Category Archives: Trips

I’ve Been to the MountainTop!

And it was gorgeous!

What an amazing day we had on our day trip to Chattanooga today.  In 13 years of living in Nashville, we have done little to explore our surrounding areas. I’m determined to change that and today we started with Chattanooga; I’ve been wanting to go to Lookout Mountain for awhile.  So go we did.

I took many pictures, but here are some highlights.

Lookout Mountain – was our first destination. It is literally a small town up there, with churches, schools, and more. We drove up to the top to Point Park to look around.  We went to the Eastern Overlook and looked out upon Chattanooga. It was really chilly up there so we didn’t stay long; didn’t even go over to Umbrella Rock, but next time. The National Park Service’s Visitor Center has a nice mural depicting the “Battle of the Clouds” that happened there, so it was informational.

a sign to go up the mountain
kids in front of Point Park gate
view from the Eastern Overlook

Lunchtime at Hill City Pizza – it was time for lunch by the time we finished looking around Point Park, so we found our way over to Hill Street Pizza. Lunch was GOOD!!!

Hill City Pizza
my lunch - burger and baked potato salad

Covenant College – I’d done some reading prior to our visit and learned of this campus on the mountain, so I wanted to drive and see it. So glad we did. It was absolutely idyllic.  I could only imagine going to school in a setting like this – literally, perched on the mountaintop and tucked away.  It is the beginning of Spring Break so there was hardly anyone on campus.  The chapel was beautiful and the views amazing. What was really neat was that the main hall can be seen from the interstate below.  Go to the picture album (link below) to see.

Carter Hall at Covenant College
the boys wave
beautiful scenery at the college
Covenant College chapel

Hunter Museum of American Art – after Covenant College, we descended the mountain. Since the weather was chilly, we thought it best to save Rock City & Ruby Falls for another day.  The Incline Railway isn’t open for the season yet, so we couldn’t do that either. So down the mountain we went.

We were making our way to the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge and saw the museum was right next door. Free admission the 1st Sunday of each month meant we were going! It was 4:20 when we got there, so we only had about 30 minutes, but we made the most of it! The art we did see was nice; they had a great kids book for Kaleya, and I was even impressed by her interpretation of a piece of art (Elizabeth Murray’s “Rollin’ Stone” – while not what the artist says it is, I could see Kaleya’s point in that she thought it had something to do with the heart and the human body.)

the glass bridge
Kaleya's museum book
i don't think they wanted to take this picture

Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge – longest pedestrian bridge in the world. We walked across it and enjoyed the views. Afterwards, we had ice cream at a shop next to it, the Ice Cream Show.  They offered more than 17,000 flavors of ice cream – what?!? I had the Winter Wonderland – vanilla with oreos and peppermint.

view from the pedestrian bridge
on the pedestrian bridge
view from bridge of Lookout Mountain

Then, we made our way back home. Incredible day!! I checked in so many times on FourSquare that I became #1 of all my FourSquare friends – a first for me!

my FourSquare status - oh yeah!

All of the pictures are online here, but here is a slideshow.

Not Your Average Friday Night

I’m visiting Augusta, GA this weekend for the conference of the Southern Chapter of the Medical Library Association.  I came to deliver a presentation on one of our projects at work and I’m glad to say that it went well!

Then, last night, my colleagues and I had a FABULOUS dinner at Boll Weevil Cafe and Sweetery.

Boll Weevil Cafe'  On the Levee in Augusta Ga

Despite the name, the food was delicious! But you know what was even better than the food? THE CAKE!  omg. we split up three different types of cakes between us and they all tasted good. We were told even Paula Dean has given her stamp of approval so you know it must be good (and must be really bad for you – have you seen how much butter she adds to her food???!)  LOL

After dinner, one of my colleagues and I decided to walk around historic Downtown Augusta. The first Friday of each month they do an Art Walk and so we knew there would be stuff to see.  Augusta’s Art Walk was quite different than Nashville’s.   As one of my coworkers pointed it, it has an almost Nawlins feel to it – just how there are so many people hanging out in the streets.  I was not expecting however to encounter zombies.

We had a nice time walking around and just people watching. We passed members of the local roller girls team, the Soul City Sirens.  They have an upcoming bout so even though I won’t be here I’ll root for them since they’re not playing against Nashville. 🙂

We wandered in and out of stores and saw a neat honeycomb structure made of rolled up book pages at the Book Tavern.

