Last night we attended a Chattanooga Lookouts baseball game, finally.
This was the one thing I had wanted to do for the longest time, because COVID-19 shut down last year’s season.
We watched the Lookouts play the Tennessee Smokies. Unfortunately, they lost 11-3. We left after the 7th inning and the score wasn’t that bad at 6-3. In the eighth inning the Smokies scored five more times! I am glad we left when we did. I wish baseball games weren’t so slow; it was past my bedtime!
Even though they were losing, we had a good time. The game started at 7:15 p.m. so it wasn’t so hot out, and there was a cool breeze. In between innings there were little games that they picked people out of the stands for. The stadium played good music so that kept things entertaining as well.
The concessions were decent. There was not much to choose from but you had all of your basics, and the prices were not too bad. We got a pretzel and dippin’ dots. There was also a store to buy apparel and other Lookout items, but we did not go inside.
I was glad that we stayed through the 7th inning to see the “7th inning stretch.” We had never experienced it before. At the only other baseball game we’ve been to, a Houston Astro’s game, we left after the 5th inning. Baseball really is so slow! The mascot, Looie, came out and lead the crowd in singing “Take me out to the ballgame.”
Overall we had a good time, and I think we might go again later in the season, which lasts through September. Friday nights have fireworks, so I think that would be a good time to go, plus perhaps we could stay the whole game since it would be a weekend.
Loyal readers of Seeing the Scenic City, and family and friends know that I love Civil War history, or any type of U.S. history, really.
My parents visited a few weekends ago. My dad loves Civil War history as much as I do, so we always try to find time to check out a local site. This time we decided to see Brown’s Ferry Tavern.
Brown’s Ferry Tavern is the oldest standing structure in Chattanooga, constructed in 1803. It was established by John Brown, a prominent Cherokee businessman.
One of the Trail of Tears routes passed by the tavern. Brown and his family were removed from the site during the Trail of Tears. He returned to the site afterward.
The tavern was also witness to the Battle of Brown’s Ferry, which occurred on October 27, 1863. This Civil War battle ensured the opening of the “cracker line” or the supply line, for the Union troops.
To read about the Browns Ferry Federal Road hike on Moccasin Bend that visits the opposite end of this battle on the Tennessee River, click Here .
The property is preserved by the American Battlefield trust, but Brown’s Ferry Tavern is private property, so you are not able to walk up to the building and peer inside. We skirted around the edge of the property, and took various photographs from our vantage points.
A few months ago, during the winter, Derek said to me, “I want to go camping.”
We have both camped in a number of ways. Derek was a Boy Scout. My grandparents had a camper, and they would have a reserved spot for the whole summer. We have both camped together during Civil War reenactments, in a canvas tent. However, this was the first time we have camped together on our own, with a tent meant for modern camping.
After purchasing the basic equipment, and borrowing quite a bit from my parent’s old reenacting stash, we booked a site at Chester Frost Park.
Chester Frost Park is a Hamilton County Park in Hixon, located on the edge of Chickamauga Lake. Dallas Bay is on the opposite side. The park consists of two islands, connected by a causeway.
Our camp site was right on the edge of the water. There are different types of campsites to choose from, including grass/dirt or gravel lots. Our lot was gravel. Some sites are more primitive than others. Ours came with water and electric hookup.
We bought a pop up tent, which is perfect for beginner campers like us. I was concerned that it would take forever to figure out how to fold it back up at the end of the trip, but there were directions to follow that were easy. The tent looks small, but it was just spacious enough for the two of us, even Derek who is six feet tall.
The camp site also had a fire ring with an attached grill and a picnic table. We cooked most of our meals over the fire, with the exception of dinner the night we arrived, and sandwiches for lunch the next day. We also made s’mores as well, and had plenty of cups of hot tea.
Our campsite had a two-night minimum stay. We arrived on Friday evening and left mid-morning on Sunday. I am not sure if there are other sites which allow one-night reservations.
Since we were only 20 minutes from home, on Saturday afternoon we went back home to feed our cats. I am glad we had this excuse, because we had forgotten some cooking utensils!
