It’s not every day you watch people throw cast iron frying pans across an ice skating rink!
This weekend we attended the 3rd Annual Chattanooga Skillet Curling Championship, at the Chattanooga Choo Choo’s Ice on the Landing skating rink. The skillets were provided by Lodge Cast Iron.
The event was a two day event, and we went on Saturday, the first day. There were many teams to start out with, and we watched teams get eliminated as the morning went on. The teams consisted of members of organizations, businesses, etc.
I thought that we might have stayed for 20 minutes before growing bored of watching. However, we had a great time, and watched for over an hour and a half.
The teams were competitive, and the crowd got into the games as well.
It took a few rounds of watching to figure out the rules. It was slightly different than actual curling, because there was no colored target on the ice. Instead, someone threw a lid, and that lid then became the target. The team’s pans that were closest at the end won points for that round.
Trying to hit a moving target made it tricky! There were some times when the pans would flip over, and land upside down on top of the lid. There was no luck for the other team that tried to get the pan off again!
A few years ago, I bought myself a GoPro as a Christmas present. My husband and I try to vacation regularly, and I wanted to record videos while vacationing, as another way to preserve memories.
I have quite the growing little YouTube channel, but admittingly, not many views.
I stopped making videos during the pandemic, because we weren’t traveling anywhere, obviously. Eventually, I decided to make shorter videos about the things we were doing around Chattanooga.
We resumed traveling last summer, and now I have two more travel videos in the mix. In the future, I plan to do a camping video, and a video for our upcoming vacation to the Smoky Mountains.
I wanted to share these videos with my readers. They’re not perfect, but I am improving, I think. I watch a lot of YouTube channels, so I learn from watching. I hope you all enjoy watching them, and maybe you’ll get some ideas for what to do in the Chattanooga area.
2021 was a great year, which was pleasant after 2020 was better left unsaid.
2021 started off well, with a new job at a rural community paper in Georgia. A year later, I still enjoy my job. It’s great to wake up every morning and not dread going to work, which is how I unfortunately felt last year.
This year is also the first year I can honestly say that I tolerated winter. After we got into hiking last fall, we continued it through the winter. I do not like being cold, so I usually stay indoors. However, we pleasantly discovered that hiking is a good way to stay warm.
The hiking continued throughout the year as well. We hiked 76.2 miles in total. I never expected to love hiking so much. Now I feel like I cannot live without it. I’m always planning the next hike.
We both made it through the pandemic, so far, with our health intact. We got our first doses of the vaccine in March about two weeks apart. By the end of April, we were both fully vaccinated. We got our booster shots at the end of November.
We did a lot of new activities, and we crossed a lot of items off our “Chattanooga area to-do list.”
For example: We went strawberry picking, we went camping three times, we saw a Lookouts baseball game, and we kayaked the Tennessee River.
We also saw Alabama in concert in Nashville, which was a great opportunity to visit Nashville for the day. As a country music fan, I felt like I was in my own version of the promised land.
We went on our first vacation in two years, to the Gulf Coast. We road tripped through different places in Alabama and Mississippi. It was great to explore more of the southeast.
Derek got his contract renewed for another year at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga,which was a relief after the uncertainty of the beginning of the pandemic. Also, the University of Tennessee system approved a cost-of-living raise for all lecturers.
Derek also made headway on one of his first big projects outside of the classroom. He is partnering up with a local artist to work on a mural at the Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center. He applied and was awarded a grant for the art supplies.
We continued to broaden our explorations, by venturing further out from Chattanooga. For example, we visited new areas in Georgia such as Calhoun, where we explored the Rock Garden, and got to go to the new Buc-ees!
Also in Georgia, we saw more Civil War sites, related to the Great Locomotive Chase. We visited the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History in Kennesaw, where we saw the original engine involved in the chase, the General.
In December, we reached our first milestone anniversary, 10 years. We celebrated by visiting Savannah, Ga., and Charleston, S.C., two places that have been on my bucket list for years.
Here’s to 2022! I’m not sure what the whole year will bring, but we know it will include more camping, hiking, and a trip to the Smoky Mountains!
On Christmas Eve, we went to Ruby Falls with my parents. Out of all the major, popular attractions in the Chattanooga area, Ruby Falls was the last one for us to cross off.
We enjoyed Ruby Falls, however, there were both pros and cons.
