Wednesday, June 16, 2010

my hard head knew better...

So I may look like a hiking rockstar here, but let me be clear about something. I "lived" a good lesson in gear on this hike up and down Mt LeConte last week. Having hiked this mountain many many times, I knew what to expect, but ignored it in my hard-headed fashion when it comes to packs.

Here's a few comments about gear and its potential positive or negative effects on a hiking experience.

See that little pack I got on in this photo? Little $8 dollar pack I got at a shoe store on a "spin the board" sorta game thing. Granted this pack is stellar for little day hikes, but it's certainly not meant to go 15 miles nor a combined total of 6,500' in elevation with any amount of true weight in it. My shoulders were SCREAMING about an hour into this hike. While it performed like a rockstar (as in didn't tear or fall apart), but on a comfort level when packed full and weighted down, I give it a 1 out of 5 rating. So let's just say lesson learned in the value of a properly fitted pack for not only the amount of gear, but the weight of gear and proper distribution of that weight across one's lumbar region.

I'll be shopping for a "medium sized" pack that's MEANT to carry some weight in it before my next hike like this!

On another more positive note, my Asolo boots DID in fact perform like rockstars! I realized on this hike that I've had this same pair of boots since 1997!! (although resoled this past year) A good pair of boots are like having clouds strapped to your feet when it comes to hiking. Well worth whatever the dollar amount. Don't skimp on boots.

But one funny thing did happen with my boots on this hike. At one point I had some little pebble under my heel so I stopped to take it off, shake out the pebble and continue moving down that trail. Well, as I retied it, the string popped into two pieces in my hand. Everyone looked at me like I just had a train wreck (because everyone stopped to watch this process with my boot). Undisturbed, I just tied that string in a little knot and off we all went again. LOVE my boots!!

So don't be fooled about gear. Those "gear" issues of Backpacker magazine are published for a reason!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Mountains are calling!!

I had the privilege of accompanying my long-time bud Robin Huskey Dailey, her nephew Brandon and his friend Caleb on a hike up to Mt LeConte last week!

Spending the night as a guest at the LeConte Lodge has been on my bucket list for some time. So naturally I wasn't about to say anything but YES, when Robin called me to see if I was interested in going!

It was like visiting an old friend for a few days...that Mountain holds some very fond memories down to the very the trails we took. (Not to mention it was tons of fun to hang out with Robin again!)
Alum Cave Bluff on the way up (took us 4 hrs cause why hurry), a 5.1 miler with an elevation gain of 2,560' it's nothing short of a butt kicker. Bullhead trail on the way down (took us 4.5 hrs cause again why hurry), a 6.9 miler with an elevation drop of 3,940'.

Click here to view all the photos.

Needless to say, the leg muscles got a serious workout! And I find that my head is still on that mountain some three days later... it was SUCH a wonderful experience...again! So over the next few days I'll be telling some stories and some memories from this trip.

Wow! Anyone can hike this Mountain, given the right pace...and oh how empowering it is...for everyone who goes there!

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

blew out my flip flop...but not on a pop-top...

Sad day cause I blew out my flip-flop on Memorial Day. I know everyone has their favorite flip-flops...and these were mine. My Teva flip-flops from like 1989! yeah, that's right! My old friend...sign.

So was paddling on Harrison Bay with my bud Ellen Kimbro...and we ferried out on a spot where it required we walk on the mucky, thick clay bottom of the bay....and while I was stepping up onto the flip-flop blew out. Yes, we laughed...but...goodbye old friend.

Sad day...but at the same time...creates a great excuse to invest in another pair...which might last me another 20 years. Who knew a pair of flip-flops could last sooooo long. These guys have been at the Ocoee River, up Mt LeConte (Smoky Mtn National Park), in Dayton-Oh, Amarillo-Tx, Pembine-Wi, and of course ye ole home town of Delta-Oh, and on and on the list goes.

So good-bye old friends...RIP. Love me some Tevas!!!

Peace out, Rachel

Monday, May 24, 2010

way past due...!

Wow, I'm way past due here updating my site with the latest greatest Rachel adventures. and geez, between paddling my kayak on Harrison Bay and hiking at North Chickamauga Creek (NCC) is good!
Today I went to NCC to hike and swim. It was a bit on the hot/humid side today, so what better place to do both! I'm prepping to hike Mt LeConte next month, so I needed what I call a "suck wind" trail. And this one delivers. Long uphill grade with lots of beautiful views and waterfalls and such. It was fab today! (add in that I didn't see any snakes...a good day)
So this photo I took when I was pausing at what's pretty much the top of the climb. Impressed that I wasn't showing any of the exhaustion I was feeling. I could really tell the effects of the humidity today. Felt like I was hiking in slow motion.
I hiked for about 2 hrs and then changed shoes and hit the creek. The water felt soooo good! Rock hopped up the creek for a bit, dunked a few times, sunned a bit and called it a day.
...more to come! happy trails.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

a walk in the park...

