The Fiery Gizzard Trail-1, Technology-0

The good, the bad and the ugly

This week I bought a new phone and buried a soggy Canon 60-D at the camera morgue.

Good news: I finally joined the iPhone world.

Bad news: I owe a lot of money.

Good news: you all can laugh at my misfortune (it’s okay, chuckle as you read. I have thick skin)

Bad news: I owe a lot of money…

Now let’s rewind a few days to find out how I got myself in this hilariously unfortunate predicament.

Fiery Gizzard Trail and South Cumberland State Park

My Friday edition of Adventures with Bekah consisted of a day-long hike at South Cumberland State Park. I was very excited to finally hit the trails.

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The Fiery Gizzard Trail is a 12.5 mile hike filled with diverse rock formations, bouldering opportunities, beautiful running water, swimming holes, and waterfalls. Most of it is a moderate difficulty but the Fiery Gizzard stretch is a bit precarious. At the parking lot you sign in so the rangers will know you’re in there. If you don’t sign back out, I imagine they start a search party.

Fiery Gizzard TrailIf you look at this map, I parked up in the top left. I had planned on only doing a short 4-5 mile loop through Grundy Forest, but I got so excited that I found myself halfway finished with the trail before I realized I missed the loop!

Check out the highlights of the trail (If you click on a photo it will start a larger slideshow).

Me vs. Little Gizzard Creek

Here’s where the hike takes a turn for the worst. A little over halfway through the trail I tripped over an out-of-ground tree root.

No, I did not just face plant forward like a normal person…I face planted then rolled down a hill into the creek. KCRG, did you get that? Golden Klutz Award goes to me.

What most of the trail looked like

Most of the trail was inclined slightly above the creek. The hill I fell down was a little bit bigger than the one pictured here.

The worst part? My camera bag strapped across my body was slightly unzipped.

Imagine this in slow motion: Foot catches root, body flies forward, out launches my phone, camera and sunglasses, body lands not so gracefully onto my phone, jamming it into my ribcage right as I witness my pretty Canon 60D splash into the water. I scramble to my feet and hurl myself in the direction of the camera. One-one-thousand, two-one-thousand…by now the camera is fully submerged…three-one-thousand…I snatch the strap and rescue it from drowning.

…only three seconds too late.

Unfortunately neither piece of technology survived the ordeal. I did. That’s the important part, right? Though I may have to sell my soul anyway just to pay for the damn camera.

So what did I do with the dripping camera next? Only what any technology-experienced millenial would do – I put the lens and camera into a bag of rice.

Now we have a soggy, very expensive maraka. The noisy, rice-filled lens mocked my with it’s shakety-shake-shake the rest of the way home.

A happy little metaphor

After falling down a mountain – as you can imagine – I was a bit disoriented. I started hiking at lightning pace, my heart beating wildly and blood rushing to my face. Instead of looking up at the trail, I stared angrily at my dripping camera, trying to hold it at what I imagined was the best position to get the water to drain out and away from the gears and gadgets inside.

Right…like that’s going to help.

In my adrenaline-motivated wild race to the finish line I found myself lost on the trail. I couldn’t use my phone compass and my map was somewhere in the bottom of the creek.

Luckily earlier in the expedition I had met a few fellow hikers.

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Father John Dowling led me back to safety

The guy above’s name is John Dowling, and he is a priest in the Nashville area. We exchanged numbers (before my phone broke) so that when I came back to Tennessee he could tell me about the best trails in the Smokey’s and so I could send him these photos I took. They caught up with me as I sat by the water kicking myself.

Father Dowling led me back to the right path.

How metaphoric is that? A priest leads me back to the narrow road. Halleluiah, good God!

Later that night

After my fall, I headed back to Chattanooga, cleaned up at my hostel and decided I needed a drink at the bar. I met some really great guys again. Here’s how that conversation went…

“Hey, can I get your number?”

“No…sorry I dropped my phone down a mountain.”

“Seriously? Wow you could have just said no.”

