Natural Bridge to Nashville

After leaving Ohio, we drove to Stanton, Kentucky. We’ve decided we really like that area. So beautiful and full of parks and places to hike.  We almost didn’t find a campsite in the area, but I’m so glad we did! I wanted to see the Natural Bridge. I thought that was the only “bridge” in the area, but there are several. These arches have formed naturally in the stone.

We took the original trail to the Natural bridge which is the easiest. Now don’t suppose that means it is easy! No, it was quite strenuous. I’m glad we didn’t take any of the other trails.

The beauty of the area was wonderful.

We did make it to the Natural Bridge. Fascinating!

Then we hiked to the top to walk over the bridge and view the scenery. Matt has a terrifying habit of getting close to the edge and leaning over to look down.

While in the area, we took several drives in Daniel Boone National Forest. What a beautiful place! The roads were very narrow and often dirt. It was a bit interesting driving on switchbacks in the mountains with a long bed dually truck. Thankfully, there wasn’t too much opposing traffic! We did go through a tunnel that was one lane and we barely had room for the fat back end of our truck. I think I held my breath all the way through.

We stopped at one point for Matt to climb a rock. I didn’t join him in this activity. 

One of the other arches we saw was the Rock Bridge Arch. Beautiful spot! This “bridge” is the only one with water running beneath it.

We almost hated to leave Kentucky, but knew there were more things to explore ahead of us. We decided to stop for a bit near Nashville, Tennessee. We ate at an Aquarium restaurant. I was pretty hungry.

They had some really big and interesting fish in that tank. The fish swam constantly, well, all but one that just sat on a rock the whole time. It was exhausting to watch them.

We aren’t much for cities, but I wanted to see what “Music City” was all about. A fellow RVer had told us of a good place to park where we would cross the Cumberland River over a pedestrian bridge to get into the town. We had a lovely view of the city as we crossed.

Then we walked around the streets in Nashville. We had heard that every night of the week you will hear music pouring out of restaurants and clubs. It is true! Even though it was chilly, the doors were wide open, and sometimes even the walls, with musicians right inside playing all types of music. It was a happening place.

I was really tempted to buy some boots for some strange reason.

And I had fun singing with Elvis. I had no idea he would be there!

The view was even better on the way back to the truck.

The Hermitage was something Matt was interested in seeing. It was the home of Andrew Jackson. We both realized that we didn’t know much about him. One interesting tidbit was that he fought a duel for the honor of his wife. The opponent got a shot off first and hit Jackson, but he reeled and got his shot off too, killing the other man. He lived with the bullet in him for the rest of his life. Or so the story goes…

When Matt tried using his credit card to pay to go into the Hermitage, he realized that he had left his credit card at the restaurant in downtown Nashville. So we hiked back across the bridge to get his card from the Brazilian steakhouse. He loved eating there at the churrascaria because it reminded him of mission trips to Brazil.

As we walked across the bridge this second evening to get to our truck, we passed a young man walking the other way. He looked worn out and sad but had a guitar on his back. I wondered if he had great dreams when he first came to Music City but that it wasn’t panning out for him. I couldn’t help but think he might want to spend a few days being rejuvenated by hiking in Daniel Boone National Forest. I know that’s what I prefer!

Kids, Caves and Camper Catastrophe

Lots has happened in the last month or so. I had fun coming up with a title. It could have also been Children, Chattanooga and Challenge. Or Baby, Bliss and Blowout. It all started when we went to our son and daughter-in-law’s house in Illinois to be there for the birth of our grandson, Aaron Matthew. What a beautiful baby! I suppose I should say handsome since he’s a boy. Isn’t that a sweet little face over PopPop’s shoulder?Aaron Matthew

We were still with them for Matt’s birthday so we all ventured out to see some history. Illinois is famous for President Lincoln and we visited what was nearby, his parents’ home.Lincoln's parents' home

It almost felt like we were back in our homeschooling days. So fun to watch Beth and Emily learn about wool and spinning.wool carding

Our time with family always goes too quickly. Soon we were off on more adventures. Our first stop was to see the longest cave in the world, Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.Mammoth Cave

We went on a two hour tour of the cave and learned about the various explorers that mapped out over 400 miles. It was a bit startling to realize that so much of the above ground places in the area had these massive holes under them! Such an interesting and impressive place. My photos didn’t turn out so well, but I did better at our next cave. It was fun seeing this “Stay in a Teepee” motel along our travels.Teepee motel

In our quest to visit and get a geocache in every state, we determined to stop in Tennessee. At first the plan was to go to Nashville. But we seemed to struggle with that plan. I keep telling myself that we need to learn how to enjoy cities, but that’s not us! We headed towards Chattanooga instead. It’s a beautiful place right along the Tennessee River.Chattanooga

We enjoyed another cave, that was actually part of our campground, Raccoon Mountain. I wasn’t thrilled about spending more time in a dark cave, but Matt really wanted to so underground we went.Raccoon Mountain Cavern

Even though Mammoth cave was, well, so BIG, Raccoon Mountain Cavern had more interesting formations. And cave crickets that had never seen light.Cave Cricket

We rushed around over the weekend to see all of Chattanooga that we could possibly fit in since we would be leaving on Monday to continue our trek towards Florida. Matt was due there in a week to do some work. We visited Rock City where supposedly on a clear day you can see seven states. I’ve heard that it’s not true, but it was still a wonderful view.See Seven States

We were glad not to be crushed by Balanced Rock.Balanced Rock

I often refer to TripAdvisor to figure out what to see when we go places. One of the top activities listed for Chattanooga was to walk over a bridge. So, of course we had to experience Walnut Street Bridge for ourselves.Walnut Street bridge

As far as cities go, I was beginning to appreciate this one. There were sculptures and other artistic expressions all over the place.1-DSC_2406 5-DSC_2222 2

And then we visited the Hunter Art Museum. I had just completed my first self portrait and had struggled with trying to paint a face. So, we had fun looking at all the art and analyzing all the faces. We noticed that some of the paintings looked like quite a bit of work was done in the face area. Some of them even looked like the artist had had to cover up parts and redo them. The end result was great, but it became apparent that painting a human face is a challenge for even the best artist. I had fun looking at this face, Il Mostro, by Tony Scherman.Il Mostro by Tony Scherman

It was so large!Il Mostro

I have so many more photos from Chattanooga that I’d love to share, but I don’t want the post to get too long. I had really enjoyed the area but it was time to head to Florida. We packed it all up and started on our way, with me driving as usual. Twenty miles out of Chattanooga, we heard a strange sound and I felt like suddenly we were on ice. I pulled over and we found that a tread had blown off one of the tires. Matt went about the difficult task of changing a tire on a camper next to a highway. He’s awesome!Matt changing the tire.

Then he realized there was more than just a tire problem. He suggested that I take a look inside the camper under the kitchen sink. Yeah, definitely a problem.camper damage

It looked a bit better cleaned up some…maybe. The tread had exploded into the camper creating more damage than first realized. camper damage

We had to head back to Chattanooga to an RV place for repairs. We were so thankful that we were not hurt! And also for Allstate Insurance and Camping World. Even though the damage was extensive, we were back on the road in 5 days! Our camper, “The Palace”, looks good as new.  And, while Matt worked those days in a hotel room, I had more time to explore Chattanooga. You never know what a day will hold. Life is always an adventure and a puzzle.Matt and Janine