Sunday, April 17, 2011

♪ On the Road Again ♫

     Our second attempt at a Spring Break get away landed us in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I had been there as a kid, but Jeremy and the kids were making their first trip there.  I had bought raincoats in anticipation of our Chicago trip, but it looked like we were going to need them here as well, so we packed an overnight bag and headed out for a weekend of adventure.  Mia declared earlier in the week that she would no longer go on any trips in fear of getting sick.  I can't say that I blame her.  Jeremy and I both get motion sickness, so she gets it honest.  I started dosing her on dramamine the day before we left and our pediatrician (who we love, love, LOVE) called in a prescription, so we loaded up the car and crossed our fingers. This was only a 3 hour drive, so no where near the car time that we would have had on the previous excursion. We said our goodbyes to Nana and Everett and left around 6 a.m. on Friday.
     I am very happy to report that we made it without any nausea, and only a tiny bit of drama from Mia.  She was not happy that we wouldn't let her play with the DS, the phone, or anything else that would keep her eyes down for very long in the car.  But we made it there just the same.  On the way we stopped for gas, and the kids could not believe their eyes.  They had never seen an archaic gas pump before.  Jackson said, "Is that the kind they had in the old days, when y'all were kids?".  Parker wanted to know if we had to crank it to get the gas out.  I don't know where he thought that up, but it was very funny.

     It did pour down rain the entire day on Friday, so I gave myself a little pat on the back for buying raincoats for the kids.  Our first stop was the Tennessee Aquarium.  One of Jeremy's passions in life is fish, so we are constantly on the lookout for aquariums and fish stores whenever we travel.  They have 2 huge buildings here, one is oceanic and the other is river animals.  This was Parker's first time to an aquarium, so he thought everything was cool.  "Oh My!" is his new favorite phrase and we heard a lot of it Friday.  Jeremy knows so much about it all that the kids really get an education.  They even had some fish that we have at home, so the kids thought that was really neat.  Mia loved the butterfly room, Jackson liked the penguins, and Parker was just nuts about everything.

     After the aquarium we were all starving, so we walked a few blocks to Lupi's.  It's a local pizza place that we actually heard about from our waiter at Rosie's one night.  Everything is made fresh and they use all local stuff. Another bonus is that they have an old table top Pac Man machine, so that made it even better!  By the time we finished it was really pouring down, so Jeremy got the car and picked us up and we headed to our hotel to check in.
     We stayed at the Chattanoogan downtown, which was very nice.  I immediately noticed we were dealing with 2 double beds in this room, which might be a problem with all of our wiggle worms, but we would worry about that later.  We unpacked, jumped on the beds, freshened up from the rain, and headed to Ruby Falls. 

     Ruby Falls is a cave inside of Lookout Mountain.  We rode the elevator, which was very fast in my opinion,  260 feet down to the opening of the cave.  Once we scraped our stomachs off the ceiling we stepped out into the cave.  The kids had never seen anything like it.  Jackson was immediately in love and was ready to take off by himself to explore.  I guess I failed to mention that this was a guided tour.  Mia thought it was neat as well, but Parker was a different story.  We started walking and about a quarter of the way through he says, "This place is scary.  I'm ready to leave."  Parker is our fearless child, so this surprised me, but I guess it is kind of daunting to a 3 year old.  I convinced him that he was a totally cool explorer in this cave and that he would love the waterfall at the end, so he ventured on with us.  We stopped at a few spots along the way so our guide could point out formations in the rock.  Then we finally got to a huge opening where the waterfall would be.  We could feel the spray as we walked into this room and the kids all got very excited.  There in front of us was a 145 foot waterfall.  It's the largest "indoor" falls in North America.  We took some (blurry) photos and headed back to the elevators.  By this time Jeremy was very ready to be back on the top of this mountain.  I think he is getting claustrophobic in his old age!  We made it back up and it was still raining, so Jeremy picked us up again.  We grabbed some dinner and went back to the room for the night.

     The following description of sleeping arrangements is exactly how I feared it would be: 
Arrangement # 1 - Me and Jeremy in 1 bed, all the kids in the other.  This did not work because the kids kept talking and giggling.
Arrangement #2 - Parker and Jeremy in 1 bed, Me and Mia in the other bed, Jackson between the beds in a pallet on the floor.  This lasted about 3 hours until I heard Parker fall off the bed.  Luckily we stacked pillows between the bed and the wall and he never even woke up.  This scared Jackson and he wanted to be back in a bed.
Arrangement #3 - Parker on the pallet in the floor, Jackson and Mia in 1 bed, Me and Jeremy in the other bed.
Needless to say we had a very sleepless night.  I told Jeremy the next morning that I thought our days of a single hotel room were over.  Especially when we have all 4 kids with us.  Too many bodies, not enough beds.
     Saturday morning we got ready and headed out for a quick bite to eat before our last tourist destination.  We were off to ride the Incline Railway to the top of the mountain.  These railcars go straight up the side of the mountian.  We started at the bottom and the seats are almost laying down, so by the time you reach the top you're almost standing up.  The roof (which turns into your front window) is made of glass, so we could see everything down below.  They let us out at the top and we climbed to 3 different observation decks.  I am not big on heights, so even with  fences and steel bars everywhere I watched the kids like a hawk.  I could just see one of them hopping the fence and tumbling down the side of the mountain.  It was still cloudy, but the rain had stopped, so we had pretty good views.  We took some photos and rode the train back down.  It was very unnerving having to sit on the train looking straight down at the tracks while we watied for it to fill up with people, but we made it to the bottom alive.

     We doped Mia up and headed toward home.  This was Parker's first vacation where we didn't stop moving.  He's been to the beach before, but that's not a typical vacation for our family.  We usually hit the ground running and don't stop.  He did very well with all the walking, so I think in the future it will be no problem for him.  Most everyone got a good nap in the car after our eventful night of muscial beds.  We were very glad to get home and see Everett.  Even if it was just 1 night away I missed him like crazy! 
     It has been a wild week with us, so I was happy we ended up getting away, even if it wasn't what we had planned. I was also equally as glad to be home with all my babies and start preparing for our more organized week coming up.  A few more weeks of school and we will be done for the summer.  I can't wait for those long days of having all the kids home and making spontaneous plans!

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