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!
Last weekend we went to the Prater’s Mill Country Fair in Dalton, Ga.
Prater’s Mill is an original, working gristmill that was established in 1855. At the fair, people have the opportunity to walk through the gristmill, the cotton gin, an old country store, and a barn that features a large collection of historical items. This part of the fair was my favorite, because I always enjoy anything historical.
Of course, there was also a ton of shopping to be had as well. What we enjoy about these types of fairs (there is a similar Ketner’s Mill Country fair in Whitwell, Tenn.,) is that the vendors are heavily vetted. Everything is handmade and local, and unique.
There were also performances all day long on a stage. We caught a few dances by a clogging group.
I bought myself a quartz crystal necklace, which I always seem to have my eyes on, whenever I see a gem vendor. Derek bought himself a 4th-5th Century AD Roman coin, which was turned into a keychain.
There was lots of good food to choose from. We had pulled pork sandwiches, shared an apple dumpling, and a cup of hot cider.
We enjoyed our day here. This event may be an event that we put into our regular rotation for next year.
We went to Nashville for the day on Saturday, July 3. It was a long day, about 21 hours, in fact.
We left at 5:35 a.m. and did not get home until about 2:20 a.m.
The reason why we went to Nashville in the first place was an Alabama concert, which was originally scheduled for last July, pushed back a year because of the pandemic.
Since we had never been to Nashville before, we made a full day out of it.
Our first stop was breakfast at the Gaylord Opryland Resort. We went here because it’s next door to the Grand Ole Opry. This is a large hotel, with a beautifully designed interior. There are water features inside, including more than one waterfall. There are different sections of the hotel. My favorite was the Delta section, which looked like New Orleans. We got breakfast at a grab and go marketplace, and walked around the hotel.
After time at the hotel, we went to the Grand Ole Opry for a 9 a.m. backstage tour. This tour was about an hour. It included an introduction show at the beginning. We saw all of the artist rooms, the wall of plaques listing Opry members, and got to walk out on stage.
I was disappointed with how the tour handled the stage part. Everyone got to walk out on to the famed circle (a circle of wood taken from the Ryman Auditorium) and a photographer took a picture. You had to pay for the picture. It cost $25 dollars to get three copies, one large and two small, of the photo, which was poorly printed. I understand that there had to be a way to control the group across the stage, otherwise everyone would have huddled around it waiting to get their own picture, but the photographer should have offered to take photos with people’s own phones and cameras. We ended up sneaking a photo of the photo with our phone, so at least we have proof that we stood in the circle.
However, it was a thrill to stand in these places on the stage where so many famed artists have stood before.
Overall, we enjoyed the tour, and we would like to come back to see a show.
After our tour, we headed into downtown Nashville. The Opry and Gaylord Opryland are a few miles away from downtown, in a section called Music Valley.
We walked the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge over the Cumberland River. The bridge is short, compared to the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge in Chattanooga.
After that, it was time to check out Lower Broadway, the main tourist area filled with honky honk type bars, shops and restaurants.
I am sure that things were busier than usual due to it being the 4th of July holiday weekend, but we were both quite overwhelmed by the amount of crowds and noise. A lot of the bars had open windows and doors, and there would be a band inside playing ear splitting music. It seemed like the bars all had a contest with each other to see who could play the loudest.
I think I would enjoy Broadway much more during an off-season visit, and earlier in the morning.
Some other things that we saw included the Music City Walk of Fame, which is similar to the stars on Hollywood Boulevard, the Tennessee State Capitol, and the Instagram famous What Lifts You wings mural by Kelsey Montague.
We were having a lot of difficulty finding parking, exacerbated by getting stuck in traffic all over the city, so Derek dropped me off at the Union Station Hotel, a historic train station, so I could take a few pictures, while he drove around the block.
In the afternoon we headed to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The highlight for me was seeing Kacey Musgrave’s exhibit, All the Colors. It was a treat to see the white lace jumpsuit that she wore to the Houston Rodeo performance, a show I saw in March 2019.
