Chattanooga

The Cunningham clan made a get away this weekend, and it was much needed! It’s been a while since we put this ol’ travel trailer to real use- never mind the fact that we use it as a guest house when visitors are in town, which is frequently. But we haven’t towed it anywhere since last summer, which is to say, we haven’t been on a road trip in almost a year! And we are a road trip family! And with all the dog drama, and my upcoming conference in Vegas, we just needed some good old fashioned quality time as a family.

And so off we went!

Our dear friends, the Hein family, happen to be a part of the Christian band I AM THEY. Matt is the singer/song writter/owner of the band, which is how they find themselves in Nashville- Music City USA! And although I was sad to see Tori leave Nevada when I still lived there, I’m sooooooo grateful that God brought her out here, so that now that I live here, I have her here. Oh, He is so wise.

Either way, I AM THEY is currently on tour with Casting Crowns, and they had a show in Chattanooga, which is only about three and a half hours from us! So we had to make a weekend of the trip.

Friday, we headed out at about 10:30 am. The sun was shinning, and the weather was warm. It was a beautiful day to explore the southern countryside. Thomas and I were both excited because this is all uncharted territory for us! Thomas has seen a lot of this country, as he toured with his band more than once back in his other life, and his family did more than one cross country trip when he was a kid, but it’s almost as if you get to see it all with new eyes when you’re seeing it with your own family. As for me, I’ve never seen any of it, so it’s all seen with new eyes for me. But in this case, Chattanooga was new for all of us! And it marked our first, of many, adventures east!

We took a brief stop for lunch in the trailer at an abandoned RV park in the middle of nowhere, but otherwise, we just powered through and made it to Chattanooga just in time for the kids to play at the playground for a while before we had to eat, get dressed and head to the concert.

We ate quick sandwiches for dinner and headed towards Abba’s House, which is a giant church that doubles as a Christian concert venue. It was just lovely. We met up with Tori and her son and headed to find our seats. Well, because we are ‘with the band’ we had the privilege of getting ‘all access passes’ to the show, however, in a terrible oversight, that did not promise us a seat in a sold out venue. So, needless to say, it was a little bit of a tiny cluster to try to find seats and be able to stay in them. We finally settled down in 3 empty seats, and let the four kids sit on the stairs in the isle. Was it a fire code violation? Yes. But this was a Christian concert, so I knew we’d be saved if there was an emergency. (See what I did there?).

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I AM THEY was amazing! I have never heard them play live, and the kids and I were rocking out. They love listening to Micaiah’s daddy, so they knew most of the words to the songs! And although I had never heard Casting Crowns play either, I loved their lyrics and was very impressed with their show!

In between sets, we were able to go backstage and meet some of the band members, which was exciting. The kids got a kick out of it too, but were mostly just excited to be running around and getting their wiggles out. It was way past their bedtime, but they were so good the whole evening.

We loaded up deep that night in the trailer. The camper, which usually fits the five of us quite perfectly, took on another three humans. Thomas and Merit were kicked to the back of the truck to sleep, while Amara got the pack and play and Micaiah got Merit’s bunk. Tori shacked up with me, and we made it work. And wouldn’t you know, we still got seven solid hours of sleep before the first one up woke up the whole trailer! I call that a win.

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Saturday morning was cloudy, but warm. Rain was in the forecast but not until later in the afternoon, so we set out to have an adventure. We found a trail head and adventured into the woods. The dogs finally got to run around off leash- something that brings me such joy to watch, as they are just so filled with life- and they even got to swim the river. It’s Ruger’s favorite thing to do. We hunted for bugs and insects under rocks, and enjoyed the cool, dreary day! It was beautiful.

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After our hike, we headed into downtown Chattanooga for lunch. We found a little pub/restaurant and had a delicious meal. There were about a dozen amazing places to eat on the main drag, and I could have spent an entire afternoon perusing the shops had I have been kidless, but alas, after lunch we headed to the park. Coolidge Park is this huge, grassy park that stretches along the river right in downtown Chattanooga. The skyline is beautiful, and there are several bridges that decorate the scene as you take it all in from the park. It was still sunny, but the wind was whipping, and Cadence made a comment that she wished we had a kite to fly.

Thomas was gone in a flash, and reappeared shortly thereafter with three kites that he had in his truck, should he find himself in such a situation. I mean, who keeps three kites at the ready in their truck for a windy day in a park? My husband, that’s who. So Elsa took to the sky, by way of plastic. And although she was the only of the three kites we were able to get to really take flight, the moment was most definitely magical and successful. A complete win for daddy, that’s for sure!

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After the kite flying adventure, we wandered down the grassy park, until we found some statues to climb on and a carousel to ride. $1 a ride, and I had four kids- Micaiah, Cay, Merit and Gage- circling round and around in pure joy. Merit rode a fish, and Gage found an ostrich. Fun had by all.

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And to really put a cherry on the perfect day with our family and friends in Chattanooga, we slipped into a very crowded and popular ice cream parlor and had amazing house made ice cream. I went for an orange, sesame and almond flavor, while the kids stuck to strawberry. Smart moves, all the way around.

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Just as we finished our treats, the rain started. So we said our goodbye’s to the Hein family- who was headed back to Nashville- and we headed back to our campground.

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Although the thought did cross our mind to just pack up and head home, I insisted that we complete our trip and stay another night. I’m so glad we did. Because even though it was raining, and we were stuck in the camper, I know if we had gone home, both Thomas and I would have gotten sucked into work and chores. Instead, Tom and I laid on the bed and played catch with Merit, who is just blowing out of his comfort zone and shyness recently, while Gage and Cadence played play-doh and colored respectively. Merit’s laugh filled the camper, as he designed a very elaborate make believe game of football.

We snacked, laughed, played and just spent time together. It’s sad to me to think about how infrequently nights like that play out. We’re always together, that’s for sure, but we don’t always take the time to put our phones down, sit down, and just engage with each other. It’s a lovely change of pace. And it came just in time, as I head to Vegas for six days on Tuesday. I needed to just disconnect for a few and breathe in my family.

We’ve been so blessed because of the many adventures we find ourselves on and the places we find ourselves in. Chattanooga was no exception. I look forward to going back and continuing the exploration- I hear there are loads of museums- but for now, we’re glad we got to spend a quick weekend away with friends. Because for us, friends are our family out here. And as we barrel down the highway towards Shalom Farm to jump back into ‘real life,’ I can’t help but feel like everyday can be a ‘day away.’ We just need to remember to stop for a second and be reminded that life is short. Kids are only kids for a minute. Don’t be too busy.

If you won’t, I won’t.

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