Monday, June 4, 2007

Pardon Me, Is That The...

We just had the best weekend ever! Matthew planned a surprise vacation for P&G to Chattanooga, Tennessee. We went up on Saturday afternoon and were on our way back roughly 24 hours later, but it felt like we were there for a week.

We stayed in the Staybridge Suites, which was clean, spacious, and had all the amenities we could want. We highly recommend it. Once we checked in, we went out to the big three tourist attractions of Lookout Mountain, Ruby Falls, the Incline Railway, and Rock City.

Ruby Falls is a ginormous waterfall deep underground. We took an elevator down and then traveled by foot through the cave to reach it. We got to walk around behind the waterfall, and it was a little intimidating but very cool. G would not let us help him through the caves, because he could do it himself.

The Chipster really, really loved the Incline Railway. His mother was pretty scared at first, but when we started moving, I realized that it was a very slow descent and a very safe ride. There are some very lucky people who live next to the railway, and actually, we were amazed at the houses that were at the top. We can't even imagine how much they must cost, but that is some great real estate.

We didn't know what to expect at Rock City, but we knew that it's advertised all the way up to Michigan (kind of like how Frankenmuth has a billboard on I-75 in Florida) so it must be interesting, at the very least. It was amazing. The word "magical" came to mind again and again as we walked through the gardens, in the skinny cracks between the rocks, up to the lookout point ("See Seven States!"), and down into the caves. The last section was a black-lit, gnome-filled, genuine freak-out, but we could see how kids could be totally enchanted. Myself, my mind kept flashing back to the time I descended into Lenin's Tomb and walked around his body, expecting him to sit up and say hello. Kind of the same trepidation.

Although it was late when we got back to the hotel, P&G really wanted to go swimming, so we did, while M waited for dinner to arrive. It was Chip's first time in a swimming pool as far as we can remember, and he LOVED it. It was quite a task to get him out of the water. By the time we left, he was jumping off the side into my arms. The restaurant across the street delivered some great gyros and chicken fingers, and when we finished our shakes, we all went to sleep. G slept in his "big boy bed", which is a sleeping bag.

On Sunday, we went for a ride on an actual Chattanooga Choo-Choo, which was a big thrill for G because, well, he's a little boy, and for us because we're fans of Glenn Miller. We departed from the Grand Junction Station, which had an honest-to-God Burma Shave advertisement ("He tried/To cross/As fast train neared/Death didn't draft him/He volunteered/Burma-Shave") at its entrance. We got to see how they turn the engine around on a big turntable, and where they fix the trains, we talked for a few minutes with an actual blacksmith (he was making a bottle opener at the moment), and the conductor gave us special permission to sit out on the back of the train on the way back to the station. It was really, really fun.

Video to come, but in the meantime...