Lookouts baseball game

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.

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Ritchie Hollow Trail

We hiked the Ritchie Hollow Trail on Wednesday morning, and a lot of lessons were learned.

Do not hike in warm, summer-like weather after a recent rain, because the humidity will be bad! Also, because of the humidity, we were sweating more, so we went through more water. We had to ration our water so we had enough to last the entire hike. Bring more water for warm weather hikes!

The Ritchie Hollow Trail is a newer trail, part of the Tennessee River Gorge Trust, which opened up in 2018.

The trailhead is just across the road from the Pot Point Cabin. I was excited to see this cabin, because I have seen pictures of it and I have read about it online.

According to trgt.org, “Pot Point Cabin was originally constructed in 1835 of hand-hewn logs and planks reclaimed from a flat boat that wrecked on the “Boiling Pot,” a nearby rapid in the Tennessee River.”

It is a beautiful two story log cabin, with views of the Tennessee River. The cabin is owned by the trust, and can be rented out. I looked into it once, and a two night stay is over $800! The cabin is large, so that price could be split up between parties. I had to satisfy myself by just looking at it from the outside, and taking a peek through the front window.

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The full trail is 2.7 miles one way (5.4 miles round trip), but we did not complete the full trail. I might consider this during a return trip, but it would definitely have to be a colder day. Instead, we stopped at Blowing Wind Falls, which is 1.8 miles in, for 3.6 miles total. This seems to be a popular choice. We saw two other couples who did the same thing.

The hike to the falls is a steady incline the whole way. It flattens out at times, but barely long enough to catch your breath. The path is extremely rocky, and there are a lot of rock steps.

The hike features a few water crossings, which were pretty low when we passed through. In the first part of the hike we came across two smaller water falls.

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We saw a lot of interesting things on this hike, including a lot of insects and flowers. My favorite was all of the mountain laurel shrubs. Mountain laurel grows in mountainous, forested areas. It is actually the state flower of Pennsylvania. We used to live in Pennsylvania for many years, and I had only seen it in the wild once. Here in this area of Tennessee, we see it all the time!

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The pinkish-white blooms of Mountain Laurel dotting the trail.
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Spotted this camouflaged toad hoping across the trail!
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Another thing that we saw along the trail were remnants of old moonshine stills, noted as such on trgt.org.

The trail went up and up and up, until we felt like we couldn’t go any further. Then, up ahead a ways, we saw the sign pointing the way to the waterfall. We were so relieved to be able to get to the ending point, and sit and rest!

I should also say, once we got higher up in elevation, the humidity dissipated, which helped a bit. But the elevation was as grueling as ever! The coolness from the waterfall was welcoming once we reached it.

We knew it would be warm, so we planned on wading in the base of the falls. Blowing Wind Falls is perfect for that because you can get right up to the edge of the falls. I brought my water shoes, but Derek just cuffed his pants up. The water was so cold and felt so good.

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The hike back was much easier, because then we were gradually descending all the way back down. Even though we were unprepared and we suffered a bit on the way going, we both said we would do this hike again!

Benton Falls

Yesterday Derek and I hiked the Benton Falls Trail, which is over an hour away from Chattanooga. Benton Falls is located in the Chilhowee Recreational Area, part of the Cherokee National Forest.

Benton Falls is a popular trail because it is a relatively easy hike ending with a gorgeous waterfall. The trails in the area are heavily trafficked, partially because the area is home to a campground. There is a day use area with picnic tables, grills, and a man made lake with a beach. If you are visiting, it costs $3 to park. There are envelopes at the information kiosk in which to put your money in.

I like to research before we go out on any new hike. I look at pictures, read reviews, and even try to watch YouTube videos, if they are available. During one video, taken during the summer, I was shocked to see how many people there were at Benton Falls. Because of this, we left at 6:30 in the morning.

On the way into the Chilhowee Recreational Area, Oswald Road features a few overlooks. We stopped at these to break up the winding, slow drive in to the trail head. The overlooks are absolutely gorgeous, featuring views of Sugarloaf Mountain, Ocoee River, and part of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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Sugarloaf Mountain is the pointy mountain, just off to the center of the photo.
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Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. The tallest mountain in the photo is Big Frog Mountain.