Ruby Falls is an underground waterfall, located deep within Lookout Mountain. To get to the falls, you have to walk about half a mile through a cave system. Walking through the cave would have been more fun, if it hadn’t been crowded. This was most likely because we did this on Christmas Eve. Perhaps if someone went on a week day, they would have a better experience.
You have to walk through the cave single file, which doesn’t make for a good experience with the tour guide. We had to continuously walk through the cave, and the guide did not stop much to explain anything about the cave.
However, there was a video presentation at the start of the walk, where we learned about Leo Lambert, and his 1928 discovery of the cave and Ruby Falls, which he named after his wife. He went through the cave for 17 hours, much of that crawling, and he had no idea what he would discover. We did enjoy this presentation. But we felt like we missed out on learning more about caves in general.
As a photographer hobbyist, I found it frustrating to try to take photos inside of the cave. You had to take the photo quickly and move on, because as I mentioned earlier, we were continuously walking single file.
We only had to walk half a mile, but it seemed to take forever to get to our end point, because each time another tour group came through, we had to move up against the wall and let them pass.
Ruby Falls is the namesake and the highlight of the tour. When you first enter the large room, you can hear the waterfall, but barely see it. It is so dark in there! Thanks to a music and light show, about five minutes long, you can see Ruby Falls and be able to take some nice photos.
Leaving Ruby Falls was much easier, as our group had the right-away going back, and the other groups had to move over for us.
Also part of Ruby Falls is an overlook, which you get to by climbing a few floors of stairs. It offers a nice view point of Moccasin Bend.
Overall, I am glad I saw Ruby Falls. It’s no doubt impressive, and it’s neat to think that we were in the middle of Lookout Mountain, 1,120 feet below ground.
Ruby Falls itself is 80 feet high, and it’s pool is three feet deep. The water flows down through the mountain, and at some point it flows into the Tennessee River.
If you find yourself in Chattanooga, go visit Ruby Falls. You’ll be glad you did. Just don’t go on one of the busiest days of the year!
Derek is partnering with the Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center, and another local artist, on an art project this year. Through this work, we have learned a lot about the Arboretum, and all that they have to offer to the public, including their work in animal conservation, and their animal ambassadors.
The Arboretum houses a collection of animals native to eastern Tennessee, all of them unable to be released into the wild, for different reasons. Many of these animals are used in educational programs for children.
They also have a red wolves rehabilitation program, where they are trying to reintroduce red wolves back into the wild. Some of the red wolves are unable to go into the wild, and call the Arboretum their forever home. Red wolves are critically endangered. As part of the program, they also breed red wolves with the intent of “cross fostering” where the bred pups are raised by a wild red wolf and her wild pups, and will grow up wild.
As a late birthday present, we scheduled an animal encounter with Toddy, the red fox.
Males are called tods, hence the name “Toddy.” Females are called vixens, and young cubs are called kits.
Toddy is five years old, and he came to the Arboretum when he was just five weeks old. He was rescued from an “exotic” animal auction.
We got to watch Toddy eat his mid-morning meal, comprised of meat, peanut butter, peppers, cat and dog food, and scrambled eggs. We both got to feed him some of the scrambled egg!
Red foxes always have a white tip on the end of their tail and black “socks.” They have elliptical pupils, like cats.
A red fox like Toddy typically weighs about 14 pounds in the summer, and up to 17 pounds in the winter, due to all of the extra fur!
He was very excitable and energetic. He was running and jumping all over the place. At the end of our encounter, he curled up in his dog carrier for a nap.
After our time with Toddy, Tish, the Director of Wildlife, gave us a quick peek at all of the other animals. We saw a bobcat, a black vulture, an opossum, a one-eyed owl, a turtle, a hawk, and an eagle. I would love to do an animal encounter with the opossum in the future!
Throughout the summer months, we have discovered some new sweet treats.
The first new business we have come across is Chei-Man Tea, which sells chai latte powder blends. We first saw them at Lookout Lavender Farm, when we were there for their u-pick event. They had invited Chei-Man Tea to set up their mini trailer, and sell drinks. They had a lavender chai, which was delicious. We bought a small packet of their lavender blend. They told us they also set up at the Chattanooga Market every Sunday, where we bought a bigger bottle of their original chai latte blend. They also have other flavors like pumpkin spice and gingerbread.
