To get to the spaceship convention I have to go to Chattanooga. To a former train depot once called Terminal Station, a beaux-arts building downtown, which was built in a time when trains were the apex of industrythe smartest, fastest, most high-tech way to move through spaceand when stations were elegant ports of call. It has a soaring dome, and the bathrooms are naturally lit through stained glass.
Terminal Station closed in 1970, not quite a year after Apollo 11 landed on the Moon. The building reopened in 1973, four months after the Apollo program ended, as the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel. The new owners put a neon train on the roof, the concourse beneath the freestanding dome became a lobby, and the baggage room became a dining hall. Passenger cars were moored to the rails and refurbished as luxury suites. The iron horse engine became a thing for guests to climb aboard forselfies. The outbuildings and rail yards sprouteda gift shop, a pizza parlor, a comedy club, an indoor jungle-themed swimming pool, and an outdoor doughnut-shaped swimming pool, among other things.
Chattanooga is not quite the regional transportation hub it was in the latter golden age of rail travel, and in fact these days is kind of a pain in the ass to get to. So after 12hours of planes, delays, and courtesy shuttles, I drop my baggage in my room and go looking for a drink.