The hike is a mostly flat path, and the trail is three miles total (1.5 miles there and back.) The trail only gets rocky toward the end, when you descend by the falls.

There is a spot where you can see the top of the falls flowing down. Derek found a path that lead to the middle of the falls, where you could stand next to the edge. It was cool (and wet)!

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What the path looks like most of the way.
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At the side of the falls, about half way up.

Derek and I have seen a lot of waterfalls on our hikes, and I think Benton Falls is the prettiest. It is a 65-foot waterfall, and it flows down over rocks that are in a stair-like pattern, which makes for a pretty water flow.

The water was flowing well when we went, but the pool of water at the bottom wasn’t so high that we were still able to walk across some of the bigger rocks out in front.

What I like best about Benton Falls is that you can get close to the water, if you want. We were able to walk right on the lowest ledge, and feel the water spraying us. I imagine that a lot of people hike here in the summer with their bathing suits on. The water is sure to feel good in the summer heat.

It was a good call to arrive early in the morning. We arrived at the trail head at exactly 8 a.m., and we did not see a single soul on our entire hike in. We had the waterfall to ourselves the entire time, which was at least 30 minutes. We started to see a steady stream of people while hiking the trail back to the parking lot.

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McKay’s

Last Saturday we went to McKay’s for the first time, and I wondered where it has been my whole life!

McKay’s is a large used items store. In fact, it is so large that it looks more like a warehouse. The biggest draw is books, but they also have electronics, board games, music and movies.

Everything at McKay’s is used. You are able to sell your own items there, which will end up on the shelves.

The processing happens while you are shopping, if you have a small order. They try to process orders within 45 minutes. I brought a handful of books in to sell myself. You are handed a ticket number, and you can check a digital board on the wall that shows which orders have been processed. Once your order is done, you hand your ticket in, and they ask if you want cash or store credit. I got $2.81 in credit.

Not everything is accepted. The items that are rejected are put out in bins, free for the taking.

I headed right to the history section and helped to empty their shelves. Luckily, used items means good prices. Three of the books I picked out were only 75 cents! The most expensive book I picked up was $5. Now, there are books in the $10-$15 range, but that is still better than getting a new book for over $20.

Derek headed to the graphic design section and found some good books as well.

In the end, I bought eight books, and after my store credit was applied, I spent about $13.

We barely scratched the surface of what McKay’s has to offer. I saw a few children’s books that we loved when we were kids that we’d like to add to our collection in the future. I also headed to the historical romance section, but decided to leave because there was a large family in that aisle. Besides, I decided that eight books was enough for the moment!

I am definitely going to go to McKay’s again in the future. I can imagine that in a few months, the selection of books will be totally different.

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Looking down below on the aisles of book shelves at McKay’s.
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My store credit ticket.
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The books I brought home.

Brown’s Ferry Tavern

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.

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Camping Trip

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!

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Our campsite. The picnic table is out of frame.
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Tea time in the early morning.
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Walking around the park.
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Chicken and rice soup for dinner, along with slices of bread from Bluff View Bakery.
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The sunrise on our last morning.
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I lucked out when this heron took off in flight right in front of our campsite!
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We also had a lot of woodpeckers around camp. I was happy to get such good bird photos!

Edward’s Point

It seems like every new hike we do becomes my new favorite, and Edward’s Point is no exception.

Edward’s Point is an overlook that is directly across from Julia Falls Overlook, a place that we’ve hiked to multiple times this past fall. This vantage point allows you to see Signal Mountain directly across from you, as well as the meandering Tennessee River flowing southward.

Edward’s Point can be reached via a few different trails. We started our hike at Rainbow Lake Trailhead, and took that to the Rainbow Lake Damn and Middle Creek Suspension Bridge. This is also another hike that we have done before. Once we passed the bridge, it was all new from there. The total hike was four miles, with two miles there, two miles back.

It is a little difficult in the middle part of the hike since you are starting from the bottom of Middle Creek and making you way up to the top of the mountain, but then it levels out. The trail alternates from relatively flat paths to rocky areas.

Our favorite part of the hike was when we reached the top and the trail followed the ridge line for a while.

We left on our hike fairly early in the morning, and did not see that many people once we left the suspension bridge. We did see some people at Edward’s Point itself, but we were mostly by ourselves. If we do this hike again, we will try to leave even earlier, to beat the heat as well.

