Just across Market Street Bridge in downtown Chattanooga is one of my favorite spots. Coolige Park is a free place to go and a pleasant place to spend an afternoon - or an evening. Last Saturday night we found out that a free movies were played at the park through out July. So we headed down there just before night fall and found a nice spot in the lawn. The show was Monsters Vs. Aliens. I was pleasantly surprized that they showed an old Warner Brother's Bugs Bunny Cartoon before the main feature. It was a pleasant evening. The day had been a scorcher, but the evening was pleasant, cool and breezy.
During the show my eyes kept being drawn to the Delta Queen paddle steamer that had recently been retired and docked at Coolige Park. It's a big boat and her lights lured me to her deck. Gina and Kelsey stayed with the show, Katie caught up with me as I approached the sidewalk leading to the peer. I found out the day before that the Delta Queen was the paddle wheeler used in the move Maverick (1994) that starred James Garner, Mel Gibson, James Coburn and Jodie Foster. The Delta Queen, launched in December of 1925, was the last fully operational, overnight passenger steamboat in the country. It is now retired and shore-bound and goes by the name of the Delta Queen Hotel.
I half expected that we were going to be kicked off at any moment. It was so calm and beautiful that night. I could hear some live music somewhere from up-top. Katie and I ventured around the old ship and marveled at all the incredible woodwork. Still, no one asked us to leave - we ventured up a second flight of stairs. There was a really classy looking bar up there. I took Katie to a side door and we explored the decks. The water reflected all the countless lights of the park and the city across the river. We followed the music to the bow. Two men were playing acoustics for a small audience there - they sounded good. Katie and I found a small table and sat there for a little while. It was a good moment. I could tell by the expression on Katie's face that she was enjoying the moment as well.
Promenading the old deck, hearing the music, people moving about, all those lights, made me feel like the old boat still had some life in her. I do feel as though I had missed out on something special - by not having ridden her up a winding river on one of her countless voyages. I had the feeling that the movie would be over soon and figured we needed to get back to Gina and Kelsey.