Couldn't stand it. Had to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather we had here today!!! Sunny and 67!

So drove over to Booker T Washington State Park off Hwy 58 and hit the "mountain bike trail" on foot again!

What a FAB trail! Even if you do have to step aside every so often to let the bikers pass. No big deal. The views on this trail are awesome! A little meander through the woods, a little walk along the bay, a bit of hills and truly a great workout can be had!

I took a few "short cuts" this time around since I was more familiar with this trail today that I was the last time I hiked it. Still managed to be out there for a solid 2 hours. Stellarness!!!

Nothing like that after-hiking-tired-just-gotta-sit-down-for-a-while feeling.

Glad to say, my boots are holding up. Yeah for that!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 partly cloudy-ish

It's in cloudy days like these that I'm reminded...that I don't truly appreciate a thing until I don't have it...and in this instance...I'm referring to the Sun!

The other day while convincing myself that "hey, this is no big deal, all these cloudy days" and "maybe I could live in Seattle" and then of course the following thought was, "RACHEL, STOP! be careful what you wish for. Why would you choose to experience cloudy days et-nauseam?"
So, three cheers for sun. It's predicted we'll see it here again on Friday coupled with 68 degrees!! for which I am EVER so grateful!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


For those of you who know me...besides the outdoors and original art, I LOVE hearing live jazz and/or big band performances! And since moving to Chattanooga...finding live jazz has been a bit of a challenge (although in all's likely that way everywhere but maybe New Orleans if I were to jazz isn't one of the most adored genres by the masses). So anyway...I was thumbing through fyi weekend "events" paper published by the Times Free Press and there in big bold letters was "JJ's hosts swing, comedy."
(yes, I too thought swing and comedy was an interesting pairing...but hey...whatever).

What really caught my eye in the paper was a big photo showing members of this band "Miss Tess and the Bon Ton Parade" along with their instruments... guitar, sax and upright base. Had me at upright base and sax!

But as I dug for a little more info I found this group's website and listened to audio clips on their myspace page. OH MY Goodness! And they're from Brooklyn! ok...another reason I now was interested in seeing their live performance.

Can I just say...I fully believe Miss Tess's voice can be compared to that of Diana Krall! So here I am now seriously considering going out to JJ Bohemia's downtown where they would be performing on a Tuesday night at 10p. And then...I happened to catch a live radio interview with Miss Tess and her Bon Ton Parade on WUTC fm. Ok, this was no hearing this interview. Now I KNOW I have to go hear this group. And I certainly wasn't disappointed!

LOVE this group! I did get to meet and speak briefly with Miss Tess and Alec the saxophone player too. Good people, talented musicians...and Miss Tess, stellar vocalist.

Here's a little write up I found online about Miss Tess:

"Equipped with her 1920s Weymann guitar, a satchel full of new songs and joined by a stellar band that includes upright bass, saxophone & clarinet, and drums, Miss Tess is ready to make sweet music for your ears with her fifth release Darling, Oh Darling. The Boston-based singer-songwriter is best known for her ability to invoke the sounds of Classic Jazz and Roots Americana circa the 1930s-50s with a distinctive spunk and imagination that shows that she is much more than a tribute act. She springs a new life into some of the best styles of yesteryear with the dozen original compositions on her latest record."

Modern, fresh take on Classic Jazz and 30's Era swing. yep...that's what I'd call it! I mean can you go wrong with upright base, sax, clarinet, guitar and drums and a vocalist with a special talent for this style of song?

I may just have to go hear them play in Nashville at the Lovelace Cafe in September.

Check this group out! ...and if you've ever read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and the chapter about the 10,000 hour rule, then you'll understand me when I say, Miss Tess and the Bon Ton Parade is well on their way to their 10,000 hrs!!

...shorts and t-shirt time!

Isn't it funny how Spring flirts with us? Warm 60s - 70s one day, then back to 50s the next. I think it just makes us appreciate things me crazy.

So I couldn't resist grabbing my kayak and paddling on Harrison Bay Monday when it was near 70 degrees outside. Shorts, tshirt, crocks, boat, pfd, waterproof cellphone case, bottle of water, boat and paddle in tow off I went.

As you can see by the's been a while since my eyes have seen full sun. And the water was beautiful!!

It was most fun walking past all the picnickers to get to the water as I put in near the Marina at Harrison Bay State Park. (there's more evidence that everyone has cabin fever BAD...and is dying to get outside...the park was pretty busy with folks fishing from shore, picnickers and families taking advantage of some much needed outdoors time.)

