I slept in this morning and woke up ready to see mountains and caves, but when I left the hotel it was pouring down rain. So I postponed the mountains and caves for a while and drove to downtown Chattanooga. Gross weather.
I grabbed breakfast at Aretha Frankenstein's, a sort of quirky restaurant and bar in a house across the river from downtown Chattanooga. My table was a repurposed Ms. Pac-Man arcade game table, the bar stools are old victorian-style chairs, and there's a flat-screen TV above the bar that's framed with a picture frame. The servers are friendly, but food takes forever to come out. I think they travelled to Greece to get the feta for my spinach and feta omelette, but I didn't mind the wait, because the food was delicious and I had time to kill while the clouds cleared up.
To make up for the fact that I went all the way to Carlsbad Caverns and then didn't want to wait in line to see the cave, I went to Ruby Falls, an underground waterfall in a cave system under Lookout Mountain. So it might not be Carlsbad, but it is America's highest underground waterfall, at 145 feet. The tour took an hour and a half, the group was about 20 people, and the guide was an obnoxious beatboxer named Dan who went by Danimal. Like the yogurt. But the cave was cool. Lit up in all kinds of colors:
I think my favorite part of the tour was the cave formations.
Most of these formations have silly names based on what they resemble, like Tobacco Leaves, Steak and Potatoes, Donkey, and Leaning Tower.
This part reminded me of Gollum in LOTR.
Obnoxious Tour Guide gave us a mnemonic for remembering the difference between stalactites and stalagmites. Stalactites "hang tight" to the ceiling of the cave, and stalagmites "might" make it up to the top someday. Hmm. Maybe now I'll finally remember the difference...
After Ruby Falls, I went to Rock City. Basically a cleared off part of a mountain trying to be Disneyland. Gimmicky, overpriced, and touristy. There are paths leading to a lookout where you can see seven states, and I enjoyed parts of it, but definitely not worth the $18 admission cost. I should have known better. Oh well.
I walked across this bridge. If you know how much I love bridges (ha), it's a big deal...
The lookout. Do you see the seven states?
This part is Lover's Leap.
Eagle almost looks real?
After spending all of 15 minutes at Rock City (price per minute? crazy.) I went to downtown Chattanooga. Lunch at The Blue Plate -- a huge Portabella burger that I ate half of. (That is cheese, not candle wax, I promise.)
The restaurant is right next to the Tennessee Aquarium...
...which is on the Tennessee River.
There's a lot of art in the city. Or maybe I was just especially aware of it today. This one is in Rock City:
On Market Street, across from Miller Park. (I had to Google that name to realize why it sounded so familiar -- it's the name of the Milwaukee Brewers' stadium.)
On a wall near the river:
And my personal favorite. Totally creepy smiley face made out of found objects:
Made the two-hour drive up to Knoxville, and hoping to see some of the Smoky Mountains tomorrow before heading to Columbus. Early bedtime tonight!