Friday, June 26, 2015

The beauty of Ruby Falls!

There are caves and caverns all over the country.  Stalactites and stalagmites, and all kinds of shapes and pretty rocks all "discovered" for us tourists to oh and ah over as we climb in and around the various ones touting the "largest" cavern, or the "deepest" cave, or the "longest", etc.  24 states out of our 50, have caves open to the public to come and view.  That's half the US!  Last count in the National Cave Directory stated that there were 77 caves.  Out of all of all those, only one has an underground waterfall...and that is here in Chattanooga at Ruby Falls Cave.  All 145 feet of it.

Leo Lambert thought that he could re-open the cave he had played in as a child, as a tourist attraction and formed a company to do so. He planned to make an opening further up the mountain than the original opening and transport tourists to the cave via an elevator. For this purpose, his company purchased land on the side of Lookout Mountain above Lookout Mountain Cave and in 1928 began to drill through the limestone. In doing so, they discovered a small passageway about 18 inches high and four feet wide.

Lambert and a group of fellow explorers entered a small opening to the newly found cave in Lookout Mountain.  They spent 17 hours exploring on hands and knees before hearing the sound of rushing water.  They were awestruck by the magnificent beauty of the waterfall they discovered at the deepest point.  Leo later named the falls in honor of his wife, Ruby. 

Ruby Falls Cave features many of the more well-known types of cave formations including stalactites & stalagmites, columns, drapery, and flowstone.

The Falls are located at the end of the main passage of Ruby Falls Cave, in a large vertical shaft. The stream, 1120 feet underground, is fed both by rainwater and natural springs. It collects in a pool in the cave floor and then continues through the mountain until finally joining the Tennessee River at the base of Lookout Mountain.

We've only been through a few caves, trying to only go to the most "unusual" ones (because, lets face it, once you've seen one set of stalactites & stalagmites, you've seen them all) - but I will say, this one was a beauty! 

Having the waterfall, and it's "light show" at the end, made it all worth the trip!

...kicking back in Chattanooga, Marie

 If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at: 

Monday, June 22, 2015

See 7 States from Rock City!

It's pretty hard to miss ads for Rock City, especially throughout the southeast.  You see, that's where a young man names Clark Byers started offering to paint people's barns if he could paint their roof tops with the ad "See 7 States from Rock City!".  From as far North as Michigan to as far West as Texas, Clark scouted out the rural back roads for barns to paint beginning back in 1932 to 1969.  Since then, of course, billboards etc, are everywhere!  But the iconic "Barn" ad remains.

Garnet & Frieda Carter set out to develop the property into one big Rock Garden on Lookout Mountain, using the existing beauty of the natural boulders & trees and then adding her own plants and flowers.  Frieda, taking string and marking a trail that wound its way around the giant rock formations, ending up at Lover's Leap.  She also planted wildflowers and other plants along her trails and imported German gnome statues and other famous fairytale characters, set up at spots throughout the trail. Garnet realized that Frieda had made an attraction that people would be willing to pay for to see and made Rock City a public attraction in 1932.

Garnet was right, the place is absolutely beautiful!  You would never know that High Falls is man made, and one can't hardly believe the amount of work that must have gone into making all the bridges, caves, pathways, and tunnels etc. let alone all the upkeep that must be involved everyday.
High Falls (140')
Stone Bridge
 Jack in Needle's Eye
Gnome Valley
What a view!
They say on the web page to allow a couple of hours, well, we were there for almost 5 hours and I don't think we saw everything either! 

When I first started seeing ads, years ago as we traveled, I thought it would be "hokey", and maybe something for kids...well, it's not "hokey", but it sure does bring the little kid out in you!  Such fun!

...kicking back in Chattanooga TN,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at: 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

My, who knew there was so much to do in Chattanooga?

When Jack and I decided to come to Chattanooga TN for a week, we thought we would do a little sight-seeing, and then sitting back and just relaxing.  The campground we chose offered discount combo tickets to the three "main attractions" here:  Rock City, the Incline Railway and Ruby Falls.  I read our AAA Guide Book and that sounded like the things to see, and it also sounded like one could see them all in one or two days (if you really wanted to take your time and spread them out).  So, we purchased them, and decided to do the Incline Railway the first day.

By 10:00 a.m. the temperature had already reached the high 90's with the humidity in the same numbers.  It didn't take long before we realized that our bountiful energy that we started out the door with, was slowly being zapped by this unaccustomed heat.  It didn't stop our enjoyment, but it did slow us down a bit!

The trip is really quite exciting.  You take a trolley-style car, almost straight up the side of Lookout Mountain, a full mile!  It's the steepest passenger railway in the world, and I can tell you, you really feel it too!  We were on something like it in Pennsylvania, and it wasn't nearly as long or as steep.  Once you get to the top, they have a great observation tower that looks out over the city all the way to the Great Smoky Mountains!

Lookout Mountain Incline Railway
Passing the "other" Lookout Mountain Incline Railway
View of Chattanooga TN from on top of Lookout Mountain

I thought the other incredible thing was, they built this back in 1895!  Amazing.  They had some wonderful old photos along the walls telling the stories and showing the various cars they have used over the years.

