Sunday, May 8, 2011

Chattanooga and 3 State 3 Mountain Ride

This week was a really big week for us. We spent the week getting more acclimated to the area and getting out and about more. We spent the weekend in Chattanooga, TN, so that Ryan could do a century ride called the "3 State, 3 Mountain". We really enjoyed the trip.

On Monday, we didn't do a ton outside. The weather was pretty dreary and wet. Keira and Soren had a blast dancing around listening to the clock radio in their room. Sadly, we had to take it out because they couldn't listen and have fun at the same time. They were just too loud for an apartment.

Tuesday, we made it to the storytime at Pottery Barn Kids in the mall. It was pretty short, but Keira and Soren enjoyed it. We had planned to hit the drive through and take it to the Ford dealership to get the oil changed. When we got there, there was a huge wait, and we ended up just bringing our food home.

Wednesday was a pretty big day. We got up and hit the gym. I had a free personal training session for joining. It was a lot shorter than I expected, but was fine since I was able to still get in a decent swim as a result. After the gym, we went to the St Matthews library for their storytime. This was a lot more like what we were used to in Novi. They had a great storytime room with stadium seating and it was decorated with Eric Carle's "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" flags and paintings. Ms Emily did a great job of keeping the children entertained, and they finished up with a short craft.

After the library, we met up with my former gymnastics teammate, Stefanie, and her son Liam for some lunch at a breakfast/brunch restuarant called Wild Eggs. It was great to catch up with her and learn more about the area.

That evening, Ryan did a group ride and I took Keira and Soren to Cherokee Park for our first stroller run here in KY. The park is pretty cool, and similiar to Central Park in that it has roads for cars and people, as well as paths for just people and recreation. It was very hilly. We did 2 loops of the scenic drive for just under 5 miles. On our first loop, we passed a guy on a steep decent in the stroller at sub 7. He seemed pretty embarassed by that, but didn't go all the way around to pass me again on the uphill, which was really tough and slow. The stroller practically dragged me down the downhills, but it was so heavy to push uphill. Keira and Soren played for a little bit afterwards, but it was getting late and the ground was pretty wet so it limited where they could play.

On Thursday, I got in a long run before getting the oil changed in the truck. I am really glad I got it done because we ended up taking this to TN. It was a really nice day, and so we explored our neighborhood a bit. We checked out the clubhouse and played in the grass between the buildings. It looks like our pool should be opening soon, because it was already filled with water.

That evening, I went back to Cherokee park to ride on my own. I am behind on my riding, so I was glad to get this ride in.

On Friday, I got in a short swim before heading out to Chattanooga. Keira and Soren were very excited about the hotel room. We got in before Ryan's friends, Kent, David, Austin, and Mike, so we hung out in the room a bit.

Once everyone was there, went to the expo and then to Fazoli's to carbo load. Both Kent and David ordered 2 plates each of pasta.

On Saturday, the guys were up early to ride to the start of their ride. A tornado had hit the area with this past round of severe weather and so the route was modified to shorten it slightly, so they rode to and from the hotel instead of driving to get in the full 100 miles. The ride took them through Tennesee, Alabama, and Georgia. The final hill was not included.
Here is the group before the ride.

Austin got bib #1 since he was first alphabetically.

While the guys were riding, the kids and I did some sightseeing. Our first stop was the Chattanooga Choo Choo. It is a hotel. The station was the hotel lobby, and you could sleep in a train car as your room. The kids enjoyed the grounds and Soren was thrilled when the conductor came out. We were there too early for anything to be open other than the restaurant, but that was fine with us. It made this stop free.

Next, we went to the Tennesee Aquarium. It was very cool, and probably the best aquarium I have ever been to. You started on the 4th floor and wound yourself down to the ground floor. Each floor was dividing into two halves, with the middle of the building being huge tanks with a series of ramps that took you down each level. Very impressive. The kids had a blast. We spent several hours here, and didn't even realize we missed the second building until much much later.

It was fine, though, because we enjoyed playing outside the aquarium. We had some lunch at a fun pizza place called the Mellow Mushroom. They had great pretzel breadsticks. We did a litte more walking and running around downtown waiting to hear from Ryan. We went back to the hotel for a bit and then back downtown with everyone for some barbeque ribs (and chicken) at Sticky Fingers. We caught the Derby there. It was a bit weird to have left Louisville when so many people were coming into town for the Derby. Next year we will stick around. We finished off the night with ice cream at Ben and Jerry's.

The next morning was Mother's day. We had breakfast at the hotel and then got to sightseeing. Our first stop was the Incline Railway. It went up to the top of Lookout Mountain. Soren loved it because it was a train. It is the steepest commercial rainway in operation. We pretty much just rode it up, checked out the view, and then went back down.

Our next stop was Rock City. It was a scenic walk through gardens that provided a view of 7 states and a waterfall. It was pretty cool and the kids had fun. We were able to walk through some "slots" in rock along the way. They also had a little fairy tale land that was set up inside a cave that you walked through.

Our last stop was Ruby Falls. This was pretty spectacular. It was a waterfall inside a cave inside Lookout mountain. The caves were used by the Native Americans and by the US army during the civil war as a triage center. They were then closed up to make way for the railroad to go through. In the late 1920s, Leo Lambert wanted to drill down to make this accessible again to the public. He discovered the waterfall during his exploration. It was opened to the public in 1930. We traveled in an elevator down into the mountain and were guided on a tour taking us back to the waterfall. As we approached it, there was mood music and we could hear the waterfall, but not see it. Once we were all there, the lights illuminated the waterfall. It was very cool. We were able to walk behind it too and look up at it. The kids did not like getting wet, but enjoyed it. Soren was extremely upset when they turned the lights off (they were on a timer for the tours).

After that, we were on the road back to Kentucky!

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