Since I'm still getting used to navigating wake (there were quite a fishing boats up and down the bay and there was even someone water skiing that day) ...I stayed close to shore as I paddled around the peninsula to the other side of the park and back. I'm also still not used to paddling a body of water as big as Harrison Bay in my little boat. But frequency will bring I'll go back as weather permits. :-)

Yeah for watersports! ...and I'm so looking forward to further exploration of this beautiful body of water.

...and then there's the rocks

Well, as many of you know, the winter has been long and gray and snowy and cold...and rainy too for that matter. And everyone I talk with right now is biting-at-the-bit to be when the least little bit of warm temps and the sun pops through...everyone is rushing to get out and enjoy it.

That's what I did last Saturday afternoon. I'd been wanting to hike the section of trail between Indian Rockhouse and Snooper's Overlook in Prentice Cooper Wildlife Management Area (PCWMA). So off I went...and I wasn't disappointed!

This trail runs along a ridge overlooking the Tennessee river to the views are ever-so-stellar! Yet as shown in the photo above...the trail does meander into the woods at times too. I couldn't help myself from snapping that was one of those places on the trail that makes to stop walking and you just stand there...gazing at nature. And of course, here I go again playing around with shadow shots. :-)

Just as the last time I was in the was early evening (around 4p) when I got out onto the trail...and I was amazed by how quiet it was up there. As birds singing. You could hear the wind and a few distance dogs barking in the valley below...but it was eerily quiet beyond that. And like gazing at an original painting or listening to live music it was moving somehow. Like gulping water after being thirsty this little spot in the woods was filling.

And then there were the rocks. It's funny having been away from mountainous areas how I forgot about the rocks. They're beautiful these rocks! So much color and texture and grandeur. (ok now I'm starting to sound a little too I'm going to move on) Anyway, I'm trodding along and look up as the trail turns and it looks for a moment like the trail just disappears. But you can't miss the big white blaze on the tree common sense tells me that the trail goes down through that rock there. Sure enough...and what a cool little ascent that was...down behind what's known as Indian Rockhouse. Very cool!

I hiked for about an hour that once again, the arrival of dusk pushed me out of the woods. But it was well worth every minute! Prentice Cooper is quickly becoming one of my favorite wilderness areas here in the Chattanooga area! (as if you couldn't tell). :-)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

field trip time!


That was exactly what I said when I climbed out of my vehicle today in Knoxville at the Clayton Homes show site on Alcoa Highway and saw it!

I'd been wanting to see one these green modular homes with my own eyes ever since I read about them in the Associated Press over a year ago.

And after viewing the ihouse website over and over, I realized that one of these were on display in Knoxville (the next closest city to see one is North Carolina or Missouri).

So today I hopped in my truck and drove just under 2 hours to see it! Obviously from the photo above it was an overcast day...perfect day for a field trip. And since one of my growing passions is green construction, why not visit the I-house?

Can you say INNOVATION? A modular home with a rain-collection system, rooftop sun deck, solar-panels, tankless water heater, bamboo flooring and on and on the list goes!

I was bummed to learn that neither a holding tank nor any sort of usability comes with the rain-collection system included with the i-house. But to no avail. I already found a solution for that at

I was totally stoked to learn how much more customizable the units have become since their inception. But don't be fooled...the layouts and design options found at ihouse online are fabulous in their own right! You can pick your own design and order it right from the site!

The sales person I spoke with today (thank you Justin for answer all my questions so thoroughly!) was very knowledgeable about these homes, their construction, land prep, build time, and so forth.

Another thing that really shocked me was learning that since the initial conception of the ihouse that IKEA has dropped the ball. (those are my words there) IKEA cabinetry was originally slated to be an optional feature in this home...according to Clayton. But since, IKEA has shown no interest in partnering with them? Whaaaaat? I LOVE IKEA...but what on earth are you guys thinking by not wanting to partner with Clayton on this project? Really? Respect points lost in my book. Maybe Clayton was premature in assuming that IKEA would choose to partner with them...but heck, I would have assumed that too. Why not partner with this project? Seems like such a win-win. Modular homes with super cool modern cabinetry and furniture? Sounds like perfection to me! anyway...

...and one of Clayton's manufacturing facilities for this little gem is in East Tennessee! How COOL is THAT?

So after spending about an hour in Knoxville checking out this housing option, I'm sold!

For more info visit: more from fellow blogger Lisa Hoffman...she went to see an ihouse model in Colorado. here's what she had to say.

Monday, February 22, 2010

no words...stillness in the silence.

First time ever I saw a sign posted that read "foot traffic only beyond this point." Hmm, that's a new one. Understandably so once I past the sign. Rough rocky terrain on a trail that led to the overlook here on the left that was sheer cliff on three sides.