Other neat things were the hall of gold records, Willie Nelson’s shoes and bandana, a dress of Dolly Parton’s and hand written song lyrics from Brooks and Dunn.
The last thing we did during the day was the whole reason why we came to Nashville, the Alabama concert. It was a great show. Martina McBride was the opening act, and it was awesome to hear her sing “Independence Day.”
There were two surprises during the show. First, Gov. Bill Lee came on stage and made a proclamation designating July 3 as “Alabama in Tennessee Day.” Second, Tim McGraw came on stage and sang a song with Randy and Teddy.
I got to hear a bunch of their songs that I had not heard during the first concert in Houston. I was excited to hear “Roll On,” which is one of my favorites.
After the concert, it was time for the two hour drive back home. At the end of the day, my phone had recorded 22,000 steps! Also, I learned a lesson; do not wear pointed toe cowboy boots! My toes were squished all day and hurting, but at least I had no blisters.
Overall we had a good day, and we learned a lot so we can make the next trip a better one.
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.
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.
This past weekend Derek and I headed up to the town of Soddy-Daisy to check out their Pioneer Day event. A thank you goes out to the Chattanooga Times Free Press for publishing an article with the weekend’s events, otherwise I would have had no idea this was happening! It is helpful to follow local news!
Now, I will admit, with no fault to Soddy-Daisy, that the living history event was, well, a bit dinky. This feeling of mine only stems from many, many years of reenacting at very large living history events! Still, I was glad to get out and do something new and different for an hour.
Pioneer Day was held at Poe’s Tavern Historical Park, next to City Hall. Poe’s Tavern was originally constructed in 1817, with a replica on the original foundation now.
According to soddy-daisy.org, Poe’s Tavern was Hamilton County’s First Courthouse and County Seat. The tavern was also used as a hospital for both Union and Confederate troops during the Civil War.
At Pioneer Day, there was a woman in a historical outfit cooking cornbread on the fireplace. Everyone got free samples.
There were also booths showing historic rifles, locally found arrowheads, basket weaving, coal mining supplies and an 1800s cider press, which I got to take a turn on for a bit.
The big draw for me was a Civil War set up, presented by the Tennesseans for Living History. We were treated to some music by a banjo and fiddle player. I really miss reenacting sometimes!
There was a Robert E. Lee impersonator there, but I only wish I hadn’t seen him walking around the grounds with a can of beer — or soda, I’ll try to give him the benefit of the doubt — in his hands!!!
Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending Wreaths Across America, a national program held at many different cemeteries at the same time, honoring veterans by laying wreaths at their graves.
I was familiar with this program, but I have never participated before. I was there to cover the event for work, but I still enjoyed it and I was glad I got to have the experience.
There was a ceremony at noon before the wreath laying, and it was moving. There was a man who played the bagpipes, which sounded amazing. The ceremony also featured two men playing echoing taps, which brought tears to my eyes. It reminded me of my grandpa, who was in the Navy.
Chattanooga National Cemetery, which is where I was for the program, has about 47,000 graves. About 30 percent were able to be decorated with wreaths, which are sponsored and purchased by the public. I would like to possibly do this next year, sponsor a wreath or two, and then lay them at a Civil War soldier’s grave, because of my interest in Civil War history.
There is an interesting side note in this story.
A Civil War reenacting unit fired a cannon during different times of the ceremony. I got my hands on a program, and I realized with excitement that it was Burrough’s Battery.
A few years ago, while I was still reenacting myself, we fundraised to have a group from Tennessee with six horses come to Gettysburg to pull our original 1863 cannon in the 150th Remembrance Day Parade. I was actually got to ride one of the horses. And I guess you know where this story is going now. The group firing the cannon during the ceremony was Burrough’s Battery.
After the ceremony, I introduced myself to some of the members, some of which I recognized through my photos. They did not remember me, but they did remember that parade. They even tried to recruit me. I said, thanks but no thanks. I don’t even have my uniform anymore! I just wanted to say hi. But it was a small world to be in the same place that morning.