On the streets we went by a local music group that was being showcased by the Augusta Public Library. Props to the library for interesting programming.

The best part of the evening was at Club Tropicabana though.   As we were walking by earlier in the evening they told us about free Salsa lessons at 9.  Apparently, they do this every Friday.  So, we went, and it was so much fun!  Towards the end the steps/moves started to get a little tricky, but maybe next time I’ll pick it up better. Now, I must find some place in Nashville to do it. 🙂

Do you think I’d be good enough one day to do Salsa like this? 🙂

Visit to Cheekwood

Today, my sister and I took Kaleya on a trip to visit Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art. We had a wonderful time! Neither of us had ever been there before so I can now check that off of my list of Nashville places to go. Of course, now that I have been there, I will keep my eye out for new exhibits and events.

We started off by seeing some of the scarecrows they have around the gardens.  They were scattered about everywhere,  so I tried to take a picture of them all. One of my favorites was not a scarecrow at all, but a scareowl.

Penny Joy the Scare Owl

The Train Exhibit was fun to look at and all the kids loved it. Shoot – this adult loved it too!  The structures erected were taller than we were, and the trains weaved in and out of the setup.

random train pic

There was even a Thomas the Train one! I of course had to stalk it down until I captured a good pic. My nephew Keon loves Thomas the Train, so this one’s for you Keon 🙂

Thomas the Train

Throughout the train exhibit, there were miniature reproductions of several historical Tennessee landmarks. The genealogist in me loved that! They had Union Station, the Alex Haley House, John Sevier’s cabin and many more, including Cheekwood itself.

Miniature of the Cheekwood House. Cute one car Ladybug train stopped in front of it.

In two places (that we saw) there were picture frames set up so you could take a picture against the beautiful backdrop. Of course we had to do that.

aren't Kaleya and I cool?

We then made our way up to the house which serves as a museum. We learned the history of the house and it’s family and were able to see the current art exhibits. The house is beautiful and the outside gardens next to it were gorgeous too with beautiful scenery. I could live here.

Kelli on the veranda
Me, Kaleya & Kelli
Kaleya and Kelli are oh so happy!

Thank you Cheekwood for a wonderful visit!

Of course, I took many more pictures than those in this post. See below for a slideshow:

Visit to the TN State Museum

We stay fairly busy in our household and I’m behind in my blog posts. The next several posts will have information on activities we’ve done so far this month of September.

On September 3rd we took the kids to the TN State Museum to see the exhibit, Egyptian Relics, Replicas, and Revivals

Jihad in front of the museum.

Before going to that part of the building though, we of course took a moment to look around at the standing exhibits. We’ve seen them before since we visited back in 2008. Of all the things we saw, I was particularly captivated yet again by paintings of the Shackleford Family.  The intensity of the colors were just amazing.

James O. Shackleford
Sabina Metcalf Shackleford
James O. Shackleford Jr. & Gertrude Shackleford

And this one of the Turner Children.

The Turner Children

Then, we were off to the Egyptian part.  Jihad had been through it before with school, so we let him and Kaleya stay in the play area.

Kaleya is blurry, but I love Jihad's expression

Of all the items in the exhibit, I did have some favorites – they included some sandals, a ritual couch, a treasure box, and for fun, and Egyptian Lego set.

a ritual couch
treasure box
Egyptian legos

We had an good time visiting and I’ll have to keep my eye out for their upcoming exhibits.  Additional pictures from our visit are here.


Family Florida Vacation Synopsis

This post is to collect the posts I’ve done for our family vacation:

Day 1 & 2 – travel to Florida & detour through campus of the University of Florida, visit to Heritage Village, St. Petersburg Pier & climbing in a Kapok tree

Day 3 – Science Center of Pinellas, International Plaza

Day 4 – Florida Aquarium, Honeymoon Island Beach

Day 5 – Adventure Mini-Golf, visiting a Seabird Sanctuary, and Indian Rocks Beach


Here is the slideshow of all the pictures

or, you can view them all here.

Family Vacation to Florida: Day 4

June 4th, 2010

Now it’s Friday and again, we slept in before getting a late start out.  I had a hard time deciding what we would do this day but eventually decided on the Florida Aquarium.  Despite the high admission price it was well worth it.  In addition to the aquarium exhibits, they had an outside water play area that the kids played in.

