’s the nice perk of moving to a smaller city.
I was in Chattanooga for three full days, and we packed them in full (and unpacked as well, ha.)
We visited the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga campus, and got to see where Derek’s office is and meet his colleagues. They were all nice and welcoming. The campus is beautiful too.
We also drove around a bit and got the lay of the land. We found the local grocery store, Walmart and tons of restaurants and coffee shops to check out in the future. We live north of the city proper, but Derek will still have an easy commute. Everything is a quick drive away.
We found a coffee shop that we both liked, called Milk&Honey. After eating there, we checked out nearby Coolidge Park, which is is a large green area on the banks of the Tennessee River. There is also a carousel in the park! We also checked out a couple of stores and found an ice cream shop. This was all in a neighborhood called Northshore.
On our last night together, we were coming home from shopping and Derek took a back road the last few miles home. It was heavily wooded, and the homes back there were gorgeous. On one front lawn we saw a deer and two babies. I thought, “Welcome home.”
By the time I left on Sunday morning, almost everything was in place, aside from things in the second bedroom, which is to be the office, and wall hangings, which Derek can get to in his own time.
As of today (August 21st) I am still waiting to hear if I got the job. I followed up earlier this week and they told me they are still in the process of interviewing candidates.
I am happy that it worked out this way though, even if the outcome ends up not being what I hoped for. It allowed me to come out and help with the moving process. While I am in Houston, I can picture where Derek is, both at home and at work. This also made the total separation only 38 days and not 42. And now we’re down to 22 days!
Derek’s in Chattanooga, and I’m in Houston. We’re both alone, but Derek got the better end of the deal. He’s got all our furniture (not to mention the bed) and the cats too, so he’s surrounded by familiar things.
I guess I could say that my cot, and my folding lawn chair are familiar too, but that’s all I’ve got.
It’s hard having the minimum, and because Derek left in a bit of a hurry, we didn’t exactly think about who would need what the most. Derek has complained about wanting the shower caddy, and an extra trash can, which I still have, and I have gone through the motions of trying to microwave something without having a microwave!
It hasn’t been too bad though. We’re already down to 29 days left at most. Less than one month left.
I’ve settled into a routine, which isn’t too different than the routine we had when we were together. I get home from work, cook dinner, and then watch an episode of something through a streaming service. I have gotten into The Last Czars on Netflix, a miniseries about the Romanov family. Then I usually read, and chat with Derek through FaceTime.
Before I know it, it is time for bed. Once I’m settled, I watch YouTube videos. I have settled on watching the YouTube channel Super Carlin Brothers, which features videos on Harry Potter, Disney, etc. Each night I have watched them go head to head on various Harry Potter quizzes. Last night’s video was a Christmas themed quiz. There are so many quizzes that I’ve been watching them for a week straight, and there are enough to go on for another week at least.
Sleeping on the cot isn’t uncomfortable, but I would prefer my own bed. I alternate between sleeping well and not sleeping well. I have been having anxiety dreams about job prospects. I hope that something will work out in real life sooner than later.
My husband Derek got a job as a full-time lecturer of graphic design at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, so we’re moving!
Derek had three applications out, one to Chattanooga, and two others
in the Houston area. He made it to the second round of interviews for
all three positions. I’m proud of him.
The other two jobs did not work out, and staying in Houston certainly
would have been easier, but we are both happy with this outcome.
For as long as I can remember, I have said that I would like to live in Tennessee, and now that’s happening.
I can’t speak for Derek much, but Chattanooga seems like the perfect place for me.
I am glad that Chattanooga is still south enough that the winters are mild, but there will be more variation in the seasons now. I am most excited to see some decent fall foliage. Chattanooga is nicknamed Scenic City, and what could be more perfect for someone who loves the outdoors?
There was also a series of Civil War battles in the area during the
Chattanooga campaign, in Oct-Nov. of 1863. As a Civil War buff, I am
excited to get to explore these places.
Chattanooga is a travel hub, being close to many different cities. Atlanta, Huntsville, Knoxville and Nashville are all about two hours away. I am looking forward to exploring a new and wide area of the country.
I also love trains, and seeing the Chattanooga Choo Choo is top on my list. Not to mention the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and their excursion trips.
We are originally from Pennsylvania (where we went to college, met and married) and of the things that I miss the most about that area is the mountains. Chattanooga is in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, and one of the Civil War Battles occurred on nearby Lookout Mountain. I will be happy to have this scenery again.
There is a Riverfront area – the Tennessee River flows through
Chattanooga – with farmers markets, restaurants, parks, a pedestrian
bridge, kayak rentals and summer concerts.
Yes, I think I will like it there.
I know that Derek will like the fact that Chattanooga has the fastest internet in the United States and at an affordable price too. Chattanooga is also the first city to have its own typeface – an interesting fact for someone who loves typography.
I will definitely miss Houston, but knowing that I will like Chattanooga makes it easier to say goodbye.
There is a lot that we did not get to do in Texas. Unfortunately, there was not enough money, and not enough time. Perhaps we can come back for a visit someday.
Hopefully this will be remedied, with us having two incomes, and Derek not having to work on his master’s thesis on the weekends anymore. Plus, we hope to stay in Chattanooga for longer as well. We were in Houston for three years, for the duration of Derek’s master program.
Derek left on July 31st. He took mostly everything, including the cats, with him in a rental truck, and towed one of the cars behind it. I have been sleeping on a cot in an empty apartment.
We had to sign a 60 day vacate notice, and because we had little notice ourselves, this means we have our apartment in Houston until Sept 12.
If I can’t find a job before then, I will keep working at the Houston Chronicle, where I am a production editor, up until that date. I have been applying for jobs, but so far no luck. I do hope that we do not have to be separated for the full amount of time.
My name is Rebecca, and my husband’s name is Derek. We have spent the last three years in Houston, Texas, while Derek pursued a master of fine arts degree in graphic design at the University of Houston. Before that, we met and married in rural Tioga County, Pennsylvania, where we also received our undergraduate degrees at Mansfield University.
Derek is a full-time lecturer of graphic design at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
We are both excited to explore our new home, Chattanooga. We
are an adventurous couple, always finding something to do on the weekends. Neither
of us had ever been to Tennessee before this opportunity.
Follow us as we see what the Scenic City, and surrounding areas, has to offer!