Sweet Treats

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.

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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.

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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.

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Bonus: If you’re in the Chattanooga area, Taichi Bubble Tea and Cupcake Kitchen are both on Broad St., walking distance of each other.

Raccoon Mountain Campground

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.

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Pot Point Trail

Last week we hiked the Pot Point Trail, which is a 4 mile trail located near the Pot Point Cabin.

We discovered this trail after hiking the Ritchie Hollow Trail, because the two trails have the same parking lot.

The first mile of the Pot Point Trail is an elevation gain, but there is a descent after that and the rest of the trail is flat. The second half of the trail follows the Tennessee River.

The first mile also features mile marker posts every .10 of a mile. We were so happy to see marker “10” and know that the hardest part of the trail was over!

I have seen reviews of this trail where people mentioned that the river section of the trail is often flooded during a heavy rainfall. So, if you want to hike this trail, go during a period of dry weather.

At one part during the first half of the hike, we passed an area covered with brush. We walked past it and scared two turkeys! They immediately flew away. One flew straight up, and another took off into the distance. Neither of us had ever seen turkeys fly! It all happened so quick that I could not get a picture.

We also came across an old, abandoned shed/barn structure just off the trail. It seems like there have been plenty of visitors, because unfortunately there was a lot of litter in the area.

The end of the hike has a detour because of a landslide. We knew it was coming, and yet we still got lost. According to trail reviews, we are not the only ones that this happened to. During the detour, you follow the road for a little bit. You’re supposed to enter back on the trail, which we did see, but it was not obvious that it was where the detour ended. The trail head actually points in the opposite direction, which threw us off, and that is why we didn’t enter. Later on, checking the map, I saw that the trail does veer off in the correct direction eventually. Lots of people said that the last part of the trail follows the road, which is true to an extent, but like us, they must have not seen, or were confused by the trail picking back up again, and followed the road all the way back.

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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!

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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A half-day in Trenton, GA

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!

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The inside of Corner Coffee. The owner is really nice and enjoys chatting with everyone while waiting for their food.
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Indoor dining at Corner Coffee is currently closed, but expected to open again soon.

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.

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The Dade County Historical Courthouse.
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This park is located near the square and is right across from where I work.

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.

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The American Legion War Memorial Museum.

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.

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The Wildwood Depot.

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!

Stringer’s Ridge

Last weekend we hiked around Stringer’s Ridge Park, which is close to downtown. It is a ridge that overlooks the city.

This is definitely not a hike to do if you’re looking to get away from it all and by fully immersed in nature. You will hear road noise and be quite close to some houses. But, it will do in a pinch if you want to get outside and get some exercise.

There are quite a few trails, some of them shared by bicyclists. The trails offer elevation changes and twists and turns.

The highlight is the overlook on the Cherokee Trail, which has a good view of downtown and the bridges over the river.

Some of the trails we took were the Cherokee Trail, the Double J, (which is a part of the bigger Blue Loop) and the short path to Old Baldy, which is the highest point of the ridge.

However, don’t do what we did, and don’t park by the tunnel on Cherokee Blvd! That particular entryway has been marked as closed for a long time. We have seen people’s photos on social media and reviews, so we knew the park wasn’t actually closed. So we went over the closed gate. We soon came to a part of the trail that was washed out! So it’s closed for a good reason! However, some people probably did the same that we did, so there was a worn path to follow down and around. Parking is available in different sections, so I’d advise to park somewhere else and avoid that section of the trail.

We hiked about three miles total, and it’s nice to know that there’s a place nearby if we don’t feel like driving further.

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An old structure we came across on the Blue Loop trail.
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On top of Old Baldy. Lookout Mountain is in the background.

Naughty Cat Cafe

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.

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Fiddlestix, one of our favorites. I hope she finds a good home soon.
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