The weekend of Travis’ Birthday we drove down to Chattanooga, TN. University of Montana was in the 1AA football championship there and we went down to watch the game. Travis and I have been down there several times before to watch this Griz play, so when it worked out again this year we decided it would be fun to take the kids. I won’t highlight the football game, as the Griz lost and didn’t even play very well. Plus, the game itself was a small part of our trip.
We left on Thursday afternoon after Jack’s swimming lessons. We got right out of town, but in true DC fashion traffic was a bear and it was slow going. I’m not sure why we thought driving 600 miles for a long weekend with two kids was a good idea, but none the less we did. The first 200 miles took us 6 hours and the last 400 miles took us 6 hours. I’m pretty sure Travis was regretting his idea to drive instead of fly by the time we got to Manassas. (If you are in DC you know how close that is!) After bad traffic, stops for the potty, stops for dinner, stops for gas…we finally got to Chattanooga at about 2:30am. We wrestled our kids for at least an hour, got everyone to sleep and whoo hoo, woke up at 6:30am with Jack. Of course Garrett was then up for the day too. The boys had slept since about 9pm, so they were ready to go. I took the kids to breakfast and Trav caught a little shut eye. That day we went to the Incline Railway in the afternoon and Travis and I went to the game that night.
The Incline Railway is the steepest train in the world. It is actually pretty fun to ride. Jack is really into trains right now, so we thought he would love it. The weather was kind of rainy and a little cool, but we basically just rode the train to the top. We looked around the tourist trap gift shop at the top and then 20 minutes rode the train back down. Jack loved getting the tickets, waiting for the “conductor” to come get our tickets and then settling in for the ride. There is an announcement that gives you the history of the train during your ride up the mountain. They mention their claim to fame of being the steepest train in the world several times during the ride. That must have made a big impression on Jack because for the next two weeks he periodically told us that he “rode the steepest train in the world in Chattanooga!” I thought he might get scared since at one point in the ride you are pretty much vertical, but he didn’t mind one bit.
Travis’ Mom has done a lot of business in Chattanooga previously, so she knew quite a few people in the area. We had been trying to line up a babysitter all week from DC, but nothing panned out. In the end, she was able to connect us with someone. It was great. Miss Alice (she was only about 20, though we joked that we don’t know anyone under 40 named Alice!) was excellent. She came to our room and watched the boys so we could enjoy a quick beer at the tail gate and the game alone. Although the Griz lost, we did get a nice date out of it!
On Saturday it poured rain. I hit a few stores that I love in Chattanooga and couldn’t miss, then we went to the aquarium. The aquarium was really nice. Jack was a little more hesitant about it than I would have thought. He was sort of scared of some things and had to get used to the different tanks. He refused to pet sting rays in the open water and didn’t really want to get into any of the exhibits where you could crawl under and look through the tanks. I think he was overwhelmed by the people and maybe that it was a little dark inside the building. He did eventually warm up and loved the penguins. Since then, he has decided that he wants to go to the Baltimore Aquarium and that he will touch the fish this time. He reminds us daily that we said we would take him again soon! Of course, Garrett was a trooper and just hung out in the stroller the whole time. He is so laid back and content to just be with us!
We decided that the marathon drive down was probably not the best approach for the drive home. Instead we drove about 2/3 of the way, stayed in a motel and then drove home on Sunday. The more liesurely pace (sort of ) was much better. Although, I will just say that you should think twice before a major road trip with a 2 year old who has been potty training for less than a month. It is hard work to take them to the bathroom on the road and you have to stop a lot more than you think. All in all, it was a good first family road trip!