B-Day Part 5: Hardy House & Manchester Ruins

30 08 2017

I’m overdue with this final b-day post after spending a week in Pennsylvania (which means more travel posts in the not too distant future!) and then facing the nightmare that is work after missing a week. But…here we are!

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On our way home, we stopped outside of Atlanta near Sweetwater Creek to visit the Manchester Mills ruins. I do love me some old ruins!

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This is also where they filmed a few minutes of one of the last Hunger Games movies…there’s a short scene right at the ruins.

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It’s fantastic to look at, but they do have  fence surrounding it. Frustrating! Also I’m not sure if there are paths or not on the other side of the water (we only had 1 hour there, so not much time to explore). If so, you might be able to get some good reviews of it with the water in front of it.

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We did try to walk around it, and ultimately tried going out on the river rocks, but firstly we weren’t dressed for that, and secondly the river curves away so even if you’re standing out there, I don’t think you can see a lot.

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It’s still a beautiful park even without the ruins….lots of people hiking, bringing their dogs. Peaceful place.

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I just realized I’m doing this post out of chronological order, because we saw the ruins last, and this next part we actually saw back on Lookout Mountain. One evening we had a short amount of daylight left so decided to follow the signs to Cravens House, thinking everything would probably be closed. The house was, but the park itself is open (even at near-twilight), so we could park and walk around. Great place to look down over the city itself. Also, as we started down a path, there’s a really cool old, abandoned house:

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(Sorry for the pic quality here; all I had was my cell phone.) Initially we saw what looked like an abandoned garage, but looking to the left we could see a house behind a fence (with some stone built in – how awesome!).

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I LOVE abandoned old places, and if urbex wasn’t basically illegal (“no trespassing”), I would totally do it. So I wasn’t going to try going in the house, but I wanted to get a closer look.

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Beautiful! Later on I did some research and found out that this is the “Hardy Home,” former home of Richard Hardy (who was mayor of Chattanooga at some point). Couldn’t find a year it was built, but looks like he lived there for some time between 1910-1927. Can’t believe this is just sitting there! Not sure what the park service will do with it, but sadly there looks like some talk of tearing it down.

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It has so much character. Look at this rock/stone storage thing! It’s creepy and cute all at once. Here’s a closer look:

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So neat how they built stuff into the natural landscape.

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Still has an old bird fountain..

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…and another cool/creepy storage thing…We walked around and tried to see the front of the house, but can’t see too well as that area’s gated. Here are the stairs up to the front:

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The base of the stairs feeds into an empty old road – I think some people use it as a hiking path.

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Of all the times not to bring my real camera! Anyway, happy birthday to me – was a great trip all around. Now somehow in between work and more trips, I want to get some new art content on this site (not to mention some Pennsylvania “dark sky park” photos!)

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B-Day Part 4: Chattanooga

15 08 2017

Part 4 of 5 – 1 part left! Of course, you can’t visit the Chattanooga area without visiting the center of Chattanooga itself. While I wasn’t impressed with the famous Choo Choo (none of the shops were open noon-ish on Saturday, AND the one restaurant that was open said it was an hour wait for a bagel #areyoukidding), I was impressed with some great treat options and the Aquarium.

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Jellies!!

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The Aquarium consists of 2 huge buildings. One is for saltwater animals and the other is for freshwater. Above is in the freshwater building in the upper area that’s supposed to be like local mountain-type terrain. The saltwater building has the cooler upper area though due to a stingray petting zoo:

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…and a butterfly garden:

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Of course, anytime there are jellyfish, they steal the show. Just a couple out of about 100 shots:

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I’m proud of the next one no matter how grainy it is; this next jelly was incredibly dark – much post processing was needed even with my highest ISO. The orange light you see moves through them looking like an electrical current. It’s the coolest thing ever.

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Outer space jelly.
These buildings are massive –  I mean really massive. You could take pictures for a half a day. We only had a couple hours. Moving to the freshwater building, the seahorse room was my personal favorite, but all my pics there had too much noise. The cute otters came out though:

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And amidst the piranhas and tree frogs are some guys practically out of my backyard:

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And now – switching gears completely: the other highlight – TREATS!!

I had read up on The Hot Chocolatier on Trip Advisor and was dying to try it. Was not disappointed! So worth it! So amazing! Please open one in Jax!!

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It’s a little space right across the Choo Choo and has the biggest variety of hot chocolate options I’ve ever seen, each topped with your choice of homemade marshmallow (!) or whipped cream. Yum!

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Everything was good. Understatement! And, yes, they do have other treats:

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Wanted to try this macaron cake, but was too full; how pretty!

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But here’s the star of the show, complete with giant homemade marshmallow:

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The other good treat place is a bakery called Koch’s that’s been around for years. We were only able to stop on the way out of town, and only had my cell for pics which didn’t turn out great. But they have a great variety of cookies and donuts:

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…and an awesome mural.

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Donut selfie! Anyway, one final set of birthday pics next week. 🙂





B-Day Part 3: Arboretum and Cloud Canyon

8 08 2017

On my actual birthday we stopped by the Reflection Riding Arboretum, which is also on Lookout Mountain, followed by an unplanned but amazing hike at Cloud Canyon State Park. The highlight of the Arboretum is undoubtedly the tree house!

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The rest of the Arboretum I found a little disappointing. Maybe I was expecting too much. They do have an area with animals they are rehabilitating, which is nice, and then the rest of it is mainly this huge grassy area you can do a driving tour around, and they give you a brochure outlining the path with points of note, but the brochure doesn’t always match to what’s there. Anyway, this tree house was fantastic.

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It’s not very big and is really built on stilts over this wetlands area, but the trees run right through it and the architecture – well, just look! Plus it has some cute details…

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The interior is fairly sparse but quiet and peaceful. There’s a little bench-swing and some other chairs inside. I didn’t get a good shot of it, but there’s also some interesting carvings.

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..not to mention some cool stained glass windows.

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I just love the aesthetic of the place!

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One last tree house shot, walking away toward the canoe launch and animals:

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The Arboretum didn’t take as long as expected, but it was around 4:00 I think, so near closing time for many attractions. However, state parks are open til sundown. We discovered Cloudland Canyon State Park not too far away and decided to head there.

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For something unplanned, Cloud Canyon ended up being one of the most memorable parts of the trip. You park up on a mountain (obviously), and immediately come to one of many overlooks on scenes like the one above. I took a ton of shots with my camera and cell and not a single one captures the grandeur of the place (needed a wide angle). You can barely see a waterfall in the bottom left of the picture. The main waterfall attractions are down in the bottom of the canyon – a very long trek!

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Rock formations everywhere! Above, this is pretty early on in the journey. Before we were sweating with burning calves from countless stairs.

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Impressive rocks tower over you as you make the descent. At one point, there’s a fork and you choose – the waterfall to the left is easier to get to, and in my opinion, prettier to look at. People climbing back up from the right side looked like they were about to pass out (to be fair, it was really hot).

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…making our way down to the waterfall on the left (I’ve forgotten its name!)…and here it is, a first glimpse:

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If I’d had a towel I would have loved to have taken my shoes off and gone in the water, even though it says you aren’t supposed to (observe: no one heeding the sign).

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Beautiful!! Next we made our way to the waterfall on the right. You can’t get as close (technically, you can, but you have to go down off a boardwalk so it’s trickier).

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And then back up we go…

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This is just partway. It doesn’t look like much, but according to my FitBit, we climbed 56 floors. Oye! Learn from my mistakes and bring a water bottle. Oh and when you get back to the top (overlook part), go all the way to the right to the furthest overlook – it has the best views!








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