“No, really…I dropped my phone down a mountain.”

All I can say is I am grateful for good people, beautiful nature…and payment plans.

 

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Southern food, Southern friends and damn good beer

I came to Chattanooga to hike, but I couldn’t leave without exploring downtown. Chattanooga is a mid sized city with lots to do and things to see. Here’s a few of my favorite stops.

The Flying Squirrel

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The Flying Squirrel is a bar in South Chattanooga. It’s literally 30 feet from The Crash Pad and offers a huge selection of draft and bottled beer, tapas style food, and fun and interesting people. Plus, the bartenders are really good looking…

Like really good looking…

At The Flying Squirrel I met a myriad of different people. Last night I met two guys who went to school together in Cookville, Tennessee. Josh, Scott and I talked and drank all night and had a great time! They asked me to stay another night and meet them at The Flying Squirrel Saturday, but I decided it was best to hit the road instead.  Now I’m kind of real sad about it.

Thursday night I met a new group of friends at The Flying Squirrel by asking to pet their dog. After a few playful puppy kisses and some intereesting conversation, they took me out to dinner for the best fried chicken in Chattanooga. That leads me to Champy’s.

Champy’s Chicken

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Champy’s Chicken supposedly has the best fried chicken in all of Chattanooga (some say it gets beat, though, by a little hole in the wall place with velvet walls located inside a budget hotel building).  I ordered fried pickles to share with the group. They were delicious but I don’t think I want to get used to Southern fried food on a regular basis.

Champy’s Chicken definitely had a local feel. I’d say the only way that visitor’s find the restaurant and bar is by meeting friends in Chattanooga.

Chattanooga River Market

I don’t have any pictures unfortunately because my phone and camera are both broken! The River Market is a day long event every Saturday during warm months. There’s local made jewelry, clothes, art, and even dog food…

I got this free Barley Bones t-shirt by eating a dog bone on camera for their Youtube and Facebook networks. I’m famous you guys.

Also…I at a dog bone.

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Seriously….

A cheddar and barley dog bone.

…anything for a free shirt. #Collegeprobs

Also they entrepreneurs at this booth were very interesting. They gave me lots of advice for scenic hiking trails close to town and we talked for a long time about traveling and business. They are trying to raise enough money selling their pure-ingredient dog bones to transform the puppy treats into human treats perfect for hiking.

Walnut Street Bridge

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The Walnut Street Bridge was the first bridge to connect Chattanooga’s downtown with the North Shore. It was built in 1890 and it’s one of the many historical structures of the town. Since it’s now too outdated to meet current standards for automobiles it’s been turned into a pedestrian bridge.

chattanooga bridge

 

 

Lesson learned

I’m really going to miss Chattanooga! There’s so much hiking to be done, people to meet, shops to explore, and downtown events to enjoy. I left one day early for many reasons.

…but now I really wish I hadn’t left early.

Be a yes traveler. You only get so many chances to travel, so enjoy it. When you’re in a new state, it’s a long drive to get back there, so experience everything while you can. Say yes to new adventures.

The hostel experience – a must

 

 

The Crash Pad, an uncommon place to stay

crash pad

Before: When I heard the word hostel, I thought of the 2005 horror film where people get holes drilled into their chest, Achilles tendons cut, and blowtorches to the eye….yeah, gross. Watch the trailer here.

Now: When I hear hostel I will always remember my favorite place to stay – The Crash Pad. And no ones limbs are cut off or eyeballs burned out. It’s a clean, very comfortable, simplistic, sustainable and fun place to stay. I’d even go as far to say that it was the best night’s sleep of the entire road trip.

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This is a professional photo from The Crash Pad’s website

The common area

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Taken from Crash Pad’s website

When you walk in (far left in the photo), the front desk attendants are incredibly friendly. They relax any fears you have about staying in a bunk bed with a room full of people.

The kitchen is in the far corner and every morning they put out eggs (not cooked, you have to make them yourself!), bread, spreads and coffee. You can also store your labeled travel snacks on the shelf or in the fridge.