Saturday night...I did another one of my favorite things. Stopped by Subway, grabbed a sandwich with intent to "picnic" in the woods looking out over scenery and silence that enhances any flavor!

I've had my eye on Prentice Cooper Wildlife Management Area here in Chattanooga for some time...and particularly an area I've not previous explored. The north rim overlooking the Tennessee River. Unfortunately, I didn't get out to the trail as early as I wanted so had to cut my hiking time short due to "darkfall", but it was still stellar nonetheless. (I'm not the biggest fan of "down and back" I much prefer loop trails...but hey, when it's a rim trail...I'll take it!)

I started with dinner at the overlook here in the above photo. (Snooper's Rock Overlook) and then after a quick chat with some other hikers I met there, off I went north along the trail towards Indian Rockhouse and Stone Door. I wasn't in any real hurry because the views were stunning...and I knew I'd have to turn around soon. The most moving thing of this day's experience was the silence. It was eerie how quiet the woods were this late in the day. I could hear dogs barking in the valley below. At one point I just had to sit down and simply enjoy the stillness...and observe the beauty of this place.

I turned around and headed back to the trail head as the sun began to drop below the mountains and couldn't help but notice how good the air smelled too. So much so that I took in such a deep breath of this air that I could taste it. Spring was in that air!

Truly another spiritual experience as I wandered the woods observing the sheer beauty that nature provides. It's never the same. NEVER. ...and as I came back by Snooper's Point two young guys were standing on that of which was playing his guitar. I stopped by and listened in for a few minutes. The three of us standing there looking out over the valley.

no words...there are no words for moments like these.

For more info on this area complete with hiking map see:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

the coolest event EVER! ...did ya hear me?

So...I'd been reading about this event in Chattanooga held at "CreateHere" on Main Street called Pecha-Kucha...which I thought was pronounced how it reads. Hah. Turns out it's pronounced, "pe-chak-cha"...who knew. But what is this crazy sounding phenomenon?

According to the website

"PechaKucha Night was devised in Tokyo in February 2003 as an event for young designers/artists to meet, network, and show their work in public.

It has turned into a massive celebration, with events happening in hundreds of cities around the world, inspiring creatives worldwide. Drawing its name from the Japanese term for the sound of conversation ("chit chat"), it rests on a presentation format that is based on a simple idea: 20 images x 20 seconds. It's a format that makes presentations concise, and keeps things moving at a rapid pace."

Well, know this certainly caught MY attention! If Chattanooga is hosting one of these events...I WANT to know more!!!

So tonight I attended the 5th of these events held in Chattanooga. "Volume 5" as they referred to it...held on February 18th, 2010. Presenters ranged from jewelry artists, to architects, to glass blowers, to green energy businesses, to photographers and everything in between! It was fabulous! ...BEYOND fabulous really ....for a group of presenters to simply present who they 20 slides at 20 seconds a piece...and a crowded room embrace them for who they were. Fabulous! It WAS fabulous!!

I can certainly understand why cities all over the world have embraced this concept...and in turn given a voice to some of the most creative, progressive folks to whom to give voice! ....and yeah for that! ...and in turn I can feel the creative energy growing as we speak. Yeah for embracing...yeah for encouragement...yeah for progress!!! and I say...onward and forward...!

for more information visit where the concept is explained further.

...and I simply say... WOW!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

chocked full of cabins!!

So as everyone knows...the weather hasn't been the most conducive for outdoor adventuring here lately. (while it's been snowing seemingly everywhere's been raining here...LOTS of rain). And...the indoor-cabin-fever-blues had me by the throat yesterday. I had a serious case of the "basic blahs." I'd arrived at ... food wasn't tasting good, thirsty all the time (and water really wasn't getting it) and no form of entertainment seemed engaging in any what does one do in these moments?

Ya go to Lowes! hah...and then I followed that up by a visit to Wal-mart (yes, pathetic...but follow me here). My frig was barren...and I had nothing but time to let's wander the aisles of Lowes and Wal-mart.

One of my favorite cooks planted the idea of making vegetable soup...since I'd mentioned I was craving soup. Really the only thing that sounded tasty to me. So she began to throw out a recipe...veggie soup broth, add onions, carrots and so forth. YUM! ...and off I went to gather the ingredients. (Take into account here that I've never made any kind of homemade soup this was sort of a kitchen challenge for me)

I was really amazed at how easy it was to cook this soup. I used fresh potatoes, frozen carrots, frozen peas and fresh scallions...added Spike seasoning, some garlic salt and YOWSAHS! Yum!
Ironically, cabin fever...gone. GONE. I'm sitting here watching the rain today...and that cabin fever is completely non-existent today! Who knew homemade soup would do the trick?

Veggie Soup chocked full of cabins apparently just what the doctor ordered!!