Lookout Mountain Incline Railway, Chattanooga TN - Circa 1895
Down the street is the Point Park, where the Battle Above the Clouds was fought in 1863.  The CCC built a beautiful "Castle-like" entrance to the park, that you can then walk around and see where the various "gun positions" were set up.  Cannons have been placed around with signage sharing information as to who was there, what happened, etc.  Along with that, the National Park Service has a nice exhibit inside including videos and a huge painting of the battle itself.
Entrance to Point Park
Jack with a couple of the cannons, Point Park
The New York Peace Memorial, Point Park
Cooling off in our air conditioned car, we headed into downtown Chattanooga to check it out and have some lunch (in an air conditioned restaurant!).  Afterward we walked around the "Riverfront" a bit (not to much to see, actually) but the Aquarium looks like it might be something to look into later in the week.  Went into the famous Chattanooga Choo Choo, which is now a hotel, cafe, shops, etc.  Beautiful building.  Cute sign on top!

1909 Chattanooga Choo Choo train depot/hotel
The city has some great murals and plenty of art everywhere!  They also have a free electric trolley that runs throughout most of it (with an all day $4 parking garage close by). We made one last stop before heading home, and that was at the the National Cemetery that was established in 1863 to contain the bodies of more than 12,000 Union soldiers who died in the area.  It is huge, and emotionally powerful.  Thousands of white gravestones, rows and rows of them over rolling hills...from 1863 to now...

Very interesting mural!, downtown Chattanoog
Walnut Street Bridge (105 yr old pedestrian - over the Tennessee River)
Jack & Marie at the "Rail Wave" by Christopher Fennell
Chattanooga National Cemetery established  in 1863 (incl 12,000 Union soldiers)
So much for being able to "do it all in a day!"  We were tuckered out by 4:00 p.m. and came home to our air conditioned RV!  Funny thing was, we no sooner got in and the sky opened up and it poured!  Guess our timing was right!

All I can this town is going to take many days to see!

...kicking back in Chattanooga TN,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at: 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

We're back!

Just like a home...or a car...RV's need "maintenance"...and since it is both, it needs both kinds!  So, off we go, once again, to the Tiffin Service Center in Red Bay AL to where our baby was built, to have all it's little parts fixed!

"We're back", we told Charles, our favorite cabinet guy, and we have "one more idea for you to make for me!"  He just grinned at me.  I told him I saw where, at our friend's RV, their pantry cupboard had been remodeled into a roll-out one.  I need that.  I'm short, and I it's hard for me to see and reach way back into the back and top of those high and narrow shelves.  "no problem" he said.  I just smiled back.  I knew he could do it for me.

We settled in, filled out the list of all the "problems" that needed fixing and waited for the site manager to come over and give us the news on how long it was all going to take.  Early the next morning, here came Norris, who, after chatting with us, said, "well, the slides the problem, it's going to take about two weeks to get into that bay to work on it.  The rest's pretty simple."  "OK, it is what it is.  We will just wait on it then".  So we settled ourselves in.

A few days later we met Kathy and Ron from RVillage, a fun little website for people like us who have RVs and like to chat about where they are and where they are going.  They had put on there that they were headed here and I told them to check in with us when they got here and they did, so we all hooked up and went to dinner together.  Turned out we all had a lot in common.  It's really made our stay enjoyable, having someone to chat with and share stories and even some "solutions"!

This being our third trip to the tiny town of Red Bay, we've pretty much exhausted any "sight-seeing" that there is around the area, so when the weekend was approaching, we thought, why not take advantage of it and go to one of our most favorite lodges and stay overnight?  So, off we went to Scottsboro to spend a few hours at the Unclaimed Baggage store, then onto Pisgah to the beautiful Gorham's Bluff Lodge.

You never know what you will find, if anything, at the Unclaimed Baggage store.  We really don't need anything, let's face it!  I mean, we only have so much space...but it's always fun to stop and shop!  We mainly go to check out the books and movies...maybe a blouse or a pair of shorts, but that's about it, really.  We just don't have the space for much else!  I was determined not to buy (myself) any books until I finished the stack I already have, so I only browsed the section lightly...Jack, on the other hand...well, that's another story.... But, we did good, we only came away with a half a dozen, and that's really good for us!  ;-)  The movie section this time was awful.  Like I said, sometimes you win, sometimes, not.  But I did find the "perfect" blouse!

It had been two years since our last visit to Gorham's Bluff.  In my opinion, it's one of the most beautiful places we've ever been to, or stayed at.  It looks like a Southern Plantation sitting on a hill that looks out over the Tennessee River - not to far from it, and not to close - just right.  Perfectly appointed in all the rooms.  The service is impeccable, the food is superb, the weather (we've been now in spring and summer) has been wonderful.  I wish I could afford to stay on and on (but I can't).  On our first visit we had the opportunity to get to spend time with the chef/owner and really enjoyed talking with him.  He has since moved on and I was a little disappointed to learn he wouldn't be preparing our meals.  However, the new chef, whom I didn't meet, prepared the most outstanding and interesting dinner, so there was nothing to be disappointed there!  Once again, the staff and place's truly a magical oasis, hidden in the hills of Alabama!

The front of the lodge

The view from our balcony

Enjoying the afternoon on our balcony

Each person gets their own personalized menu - they added an additional filet and a mixed berry dessert as well (with an apology that it wasn't on the menu!)

Back at the Service Center, we ended up being taken care of faster than anticipated and things went quite smoothly!  Slide repaired, we found where the water leak was coming from (the back of the refrigerator!), the roof leak fixed, a new back-up screen and the windshield wiper fixed and even the window shade isn't crooked any longer!  Yea!  Life is good.

Now that Charles has brought my new roll-out pantry back, we are ready to roll on down the road again! (isn't it a beauty?)

...on the road to Tennessee... Marie