Wednesday, January 25, 2017



29 Oct and 23 Dec

We had a rear extended weekend as we took Volunteer Time Off (VTO) half day with our regular time off. We tried to sleep, but just not our lucky day. We would take the hour drive to Chattanooga, TN crossing into Eastern Time Zone for the "TWO" hour drive. We purchased the package deal to see Ruby Falls, Rock City and Incline Railway. Also, added one more minor league baseball stadium.

The only natural opening to the cave was closed in 1905 during the construction of a railway tunnel and remained hidden until 1928.  Leo Lambert made efforts to reopen the cave for tourists to visit the cave via an elevator. He discovered a small passageway about 18” high and 4’ wide. Exploring this opening he discovered the hidden waterfall. On his next rip he took his wife Ruby and told her that he would name the falls after her.
Driving through Tennessee from 100 miles away you will start seeing signboards advertising to visit Ruby Fall. All you have to do is follow the signboards.  Like other cave tours this one was different. There are not bats so cleaning our hiking boots were not required. There is a trail, but only one way in and out. Tour group walking in had to give way to tour group walking out by stepping to the side. For the price we paid I was a little disappointed for how long we could stay at the falls. It felt like they were pumping groups in and out at a fast pace. Maybe, because it was a weekend and the waiting lines were long when we return to the entrance. We took the elevator 1,120 feet below ground and hike about half mile in to the falls. When the whole group arrived at the 145 foot high underground waterfall the lights would turn on. We had a few minutes to see and take pictures. When we took pictures with us the flash was on and the pictures did not turn out good at all. I even tried my best editing with no luck. However, the pictures of the falls itself turn out pretty good. 

GoPro strapped to my chest and ready to go

 Next in the package deal was Rock City. Again, there were a lot of people. This time we could take our time and stay as long as we wanted. We must have spent over an hour walking around the rock and cave tunnels. The climax was at the end with Lover’s Leap waterfall over the edge of the cliff. This is also the lookout location to see out over seven US States Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama.

We were both dead tired and since the ticket are good up to one year of purchase date we decide to call it the day and will return before we leave Tennessee. There is a National Park at the top the incline railway. When we return I will bring my National Park book to get stamped.

It took us until out last week in Tennessee before we could make it back, but we did. The Incline Railways is about a mile in length and has a maximum grade of 72% and billed as one of the world’s steepest passenger railways. It reminded me of the time I took the Peak Tram in Hong Kong. After the 10 minute ride we arrived at the top and gazed out to the city of Chattanooga below. Onward we went to Lookout Mountain Battlefield NMP. The National Park signboard reads Point Park NMP is not its own Park, but park of Chickamauga & Chattanooga NMP in Georgia. This was the site where the Union and Confederate clashed in the fall of 1863 with some of the hardest fighting in the Civil War of the Battle above the Clouds for the key railroad center and gateway to the heart of the Confederacy.

Only a few miles away down the hill and into the city of Chattanooga is AT&T Field home to the Chattanooga Lookouts AA affiliate of the Twins. The grandstands were closed, so I asked a worker in the teams shop if there was a way to see the field and he took us on to the field.  My last stadium of 2016 and stadium number 64 all time.

Check out the video of this trip.


Thursday, January 19, 2017



18 Nov
Staying in Manchester, TN with the State Capitol of Tennessee only an hour away we just had to stop to add to our growing list of State Building and the added bonus for me was another minor league baseball stadium just two blocks away.

The Capitol Building sits on top of a hill looking down on the edge of town. There is two hour free street parking at the bottom of the hill. We walked up the side of the hill to get to the entrance It took us about an hour to do our self-guided tour. This makes our 19th Capitol Building we have visited.

Two blocks away is First Tennessee Park home to the Nashville Sound AAA Affiliate of the Oakland As. The standout feature in this stadium is the guitar shape scoreboard. First Tennessee Park marks my 63rd stadium all time visited.

Monday, January 9, 2017



29 Sep – 3 Oct 
By now you should know that we don't like to make reservations, it's just not our style of travel. We like to be free to stay and enjoy the sights as long as we like that may pass along our path. Most of the time this way of traveling works for us and very little it does not work. This weekend was one of the very little times. We arrived at Great Smoky Mountain NP and all the campgrounds had only Thursday night open and the weekend booked full. As we drove out of the NP to look for a campground we found one at the first place we stopped at Riveredge RV Park. Being only 8 minutes from the NP we stayed. Like most place this close comes with a little higher price to stay. It was around $50 a night, a little over what we usually like to pay. Since we spent the summer in one place and the next three months our campground is free (by Amazon) why not spoil ourselves a little. The camp sites are a little tight, but there is a jacuzzi, two shower houses that are one of the cleanest and biggest I have ever seen that even plays music to relax the mood (elevator Christmas tunes), large washer/dryer room and a large play room on the second floor of one of the bath houses. The town trolley even has a stop inside the park that cost only $.50 per person to use instead of fighting the traffic looking for a parking spot in town.

With Great Smoky Mountain National Park sitting on over half million acres crossing two state lines, where do I start? Even though we spent five days exploring it still was not enough to see and do everything this park has to offer. First stop was Cade Cove loop. There were horses along the fenced road and Hiromi wanted to see them up close.

 Then, onward to Johnson’s Cabin. Living out in the middle of nowhere, but had the best views.

There are several 5 mile hikes, but we hiked only one trail, Abrams Falls. This was the first time we have hiked five miles and took us three hours to complete. Two and half miles in came to an end with the view of Abrams Falls. After seeing this sight of beauty it was well worth the effort to get there. Now we had to hike back to the car, when we arrived the parking lot was almost empty.

The next few days we drove through the park pulling over at the lookouts and Clingmans Dome to once again take in the sights. We then stopped at Newfound Gap lookout that covers two state lines of South Carolina and Tennessee. On our last night we returned to Clingmans Dome to watch the sunset on the end of this adventure. The funny thing was on the way back into town we pulled over to catch the sky turn black at a pullover that was empty and we both agreed that this sight was the best unexpected view we have seen all week (picture does not give the view justice).

When we return to Eastern Tennessee we will definitely have to stop and visit again.

To see the video of our time at Great Smoky Mountain National Park CLICK HERE