Friday, June 16, 2017

Summer 2017 Road Trip ~ Day 2: Columbus, GA to Chattanooga, TN

I had a semi uncomfortable night as the bed was way too soft for me and it felt that I woke up a lot. My daughter slept like a rock!  I had left an alarm on by mistake so I ended waking up at 7:15 a.m.  There was a coffeemaker in our room so I brewed my coffee and caught up on the news, etc. while she slept for another hour.

We had showered the night before so we just packed up our stuff when she woke up, and went down to breakfast. The complimentary breakfast buffet was excellent. I was very happy to see so many good options for me!   My daughter indulged in a waffle and grabbed a blueberry muffin for the road.  I had some eggs, a Dannon Light & Fit yogurt, and a cup of fruit, along with a cup of skim milk and some good coffee.  I grabbed an English muffin for my snacks throughout the day and also an apple from the front desk as we left. as well as a "to go" cup of coffee.  We felt sad that we hadn't explored Columbus, but Chattanooga awaited us!

I was so happy to be able to make good choices on my first morning on vacation!  
Once there, we had wanted to go to Lookout Mountain and Greg had recommended going to the national park but said it was hard to find.  I looked up Lookout Mountain the night before and saw that there were 3 attractions on it. My daughter had wanted to visit caves or a cavern so I suggested we go to Ruby Falls since we could see an underground waterfall in a cave! She agreed.

So we left Columbus at about 9:30 a.m. and took mostly back roads to Chattanooga. That added another hour to our trip, but we didn't mind as the scenery was very pretty and we drove leisurely through the Georgia countryside instead of rushing on an interstate (and going through Atlanta, which I didn't want to do).

No traffic!

First view of the mountains, so exciting for us Floridians!

A pretty house. I love those wide wrap-around porches.

On a smaller road now, still no traffic and another mountain. Life was good :)

We didn't stop there but it made me think of my honey :)

And that too because he'd have definitely stopped there but my daughter had no interest in Civil War battlefields. Sheesh, good thing she changed her mind from majoring in History in college...

Some monument... I needed some photos for the blog!

The only stops we made were to gas up and stretch our legs and we once again took turns driving.  One of our stops took us to an Ingles Supermarket so I could use the restroom, and we purchase some fresh veggies to munch on, sugar free fruit spread for me, and some milk for my daughter. I asked for the Ingles customer loyalty card, since I could save $1 on the fruit spread with the card!  Also Greg will be able to use it when he visits his daughter.  I didn't have much to purchase or I would have tried to get some coupons doubled!  How exciting was it for me to take that picture, since we don't have double coupons in Florida :)

I've always wondered if their stores' marquees specify "American owned" because their name could be pronounced as the Spanish word "ingles", which means "English"...  honestly, I think that's why.  Does anyone know?

How exciting but all the rules made my head hurt!  Maybe I won't be so envious of Alison anymore!
I didn't have any coupons to redeem so I didn't have to worry about that.
On our way back to the SUV, I found a dime.  Then about 30 ft later,  I found a penny... and then 10 ft later, another penny!  I texted Greg that I could definitely live in Georgia since people threw money on the ground, lol.  Seriously, though, that part of Georgia really appeals to me. I love the scenery, that's for sure.

My morning snack was 1/2 the English muffin from the breakfast bar, with a tablespoon of the sugar-free apricot spread that I had just bought. Yum.

Once again we stopped at Subway for lunch. We decided we would do that as much as possible, as eating a Veggie Delight allows me to have a dinner-size portion of proteins at night, and my daughter loves the chicken breast sub.  For dessert, I had the apple I had grabbed at the hotel.

Once we reached Chattanooga, my daughter was driving and I was navigating, since Ruby Falls didn't have an address for the GPS, I had to read the directions from the website.  She handled it like a pro, despite feeling a little uncertain, once we got to climbing up the mountain road and especially down the narrow and steep (for us Floridians!) access roads to the parking lot!  I won't lie,  I was so happy to get the SUV parked safely because I had white knuckles next to her :)

I didn't take any pictures during the drive up the mountain, I was too nervous since it was her first time driving up a mountain on a tiny road, in my large SUV with loads of other traffic zipping down the mountain!

