Adventures in the Airstream: Smith Cousins Take On Chattanooga, Tennessee

So last night Collin and I were chatting and I realized my dream year.  It would be to take a year off, totally and completely.  From school, the business, everything, and travel the country in our little old Airstream.  I mean, really, would that not be the most fun??  Clara Beth is already a year ahead in school and we for sure don’t want the child heading off to college any earlier than she needs to, so she would be right on target.  And Makgill?  A little maturity never hurt a guy, right?  So sending him to college one year later wouldn’t be the worst thing ever, would it?  Obviously this is all a dream because we could never close the studio for a year {and wouldn’t want to…why don’t you all just come with us?! ;)} but the idea of it is so much fun, isn’t it?!

A few weeks ago our family met up with Collin’s brother’s family and his parents in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  See, they all live in Missouri, and as much as we love traveling out there, we simply can’t take the ten days away from the studio that a trip out there requires.  See why a whole year away isn’t a possibility?  We can’t even do ten days.  Chattanooga was in the middle of all of us and seemed like a perfect place to meet up for a long weekend, so we did.  It was a great place!  I loved this city.  I also think that perhaps it is the hottest place that God created on this earth.  That’s why He gave them all of the caverns.  Because He knew the people who lived there would need a place to escape from the heat.  Because OH MY WORD, the heat.

Get ready for an obnoxious amount of photographs.  These cousins haven’t seen each other since the younger three were in diapers, so there was a bit of documenting to be done.  When they met back up on this trip it took them all of 43 seconds to become best buds.  Cousins make the best friends!

We camped.  Us in the Airstream, Byron, Jen, Bella, and Camille in a tent.  Lots of fun, and the campground had great stuff like caverns and a go kart track.  Raccoon Mountain, for those of you who care about that type of thing.  Mak was itching to hop in a go kart, so that’s where we started on our first official day.  By the end of the trip a certain person {ahem, Collin Smith} discovered that you could make your car go a lot faster if you tightened the bolt behind the gas pedal.  They flagged him down for going too fast. =)

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My niece, Camille.  It’s a shame this child has no personality.  HA!  Beautiful, isn’t she??

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Off to Ruby Falls!  Clara Beth and I perused Pinterest like crazy in the weeks leading up to this trip.  She found a pink waterfall and girlfriend was sold.  It was her #1 Chattanooga goal.

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Goofs.  Every single one of them.

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The obligatory Ruby Falls photo.

Chattanooga_0036fbHe couldn’t believe that the first explorers crawled through these rocks in a 13 inch space.  I couldn’t either.  I was quite thankful for my little walking path, narrow as it was at times.

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Stalactites, stalagmites, columns…lots of learning going on.  School day #1 of the 2014-2015 school year…check.

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Ruby Falls!  With the completely wrong lens on the camera!

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Afterward we climbed up to look out over the city of Chattanooga.  Pretty stuff!  I love mountain towns.

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My babies, looking really grown and not so much like babies anymore.

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Onward to the Incline Railway!  These two were BFFs immediately.  It kills me that we don’t live closer.  I know they would be the best of friends.  It was wonderful to watch them together!

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And these two are the crazies of this cousin bunch.  They are both absolutely hilarious and I love ’em to death!  Camille told me I talked like a country girl within the first day.  And later in the trip she used “y’all” correctly in conversation.  I love her.

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She’s a tad bit expressive.  Gorgeous thing.

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Crazy!

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Back at the campground for Joke Time with Bella.  These were really funny!

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Glow in the dark balloons!  Super fun!

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The next day we did a little bit of downtown Chattanooga exploring.  This was a great city!

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I think it was 328 degrees on the walk over this bridge.  We were all melting by the time we made it across.

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We had lunch at a delicious deli and then headed back across the bridge again.  The walk back was so much cooler {thankfully}.  I love this next photo.  It just screams Camille to me.  Cute little free spirit.

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See CB and Bella holding hands?  I told you.  BFFs.

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We spent an odd amount of time at this dog sculpture.

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This is when Camille discovered that it was anatomically correct.

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Saying goodbye to MaMa and PaPa.  Never fun.

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From there we headed to Rock City to complete our tour of all things touristy in Chattanooga.

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We loved all of the rock gardens and the kids loved climbing through tiny crevices.

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We saw seven states!

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Mak asked me why they didn’t have dividing lines like they do on maps.  Bless.

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I almost had a heart attack here.  I don’t do well with my children and my nieces dangling at heights such as this.

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Fairyland Caverns.  Um, y’all…this place was creepy.  I didn’t understand it at all.

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Picture room after room of this.  Somebody was smoking something when they created this part of Rock City.  Weird.

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After this we were all hot {Of course.  Hottest city in America.}  and in need of a drink.  The only drinks to be found were in a fudge shop, so we got some of that too.  Obviously.  You can’t enter a fudge shop and only purchase water.  It’s unAmerican.

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Sweet Sweet girl.  Hot, tired momma.

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The children apparently had reserves of energy and engaged one another in a heated arm wrestling competition.  It was intense.  Jen and Collin joined in.

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We headed back to the campground to swim but were chased out of the pool by lightening.  Boo.  Hiss.

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Sometimes you love a cousin so much you just have to SQUEEZE her!

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CB was clearly amused with her Daddy’s photobomb.

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Love them.

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Camping nights!  The best nights, by far.

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Bella was our little firefly whisperer.

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Our final morning.  Saying goodbye early in the morning, all of them with tired faces still swollen from sleep.  None of them excited about the 6 plus hour drive ahead of them.  Or saying goodbye.  This was such a fun trip.  It makes me sad that this many years have gone by without getting them together and I’m so ready to do it again next summer.  I can’t wait to hug the necks of these precious girls again and watch the four of them act like crazy cousins together.  It really was the best!

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And on another note, I loved exploring Chattanooga and it made me want to see more cities in America.  So…do you have a favorite?  Preferably some that would be an easy long weekend trip from South Carolina.  Please let me know your favorites!

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