I completed a small bucket list item this weekend!
One of my favorite Christmas songs is “Christmas in Dixie” by Alabama. It has been my favorite song since I was little. I cannot explain why, seeing as I was born and raised in the northeast! More recently they have become one of my favorite bands. The band members are from Fort Payne, and so at the end of the song they sing, “And from Fort Payne, Alabama… Merry Christmas tonight.” We went to Fort Payne for the day and I got to spend a “Christmas in Dixie.”
I never knew much about the boys from Fort Payne, that is until we literally drove past Fort Payne, Alabama, when we were moving from Pennsylvania to Texas, over three years ago.
Living in Texas, there were more country stations on the radio, including a country classics one, which became my favorite. I was introduced to a whole new (well, new to me) section of country music. I kept hearing Alabama song after Alabama song and I enjoyed all of their music.
When we moved to Chattanooga, I realized that Fort Payne was only an hour away from us. I knew that going to Fort Payne during Christmas time would make the trip extra special for me, to make my favorite Christmas song come true for me personally.
We ended up having an activity packed day, and we learned a lot about Fort Payne’s history.
We arrived at lunch time and started out at The Spot, a cafe in downtown.
After lunch, we walked up and down the street. We browsed in a few shops, and admired the Christmas decorations. Seeing all of the banners in town that said “Christmas in Dixie,” was a treat for me.
We walked down a few blocks to the City Park, where there are Alabama statues. We stopped to take a few photos and then we scoped out the park, where a Christmas event would be taking place later on that night.
We walked across the street from there and checked out the Depot Museum. The Depot was built in 1891. Admission was $3 and there were a ton of interesting artifacts donated from Fort Payne residents inside.
Did you know that Alabama was known as the sock capital of the world? We learned at the free Hosiery Museum that during the height of the sock boom, one out of every eight pairs of socks was made in Fort Payne. The Hosiery Museum had machines that made the socks on display, as well as old historical photographs of the town.
From there we walked next door to the Fort Payne Opera House, where we also got a free tour. The Opera House was built in 1891, and still holds performances today, including Alabama! The woman who talked to us at both the Opera House and the Hosiery Museum was wonderful and full of knowledge. I wish I had remembered her name.
Then it was off to the Alabama Museum, the whole reason for the trip. It is a small museum and gift shop, but it is filled to the brim with items from the band members. We ended up buying a Christmas ornament from the gift shop.
After that we checked out the Big Mill Antique Mall, housed in the old hosiery mill. Also in the mill was Vintage Cafe, where we had a mid afternoon light meal.
When it got dark we headed back to the park for their annual “Christmas in the Park” event. There was a bonfire, free concessions, music and a tree lighting.
We had a nice day exploring a new area in a new state. I am glad that we found a lot of different things to do and learned some history of the area. I had worried that Derek would be bored with a whole day devoted to the Alabama band, and it ended up being much more than that!
Holiday Cheer at the Pier is a Chattanooga riverfront event that signals the start of the Christmas season.
There were lots of food vendors and craft vendors (we did not check out the craft vendors though.) Derek had a hot apple cider and I had a hot chocolate. We enjoyed our drinks for a few minutes in front of a fire pit.
The two main parts of the event are a lighted boat parade and fireworks. Santa was also available to take photos with kids.
I was happy to be able to see the lighted boat parade. There was one on Galveston Bay, about a half hour from Houston, but we were never able to make it in the three years we lived there, due to the timing of Derek’s classwork. It is nice when things work out in a different way.
The highlight of the boat parade for me was seeing the Southern Belle riverboat in the lineup.
After the parade, we walked a few minutes towards the Bluff View Art District, where we had a nice view of the Walnut Street Bridge, and the fireworks.
Fireworks are one of my favorite things to photograph. I am always happy to be able to take photos of them in different spots with different backgrounds.