Day 52 – Eating in Chattanooga

sofakingAnyone who knows us, knows that good food must be near by.  We are a family of eaters, and while we will survive on what is at hand, we love good food.  For a foodie, Chattanooga, Tennessee should be a destination place.  There is no shortage of good food in cool locations.

For breakfast we often go to the Chattanooga Choo-Choo for their buffet, the food isn’t spectacular, but it is plentiful and the atmosphere is awesome.  Right across the street, you will find The Terminal.  An odd shaped brick building built on an old siding in the shape of a wedge.  Three stories finds some home brewed beer and an incredible menu.  Start with the Ploughman’s appetizer, it’s delicious breads and cheeses to give you a taste of what is to come.  Plentiful food and great flavors will delight even the most discerning palette.

Another favorite is Nikki’s Drive-Inn, known for their onion rings, we also recommend the gulf shrimp.  Everything is battered and fried, but so very good.  There are a number of rules at Nikki’s, so watch yourself, no putting your feet on the seats, and don’t be trying to take a table if you are by yourself, tables require two minimum.  It’s worth it though, the food is great, and if mama is there, you will be treated to your favorite old tunes on the juke box, ending with Ring of Fire every night.

A newcomer on the block is Sofa King Juicy Burgers.  Only six months old, a sister to an old mainstay, Aretha Frankenstein’s.  Sofa King is just down the street from Nikki’s.  Now to all of you SNL  fans, I salute you, I’m sure you recognized Sofa King right away, I’m a little slow, I didn’t get it.  I thought Couch Potato, I was wrong.  If you are like me and are still wondering…say it fast, Sofa King…or maybe better written So-Fa King Juicy….so f**king juicy.  Like I said, I didn’t get it, like most blondes, I needed it ‘splained to me.  But the important part here, the food is delicious.  I had the hamburger salad, who knew it could be so good, and their milkshakes are made with liquid nitrogen, so they are cold, I mean, really, really cold!

There are a number of sites dedicated to food in Chattanooga, I found Chattavore to be my favorite, good reviews and pictures of some of the best, check them out, they’re local and can lead you to things we haven’t found yet, we only get here for a week at a time.


Day 56 – Scopes Trial, Darrow vs. Bryan

scopesWe spend a lot of time in Dayton, Tennessee – this trip is my tenth time here.  In all those times, we’ve never gone to the courthouse.  Now, in most counties, that’s a good thing, one of the things on my life list is to Never have a Mug Shot.  But in Dayton, there is a reason to go to the courthouse…it is the site of the famous Scopes Trial from 1925.  If you are unfamiliar with the Scopes Trial…the Rhea County Museum is not really the place to go for full disclosure, they did a pretty good job of preserving the photos and articles that were published around the nation, but there is no meat.  No discussion of what really happened at the trial or even really why it came to be.  Fortunately, I had a basic understanding of what it was about before we got there.

Essentially, in March 1925, the Tennessee legislature passed a law that said only Creationism could be taught in the public school system.  It made the Biology texts of the day that suggested Evolution a violation of the law.  There were a number of people who wanted to see that law tested, from what I could tell, it was mostly the Bible thumpers. Enter John Scopes, a young substitute teacher who was summoned to the FE Robinson Pharmacy and asked to be the subject of the trial.  From there, the whole thing blew up, garnering national attention as the ACLU and many famous orators became involved.  The lawyers on both sides were a who’s who of attorneys and politicians of the time. Clarence Darrow, William Jennings Bryan, Arthur Garfield Hayes. 

 The final argument became, was Jonah really swallowed by a whale?  It was about literal interpretation of the Bible, if every thing that was written actually happened.  It took just nine minutes for the jury to convict Scopes of violating the law, after 11 days of testimony, some of which had been moved to the lawn because so many people were in attendance.  It wasn’t until 1967 that the Tennessee law was finally repealed. 

 My point here is, it is interesting to see what people choose to put in their museums, especially in small towns.  The 1920’s were an interesting time and it’s good that Rhea County has decided to preserve their one celebrity status, their first and only 15 minutes of fame.  Dayton, Tennessee is a little bit bigger than it was back in 1925, but not much, it’s still a small town at heart.  We love coming out here for our time on the mountain, our time with some small town Southern folk, thanks for making us feel welcome.


Day 58 – Pool time

We spent last week at my in-laws in California, I love staying at their home, two things bring me a great deal of comfort there….the food (my mother-in-law is a great cook) and the pool.  Everyday, sometimes twice a day, found me in the pool, it’s not really designed for swimming, but it’s wet and warm…my only two requirements for a swimming pool.

As a kid, I was a big swimmer.  Whenever we had a pool available when I was a child, I was in it.  My first memory is not my own, it comes from stories told over the years.  I remember the pool, I remember the ice cream, I even remember swimming there…what I’m reminded of is me hollering “I swim to you daddy” and jumping in the deep end.  Fortunately, dad heard me and rescued me from the bottom.