The narrow, downhill road to the parking lot. It doesn't look bad in the picture but again, once she was at the top of the road,
we couldn't see anything ahead of us (downhill, and large hood) and weren't sure that the SUV would fit on the tiny road!

Part of the building containing the ticket booths and the line to get in the elevator going down to the cave.
The line to buy the tickets was very long. So I texted Greg to tell him we were there and he called me back... come to find out, he had started working on replacing the posts on the front porch (we had old metallic posts that had rusted) and he decided to also replace some rotten wood surrounding our main door frame.  But when he did that, suddenly the whole wall fell down! It's not a large wall, just a small wall to the right of the door we use as our main door, but apparently the old siding fell down and broke apart and all the wood behind it was rotten because whatever water barrier was behind it was long gone.  Oh my. Poor Greg!  I'm so glad I wasn't there, I would have freaked out.  So he spent the whole day fixing it. He had to go buy pressure treated lumber and recreate the frame of the wall, and affix waterproof felt, recreate a "wall" with planks to close it all off, and now he's having to figure out what to do to replace the siding. Our siding is very old and they don't make that style anymore. It's not plastic like they do nowadays and very wide.  I don't know what he's going to do. I'm relieved that he was able to take care of it all, though. On a weekend and without knowing who to call to get that fixed, we would have been up a creek without a paddle!

Meanwhile, my daughter and I visited Ruby Falls. She liked it, I thought it was OK. We went down several hundred feet into the mountain via an elevator, and then took a guided tour that was cheesy and not very informational through the caves to the waterfall at the end. It was very busy so it was like being in a long line, like a Disney World, the whole time.

Most of my pictures didn't turn out, but it wasn't all that impressive anyway, IMO.

So this is the end where the waterfall is. It's really just a  very large trickle of water coming from the top,
as if you were an ant and someone had turned on a faucet up above.  They say that they don't really
know where the water is coming from or even going, although they put some dye in it and found
it in the Tennessee River so it's partly going there.  End of my cave photos.
Before we left, I got my daughter some roasted almonds for a snack and I had the same snack as in the morning, using up the 2nd half of my English muffin.

When we came back up, we decided to go check out Rock City. I didn't really want to pay another $50 in entrance fees for a lame attraction, especially since it was 5:00 p.m. already and they closed at 8 p.m., but we decided that we might as well and we actually loved it.

But first, walking back to our SUV, we came across this guy...

I drove up the mountain this time. It was far less stressful :) There were lots of pretty houses, very expensive I'm quite sure.

Of course, when we got to our destination, there was one of those across the street!

My daughter at Rock City Gardens
 There were 2 different "trails" that you could take to Lover's Leap, the main attraction.  But they were more like walkways around and in between huge boulders and narrow passages, on a couple of levels. It was quite whimsical and neat.

There were no goblins inside, though.

This was a suspension bridge. I took it confidently, not thinking about being on a suspension bridge.
But about 1/3 of the way in, I got panicky (I'm very afraid of heights, what was I thinking?!) and started
laughing and crying at the same time. My daughter had to help me the rest of the way but she was
laughing at me at the same time. I don't blame her, it was a ridiculous display!

Lover's Leap

I was nervous about her looking over the railing so she took this weird position to reassure me
that she wouldn't fall over the railing!

The weather was lovely and there was a music festival going on. I would have loved to sit on the terrace, have a cup of coffee, and listened to them, they were very talented and it was so relaxing. But my daughter was eager to move on.

This state that the singer, Amber Carrington, was a semi-finalist on Season 4 of "The Voice" (I don't watch that show) and performed at the Grand Ole Opry 3 times already.
 We saw pretty flowers too.

I love hortensias!


