Monday, July 21, 2014
A Weekend in Chattanooga (Photos)
by Dee Newman
This past weekend I went to Chattanooga with some close friends – Jill and Don Cobb and Stephanie (Stevi) Potts. Stevi’s son, John, after graduating from UT Chattanooga this past Spring, decided to stay and live in the area.
John is an avid bicycler and works at Velo Coffee Roasters on East Main Street, a locally-owned and operated micro-roaster. “Velo” is French for “bicycle”, the principal method by which Velo delivers their hand-roasted beans. Andrew Gage, the founder, believes that all businesses should operate with as low of an impact on the environment as possible.
Velo specializes in small-batch, specialty roasts, distributing their coffee to their neighbors on bikes daily. They also support and sell their products at a number of Chattanooga’s farmers markets, and at local businesses that share their commitment to the future.
Velo is in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign to acquired funds to purchase a new roaster. If you would like to contribute click here.
Early Saturday morning we road our bikes over to Velo for a coffee-cupping.
We stayed two nights just north on Main Street at The Crash Pad, a communal, LEED-certified Platinum hostel. The walls of the Crash Pad are made of a sandwich of precast-concrete and four inches of insulating foam. A great deal of the wood and bricks from the old duplexes that were torn down to make room for the hostel were reclaimed to make the indoor benches, bunks and shelving.
The hostel’s roof is green with a solar installation and a stormwater collection system. Greywater from bathroom sinks is filtered and reused to fill toilet tanks for flushing. Electrical costs are reduced with LED lighting.
The hostel is owned by Dan Rose and Max Proppel. They came to Chattanooga about ten years ago after graduating from Skidmore College in upstate New York. They didn't move to Chattanooga with a plan to start a business. Avid rock climbers, they came to the area for the outdoor recreation.
They soon recognized, though, that the city needed “a community hub for adventurous travelers” and decided to open “an uncommon hostel in the heart of downtown, combining the affordability and camaraderie of a traditional hostel with the charm and cleanliness of a boutique hotel.”
Last May (2013) Dan and Max open next-door The Flying Squirrel bar. Meant to be more of a revenue producer, the bar also helps to promote and publicize the hostel. And, vice versa.
Friday night, after checking-in, the four of us drove over to North Chattanooga, across the river, to eat at Sluggo’s Vegetarian Café. As always, the food was delicious.
Though it rained off-and-on all day Saturday, we decided to ride our bikes over to the bluff and then along the Tennessee River up to the dam and back, stopping at The Pickle Barrel Bar and Grill to have a beer. (I had grapefruit juice.)
Later, after a hot, refreshing shower, Don prepared a wonderful vegan meal, which we shared with several other folks staying at the hostel, including Bethyn, our beautiful hostel-hostess.
Around 11:00 PM the four of us gather around the fire-pit in the outdoor pavilion to recall the day’s adventure. It wasn’t long though before Jill and Stevi decided to call it quits and go to bed. Within 15 minutes a young couple from Bloomington, IL, staying at the hostel joined Don and I around the fire. Soon, two more couples came over from The Flying Squirrel and asked if they could join us. For the next hour or so we sat around the fire telling tales.
The story the two couples from The Flying Squirrel shared with us was quite remarkable. A year and half ago, the estranged father of one of the young men died. Though the young man never knew his biological father, he did know his name.
At the time the 34-year-old young man was out of work after seriously injuring his right Achilles tendon. One day while reading the local obituaries online, he saw the name of his biological father. Listed among the surviving relatives was the name of a daughter. With loads of time on his hands, he decided to try and contact her. His first attempt received no response. So, he tried again. But, this time he sent a copy of his birth certificate, explaining that she may be his half-sister.
They soon met and were instantly surprised to find that they had much in common, including both physical appearance and interests. Ironically, they grew up no more than 10 to 15 miles from one another.
They are both married. His sister and her husband have two children – a boy and a girl. The couples have become extremely close and often socialize and travel together.