(and thanks Mom for giving me the heads up that I should post here more often. ;-)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

inner compass...and muddy trails...

First off, I can't believe it's February already! How exactly did THAT happen?

Secondly, I started the new month off with another trail hike. This time (since I knew it would be muddy...and mountain biking would be a bad idea) I decided to hike the mountain bike trail at Booker T Washington State Park.
Note here that this was only 2 days after the big snow, rain, sleet mess hit this cabin fever was a factor.

I'd heard that this was a 5-miler and having no map or any idea where this trail began I stopped by the ranger station on my way into the park for some info. I'll simply sum up that info-gathering-exercise as "frustrating" although I did get directions to where this trail began. (no maps available at the ranger station, which I thought a bit odd, but there is a map posted at the beginning of this trail which I learned later I should have studied a bit more intently.)

Fyi, this trail at Booker T Washington State Park begins in the parking area below Picnic Area 1. Just follow the signs to "mountain bike trail" and Picnic Area 1 from the entrance of the park...and poof...trail head. Also note here that this trail is listed on their website as 6 miles. I'd say it was every bit of that.

So I set off, having studied the first half or so of the trail map since I only really intended to hike about an hour or so in a "there and back" sort of manner. But as I trudged along...I decided, heck, I'll just hike the whole thing.

Beautiful views, scenic bluffs, lots of singing birds and terrain changes. Will definitely be fun to mountain bike this trail...but I'm gonna wait for it to dry out a bit for that.

Anyway, yeah for "inner compass" that I inherited from the Dickson gene-pool...because about 3/4s of the way thru this hike, the trail isn't marked all that well, and there's quite a few trail crossings and forked turns and the main trail isn't marked at all...but it does run along a road at this point and from my memory of glancing at this part of the trail after tuning into my inner compass, continued on in the direction I sensed was the way back. Turns out, I was right...which was a very good thing because after trudging around for over and hr and a legs were starting to ache. I picked up the pace and trudged on arriving back at the parking area about 45 minutes later.

So after just over 2 hrs of hiking, snapping a photo of my mud-striped pant legs I hopped into my vehicle elated that I didn't bike this trail today. But nonetheless, an enjoyable experience. I LOVE trails like this that run along water. Booker T Washington State Parks borders Harrison Bay, so you can imagine the views!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

me and my moment with the hood...

I'm gonna guess you're thinking the same thing I was thinking when I saw this old metal car hood jammed into these trees along the creek bank. I was hiking along and had just broke through the tree line and stepped out onto the edge of the bank when I looked downstream and saw this image.

"Really?" I thought to myself. "A car hood, out here? Common!"

In my accumulation of outdoor experiences there's usually beer cans, rubber tires, some chunk a metal something, plastic bags, water bottles and every other sort of man-made litter you could imagine lying around out in the woods.
But this time it sorta jared me into reality. (Sorta like the sound the Road-Runner makes in the old Bugs Bunny cartoons when he stops...foooaaaannnng) Anyway, once I got over my initial shock of what seeing this metal hood did in disrupting my serenity (I stood there and looked at this thing for what seemed like ten minutes.) My concluding thought in that moment was, "Wow, this creek must have really been rushing fast and high for this hood to get lodged here like this."

Finally I stepped past it and continued my rock-hopping-adventure along the creek bank...and proceeded to forget about it. About 45 minutes later on my return trip back up stream, there was the hood again in all its glory. But this hit me. Hmmm, that hood is sorta like life and like me.

I'm floating along life's stream digging the flow and the view and the experience and then I bump into this rock, and that rock and then get stuck on this tree in this place. Then this huge flow of water comes at me and jams me into this place where I stay with no ability of my own to move...and simply have to wait it out until the next big rush of water comes and lifts me up and out to float to the next.

I've been there, many times. Jammed into a bunch of trees and rocks. Unhappy that I can't move. Grouchy that my surroundings have grown stale. Until I let go, and simply appreciate it for what it is. No amount of struggle or complaint is going to change it. I simply have to resolve
to appreciate where I am and enjoy the moment. Because until I can appreciate where I am and be grateful...I'm not going anywhere. Life has this special way of jamming us in so tight that no amount of wiggling will set us free. We need to be here for some reason.

There's much to be learned jammed up in here, would I just look and listen and learn. And when I realize this and simple sit still and learn, that's when it happens. I learn what it is I'm supposed to learn and don't even realize it...and then when I least expect it, that's when the rising river comes. That's when change comes...and poof...when I'm not looking for change anymore
that's when I'm lifted up and I float on down stream enjoy life's next adventure.
(Ironically, when I'm unstuck and floating down stream again I look back and say, "But wait, I
was comfortable there, I liked it there, I had friends there and etc etc." Let it go Rache, celebrate what was and embrace the thrill of knowing new experiences await you, likely greater than the ones you just had, once you relaxed enough to enjoy them.)

