This year we did not meet up with anyone. We did not visit someones home. We stayed in a real life hotel with a POOL. We did some free activities and then we spent money to do the rest. But the memories are priceless. These are things I did growing up as well... and sometimes my brain works and I can remember them. But they are still memories regardless if I pull them out regularly.
We started our trip on Tuesday morning and drove straight through. I don't remember ever doing that, anywhere... but we did it. We went to Ruby Falls first.... just for the potty! :) Then we found a picnic area and ... well, it was closed for winter. WINTER? It's 85 degrees!! Anyway, we drove on up to Rock City and used a picnic table in the shade.
After a relaxing lunch on the lawn we went through Rock City. It was a beautiful day, hot even. The kids remembered our trip in the fall so they remembered some of the places, squeezes and displays they really wanted to see again. They are especially fond of Fat Man Squeeze, Needle's Eye and the Fairyland at the end. I think most of it is to watch Mom and Dad squeeze through the rocks. We stopped at the overlook for ice cream and a rest then we headed back out.
We love our hotel in Chatt-town. Staybridge Suites has been faithful to us, so we'll stay with them. It's a perfect location, just out of town but still on the trolley route to save from having to drive anywhere downtown. The kids love to ride around town with all the strangers... for free. We can get on and off as much as we want, and it takes us from the Choo-Choo to the Aquarium... and all the special places in between. Last time it was the cupcake place, this time... the Moon-Pie book store. They also have free breakfast and free dinner during the middle of the week. We took advantage of this bonus, packed lunches and bought very little food.
Wednesday we spent the morning at Chickamauga Battlefield exploring, listening and learning. I remember doing this 30 years ago. I hope they'll remember some of it as well. I learned a lot more this time too. We walked a TON... and then walked some more. We drove through the park to see all the different monuments for the states, the troops, the officers. We walked to the top of the tower and argued over the number of steps there were. :) Bennett and I were pretty close to each other so we're guessing it was around 130, I think. We picnicked again and watched lots of bikes ride by and a couple of kites. We are looking forward to the day when Lydia and Ruth are independent bikers and can do some of those rides together.
After lunch we went to some caves at Raccoon Mountain... to explore the stalactites and stalagmites and other curious things down under. It was more walking, 58 cool degrees, and I had a tired 4 year old. We managed with piggy-back rides through the 45 minute tour. There was one place where the guide pointed out some fossils that belong in the ocean from millions of years ago. It was neat to see how Bennett absorbed that info... and then connect the flood with the potential of being the reason for "misplaced" fossils of ocean life.
We ate back at the hotel and enjoyed some more pool time. I think the kids would be just as content to stay there and swim their entire vacation away. Maybe next time we'll just go to a local pool and call it a day!
We also explored the river front at sunset. We were going to walk across the bridge but just got halfway before the kids decided they didn't like being up that high over the water. So we went back and witnessed a very sweet proposal on the bridge. She said yes! And the girls asked lots of questions and when were they going to get married.
Thursday morning we woke to rain and storms, as predicted by the local weatherpeople. We had already planned to do an indoor day at the Chattanooga Aquarium. We loaded up with our jackets and umbrellas and headed out. Of course, the sun soon came out and the day was warm so we carried everything more than using it. We explored all around and then decided to head over to the Children's museum just up the street. They were having a free night and had lots and lots and lots of free things to give away. The kids felt the need to collect 4 of everything just because it was free... not because we needed any of it. We finally had to make them stop! So we have banks, money holders, bears, jump ropes, coloring books, crayons, pamphlets, brochures, and coupons. I guess the families in Chattanooga have good resources for their children. :) Since it was a free night... it was a bit crazy and crowded. The adults in our family ended the night after an hour and we headed to dinner. There was a special restaurant Curtis and Bennett had visited on one of their camping trips and they wanted the girls to get to experience it as well. The Station House has the wait staff that sings during dinner. They occasionally take a break from the tables to sing all genres of music. I had to sing along with way too many songs and Ruthie asked me to please sing to Lydia (on my other side) and not in her ear anymore. Oh the love!
After we filled ourselves to the brim we turned south and headed home. It was a great 3 days and we filled them with plenty of memories. The kids were glad to do whatever - wherever we went. Another terrific spring break in the books! We have the best kids ever!