Thursday, September 20, 2007

Day Eighteen -- To Chattanooga and then Georgia

Wednesday was, as planned, a relaxing day. I didn't put a single mile on the car. In the evening S&R and I went out to eat at a place called Bar-B-Cutie (warning: link has audio) for ... barbecue. I had barbecued pork.

Today started with a panic. S&R went to work and I pulled myself together to leave. After showering and dressing I went to put on my glasses. My glasses? Where are my glasses?!?

Without my glasses I'm legally blind. At home I only put my glasses down in one or two places. In motels, the same. Only on the nightstand or next to the sink. It's necessity. Without my glasses I can't see my glasses. I checked every logical place in the bedroom and bathroom and checked and checked again. No glasses. Where could they have gone? Glasses don't just get up and walk away. What could I do? Call S at work? Wait all day for her to come home and help me search? I was just about to give up in despair when I remembered that I had exercised in a room on the other side of the house. There they were on the end table.

That was plenty of adventure for one day.

At 8:30 I set out for Chattanooga, south and east of Nashville. That meant crossing back into the Eastern Time Zone again and losing an hour. Once the traffic lightens up, it's a nice drive. Part of it is up and down some steep slopes. So steep that on the down slopes there are several run-away truck ramps. I've seen plenty of those over the years, but this is the first time I've ever seen a truck that has used the ramp -- and gotten stuck in the sand.

In Chattanooga I had trouble finding the tiny zoo. I'd been there twice before, but there is little directional signage. But I finally got there. I went immediately to find the chimps. This is the chimp group that is shown in the photo in one of my earliest post.

Josie, daughter of the Oregon Zoo's Coco, is now being housed with long-time Chattanooga resident Hank. They were inside where it is hard to take pictures because of the low light. Hank loves to interact with the public and often comes to the window when people come in. Josie is like her mom and has little interest in the people coming to see her, including me. I'd brought a picture of Coco -- a professional portrait from a calendar -- and held it up to the window. It caught her interest and she came up close to see it. I have no idea whether she recognized her mom, but chimps often recognize people they haven't seen in years.

I had asked about talking to one of the keepers and as I started to explore the rest of the zoo, keeper Dave found me. We went back to the chimp exhibit and he tried to persuade Josie to come back to the front of the exhibit. With some success. I got some photos but nothing great. Dave and he other keepers were very interested in Coco's picture and in information about Josie and Goliath's origins.

Another keeper, Kate, later escorted me around the grounds and introduced me to some of the changes since I'd last been there, including several new exhibits. Many animals in the Chattanooga Zoo have been rescued from pet situations. Giant zoos like Toledo and Columbus may have eye-popping exhibits and large animal groups, but small zoos have their own charms.

I'm glad I hadn't planned anything else for the day -- or arranged to go to Gorilla Haven this afternoon. I would have been too rushed and would not have been able to enjoy the special treatment I got in Chattanooga.

Tonight I'm in Dalton, Georgia. Will leave in the morning for Gorilla Haven and from there a leisurely (I hope) two-day drive through Georgia.

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