The Aquarium offers scuba lessons which they call “Swimming with the Fishes” – that was interesting to watch b/c they have a tank where you can look at people learning to scuba.

Here is the “No Bone Zone” where you can touch some of the specimens.

Then, the kids went to the water play area for awhile to cool off.

Now, Kaleya was playing with the water squirt machines spraying other kids. I predicted that if she got sprayed she would not like it. Sure enough, she got sprayed and I hear her over there crying so went to see what was wrong. After she calmed down though she went right back over to get in the mix again.

After the aquarium we then headed to Honeymoon Island Beach. I wanted to go to a beach that was not filled with tourists and Honeymoon Island certainly was not. The shore was rocky, but overall the kids enjoyed it – they actively searched and found many seashells and began a small collection.

And that was the end to another great day.

Family Vacation to Florida: Day 3

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Day 3 of the vacation started off as leisurely as Day 2.   After sleeping in, the kids’ daily walk around the lake with my stepfather, my solo trip to a nearby cemetery for some genealogy work, and lunch, we went down to St. Petersburg to visit the Science Center of Pinellas.  I figured I couldn’t subject the kids to more “history” stuff so a Science Center seemed like a good idea.

The Science Center is an older establishment, having been founded in 1959, but they had some interesting things to see.  It was actually the first science education center in the United States. We began in their marine room where they had a tank with a few specimens of marine life.

One of the more interesting things in the tank was a horseshoe crab, I’m not sure I’d ever seen one before.

They also had owls.

They had a cabinet with skeletons in it, so of course we had to open it

One of the lovely treasures inside was a skeleton of the horseshoe crab!

and check out the Snowflake Moray Eel

Following the marine room we toured the rest of the inside of the center and saw alligators, a scorpion, a gecko, the wingspan of an albatross (did you know it was almost 15 feet?) and more. We even saw a tarantula and the shed exoskeleton of a tarantula.

Outside of the center they had a wetlands area, a Native American village replica (which had been recently burned down by vandals), and a sidewalk tile exhibit that represented the United States and the years each state entered the union. The boys particularly enjoyed the wetlands; they saw a snake, several lizards, a big spider and a big cricket. yucky.

Of course Kelli had to stand next to her Florida.

After the Science Center we tried to go back home, but Kelli got turned around and we ended up in Tampa. So, we went to the International Plaza so she could visit a particular store. At the mall we waited for her at the children’s play area – it was themed like a Looney Tunes baseball field.

One of the ladies next to me @ the play area started talking to me and she ended up forwarding me a text ad from Bath & Body Works to get $10 in free merchandise w/ a purchase of $10 dollars or more. That resulted in me spending $35 dollars there, but I got $40 worth of free stuff. Can’t beat that! The boys even got a new shower gel, the Oak scent from their mens collection.  That was a great social marketing ploy if I can say so myself.   I am a little disappointed that their Twitter account has not been updated since April 8th.

And finally, more swimming this night.  We’d picked up an inner tube for Kaleya, so she had a great time being a bit more adventurous in the water.

Family Vacation to Florida: Day 1 & 2

Over the past week, we’ve been vacationing in Florida having a grand time! Kalonji had to work so it was me, my sister, and the kids. We went to go visit my mother in the Tampa Bay area.

Day 1:  Tuesday, June 1

To drive from Nashville to my mother is a 12-hour drive, so pretty much the whole day was spent in the car. Lots of conversation, snacks and bathroom stops characterized our day.

We arrived at my mom’s home at about 10pm.  However, we did stop at the University of Florida where Kelli did her undergrad so she could have a nostalgic drive-through of the campus.  One of the things that was interesting was a wall of graffiti they have and allow the students to paint.

We arrived at my mom’s house at about 10pm.  So, after some catching up chit-chat, it was off to bed we go.

Day 2: June 3, 2010

Sleeping in of course — we didn’t head out for the day until around noon.  My stepfather Ron does not go to work until later in the day, so each morning during our vacation he took the kids to accompany him on his daily walk around a nearby lake.  Miles took the following picture on their first day out.

After freshening up, we went to Heritage Village, a nearby living history museum where they have multiple historic buildings and they demonstrate how life was lived back “in the day.”  There were 28 buildings on the site, but we arrived late so several were closed off and we saw about half of them.  What we did see was very interesting though. One of the buildings on campus was the Union Academy, a hand-me down school for black children. It was active around 1915 and the building used to be in Tarpon Springs, Florida and was one of the first “negro” schools in the county.