The second business that we would like to frequent more in the future is Cupcake Kitchen. They also have things like cakes and cookies, but cupcakes are the main draw. The owner rotates flavors, but there are so many of them at one time, I am sure anyone could find a flavor that they would like at any given time. The first time we went, we choose mint and German chocolate. There are plenty of other flavors I would like to try, including Key Lime Pie, Strawberry Fields, and Salted Caramel.
The third business is Taichi Bubble Tea. We had never had bubble tea before coming to Chattanooga, and we have my mom to thank for introducing us all to it. She wanted to try it, so we all did. It is very interesting. I got the vanilla flavor milk tea, with the tapioca pearls in it. It’s just as the name describes it, it tastes like a sweet, milky tea. Derek tried the coconut flavor, and that was good too.
Bonus: If you’re in the Chattanooga area, Taichi Bubble Tea and Cupcake Kitchen are both on Broad St., walking distance of each other.
We rented a tandem kayak last weekend and kayaked in the Tennessee River.
We rented from River Drifters, a combination restaurant and rental place, located on Suck Creek Road. The restaurant is just across the street from the river.
We rented for a half a day, or four hours. The person in charge of the rentals told us that we would have enough time to paddle around Williams Island.
We have kayaked before, but never in a river. We soon realized that the Tennessee River flows northward, and we were fighting the current, going south.
We tired easily from paddling, and we took short breaks often. It was also a good excuse to check out the many different small sandy beach areas. I was surprised with how many shells there were on the shore. We also found raccoon prints.
We tried to come ashore on Williams Island, but the land wasn’t sandy. Instead, it was dirt and clay, which was slippery, as I soon found out! I slipped and fell right into the river. I had to spend the rest of the morning with a wet butt. Oh well. I have learned my lesson, and that is to wear a bathing suit even if you don’t expect to go swimming.
The day started out sunny enough, but it soon grew cloudy (which is okay because Derek burns so easily.) However, at one point it started raining. We came ashore and took shelter under the tree cover. We were directly across from the River Drifters dock at that point.
The rain let up, so we set off across the river to go back. We got only maybe a few feet out, and it started raining again! We paddled quite fast after that!
After dropping off our paddles and life vests, we had lunch at the restaurant.
I recommend River Drifters, both for the rentals and the food. I had searched different rental companies, and River Drifters was the best price, with the most time options available.
At the beginning of the month, Derek and I went camping at Raccoon Mountain Campground.
I wanted to camp at this campground for over a year, ever since we saw the place when we were there for the cavern tour, which is on site.
Also, on a sillier note, I bought myself a Raccoon Mountain sweatshirt from a local apparel company, Native Made, and I just had to wear it at the campground!
There are cabins of various sizes to rent at the campground, and that is what I had originally wanted to do, but that was before Derek said he wanted to start camping, and we bought all the gear and supplies.
I am glad we ended up tent camping here, to get the full experience.
The tent sites are scattered on the edge of the woods, near the entrance of the campground. Our site had a small stream and trees on the back side, so it felt more private. Plus, it was nice to fall asleep to the sounds of the water.
The people working at the campground were helpful. When we arrived, we paid for firewood, which was then dropped off directly at our campsite. There is also ice available, and an assortment of snacks, and basic camping needs at the general store/office. After camping earlier in the spring with no amenities like this, it was nice to have these things available.
The best part about the campground was all of the campground cats. The general office has a binder with all of their pictures and descriptions. We were visited by a beautiful long haired calico named Callie. I guess she could tell that we are cat people!
The campground has various amenities such as a pool, games for rent, the cavern tour, and gem mining. Derek and I did the gem mining, because we both used to collect rocks and gems as kids. We got a good amount of nice gems in our bag, and now some of them are displayed at my desk at work.
There was also a hiking trail just across the road from our campsite. It is a two mile trail, but it was humid and steep, so we only made it half of a mile up before turning back, for a full mile.
It rained on Saturday night, but we looked at the weather forecast ahead of time so we were prepared. We covered our tent with a tarp, and lifted it up on the one end to make a fly, by tying the ends with rope to the trees. It looked silly, but we stayed dry.
We enjoyed our second time camping, and getting to experience a different campsite. We do not have any immediate plans for camping again, but there are some various sites that are in the back of our mind.