Reminds me too that I once realized that if I can't be thankful and appreciate where I am right
now in this moment, then I'm shaking my fist at life and ultimately slapping life in the face
for somehow giving me what I'd asked for in the first place.

Change is inevitable. Permanence? I'm not sure that exists. ...and then I hear in the distance, be careful what you wish for...and then, be grateful for where you are.

Not such a bad thing that metal hood I saw there by the creek.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

...and I was totally wrong!

I think you can see a little bit of tired in my face here. When it comes to strength, my legs have always been very strong. Cycling, swimming, climbing pretty much you name it... ahem...well, I was totally wrong! This trail gave me just what I was looking for! Leg burn. And oh how I needed that too! You know that shaky muscle feeling when you've arrive at burn? Well, yep this trail creates the burn and turns out proved me totally wrong on my confidence in my leg strength. (Guess that gives me plenty more reason to hike this trail often. Yeah for me!)

One of my favorite places in "Outdoor Chattanooga" is an area of Signal Mountain called Suck Creek. The Cumberland trail crosses over Suck Creek Road and South Suck Creek...and if you follow this'll take you on a brief but fairly tough climb up to a ridge and then down to North Suck Creek on the other side. But the rewards are endless!!!

I'm a sucker for ridge trails. Because usually there's some great views to be had. But this particular trail has the reward of seeing a very cool suspended bridge that hangs over North Suck Creek (which I discovered quite by accident one day when hiking here back when I was in college some 15 years ago...and obviously I've not forgot this place, as I fell in love with it!) I had the pleasure of having Ellen Kimbro (conversation when hiking adds a whole other element to being outside...and spending time with friends is fab) join me on this hike yesterday, although we weren't able to go all the way to the bridge because of time constraints so I returned today to do it again.

I'm also a huge fan of rock hopping (and skipping for that matter, which I practiced up on today) along a creek or river. So I spent about an hour wandering up North Suck Creek exploring the sounds and "shoreline" of this amazing display of rocks and water and awesomeness! It's not that its a rushing torrent of river or anything. It's more to do with its rustic-ness and seclusion. Of the many times I've hiked this trail, I've never seen another soul...and love this fact! (There's something to be said for wandering uninterrupted amidst the sounds of the woods).
I'm looking forward to returning to this place so I can swim in the creek when it warms up a bit. That brings a whole other level of adventure! (Except for sloshing through the woods on the return hike.) So yeah for getting outside again today!! Yeah for warm, gorgeous weather and sun and the ability to explore it even if I do get leg burn!

Monday, January 18, 2010

exploring some night life...

Maybe the greatest discovery yet...the Chattanooga Monday Nite Big Band! Who knew?
I stumbled upon them quite accidentally, thank you Google, while hunting live jazz venues.
It's true. Every Monday Night here in Chattanooga at Lindsay Street Hall, 901 Lindsay St in downtown this gem of a Big Band plays starting at 7:30p. It was wonderful to hear live big band again!
Can you believe, no charge to get in, and drinks and snacks are sold throughout the evening. hah, never have I smelled popcorn along with the sounds of Big Band in the air. Oh and the Chattanooga Swingers dance along the periphery throughout the night too.
Yeah for BIG BAND! You can bet I'll be going back for more!

For more info see:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Artic mittens and four wheel drive?

It was another blistery day in Chattanooga...and I just couldn't bare another day indoors. The woods were calling my name...and there was a particular mountain bike trail at Harrison Bay State Park that I'd heard about...and I've been bitin' at the bit to check it out. So today was as good a day as any...after all the sun was shining...and I have arctic mittens! (yeah for that)

So...I donned my winter duds...layer upon layer of them...and off I went. Now, I'm not new to riding in cold temps...after all...I did grow up in Northwest Ohio after all. (If you wanted to ride...many times you just sucked it up, bundled up, and went anyway...hence why I own a pair of arctic mittens to begin with...("disfunctional-hand-syndrome" as I call not fun..which is when your hands are so cold you can't even bend your fingers.)

As I'm riding this gorgeous trail I couldn't help but remember that I chose not to get a four-wheel drive truck because I knew there'd likely be maybe two or three times in my driving a truck in Tennessee that I'd actually use four-wheel drive. And turns out...I've probably worn my arctic mittens about half-a-dozen times since I've had them. (hmm, yes, interesting comparison I know...but these are the things that pop into my head while riding)
Anyway, so said trail starts and ends at the Marina at Harrison Bay State Park. 4.5 miles of gorgeous riding as this trail meanders along the Bay. Many gorgeous overlooks...and very little sucking wind. (as in few big hills to climb...but just enough to get you breathing hard nonetheless.)

