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 http://thecistern.com

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: http://claytonihouse.com

also...read 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" hiking...as 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 rock...one 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 www.pecha-kucha.org

"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, heck...you 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 are...in 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 www.pecha-kucha.org/what 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 else...it'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 way...so 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 kill...so 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 before...so 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 region...so 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 map...so 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 half...my 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!