Chattanooga, TN / 2016-11-21

I like being efficient.  I like getting ready and going, but I have had to learn patience against this preference with four kids.  It is always a balancing act getting everyone ready and keeping a mental list of what needs to be done.  We are pretty good at it, but at the same time with four kids there are always variables to handle.  One kid may be having a hard time having their hair brushed, one kid may be grumpy and the others may be perfect in getting ready.  This morning was no exception.  Though we did run into some unexpected events along the way, we were only 30 minutes behind our intended time of departure.  We left our vacation home in Bryant, AL and headed into Chattanooga, TN, approximately a 40 minute drive.  Our first stop was Ruby Falls yelp_icon.

The story of how the falls were discovered, the walk through the caverns and the falls itself were amazing.  The kids did very well making the walk through the caverns (about 2/5 mile each way).
We spent as much time as we could at the falls enjoying the views and taking pictures before our tour group’s time at the falls was over.  They make this known by turning off the lights, which at 1132 feet below ground can make things quite dark!
We made our way back to they visitor center and gift shop and ended up having a picnic packed lunch outside on the grounds because they would not allow us to bring our food inside.  The kids loved just scrambling up the nearby rocks and eating here.
The view from atop Ruby Falls Tower
Next, we headed to the popular North Shore area of Chattanooga to explore.  We headed first to Walnut Street Bridge, which is the world’s longest pedestrian bridge.  On the way, we walked down an alleyway where an artist was adding to the number of chalk drawings on brick walls.  The kids (and Lisa) couldn’t resist picking up some chalk and adding their own drawings.
Then, we were onto the bridge, which was very long and the kids loved running its length while we enjoyed the views and taking pictures.
The cousins on Walnut Street Bridge
View of North Shore area from Walnut Street Bridge
From this viewpoint, the kids made quick work of picking out what they wanted to do next; the carousel and running around on the open fields.  So, we were off the bridge and down to the carousel and the park to let the kids just run around.  They had a great time at the carousel (they were the only riders!).
It is pretty amazing sometimes how little they need to have a great time.  We think we need to provide them with such great experiences, but sometimes they just need open air and open space.
As the sun started to recede, we headed back up from the riverfront to the shops of North Shore.  After some time looking around Blue Skies (a local shop), I headed out the back to grab the stroller and meet the group at the front of the store on the road.  We crossed the street and made a beeline for Julie Darling’s Donut Shop yelp_icon.  The kids were in heaven picking out their doughnut flavor (like Oreo, Banana Pudding and more) at this 60’s retro themed doughnut shop.
With their hunger somewhat satisfied and their energy low, we evaluated our next stop.  As we approached our vehicle, we realized that some of the kids were missing their jackets.  Our hope was that we had left them in the car, but when we arrived, there were no jackets.  I quickly retraced our steps and found where I had accidentally moved the empty stroller and dropped the hanging jackets from it.  Some nice soul picked them up, dusted them off and hung them from the stair railings.  I came back to a hero’s welcome (though largely undeserved).
While Lisa, her kids and Patty decided to head back to the rental home, we decided to drive around downtown Chattanooga (the south side of the river) and perhaps find some quick dinner.  It took Weston about 2 minutes to fall asleep in the car, so we looked for somewhere we could bring him in asleep and eat pretty quickly.  We ended up at Champy’s, which reviewers touted as the best fried chicken in the city.  They were right!  After dinner, we loaded into the car and headed back Bryant, AL.  By the time we arrived, all four kids were sleeping.  At the vacation home, we struggled with the decision on who and how to take with us tomorrow in our plans to visit Nashville.  We punted and pushed the decision to the morning to see who wanted to go with us.
This is Day 4 of our Tennessee and Alabama Thanksgiving 2017 trip.  Make sure to check out the rest of the trip!

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