I took it pretty easy really, since I'd never been on this trail...and having mountain biked many times before...ya never know when a tree or tree root my jump out at you when you least expect it. I rode for about an hour...stopping occasionally to shoot some photos.

Here's one from an overlook that was all but breathtaking. I watched the birds (which I've noticed there's been a lot of them hovering over the Bay I guess the fishing is plentiful this time of year) diving and filling up with whatever fish it was they were preying upon.

So 4.5 miles took me just short of an hour...which is really a nice ride. Right in the "heat" of the day. Hah...which we all know there's been very little of these days. But was truly invigorating to get outside, and spend time in the woods...visiting with the trees and the birds and the mud (not really, it was all frozen today) and pass by hikers and other mtn bikers. Very cool to see I wasn't the only one biting at the bit to get outside. Even more cool to feel that muscle burn you get in your legs from riding. ahhh, cooped up in the house was about to drive me nuts.

If you're into mountain biking, than I'd definitely recommend this little gem of a trail. Single track, non-boring, turns and hills and thrills, but not anything life-threatening.
...and at the end of my ride...I started fooling around with some photos. I seem to have some fascination with "shadow shots"...probably because it's really easy to take a picture of yourself in shadow form. Kinda hard otherwise, without a timer.

And funny I sit here writing this...I feel my face burning a bit. Probably from wind burn or something. But hey...well worth it!

...and yeah for tights, fleece, stretchy fleecy underlayers and artic mittens! (brought to you by your local army-navy store). Only thing that really got cold were my toes...haven't figured that one out for mountain biking yet.
peace. Rachel

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

bison burger...what?

Yesterday I walked by the North Chatt Cat and something stopped me dead in my tracks. There was a sign on the door that said "now serving bison burger!" NO WAY!
They're not open on Monday's so today I gave 'em a try. Have had a hankering for a good buffalo burger anyway (yes, yes I know...vegetarian falls off the what).
What a fab local dive this place is! The North Chatt Cat on Frazier Avenue on the North Shore in Chattanooga!
The conversation of the guys sitting at the bar cracked me up too...ranging from quail hunting on the mountain, to some fella they all suspect is growing weed on some said mountain. Too funny. Anyway, great flavor, great experience! I'll be going back to the North Chatt Cat.
Oh, and my favorite thing...on the wall was a sign that said, "Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy." LOVE IT!

Monday, January 11, 2010

a drive by "arting"...

Thanks to Terry Zitrick-Dennehy of My Color Image Boutique and Gallery on Frazier Ave in Chattanooga as I got to meet Janet Helseth this morning. This meeting was because I'd asked Terri some weeks before about artists in Chattanooga who created figurative works. Janet creates drawings and sketches from live models and I wanted to meet her and learn more about her work.
So on my drive down to the gallery on the North Shore this morning I crossed the Market Street bridge and caught a glimpse (they're actually pretty hard to miss), two larger-than-life-size female figurative sculptures flanking the South side of th bridge. (the image here depicts one of these said sculptures one named "Spring" and one named "Summer" were created by Daud Akhriev and both were dedicated last fall. Sidebar, the City of Chattanooga purchased these sculptures and have met some controversy...of course.)
Well, Janet and I talked for over an hour and spoke of figurative art and its many controversial facets. (She clued me in on some of the controversy that surrounded the City of Chattanooga purchasing "Spring" and "Summer" for the bridge.) Heck our conversation spanned topics of artist mediums, lighting, creating figurative works from live model versus photos, interpretation of poses in said artwork, artist's choices of how they depict the female figure (melancholy, fearful, provocative, graceful, classy, and what makes up the variations of these). It was ABSOLUTELY FASCINATING this conversation!!
Many thanks to Terri for arranging this meeting and to Janet for her willingness to meet with me this morning. The real point being, that I met with Janet with the intent to commission her to create some drawings for my growing collection of original artwork.
HURRAY for art therapy in the form of discussion!!
(and yes, the cold temps are primarily keeping me indoors...but exploration and adventure can also be a simple matter of perspective.)
**** As a sidebar, I went back down to the same gallery this morning and met with Daniel Gill, another fab figurative artist! What a wonderful experience meeting artists here in Chattanooga!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Blackberry Curve ...and snow angels on the asphalt

So I looked out over the parking lot at work (Cellular Sales-Verizon Wireless on Hwy 58) the morning of the "snow" in Chattanooga and caught a glimpse of something wiggling around in the snow.
I couldn't believe my eyes...ran out and snapped this photo.

Actually this would be the result of the convergence of a couple things...slow store traffic due to weather conditions, my mind wandering with thoughts of "what would Calvin and Hobbes do?" and "how might I utilize this snowy moment for my mere entertainment?" Poof...this photo is what resulted.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

creative preparation or crap?

