City Exploring

Something weird happened this summer. We didn’t take the first trip to the beach. I don’t even recognize us! Since when have we bypassed the opportunity to enjoy the warm Atlantic waves? It almost doesn’t seem natural.

I can cut us some slack, though. It was a huge undertaking to finish the new build and move. Plus, our dear friend, Ashlea, invited us to her mid-summer wedding in Alabama, so we planned our trip south to include some city exploring.

Ashlea and Dalton’s wedding at a barn venue in Boaz, Alabama was dreamy! The bride in white surrounded by a natural backdrop of towering pines made for a romantic setting.

IMG_4997Never mind that the weather forecast for their outdoor wedding included rain and more rain. Sure enough, the downpours chased guests into the barn as we all arrived. But God is masterful with details! In perfect timing for the beginning of the ceremony, the rain moved out, the air temperature cooled, and the cloud cover enabled photographers, Luke and Ashley, to capture everything in amazing light.


Jon and I with the beautiful bride. Look at that picture perfect sky behind us!

A trip to northern Alabama is not complete without a hike of Noccalula Falls. We just love it there! And the falls were raging with all the rain they had received in June!


Jillian shows her delight at having navigated the soaked boulders under the falls without a slip up in flip flops!

Sunday afternoon we were off to see all the fun Chattanooga has to offer. I’m not sure how many times we traversed this walking bridge while there, but it’s safe to say a half a dozen times! Why did the tourists cross the river? To expand dining and shopping options, of course! And to walk. A lot.


Monday was the outing I had long awaited for! We drove to the Ocoee River Outpost for the first ever Beamers Take On the White Waters! Class four, Baby! And yes, seated in the front of the raft, I knew I was a goner more than once. But, the only time I landed in the river was totally voluntary! What a fun day and a must do again adventure! We highly recommend Nantahala for white water rafting in eastern Tennessee.


We tried to take in lots of local sites in and around Chattanooga- the Bluff View Art District was a hike up the hill but the payoff was worth it. Rembrandt’s Coffee House delivered java with atmosphere. I swooned over the outdoor patio surrounded by an abundance of green landscape. Here’s a capture of darling Hannah.


We did very touristy things like the train ride up to Lookout Mountain and the underground tour to Ruby Falls, the tallest cavern waterfall in America!


Unfortunately, the July 4 holiday created a high volume of visitors to Ruby Falls and we not only waited entirely too long to begin our cavern hike, but we remained underground for over two hours. That’s double the time the tour should take. By time we saw the waterfall, we were all seriously ready to see the light of day instead.

Fortunately, the Frothy Monkey was not a far drive from the falls, and the espresso was flowing like a waterfall.


An afternoon rain shower moved through which happened to clear the hotel swimming pool of guests. Jon and I took the opportunity to enjoy it all to ourselves. I had to jump in that pool, y’all. It’s the one reason I convinced hubby to get hotel rooms in the heart of downtown.

We gathered up the gang and headed for the woods. A hike and a refreshing jump into the Chickamauga River make for a perfect Fourth of July in my opinion.


Well, as with every city exploration, there are always things left undone when it comes time to leave. We all felt that way about Chattanooga. I’m thinking if we would have cut down on our bridge crossings over the Tennessee River, we might have had more time to do other things! Our daughter, Jordan, definitely felt cheated of time in the local bookstores. Her daddy is so good to her! He told her after we get home that they would take a day to visit Richmond, Virginia and explore the stores and shores. I got to tag along and took these pictures of the James River and Belle Isle.


Baby Girl left Chop Suey Books in Carytown with two paperbacks in hand, but she only stood in awe of rare titles under lock and key at Black Swan Books. (My favorite is the $9500 work from Thomas Jefferson!) Overall, it was a great day of taking in a trail, soaking up some rays, indulging in Greek food, and shopping for personal library additions.

Perhaps we’ll make it to the North Carolina seashore by early fall, but our summer travels brought fun for the family in both cities. I would love to hear your insights on either Chattanooga or Richmond. What other cities do you recommend for future trips?


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