After hours of navigating windy mountain roads from Nashville, Jordan (my 7 year old mini-travel-bug) and I finally cross into Chattanooga. We hoped to see the world’s largest yard sale along the way, but missed it as only someone with the world’s worst sense of direction could.
The yard sale is 675 miles long, but in my defense there was no listing in my GPS and if my box can’t find it, how can I be expected to?
When the sweet, slow-talking Grampa at the visitor center tells us it’s only about 15 miles back, I consider making another attempt, until he adds “Just drive back up over the mountain. Take ya about an hour so.” Forget it. I’m grateful we made it here without encountering anymore crazy summer T-storms.
My nerves are still frazzled from the most hellacious storm a few days ago in Nashville that left six lanes of traffic creeping around a truckload of antique furniture spilled out all over the highway.
Driving visibility was almost zero and I still can’t believe we survived without a scratch. Maybe it helped that I prayed like a skydiving auctioneer, trying to get in the maximum number of prayers before touching down.
We snag a few hotel brochures and drive around the town until we settle on a quaint little B&B, The Stone Fort Inn. Before we walk in, I remind Jordan to be extra polite and quiet, since the brochure clearly states no children under 12. As soon as I spot Ms. Edie, the elderly stern faced innkeeper, I fully expect her to take one look at my squirmy girl and give us the boot.
I chat her up best I can, wearing my best smile, but can’t keep her attention as she keeps eyeing Jordan, perhaps waiting for her to start jumping on the formal French settee or coloring on the walls. But my normally fidgety girl who’s always eager to please, sits cross-legged, hands folded in her lap, head slightly cocked to one side wearing her best mannered grin. Ms Edie finally addresses the “no children rule,” but said she’ll make an exception for Jordan, “because she seems so well mannered and behaved.” Jordan’s smile widens.
Ms. Edie shows us to our two-room suite, complete with fireplace and Jacuzzi. Old exposed-bricks covered the walls of our antique-furnished and decorated room. The attached living room is decorated equally as nice and as Ms Edie points out… with a sofa-bed.
The mere words cause Jordan’s eyes to widen and manners to disappear as she bolts across the room, dives for it and yells, “I call it. It’s mine. It’s mine.”
As if I was going to challenge her.
Since I usually travel alone, I decide to let Jordan plan our itinerary. Our first stop is Ruby Falls, Americas highest underground waterfall. With outside temps approaching 100 degrees, we welcome the cool cave. About halfway down, we start shivering as the temps drop in the 50’s. We make our way through the narrow pathways inside, Jordan eagerly skipping along, me fighting claustrophobic tendencies I never knew I had. My chest tightens as I duck and shimmy through places I imagine bats and spiders waiting to drop down on me. We finally make it to the bottom with our group and behold the magnificent underground waterfall all lit up with a rainbow of colored lights. Jordan gasps.
Next stop Incline Railway, the steepest passenger train in the world. We ride it to the top of Lookout Mountain, while I cling to the sides and imagine the belts snapping, the train hurling to the bottom.
Jordan is un-phased and thrilled, saying “I wish it would go faster,” in a voice louder than necessary, so everyone can hear. We arrive at the top and explore the national military park, where we sit on the edge of a cliff and eat our packed lunch.
The view is breathtaking.
My whole life I’ve seen barn roofs and birdhouses with “Rock City” painted on them. I never knew it was really a place.
And oh what a place it is.
Just a few miles from downtown Chattanooga, we spend hours walking through rocky paths and squeezing through passages of million year old boulders, like the “Fat Man’s Squeeze.” The park’s claim to fame is that you can see seven states. We see waterfalls and take in views from “Lover’s Leap,” where legend has it an Indian boy in love with a girl from a rival tribe was thrown off the cliff. We walk across a swinging rope bridge, well I walk, she skips.
Before we hit the road, we buy a little Rock City bird house to remember this magnificent place. All in all, I’d say Chattanooga makes it into my top ten places to visit. We had a blast.