I stopped by Kmart on the way home from work tonight...with thoughts of freezing temps on my mind...and the fact that road (more importantly my driveway) conditions will be something less that ideal in the morning. (It snowed here a bit today, just enough to make ice an issue on the roads as temperatures fall well below freezing tonight). My intent was to purchase rock spread over the snow pack on the asphalt of my that I can safely maneuver the hills in the morning...and get to the road without hitting a tree or some such because of the ice.
Would you believe Kmart doesn't carry rock salt? Hmmm, I'm beginning to wonder if Chattanooga can truly be defined as a mountain town? I could buy rock salt at Wal-mart in Jackson! Why not Kmart in Chattanooga? anyway I decided the next best thing might be Epsom salt.
Yep, never spread Epsom salt outside for the purpose of melting ice before...but hey, it's worth a try right? So when I got home...I'm walking around in the dark (ever so gingerly so I don't slip and fall on my butt) and spreading handfuls of Epsom salt in areas that I hope to be driving over in the morning with no troubles. Not sure if it will do any good...but made me feel like I was trying anyway.
I was chuckling to myself the whole time...I mean really. Epsom salt Rachel? I guess I'll have to report back here tomorrow if this proved to be creative preparation or total crap. Either way, the driveway should be rid of impurities and I bet if I listen real close...I will hear it saying, "Ahhhhh." :-)

Epsom salt works perfectly on ice!

seeing things through anothers window...

Thought everyone might enjoy another perspective on the Mountain road trip. These photos were taken by Estelle LeClaire who came along on my second "into the mountains" adventure.
Thanks Estelle for sharing your view with us.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

mountain road drive take two...

Well, you guessed it...had to do it again. The drive I took on a cloudy, sorta overcast, and yet snowy day...had to be relived today. And this time I took photos.

(Thank you Estelle for accompanying me to relive this adventure).

Off we went Hwy 27 to Hwy 111 to Hwy 127 thru Dunlap, TN and eventually leading through Signal Mountain, TN. So the photo on the left is only a sample of the plethora of ice-capades for the eye to behold dripping from the rock walls that lined the road. In contrast with the brown-gray stone and naked trees...the white ice was awesome!
It was a beautiful day today to go for a drive in "them there mountains!" But this day...was sunny...and about 10 degrees warmer.

Who said the mountains weren't gorgeous in the winter time? The silence found inspiring...if you listen...woodpeckers can be heard in the distance...and the wind...the sound of the wind...just awesome!

So...we ended up on one of my favorite roads...that runs right past a place called Suck Creek. It was still daylight...and I wanted to see if we could find a bluff look out over the river and downtown Chattanooga. Pretty close anyway...Prentice Cooper Recreational Area. Hmmm, definitely gonna have to spend more time at this location! Trees, woods, calm, beauty, abounded everywhere!

I drove up over the hill...and the head of the Cumberland trail system stood before us...and then I saw this gorgeous scene at dusk...overlooking Chattanooga...and what we think to be the Smoky Mtns off in the distance. (aren't the pinks amazing? The only version of pink I really care for...what you see in natural settings like this one)
So, yeah for the mountains! And yeah for new friends to experience them with! Thanks Estelle!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Orleans Hill Merlot...ya gotta try this!

ok...well, I'm on a red wine kick...after is winter time.

So, if you're looking for a stellar red wine...with zippo headache the next morning, you MUST try this wine. Orleans Hill Merlot. It's organic...and in this case means no sulfates...and who knew that meant no headaches or hangover the next morning? It's a stellar wine, with a wonderful flavor (not too sweet, not too dry) and zippo headache the next morning. What more can I say?

Try this wine! I don't think you'll be disappointed!

Can't wait to try Orleans Hill Zinfandel among others!


and the mountains call my name

Well, I'm settling in (finally) to my new home here in Chattanooga...and yesterday...I felt the call. Every once in a while I get this urge (I think I got this from my grandfather...who loved to take the scenic route when driving somewhere) to go for a drive.
So I set find some scenic over looks. Ended up driving north out of Hixson, TN towards Dunlap, TN. In search for the road that runs atop Signal Mountain. ...and I wasn't disappointed. In fact, found a place that is now on my list of "gonna canoe that" rivers too. The Sequatchie river. ...anyway... It was snowing a bit...the leaves were long fallen off the trees...and it was peaceful...and you could see for miles. I'd forgotten what happens in mountainous areas when it gets cold like this...water tends to run off the rock walls that line the roads...and because it was so cold, was frozen in these beautiful cascades of ice.
Yes, even cold can be beautiful. ...and eventually, I found the peace I was looking was simply in the quiet still that was with me all along. Funny how sometimes I need nature to remind me of that.