The only downside to Chester Frost Park is that there aren’t many amenities, activity-wise. There is a sand beach and a few playgrounds, but that was it. I think there may be more programs during the summer high season. I wish, being on the water, that there was a place to rent kayaks. You could only go on the water if you had your own and brought it from home.
However, we still had a good time, and it was a good first trip for us to work out the kinks.
For instance, we’re going to have to figure out the bedding situation. We both had ground mats, but those, with a ground cloth underneath, did not help to make the gravel pebbles any less hard under our backs. On the second night we slept on top of the sleeping bag and used our extra blanket as cover, which seemed to help a bit, but then the new problem arised of being cold! This will not be an issue as the temperatures rise, though.
Also, we want to figure out a better way to organize camp. Coming from a reenacting camp site, Derek and I are used to hiding all of the modern items with wooden boxes, bags of burlap, etc. We had items in various Walmart bags, and it looked trashy! We would like to buy wooden crates or something similar to hold everything.
We enjoyed walking around the park and checking the surroundings out. There is a disc golf course, if you have your own frisbees. There were also multiple pavilions, and even a little stage, where I imagine bands play in the summertime. A lot of people were fishing, either on the beaches, off the docks, or in boats. We spent a lot of time just relaxing by the campfire. I read a book and Derek watched a movie on the laptop. By the way, Chester Frost Park has WiFi, if you need to get some work done, or just want to stay up to date on social media.
I am glad that Derek spoke up and suggested camping. This is a new activity that we will certainly enjoy for years to come. I am looking forward to booking the next campsite!
I am happy to say that, as a train lover, I have finally taken a ride on the Tennessee Valley Railroad.
A few weeks ago we rode the Missionary Ridge Local, which is a one hour train ride that travels through Missionary Ridge with a stop at the East Chattanooga Depot.
I am not quite sure what happened the weekend we were there, but there were some amendments to our trip. For starters, the steam engine is supposed to run on weekends, but we ended up with a diesel engine. This disappointed me, but this is just another excuse to go on another train ride someday. There is also supposed to be a short tour of the shop, next to the East Chattanooga Depot, but this did not occur on our ride. I am not sure why.
One thing I did enjoy was the turntable demonstration at the East Chattanooga Depot. The conductor was knowledgeable and explained the whole process while the engine turned around to prepare for the trip back. The conductor told everyone that this turntable is one of only a few in the United States. I was giddy when hearing this, because I know of another one, in Frostburg Maryland, in use by the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, which my parents both work for.
The train passed through some neighborhoods, as well as over Chickamagua Creek and through Missionary Ridge Tunnel, a tunnel dated to before the Civil War.
Commentary was provided throughout the trip about the local history and what we were seeing through the windows.
Chattanooga has a rich railroad history, especially during the Civil War. The area became a railroad hub in the 1850s. During the Civil War, both sides recognized the importance of holding onto the city, for its railroad lines. There was the infamous “Great Locomotive Chase” during the Civil War, organized by civilian James Andrews, in which he and Union soldiers captured a locomotive, The General, in Georgia, in order to destroy as much of the Western and Atlantic Railroad on the way to Chattanooga. They were eventually captured, and now there is a monument and grave sites dedicated to those men in Chattanooga’s National Cemetery. When Chattanooga was captured by the Union in 1863, it was called the “Death Knell of the Confederacy,” undoubtedly because of the importance of the railroad.
The train depot from where we left, Grand Junction, has a nice gift shop and a deli as well.
After the train ride, we walked through the collection of train cars and engines that are on display.
I admit, I’ve been on better train rides. Maybe I’m spoiled because as a kid, I’ve frequently rode in the First Class Parlor car, the Marian, on the Strasburg Railroad. However, I still enjoyed this trip. I am looking forward to longer rides, such as a dinner train, or the Chickamauga Turn, which is a six hour ride with a layover in Chickamauga.
Trenton, Georgia is the county seat of Dade County, on the border of Tennessee and Hamilton County. I work in Trenton.
It is a rural county, and the town of Trenton is small, but there are some nice shops and good places to eat. Coupled with a visit to Cloudland Canyon State Park, you can spend about half a day there.