Well, this fat woman did squeeze in and was able to go down. It was deceptively narrow. The bottom
of the passage was actually wider and the narrow part was where your head would go. So it wasn't
so bad.

We spotted a deer!  We were excited until we realized that it was in an enclosure, a level below us, and then I felt sad for it. Obviously it was lonely, just looking up at all the tourists up there. I'm not a huge fan of animals in captivity (says the woman with 6 indoor cats!) but maybe it was for its own good?  I'm not sure.

Lord of the Rings?!

This part was fun but also a little creepy.  The caverns were full of fairy tale and children songs' scenes
recreated with dwarves or gnomes (à la Snow White) and statuettes painted in fluorescent colors for the most part, and with
a weird decor style. I think they were made by German artists in the 40s.

I took this picture with the flash to show the whole decor made with shells and corals.

Another scene where this gnome is fishing.  Once again, it reminded me of Greg.
Once we were done with Rock City, we drove to our hotel, another Country Inns & Suites.  We were very disappointed to find it undergoing renovations (which wasn't mentioned on the app) and the construction workers have a 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. schedule!  Our room is OK, unfinished (we're missing an interior door, for instance, and there was no trash can so we had to request one).  All the hallways are down to the drywall, and it smells like new construction materials.

The hallway to our room. The carpets were badly stained, the walls were just bare drywall. It was
almost like a low-rent horror movie... I know you don't spend the night in the hall but still!

The entrance to our bedroom. I'm not a fan of the style and that couch was VERY uncomfortable and brand new so it had a chemical odor to it.

The very garish bathroom. It was like a high schooler decorated it. But even my daughter hated it.

And the shower... what abomination was that?!  The water pressure wasn't good so the 5 different jets at waist and chest level were very weak and you had to stand pretty close to the "dispenser" so you had no choice but to get your hair wet too because the water automatically fell from up above too. It was a mess.

We had to share a king-size bed that night.
But oh well, we settled in and then went to find a Panera's to have dinner.

Once there, I found out that despite having asked the cashier who had sold me the gift cards last month, back home, to make sure that the $10 complimentary gift cards had been activated indeed were because I wasn't going to be using those in Florida, one of them had NOT been activated. Arrrgh.  I'll have to deal with it when I get home.  I had the strawberry poppyseed salad with chicken and a piece of bread. It was so good!

My daughter was tired and getting a little cranky, so I offered to get her ice cream and she was happy because she had been pondering whether to ask me if I could take her to get ice cream, since she knows I'm on a diet. However, I don't really care for ice cream all that much so it didn't bother me. We found a Bruster's, though, and I do love Bruster's ice cream, but I just took a tiny bite of hers and was satisfied.

We saw a hobby store that I would have liked to visit to see if I could find anything interesting for Youngest Son, but alas it was already closed :(

We spent the rest of the evening planning our day tomorrow, and took showers before turning in at about midnight. It was another successful day!


  1. OMG! What a fabulous day. I would have loved those caves. Do you buy postcards? I am in the habit of buying them for myself....not to mail away. Sometimes it is impossible to get great photos, either because it is not allowed or because of the swarms of other tourists. So I will end a tour at the gift shop to pick up the excellent postcards they have for sale. These I add to my memory books to add to my own collection of photos. I liked the ones you did take of the caves, but the ones you took outside of the paths through rock gardens and up to Lovers' Leap were excellent. Too bad you were not "allowed" to sit down for a coffee and the concert in those gorgeous surroundings. Ha.

    I also like to go on the roads less traveled. The scenery is usually much better and you get to visit the small towns along the way. There is a much better chance to see wildlife. Too bad about your accommodations. It looked comfy enough, but maybe they should have offered some recompense for the construction inconvenience. When us "girls" went down to the Jersey shore a couple of years ago, the resort was under construction. It didn't bother us one bit; but every single afternoon, they offered an hour of free cocktails and appetizers along with some entertainment as an apology for the inconvenience.

    I am also amazed by the free continental breakfast choices. It has come a long way from a muffin and coffee.

