Sunday, July 25, 2010

Chattanooga- day 2 -Rock City

Warning: This post is long on pictures and short on words. I wanted to give you a feel for what Rock City is. I've been there and am still at a loss of how exactly to explain it. Take a look for yourself, I'll describe it at the end.

After breakfast at the hotel (the kids favorite!) we headed to Rock City. It was going to be super hot and humid so we didn't dawdle at the hotel. I am sooo glad we went when we did. By the time we were through there were a lot more people and it was already in the mid 90's.The barns I talked about. They sell little birdhouse barns like this. I thought about getting one, but passed.
Fat mans squeeze.

Nice face Cedar!

One of the bridges.

The wooden bridge. Cedar wanted to run across.

The view from Lovers leap.

Pointing out all seven states that you can see from here and how far away they are.

The kids standing on the states that they were born in.



We were suckered into the climbing wall.

The overhang below Lovers leap.
They had little trolls (like on Travelocity) behind the bars. They were all over the place.


Inside "Fairyland" It starts out inside an actual cave, or rock crevice...
All the stuff is glued on the walls and ceilings. There were coral and shells and cave formations. It started off kinda neat...
We wove around and somehow ended in a building (that was disguising itself as a cave) where there were all of these mother goose displays. They were painted neon and lit with black lights. The first few were ok, but as they went on got progressively freakier. (Sorry, no pictures.) It ended in Mother Goose Land. A big room that you walk around the display of all of the nursery rhymes. All neon and black lights. That was really, um, interesting.

That was the end, and of course, we ended by going through the gift shop.

So what is Rock City? It started out as someones house and property. The wife (Can't remember her name) loved the rocks and how they were formed on her property. She took string to mark out a path through her "garden." She made bridges, paved the ground and put in landscaping. (this was all 100 years ago.)

Rock City reminds me a little of Red Cliffs. There are big boulders, slabs of rock and sides of mountains making little trails and natural "areas." The difference is that it is very green. The landscaping is beautiful, the bridges are really neat. Big rock bridges are all over. And that wooden bridge was super fun.

From start to finish Rock City is about a mile's walk. You go between rocks, over the trails you just went through, through cracks and crevices, and onto majestic views. All ending up at the "Fairy Land." (Which I think I've said enough about.)

When we were driving home we talked bout all that we had seen. I think that the consensus is that we have been spoiled growing up so near the amazing natural wonders that surround us in the west. Rock city was neat, but nothing compared to Zion or Red Cliffs. (Both of which were fresh in my mind.) The other striking difference is how UN-comercialized the parks in the west are compared to the sites we saw.

The entrance fees were not super high, but for only being there an hour and a half, seemed a bit steep. They also seemed to try too hard sometimes to enhance the beauty of something that was already gorgeous.

So, to top it off. I'm glad we went. If anyone wants to come out and see it, we will take you there, but, we probably won't make it a yearly visit.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Chattanooga- day 1

(Can you believe it? I'm not blogging this post from my phone!)

Do you remember my 22 goals in 2 years thing? It might be a bit ambitious, but I am happy to report that I got at least part of one done! We have lived in Tennessee for 7 years now and have visited some of the places around us, but not a lot. So it was high time to be a tourist in my own back yard.

If you have ever been to Tennessee you have probably seen "SEE ROCK CITY" painted on the side of a barn. Apparently there are / were 900 barns all over the eastern US that had that painted on it. There are several around us. I got used to seeing them and forgot to wonder what they were all about. As we got interested in going to Chattanooga we finally figured out what all the hype was. So we started planning our little trip.

We were going to camp. Camping has a lot of advantages. It is generally much less expensive, you have an entire campground to run around, and the campground that we were going to go to had a lot of kids activities. A pool, playground, jumping pillow, marshmallow shooting range, outdoor bowling and lots of little hiking trails. It was going to be a lot of fun. Until the day before when I went to make the reservations. I checked the weather first. I had been keeping an eye on it because it was starting to get beastly hot and humid. The weather for Chattanooga gave a severe weather advisory. Heat indexes in Chattanooga were going to reach over 102*. Armed with that information I promptly wimped out. It was a shady campground, but ugh! Too hot is too hot!

So we shortened our trip by a day and booked a hotel in downtown. (Well, it was almost in downtown.) But it had a continental breakfast (My kids favorite!) and a great pool. So we were happy campers (or hotel stayers...)

