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.