Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend

We certainly love to travel and know that we are blessed to have had so much time to do so.  Now that Brian has taken a new job, we may not have quite as much time as in the past and we want to continue to pack in as much as possible with the time off we do have.  Thus, we took advantage of Brian's time between jobs and my time away from school and headed to Chattanooga, TN for Thanksgiving weekend.  We made an afternoon stop in town a few years back on our way home from Alabama, and I really loved downtown Chattanooga, and I was excited to spend more time there.    Our visit exceeded my expectations and it seems I’ve finally convinced Brian of my long-held belief that we should be living in a college town, though I always vote for Madison and he rather prefers Boulder, CO.

We arrived in Chattanooga the evening before and were able to get plenty of rest before starting our first day of climbing adventures.  We went climbing at a really fun area called Stone Fort (formerly called Little Rock City).   It’s very scenic and on a golf course, and you get great views of the city on the drive there.  The day started off slowly for me, but I packed in quite a bit of climbing later in the day and was plenty sore and tired by the time dinner rolled around. 

After climbing, we drove back to our hotel in town, got cleaned up and ventured out to find a restaurant open for dinner.  Many places were reservation-only, but we settled on Big River Grille.  There wasn’t much in the way of Thanksgiving options, so I had chicken pot-pie.  It was tasty and made me think of home (Dad likes   pot-pies, too), so I considered the meal a victory.  After dinner, we headed down the street to Applebee’s for an after-dinner drink.  We also watched a bit of the late NFL game before calling it a night. 

mid shoe change

Enjoying being outside on such a lovely day 

a little bit of rock climbing 

The weather was gorgeous on Friday.  The sun was shining and it was in the 60s.  We couldn’t have had a better weather day and considered climbing but were too sore and wanted to spend some time exploring Chattanooga.  We began our day with a leisurely breakfast at the hotel and then went to Rock Creek to do some shopping/browsing.  I picked out a jacket to add to my birthday/Christmas list and Brian found a few new shirts.  After that, we went to the movie theatre to see “J. Edgar.”  It was pretty interesting, though Brian and I, skeptics that we are, questioned the authenticity of the information in the movie.  After the movie, we walked to the Tennessee Aquarium, which has two sections.  We began our visit with the River Journey and saw a great number of overly-large fish.  Brian was right to assume that I may never venture into a lake again.  The less intimidating exhibit was the seahorse exhibit, which was really neat.  I also loved the otter exhibit.  The otters reminded us of our cat, Rumney; though she would never fare well in water, something about her cat face reminded us of the otters’ mugs.  After the River Journey, we went to Ben and Jerry’s for an afternoon snack.  We finished our aquarium tour with the Ocean Journey.  It was my favorite of the two sections.  Brian and I each took our turns attempting to pet stingrays and other slimy sea creatures.  I used more than my share of hand-sanitizer and then was off to see the penguins, which I had been waiting for all day.
After the aquarium, we walked to the river and sat outside for a bit enjoying the warm weather and sunshine.  Then, we went to Lupi’s for dinner.  It’s a local pizza place and it is delicious! After dinner, we headed back to the hotel for a bit and watched a little television before rounding out our day with a trip to Starbucks.

brick bench 

slimy - ick!

giant turtle shell 
stingray petting

Brian on the lookout for a stingray 
At least I'm bigger than some things
the river 

We returned to LRC for some more bouldering fun.  It wasn’t very sunny and rain was threatening to ruin the day, but it stayed rather warm and dry.  In order to go to Tennessee, I had to give up my tickets to the last Badger game of the regular season.  I requested that I be able to watch the game at the very least, and Brian delivered on that request.  We got it enough climbing in the morning that we were able to make it to BW3 (not my favorite place – I pretty much don’t eat anything on the menu – breaded meats or meat on bone), but there were lots of TVs and we were able to get there in time for kickoff (hooray for being an hour ahead of home and having time to climb and watch Bucky)!  At around half time, Brian surprised me with my birthday present, tickets to the first ever Big Ten Championship game….needless to say, I was beyond excited and nervously watched the second half of the game fearing something horrible might happen and my beloved Badgers may lose their lead.  There, of course, was no reason to worry, and after the game, we went to Lupi’s to celebrate the victory with pizza and beer. After dinner, we drove to the old train bridge, which is now a really neat pedestrian bridge and walked across it.  We also walked around the art district area and enjoyed one last evening of warm weather. 

rock climbing 

Brian is definitely the better climber :) 

UTC arena - it's no Kohl Center 

but it was 60 degrees in November  - the same can't be said for WI 

Aquarium from the walking bridge 

an evening stroll 


bridge to the museum 

Our amazing trip ended with a drive home that took much longer than expected.  After 13 hours (instead of around 10), we made it home.  We were happy to be out of the car, but we were certainly missing Chattanooga and the place we’d made a home-away-from-home for the past four day. We had a wonderful trip and I felt very relaxed after our mini-vacation.  I'm already ready for another. 

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