All of my favorite places to eat are all located on the square on Main Street. Corner Coffee has good soups and sandwiches. I ate there this past weekend and I got the grilled cheese sandwich with loaded potato soup. Lalitos is a Mexican restaurant. My favorite meal there is the #15 dinner plate: one chicken tamale, one beef taco and rice. Their chips and salsa are amazing! Thatchers is a BBQ restaurant. Their pulled pork sandwiches are awesome!
The historical courthouse is in the middle of the square. It is empty right now, but it is a pretty building and makes for some nice pictures.
On the other side of the square is a small park with a gazebo. A few times Derek and I have grabbed a meal to go and then have eaten it in the park.
If you like history, you can check out the American Legion’s War Memorial Museum, which is a great collection from local veterans. There are some really interesting items in the collection, including an original Revolutionary War drum, and bullets found at the various Civil War sites. The museum is open Tuesday through Friday, and by appointment.
Cloudland Canyon is just a few miles south of Trenton. One of the trail heads for Sittons Gulch is actually in a residential neighborhood of Trenton. If hiking isn’t your thing, you can just enjoy the view at the overlook, and check out the visitor’s center. There are a few different hiking trails to choose from, ranging from an easy 1 mile, to strenuous. I have written about Cloudland Canyon multiple times. Here is the most recent article.
There are also some antique shops scattered around the town, if that’s your type of thing. If you’re heading back home to the Chattanooga area, take Highway 11 north and stop at the Wildwood Depo, a great little antique shop with a unique collection of items.
The cold and off and on rainy weather has been keeping us inside more than we’d like for the past couple of weeks. What could we do that was new, and inside?
We have passed Naughty Cate Cafe, at the base of Lookout Mountain, many times, and said each time that we needed to go there some day. Well that day was last Saturday.
I’m not sure how the cafe operates in a non-COVID-19 world, but right now, they ask to book one-hour time slots in advance. I think they do walk-ins, but there’s a good chance that the cafe is full, so it is probably better to just make the reservation to guarantee a spot when you want to go.
It costs $13 per person. The fee includes non-alcoholic drinks. There is a tea and coffee bar set up at the front. Alcoholic drinks and food items like cookies, brownies and cupcakes are extra.
Naughty Cat Cafe has been open for a little less than two years, and they have had over 600 adoptions! All of the cats at the cafe are adoptable, and they come from two partnering shelters.
When we went, there were 38 cats! Inside the lounge there are plenty of spaces to sit, but you may be sharing your seat with a cat! There are also plenty of toys for the cats to play with.
We definitely fell in love with a few kitties, but we are strictly a two-cat household at the moment. You are not required or expected to adopt a cat from the cafe. Some people go just to de-stress and get in some cute cat time.
There was one black kitty named Fiddlestix that we liked. She was new to the cafe, and was in the “shy” room, a small closed off area for cats to slowly get used to the cafe. Another kitty, Mitsuu, had only three legs and was SO friendly.
Naughty Cat Cafe has an Instagram page, and I am going to enjoy following it for the next few weeks, and see which ones have been adopted.
I would love to go again. In just a few weeks, most if not all of the cats could be all new ones! However, I would probably go once the pandemic is over, or at least when more people have been vaccinated. Everyone kept their masks on inside, but I personally felt like there were too many people there. I am still glad we went though. It was a different experience.
Yesterday we hiked the trails at Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center for the first time.
One of Derek’s classes this semester, professional practices, is partnering with the Arboretum to help them with graphic design work, such as signage. A few weeks ago, Derek went to the Arboretum and met with the president.
He wanted to go back with me, and hike some of the trails, to get a better feel for the place.
The Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center is located at the foot of Lookout Mountain near Lookout Creek.
According to a blog post on the website, reflectionriding.org, “Named after a British type of park, Reflection Riding is devoted to creating an atmosphere of contemplation and tranquility amid the natural environment of the park. The term “riding” comes from British usage, meaning ‘a path of pleasure.’”
There is a lot to do at the Arboretum and Nature Center, but sadly, most of it is closed right now, due to the pandemic.