After Heritage Village we headed down to the St. Petersburg Pier, a local spot for viewing the water and a beautiful view of downtown St. Petersburg, Clearwater, & Tampa.  At the top of the pier the kids looked through the binoculars to look at the view.

Even Kaleya got in on the fun

On our way out, the kids fed dead fish to the outside pelicans.

When we were leaving the Pier, we passed an interesting looking tree, a Kapok tree, so we got out to let the kids climb it.

Then it was time to call it a day so we headed back to my mother’s house for the evening.  Now, the great thing about Florida is that the pools in her complex are open year-round, so at about 9pm we went swimming and of course the kids loved that!

Visiting Birmingham

To continue the posts about our family vacation August 1-7th, 2009…..

On Tuesday of that week, we decided to take the kids over to Birmingham.  Birmingham is only about an hour away from Talladega, so it’s a perfect day trip.

Leaving at about 9 in the morning, we headed over to the Civil Rights Institute.   The purpose for our visit was to see this museum and to see the 16th Street Avenue church where the bombing took place in 1963 and killed 4 young girls – Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, & Cynthia Wesley.  Many others were injured that day, and within a few hours of the bombing, two young boys were also killed during the riots.

Both the Institute & the 16th Street Church are situated on the edges of Kelly Ingram Park.  Throughout 1963, the park was the locale of organized civil rights protests & boycotts  by Rev. Martin Luther King and Fred Shuttlesworth. After touring the Institute & the Church, we then toured the park, so I’ll come back to that.

The Civil Rights Institute

The Civil Rights Institute was extremely nice and very well put-together.  It has been around since 1992.  When you begin the tour, they show a short movie and then the movie screen lifts up and you are able to enter the museum.  As we went through the exhibits, I learned quite a bit about the history of the civil rights activities in the city and we made sure the kids all understood the significance as well.  I think my favorite part of the exhibit was the near the beginning where they have setups of what a typical black classroom would have looked like compared to what a typical white classroom looked like.  Very striking.

After the main exhibits, we also toured another exhibit they have called Freedom’s Sisters.  This exhibit covers information on 20 women involved in civil rights activities. There were a couple of hands-on activities that I thought created a nice touch — namely, they had one page sheets for each woman that you would collect and put into a folder to create your own “book.”  Then, they had a photo kiosk where you could take a picture and create your own profile sheet to add to your book. Very nice touch. Afterwards, the kids took the requisite group pic.

16th Street Church
Across the street from the Civil Rights Institute is the 16th Street Church, the location of the bombing in 1963 that killed the four girls mentioned above.  We were able to walk around the church and there was a guide that provided some details and history of what happened there.  The room that the girls were in was a dressing room of sorts back then, and it is now a kitchen.  Other than a marker outside the church where the bomb was located, there did not seem to be any internal indications of what transpired there.  The church converted the space into a kitchen and still uses it today.  Group pic of the kids in front of that area:

and, outside the church

Kelly Ingram Park
As we left the church, we then next explored Kelly Ingram Park which is just outside both locations.  The park had several statues/reliefs set up to help capture the events of a significant protest that occured there involving mostly children.  I was particularly struck by this one that was done in two parts to represent children being  jailed.  The words along the bottom that you can’t see in this angle say “I ain’t afraid of your jail.”

After touring around the park, we then left and headed back to Talladega.  When we got back, we let the kids swim for awhile in the hotel pool and then we went on another home excursion. More details to come soon over on the genealogy blog!

Family Vacation Day 2

In the last post, I talked about the beginning of our family vacation where we went to Evansville, Indiana to pick up my oldest two stepsons.  Day 2 was spent on the road.

Our vacation destination was Talladega, Alabama, home of my father-in-law and his family.  My youngest stepson lives in Atlanta, so we had to pick him up.  So, on Sunday Jul 31, we drove through 5 states in one day! 

One of the highlights along the way was Jihad’s consumption of dried venison.  He’d been asking for beef jerky all week, so Kalonji bought him some smoked venison and smoked elk to see if he would eat it.

And, eat it he did!

it was a sight to see. 🙂

The drive through Tennessee was of course beautiful as always when we approached the Chattanooga area. I always enjoy seeing the mountainside.

We arrived in Talladega around 10pm that night and I was very glad to hit the pillows. Road trips are tiring.