Well folks, we’re on the move again! Believe it or not, the owners of the house that we’ve been taking care of in Mahahual came down to use their house and that was our queue to start packing the car. For some reason, they wanted to come down to enjoy their beautiful home on the beach, spend time with their pups, escape the Canadian winter and just relax for a while (so selfish* of them, right?). Which means after 8 months, we needed to find a place to live new house sitting gig. No problem, that’s all part of this lifestyle. Plus, it means we get to see explore new places and see things we’ve never seen. So decision time!

Should we go to New Zealand? Or Ireland? Maybe Spain? Exotic house sitting options are abundant and our options are nearly unlimited. So which exotic and far off land did we decide to explore? Why, the the United States of America, of course. Yeah, I know.

Look, I’m not bagging on the U.S., after all we’re from here, our families and friends are here and this country has got it going on with amazing things like bathtubs, central heating and air, drinkable tap water and salad bars. But I wouldn’t necessarily rank it up there on my exotics list. The thing is, sometimes life interferes with this nomadic lifestyle and we have to roll with it. We have visa situations to sort out, car import stuff to take care of and a wedding to be in – all things that need to take place in the good old U.S. of A. So, jetting off to some strange and foreign land will have to wait.

Rather than being bummed about what we might be missing out on in other parts of the world, we decided to look at this as an opportunity to explore parts of our own country that we’ve never seen before. After all, at this point we’ve probably seen as much of Mexico as we’ve seen of the U.S. so it was about time. So, we agreed to a couple of house sits in places we had never been (or actually ever heard of), loaded up our car, tearfully said adios to the dogs, and headed north.

On the Road in Mexico
Slowly. Because because believe it or not, we were not the only people who decided to road trip it over the holidays.

 

Pico de Orizaba
Also, believe it or not, you encounter lots of bad weather when you decide to drive across two countries in the middle of winter. We had to go up the mountain and through that fog. My blood pressure has still not returned to normal from that experience.

With a sense of adventure on our minds and a few extra driving days built in, we decided to stop somewhere along our route to decompress, relax and explore for a few days before starting our next house sitting gig. And somehow that place we stopped at ended up being Chattanooga, Tennessee. Now I don’t think I’ve ever been to Chattanooga before, I don’t remember ever having the desire to go to Chattanooga before, and yet after our visit? Well, I’m kind of smitten with Chattanooga.

We spent just a couple days exploring Chattanooga with the intent of touristing the place to death. Mission accomplished, I think. It’s a very pedestrian friendly city and so we walked all over the place through the art district, downtown, the hipster, yet historic, North Shore and a lot of places in between.

Walnut Street Bridge
A pedestrian only bridge that spans the Tennessee River and that we crossed multiple times.

Once we got tired of walking around the city, we headed to the nearby mountains that are home to a whole host of outdoor activities. First up we rode the Incline Railway, the world’s steepest passenger railway, up Lookout Mountain. Built in 1895 (improvements have since been made, thank goodness), this railway thing is not joking around. At the top it reach an incline grade of 72.7%, which is apparently straight up (Jason claims 90 degrees is straight up but I don’t want to talk about math, this post is about Chattanooga). Anyway, it’s ridiculously steep, but it does give you amazing views of the amazing scenery for miles around.

Incline Railway
I don’t know how to explain how steep this thing was except to say that these windows are looking out the CEILING of the rail car and that we had to climb vertical steps to the top of the rail car to get out.

There are a lot of other things to do at the top of Lookout Mountain including a visit to Rock City, a long trail that winds through cool rock formations, across a swinging bridge and through a Fairytale Cavern. One of the original founders of Rock City had a love of children’s fairytales as well as gnomes, elves and other spritely creatures. There are gnomes spread all throughout the park and a section that recreates scenes from famous fairytales that I found enchanting and Jason found a bit creepy.

Mushroom Rock
Sometimes the most obvious name choices are the right ones.

 

Rock City Gardens
At times, some of the narrow passageways game me a very 127 Hours vibe. Good news, I came out with all my limbs still attached.

 

Lovers Leap at Rock City
Lover’s Leap. I hope that instead of pondering leaping those people are instead admiring the view. From that vantage point you can actually see 7 different States.

 

 

He might look a little nervous because the name of this pass through is called Fat Man Squeeze. Sorry to ruin the ending, but he does make it out the other side.
He might look a little nervous because the name of this pass through is called Fat Man Squeeze. Sorry to ruin the ending, he does make it out the other side but he had his multitool ready just in case.

 

Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Goldilocks and the Three Bears inside Fairyland Cavern. I don’t know why Jason thinks this is creepy.

 

Little Red Riding Hood - Rock City Gardens
Okay, well I guess he’s got a little bit of a point.

In addition to Rock City we also visited Ruby Falls, an underground cavern that is home to America’s tallest and deepest underground waterfall.

Chandelier at Ruby Falls
To get to the underground waterfall we had to walk about a half mile past some really cool formations including this one called the ‘chandelier.’

 

Dinosaur Teeth at Ruby Falls
Our tour guide at Ruby Falls was a geology student. Talk about a dream job.

 

Ruby Falls
Our amazement at finally seeing this underground waterfall was matched only by our amazement at our inability to take a good picture of it – no matter how easy our guide said it was to do.

We also got our history on and learned about Chattanooga’s role in the Civil War. Note – one of us might have been more excited to hear all about the history stuff than the other one. Meaning I might or might not have fallen asleep during the 3D battle reenactment we watched (I did. I totally did).

Battle of Chattanooga
I’m pretty sure he’s too old for the draft.

And last, but not least, Chattanooga is also home to some really amazing food. I could have filled this whole blog post with just pictures of food. And us eating that food. And drinking. And then eating and drinking some more. Things like pastrami on rye and craft beer and biscuits and gravy and wine (I swear they totally go together – or maybe my taste buds are still set to Mexico, hard to tell these days). Regardless, this town has some really good stuff.

Jason and Beer - Tastes Great Together
This is definitely not some of that good stuff or the finest that Chattanooga has to offer. But it was cheap, cold and did not taste like a Mexican beer. At that moment he couldn’t have been happier.

And so here we are in America for the next few months before we head back to Mexico, and so far? So far we’re enjoying the heck out of it. We are freezing and uncomfortable about wearing so many clothes, having some difficulties adjusting to some different societal norms and having sticker shock at the cost of everything. But New Zealand, Ireland and Spain can wait because man are we having fun in the good ‘ol U.S. of A.

 

*To be clear here – SARCASM. Our homeowners in Mahahual (and pretty much everyone we’ve ever sat) are incredibly kind, exceptionally generous and a whole lot of fun. Plus, they didn’t just spring this on us, we knew about it well in advance and were really glad to see them.