On the far right you can see two computers free to use. And in the middle of the room there’s a common area where people sit, relax, research on their laptops and socialize with other guests. They even have a really informative “Adventure Book” filled with the area’s greatest food, drinks and outdoor activities among other things.

Also, the coffee in the morning is some of the best coffee I’ve ever had. And the bread is local – baked right across the street! YUM!

Now, the part you’re all worried about…my bunk.

There are two floors of bunk beds. Each bunk has a reading light, several outlets, a personal fan, a shelf and clean sheets. It’s actually quite roomy inside and the curtains pull all the way shut for privacy. The bed is incredibly comfortable! Seriously, I’m due for a new one at home and I might ask them where they get their beds…

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I stayed in bunk A.

An atmosphere for a successful stay

Honestly, the best part about staying in this hostel is the atmosphere. The staff makes everyone comfortable, and their friendly openness brings out the outgoing side of the guests, too. I may be stereotyping a bit much, but I believe everyone there has at least one common value or belief about traveling, sustainability, budgeting, or a love for the outdoors. I’ve met so many hikers and boulderers!

And people aren’t afraid to say hello! I’ve finally found my fellow travel crowd. No one talks at stuffy, expensive hotels, (well…unless their coffee is spiked with something strong) but here, people want to share their experience, hoping to also get a little nugget of new information about traveling in return. How do you think I found my hiking trail today?

Sustainability

Now that I’ve stayed at The Crash Pad, it’s going to be hard to go back to regular hotels. Everything about hotel life is anti-sustainable and quite frankly excessive! The extra towels, everyday cleaning, baby shampoo and conditioner bottles, unlimited access to anything you want (usually just to be thrown away the next day anyway).

Don’t get me wrong, I love to be pampered…but this makes sense. I like my little bunk and the people around it. The Crash Pad is reason enough to come visit Chattanooga.

Friends, family and good music

padukah to nashville

From Paducah, KY to Nashville, TN

Last night I stayed in a $500 suite in the Drury Inn. HOLE-Y MOLE-Y! Pretty cool, eh? I’m big rollin’ now.

Just kidding. It was the last room left so I got it for 60 bucks.

Paducah is a quiet little river town squeezed between Missouri and Tennessee. Nothing special. I stopped down at the historic riverfront before I left, because why not? There was a very cute little coffee place near downtown, too. So many people were sitting around eating breakfast and talking in their Southern accents (I still can’t get over “ma’am and “honey”). I kind of felt like I was part of the town for a little bit.

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Friends

While in Nashville I walked up and down Broadway and weaved myself in and out of all the boot shops, bars, and diners.

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Eventually I planted myself at a bar called Honky Tonk Central. After half of a band performance with me, somehow, as the subject of all the lead singer’s stage talk (I guess it’s cuz I’m from Iowa) a group of guys finally came over and said hello. Man, they were fun!

honky tonk central

These guys all went to school together in Wyoming and were on vacation for a week. They bought me a few beers and led me in a few dances. Have I told you guys all how much I love country dancing?

I love it so much.

If you can dance…marry me.

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Eventually my three boyfriends and I had to part 😥 We exchanged numbers…but it’s too bad I won’t be back to Nashville before they leave. My only regret is that we didn’t get our picture together.

Family

After an hour of walking around and sobering up, I headed out to Hendersonville Tennessee where I ate dinner with Tom and Becky – Tom is my mom’s brother, so my uncle. It’s always so wonderful to be with family. And it was nice to sit down and relax for an evening with their three dogs and cat.  I think it’s been about 15 years since I’ve seen them!

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My Uncle Tom on the left (stole this picture from his website)

Good Music

Tom is such an inspiration to me. Born and raised in Iowa, he’s in Tennessee now following his dreams and songwriting.

Check out his webpage – his music is really good! (Course I’m biased)

http://www.savageehlts.com/

Nashville is, after all, the city of music. What better place to be?