There is a treehouse, which you can walk through, but it can also be reserved for parties, weddings, etc., as well as a Blue Heron Wetland Boardwalk. There is also a Nature Center, which offers workshops, and field trips for kids in school. The Nature Center holds a native plant sale every fall.
There is also a native wildlife exhibit, where you can see animals such as bobcats, red foxes, red wolves, bald eagles, and many different kinds of owls. These animals are unable to survive in the wild, due to being kept illegally as a pet, sustaining an injury, etc.
With a lot of these extras being closed, I was prepared to be disappointed at my first visit. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The trails are quite beautiful, and I can only imagine they will be even more beautiful as spring arrives.
We hiked about 3.5 miles on multiple different trails, which are all connected. I will say this, the trails are labeled, but the map provided on the Arboretum’s website gives no indication of how long any of the trails are. The website does say that there are about 14 miles worth of trails total.
Some of the things we saw along the way include the outdoor classrooms for kids, lots of signage with facts and stories about the area, and two restored cabins belonging to Native Americans, Chief Walkingstick and Squincy Bird.
One thing that I enjoy about the Arboretum is that most of their plants and trees are labeled. It was nice to see a beautiful pink flower in bloom, and know that it was a camellia!
Visitors to the Arboretum have to pay a fee of $15 per car. This fee helps keep the place running, as they rely on support from the community.
A membership for two adults is $60, and offers some benefits, like discounts. Derek and I talked it over, and we would like to purchase a membership in the future, when things reopen. There are also family memberships, and student memberships.
I am glad that we found this place, thanks to Derek being involved with it this year. I am looking forward to coming back and seeing it in different seasons.
With the ringing in of 2021, our first full year in Chattanooga has come to an end. The obvious thing to say is that 2020 was a ridiculous year.
On the surface, things looked pretty bad. I had three jobs this year, which is two jobs too many. I lost a job, resigned from a job, and had to go see a doctor to get on depression and anxiety medication. Mechanic bills for our car and veterinary bills piled up. Our cat passed away two weeks before Christmas, too. Add that all up and … ugh.
But if you dig a little deeper, I’d say things were good.
I’m thankful that we spent the pandemic in the Scenic City. We got outdoors more than ever this year, which was the safest thing to do.
I’m an adventurous soul. Not being able to travel in the past year has hurt me the most. But instead, we adventured around Chattanooga, seeing and doing things (mostly outdoors) that I had never expected to do.
I have a Chattanooga area bucket list, and the majority of it has remained untouched. For instance, “Seeing a Lookouts baseball game” was impossible to cross off, because the entire season was cancelled. Likewise, we still haven’t taken a train ride with the Tennessee Valley Railroad. Trains are running, but I don’t feel comfortable going quite yet.
However, I did have a list of hiking trails I wanted to tackle, and that got completed, and then some.
We have hiked more in the last six months than I have hiked in my entire life. Some of the paths and trails we have done — ranging from easy flat gravel paths to moderate mountain hikes — were located at Big Soddy Creek Gulf, Greenway Farms, Booker T. Washington State Park, Lookout Mountain, Signal Mountain, Moccasin Bend, Prentice Cooper State Forest and Cloudland Canyon State Park.
It seemed like every time we finished one trail, we found another that we wanted to hike, and that is still the case now.
Getting outside kept me sane. It felt good to get our heart rates up, stretch our legs, make it to a gorgeous overlook, and feel accomplished.
We continued to hike as it got colder out, and we found that we quite enjoy winter hikes. I do not like winter time, as I get cold easily, but exercising like this is a good way to offset how our bodies feel in lower temperatures, and keep us more active throughout these months. I hope that we will continue to hike throughout January and February.
Hikes aside, I got a lot more exercise than ever before. I was averaging about three or four walks a day around my neighborhood. In September, I participated in a virtual 5K, and got a medal and a t-shirt for it. Walks were calming, and necessary for me, while I was going through bad bouts of anxiety.