This hike was pleasantly surprising, because all though we were expecting the end to be the best part, we saw lots of interesting things along the way. We came across waterfalls that we were not expecting. We also saw different centipedes, and lots of wildflowers.

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Passing by Rainbow Lake Dam on our way to Edward’s Point.
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A fiddlehead fern.
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Two centipedes.
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Lockhart Arch.
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One of the little waterfalls we passed on the trail.
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Walking on the ridge line as we got closer to Edward’s Point.
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Edward’s Point.
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Panorama of Edward’s Point.

Missionary Ridge Local

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.

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About to enter the 1858 Missionary Ridge Tunnel.
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Passing the shop as we were pulling into the East Chattanooga Depot.
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The engine takes a spin on the turntable.
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At the East Chattanooga Depot. I loved the little set up they had, complete with chickens!
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The inside of our car.
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One of the engines on display outside the Grand Junction depot.

Little Winters

We are constantly learning something new.

Today I learned about the Little Winters of Tennessee. Almost all of the meteorologists were calling the next few days a “redbud winter.” I had no clue what they were referring to.

Apparently Tennessee (and some other states) have what are called little winters, or cold snaps. We are getting a cold snap at the end of this week, and we might even see some snow!

The redbud winter is going to occur later this week because the redbud trees are blooming. The redbud winter is the first of the little winters. They go as follows:

Redbud Winter, Dogwood Winter, Locus Winter, Blackberry Winter, Whippoorwill Winter and Cotton Britches Winter.

The terms are coined because of the things that are in bloom in the time, or for example, when you can first hear the Whippoorwill birds, or when it’s time to put your wool away and wear your cotton britches!

The farmers used to track the five different little winters to ensure it was not too early to plant crops. Isn’t that interesting?

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The redbuds are blooming right now. Time for a “redbud winter.”

Two favorite restaurants

We have “rediscovered” two restaurants in our area.

When I say rediscovered, I mean that we ate at these places once before, before the pandemic. Then we stuck closer to home, and over the year, forgot how much we enjoyed our meals at these restaurants.

The first restaurant is Home Folks in Soddy-Daisy. Like the name implies, this is a casual setting, and the food reminds you of a good home cooked meal.

I enjoy the overall feeling of this place. The tables are covered with blue and white checkered table cloths, and there is old fashioned country-like décor.

This used to be a buffet-style restaurant. They have done away with the buffet, but they still serve all of the same great dishes. Now, you pick which food you want off the menu, and the waiter will bring all of the dishes to your table. You can eat as much or as little of all the dishes as you want.

Some of my favorites here are the pork and kraut, creamed corn, mashed potatoes and mac and cheese. There is also dessert too, with choices like banana pudding and different kinds of pie. Too be honest, I am usually too full after eating here to manage any dessert!

The buffet type food is the main staple, but they also have a small menu that changes each day.

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I love the country-type atmosphere!
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I love the look of this stove!
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Yum! So many choices at Home Folks!

The second restaurant is 1885 Grill, in the St. Elmo neighborhood. This is a local chain, with two other locations.

The first time we ate here, I ordered on the boring side and got a chicken sandwich, but it was delicious, regardless.

This time, we came on a Saturday, and got to experience their weekend brunch. We were both very happy with our meals.

Derek got the biscuits and gravy with eggs. I have always been leery of biscuits and gravy, and he let me try a small taste. I liked it!

I got a breakfast plate with eggs, bacon, toast and grits. I love grits, and these were without a doubt the best grits I have ever had. They were nice and creamy, and flavorful too.

We went for brunch again, quite soon after our first time experiencing the brunch menu. This time I got the biscuits and gravy with eggs, with a side of grits, and he got the Belgian Waffle Bananas Foster, with a side of bacon. Another thumbs up from both of us.

There are so many other dishes on their menu I would like to try, such as the shrimp and grits (I know I will love the grits part!) and their gumbo.

Plus, when it gets warmer out, they have a nice outdoor seating area, which is right across the street from the Incline Railway.

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The outdoor seating at 1885 Grill is really nice, in warmer temperatures of course.
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Brunch at 1885 Grill is quickly becoming a favorite!