    1. Well, as you know, I don't do "real" memory books so no, I don't buy postcards for that. I did buy 2 postcards related to the Blue Ridge Parkway, one to send to my mom and one to my great aunt, but I haven't even written them yet!

      We didn't see much wildlife on our trip, but my daughter did see 5 turkeys (at different times) on the side of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and I saw several chipmunks, groundhogs and a fawn. But each time we were driving so we didn't get to photograph any of them :(

      As for the hotel, the front desk attendant mentioned that he took $10 off my bill. We didn't complain, other guests were complaining a lot so we were nice to the poor staff. I did leave a very bad review on Trip Advisors though. The construction workers were making noise until 10 p.m. and were supposed to start again at 8 a.m. but thankfully it seems they didn't work on Sundays!). When I looked at my bill, however, a couple of days later, the final price was the price I had been "guaranteed" on their app so I wasn't happy about that. The manager wanted me to call him to discuss this but you know me and CALLING people so I didn't bother. I did make sure to check all the comments on each hotel prior to booking one from then on, and if it said they were undergoing renovations, I picked a different hotel.

      The breakfasts were amazing, I have to say, although they differed even within the same brand of hotels. But most mornings I was able to get either an omelet or an egg white omelet, fat free or lowfat milk, light yogurt, and a bagel or English muffin (and the Holiday Inn Express had signs to share that they had whole wheat versions of a lot of their baked goods, on demand). And of course lots of fruit, either whole (apples, oranges, bananas) or cut up (melon). That's just for what I could eat. My daughter had the choice between muffins of various flavors, Belgian waffles or pancakes, biscuits (with or without gravy), sometimes bacon, almost always some kind of sausage link or patty, whole milk, various kinds of cereal including Special K with strawberries (her favorite!) and I probably even forget something. It made me regret being on a diet, I'll tell you! But I was good and stuck to the healthier items, woohoo me! Of course, I think it makes for a more expensive hotel cost overall, but we'd probably have spent more and not been as healthy going out every morning (plus I'd take a fruit and a bagel or English muffin for the road too). We paid between $94 and $150 per night, after all taxes. No cheap motel for me :)

  2. Rock City look like something I would really like visiting some day. Glad you enjoyed it. I'm not sure that I've ever been a commercial cave that wasn't cheesy.

    1. I really didn't expect to enjoy it as much as we did! I wouldn't spend the whole day there and I think the admission price is a little steep for what it is, in the end, but it definitely was something we enjoyed very much.

      I think I'm with you on caves. Plus, I think that once you've been a stalactite and a stalagmite, you've seen them all. However, I really enjoyed the prehistoric cave that the kids and I visited in France in the summer of 2015. That was really something, even though it wasn't as lavishly decorated as Lascaux. It was just so amazing to think that millions of years ago, humans had made those drawings. We all loved it. Quite honestly, after seeing that, I don't think that I'll ever enjoy a cave quite as much!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your vacation pictures with us. It is almost like going on the vacation along with you! :)

  4. Your daughter not only has brains, but she is beautiful as well. Oh, that hair! Naturally wavy? Gorgeous!

    1. You are so sweet, thank you! Yes, her hair is naturally wavy. She has a love/hate relationship with it and sometimes straightens it.

    2. I have natural wavy hair so I DO understand that relationship! Ha! I have never straighten my hair though! WAYYYY to ADD for that! I can't sit still for that long! lol

  5. I don't know either what the "American owned" sign at Ingles is all about, but I noticed it in Greenville, SC (they have several of the stores there).

    Love that one picture of Lover's Leap rock...but I think that fascination of lovers jumping off that rock is just, well, sad. It looks like you had a fantastic trip. Heading on to catch up and read some more!

    1. They're all over NC too, Greg shops there when he goes to his daughter's. Yeah, I agree that it's weird that people are fascinated with how others have died, but I only halfway believe all those tales of "a young couple who jumped to their death" because I see those only almost every single rocky outlook that I visit!


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