Quitting my job was a huge risk, but it all worked out in the end. I was unemployed for about five weeks. Since Derek only taught two days a week last semester, we did a lot during the week days, to avoid crowds. We visited Wildflower Tea Shop for the first time, and it was nearly empty! We also went ice skating — something we had never done together — and there were only about half a dozen other people at the rink.
I hated working from home for my old job, but now I am thankful that I got to spend all of those months with our cat while she was still healthy, and I was home with her when she did get sick. All of that time that she spent on my lap every day are precious memories now.
I started my new job in early December, and I’m the happiest I have been in a long time. I thought I had wanted to leave journalism for marketing, but I discovered that journalism is where I am meant to me. This has put a lot of things into perspective.
I am cautiously looking forward to what 2021 may bring.
This week we went to Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights. This is the second time we have been to Rock City.
We have been to quite a few Christmas light set ups in a few different states. Most of them have been bigger than Rock City, but I think Rock City holds up to the others!
There was one initial disappointment. I was looking forward all night to taking a photo of the star on top of the waterfall, from the little balcony that juts out off to the side.
Turns out, we completely bypassed that area. The waterfall was actually shut off. We did see the star at the top and off to the side, though.
We went through the whole thing and ended up at the exit, and I said, “But what about the view of the waterfall????” At first I thought that we had missed an entire section, but that wasn’t possible because there were workers guiding us down the paths at each section.
Later that night, I was still concerned about it, so I watched YouTube walk through videos! When I realized that yes, we did see the whole thing, I felt better. But honestly, I think this is a missed opportunity on Rock City’s part!
My favorite section was the Arctic Kingdom, which was filled with penguins. There were tons of string lights there, and they were all in frosty colors like blue, purple and green, which just happens to be all my favorite colors. It was so pretty there.
We also enjoyed the view of the city lights from Lover’s Leap, and the synchronized lights to music in the Magic Forest. The synchronized lights reminded me of the lights in Hershey Park, Pennsylvania, which we have seen many times.
There were social distancing measures in place as usual. Tickets have to be bought online, where a timed entry is reserved. In certain spots where distancing was difficult, masks were required.
This was a nice holiday themed outing, and I recommend it to anyone looking for something festive to do in the Chattanooga area.
We went ice skating this afternoon. The ice skating rink is set up in the gardens outside the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel.
I have not been ice skating in at least 12 years. Usually I am too afraid to go ice skating, because I am afraid of falling and hurting myself.
We have been to the Choo Choo a few times since the rink was set up, and we learned that it is $10 per person to skate for 80 minutes, which we thought was an excellent deal. They also offer “ice buddies” for those who are not as surefooted on skates.
On a Monday at 2 p.m., the rink was mostly empty. There were actually three older adults, me included, using the ice buddies. This made me feel a little less embarrassed. I think using one was great, because I was able to have a better time, not having a fear of hurting myself.
Newsflash: I ended up hurting myself at the end! But more about that later.
In the middle of our skating session, we got a crepe and hot drinks at the Adelle’s Creperie food stall. Adelle’s has been set up specially for the rink, which was a nice addition to our afternoon.
I enjoyed starting out skating with a buddy, because I got comfortable with knowing how to move my feet. Eventually, I tried pushing the buddy a little bit ahead of me and skating toward it, and then skating while holding on with just one hand.
Toward the end, I skated a few times around the rink without the buddy at all. I even managed to go one whole time around the rink without needing to grab onto the edge. I’m proud of myself!
Derek did end up falling twice himself. The first fall wasn’t so bad, but on the second fall he went down on his knee, which he said hurt pretty badly.
After the fall on his knee, Derek went to sit down outside the rink. I said I wanted to go around one more time before we left. I went around about 95 percent of the entire rink when I fell backwards! I was close enough to the edge that I grabbed the wall, but the force of me falling down was so great that I think I pulled a lot of muscles in my arm and shoulder area. It hurt badly! But I was able to pull myself back up and get over to Derek.
It’s laughable now, that I was SO CLOSE to finishing without falling at all. Oh well. My arm is still pretty sore, and it’s hard to move it in some directions, but I took some aspirin and a hot water bottle is helping.
Even thought we both took some spills, we had a great time doing something new.