Author Archives: Robbie

See Rock City

see rock city

Rock City is more than a theme park.  It occupies a mythical place in my imagination due to its rock formations, views, imposing mountaintop location, and of course gnomes.  It also helps that I was about 10 when I first visited, well before terms like ‘hokey’ entered my vocabulary.  Of particular note is a section called Fairyland Caverns, which contains blacklight vignettes depicting fairy tale characters set back into the rock walls.  I recall being just barely tall enough to see over the edge into each scene, and seeing entire little worlds in each.  All this subterranean kitsch created a lasting impression on my young mind.  The observant reader may comment “This explains a lot about you Robbie. ” Indeed it may, and if you can articulate just what it explains, please email me.  Thus I was keen to revisit this location on our trip if we didn’t have to go too far out of the way.  When  Karen suggested we visit a national park or 2 near Chattanooga, I jumped at the chance to point out that Rock City Gardens is nearby!


We pulled into the parking lot on a cold February day and had little difficulty finding a spot.  They have an ample parking lot – complete with tour bus parking – and we were one of 3 cars in the lot this fine day.  Windy 39 degree weather keeps most folks indoors, however we are not ‘most folks.’  We are intrepid explorers and we are undaunted by such things.  After the obligatory ticketing and turnstiles we were in!  We followed the prescribed route through the rocks, enjoying sights like the Eye of the Needle and the Gnome Valley.  The rock formations here actually are pretty cool, and I like the little path they wove in and among them.


When we saw the sign for Fairyland Caverns I broke ranks and suggested we shortcut there – I had to know if it still lived up to the pictures in my imagination/memory (yes it is possible I embellished them over the years).  Thankfully my fears were unfounded, and the kitsch still abounds there unfettered.  C loved seeing the fairy tale characters and ran from one scene to the next, ensuring that Rock City’s mystique endures for another generation.  The coup de grace was the Mother Goose Castle, which I did not recall.  It’s a sort of fairy tale equivalent of “It’s a Small World” minus the music.


We continued on and walked the rest of the park, through Fatman’s Squeeze, on to Lover’s Leap and the Seven States viewpoint – stunning views and really cool rocks.  After that it was time for Hot Chocolate to toast a mission accomplished!



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Map Update



here is part 2 of the trip route, hand drawn by C as part of geography lessons.  I have also inserted part 1 of the trip route below, to save you the trouble of finding that back post.

trip route 2 cropped

trip route, in marker

trip route, in marker

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Trip Map – Magic Marker Route

The google map depicting our route via pushpins is a neat online thing, but can be hard to follow since there is no option to draw a line connecting the pins. For schoolwork we have C draw our route on maps to learn map skills, directions, etc. Here is a scan of the route so far. It’s a large-ish image (1.9Mb) so some zooming may be required if you want to see all the little towns. Some folks have asked for some trip details about various places we’ve been, if anything looks interesting feel free to ask – email me at

trip route, in marker

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Robbie’s Zion Flash Flood Journal

Here are scans (well, pic’s; the scanner can’t manage the steep spine of that journal) from the zion day, plus angel’s landing. //rd

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Robbie’s Random Trip Tips III

Robbie’s Random Trip Tips (or R2T2, for short :), No. III

  • Lookahead > Lookback.  When I think of home and the kitties I get a little wistful.  When I think of the road ahead I get excited.  I think there is a life lesson in there somewhere…
  • It’s just stuff.  Given that we are taking a lap around the sun in a house without locks, you have to let go of attachments to stuff.  It just can’t be made all that secure.  Put locks on the bikes and hope for the best.  It’s just stuff.  I’m still working on this one.
  • Thermos = Joy if you are a coffee addict like me.  Brew up a pot in the morning and put it into a good thermos and you have coffee on demand, even in the middle of nowhere.  Mmm.
  • M&M’s > Chocolate Chips.  As a chocoholic I am a regular snacker on Ghirardelli’s semi-sweet chocolate chips at home.  However they do not handle the heat well and become a single mass of goo at the first sign of heat.  The solution?  M&M’s!  yes, they really do melt in your mouth, not in your hand.  They last in the car unrefrigerated for days with no complaints.
  • Hand-held scanner = peace of mind.  Journals are one of those things that would be irreplaceable on a trip like this.  While they are still just stuff, they are not easily replaced.  A hand held scanner can allow you to take backups of the written page and put it on a thumb drive.  Way cool.  It’s also a way to share them with others.
  • Rite in the Rain notepads rock.  They are durable and really are waterproof (yes, it has been verified, albeit through no fault of my own).
  • Solar chargers are really cool in the desert.  Our big Zamp array charges the car-battery-sized deep cells that keep the electric cooler humming, minus the noise and exhaust of generators.
  • Impregnated Nylon shirts live up to the hype.  I’ve worn one for days and it has zero odor.    Compared to regular nylon this is amazing – a cycling jersey after a single ride can strike fear into the hearts of small children, yet this one just keeps going (Columbia & Exofficio brands)
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