One of Cedar's friend's mom and my dental hygienist all raved about the Mayfield milk factory tour that is near Chattanooga when I told them of our travel plans. If that many people rave, we better go check it out! This is when my newest pet peeve started. I had checked out the dairy online. They don't do milk production on Wednesday, but according to the website there are tours every day but Sunday. OK, we are set! Except when we drive the 5 miles out of the way to experience this amazing tour we are met with signs on the door saying that there are no tours today. We go in and look around. It's a small gift store and way overpriced ice cream parlor. I ask about the tour and the lady said that they stopped doing them on Wednesday a long time ago and haven't updated the web site because it's so expensive. (???)We looked around for a few minutes and had some ice cream. I was overall, not impressed. We were looking for something like Jellybelly in Wisconsin. We can however now say that we have been there and done that. We probably won't do it again since we can get overpriced ice cream a lot closer to home. Off we went again. It didn't take too long before we made it to out hotel. What is the first thing YOU do when you check into a hotel?
The only thing that the kids wanted to do was swim, so we went swimming. (The video for this is a few posts back, sent from my...phone! You can go check it out if you want.)

After cooling off in the pool we were hungry and ready to go exploring. We got some certificates from restaurant.com so we set off to find the local Japanese restaurant. We have taken the kids with us out to sushi only a few times, so this was a fairly new experience for them. Jonathon ordered ramune , a carbonated drink that has a marble in it that you have to push out of the top before you can drink it. Olive and Cedar thought they were fun, though (amazingly) they were too sweet and they ended up drinking our water. (Aspen who shuns carbonation on principal, wouldn't even try it.)
The kids gawked at the kids menu. Olive wanted sushi, Aspen and Cedar wanted a hamburger (which was not available) so we ordered them the kids tempura. Jonathon and I got sushi, though I will admit that I don't eat raw fish, but I do enjoy California rolls and they had a yummy veggie roll. Jonathon after years of trying to be exotic decided that he really likes the California roll too, but he also likes the salmon nigiri.
When the food came we were amazed. The kids portions were huge! It was funny to see their eyes when they got their food. Aspen and Cedar were not impressed with the pumpkin tempura, though Jonathon and I enjoyed it. Olive was very brave and stoically tried the sushi. To her credit she did eat 3 pieces of her California roll and the meat off of the crab and shrimp pieces.
Next we were off to explore downtown. The restaurant was right in the middle of Coolidge park which is a riverside open park space along the river. They have a fun splash pad in the park that the kids loved. Even though it was 7:00pm, it was still really nice to cool off in the water. We didn't bring swimsuits, so we sent them off in their clothes.After we had our fill of the splash pad we sent Jonathon to drive the van across the river while we started walking across the worlds longest dedicated pedestrian bridge. Jonathon met us halfway across. Chattanooga is definitely a pedestrian friendly city.I am including these next few pictures because every one else looks cute. I am NOT looking my best this trip. First off that HUGE zit (or it might be a spider bite, I can't decide) is looking lovely, and secondly, well, I'm just not looking that good.
Next was another bridge. This one leading to the art museum (which was closed.) This bridge was partly lines with Plexiglas on the bottom, so when you looked down it was a bit of a scare.
The art museum is on a cliff next to the Tennessee river. It had lots of fun sculptures outside. This fun one was front and center.

The view from the Art museum deck.Leading down from the art museum was a walking trail of switchbacks that the kids, despite the evening heat really wanted to go down. It reminded me of some trails in Zion. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
The switchbacks ended under the walking bridge. It was nicely kept, but slightly scary with a few bags of personal belongings and a few people who looked like they probably slept there.The trail continued toward the other (vehicle) bridge.
This is where we ended up at. It's a memorial to the Native Americans who were forced from their homes and lands and endured or died on the trail of tears.Notice the round symbols on the side of the walls. There are seven of them. One for each tribe that walked the trail of tears.
After the water came down the stairs there was a little wading pool then the water is shot out seven pipes into the River.


Since we came to the stairs at the bottom we didn't find this feature until we were leaving. Seven walls of water. They have lights at the top that change color.
This really was a fun down town area. The parking wasn't too expensive, and there was so much to walk to. By the time we got back to the hotel we were all thoroughly exhausted.

What a fun way to start a vacation!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

She made it to the top!

Rock climbing at Rock City!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

videoWe're having a "flipping" good time!

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Tennessee water slide at the park.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Gotta love it when kids beg for the healthy stuff at the grocery store!

My baby is growing up! Olive's first day of "jump start kindergarten." They go for a week in the summer to get them ready for the school year.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Dinner 'round the back yard fire!

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