When I actually learned to swim, I was about five, we had moved to Shelby, Michigan, my mom’s home town.  All of my aunts and uncles lived there, during the summers, everyone spent time at Stony Lake…all of them (or at least it seemed like it) had cottages there.  Early in the mornings, I would put on my swimsuit and walk down to the dock.  We would meet our swim instructor, take our place on the U-shape dock and practice for the next hour.  Most mornings were too cold to be comfortable, but we learned a lot.  To me, as a five year old, the dock was HUGE!  Thirty years later when I stood on that dock as an adult, I was amazed at how small the dock was.  Surely they re-built it over the years and down-sized.  Amazing how our minds work as children.

The next few years found us on Okinawa, living at the Officer’s Club pool.  Literally, we spent every extra minute there.  We played hard and practiced hard every day.  I was an okay swimmer, good enough to make the podium in my blue and white striped Speedo, but only when the little Hawaiian girl wasn’t there would I make the top of it.  I never could quite beat her.

When we finally moved to Idaho, swimming became a thing of the past.  The only pool available in American Falls was The Nat….it was open only a few months of the year and it was out of town, so we didn’t really have access.  I miss those days of swimming daily, being in the water is probably my most natural state, maybe that’s why i miss my bath so much?

Day 60 – Right Now!

rightnowVan Halen recorded my favorite song of all time, when it came on the radio today, I stopped reading and just listened.  When it ended, my husband asked me what was my favorite part about it.  I thought for a minute, choked back the tears, and said…the words…and the piano.  But it is the words that speak to me.  It’s almost like a hymn in my world, the singer imploring me to not wait, just go for it, no matter the consequence or result, Right Now…it’s my tomorrow!

Sixty days from now I reach that milestone I’ve been working towards, I’m feeling a little out of sorts lately, like I’m not giving enough to make the good stuff happen.  The song and the date were reminders to me to get my act together.  Every day is a day worth living, not merely existing, a day to grasp, to put forth an effort.  For the past few, I’m trapped in a truck, but that doesn’t mean I can’t move my life forward.  Nothing stops me from reaching out to the people around me to make sure they know I love and care about them.  Nothing stops me from dreaming up the next challenge, from reading the next book, from writing the next paragraph.  Nothing can keep me from laughing raucously, from appreciating those who give so much, from bringing a smile to others.  These are things I can do today, Right Now!

I can make a difference in the lives of others, I can rely on myself for my happiness, I can not cause heartache in others.  I can do the things that are expected of me, because they are the right things and are the best things.  I can do it with grace and style, whether anyone is watching or not.  I can do it today, I can do it Right Now!

Back in my previous life, I coached a swim team for a number of years, before my kids took the blocks every one of them had an ipod or it’s current incarnation, each time they got up to swim, they played Van Halen for inspiration.  Between the rhythm, piano and the words, they knew that it was their chance to make a difference, their chance to win, their chance to do their best.  I was always so proud of those kids because they gave their all, not for me, not for their parents, but for themselves because they knew, the time to act was Right Now!  The time to act is Right Now, find that thing that speaks to you and act, don’t wait for it to be perfect, turn that thing around!

Day 64 – Recycling

recycleIt is sometimes difficult for me to recycle.  We live in a truck, storing anything for any length of time is tough.  So recycling has to be easy and convenient.  Sometimes, I have to find my own way to recycle.  Last week, it was buying a vintage dress, this week it was buying used books. Perhaps I’m more in to Re-Using than Re-cycling.  Ok, so maybe I’m stretching it a little, maybe I’m not really helping the planet here, but boy, do I like it.

We are in Placerville, California, home of my in-laws.  They live just a few blocks from the historic downtown of Hangtown.  I love the downtown area.  It is full, every store front is filled, mostly with antique stores and art galleries, restaurants and crafting stores.  Many of my favorite places are located within just blocks of each other.  But my favorite, if I can get to none of the others, I always have time for The Bookery.  It is a cramped, used bookstore with shelves rising to the ceiling, scattered throughout the store at all angles, aisles are only wide enough for a single person to get through.  There are nooks and crannies everywhere, stacks of books that don’t fit on the shelves line the floor.  Any book you are looking for is in there, it’s not even that hard to find.  Completely organized, it just takes a little time and attention to follow all the signs in the store.

I’m not usually looking for just A book, I want to discover and unearth something that I would never find online or in a new bookstore.  I certainly don’t want to find it too fast, then my adventure would be over.  If I just go in for one book, what might I miss?  I love bookstores of all kinds, but the Bookery is truly my favorite.  There are special finds everywhere you look, there are authors I haven’t yet discovered and in a used bookstore, I convince myself that buying twelve books is a bargain.  I can pick up more than I usually would because I’m not paying full price.  Admittedly, it’s a self-deception, but I’m ok with that, don’t we all have something we lie to ourselves about?  I love reading books and can’t wait to get started on many of my new treasures, thanks to the Bookery and its’ staff for a wonderful afternoon.