Family, Humor, Life, Motherhood, Summer

What I Did on My Summer Vacation – The Train From Hell Incident

My youngest will get on a school bus for the first time Wednesday afternoon and I am struggling with it.
I mentioned on Instagram this weekend that I am one of those “weird” parents that get sad this time of year.
I miss my kids when they go back to school.
Yes, I know, it’s nice to get a break and all but in the summer we aren’t as scheduled or all over the place.
Random sleepovers happen.
We can eat dinner at 3 if we want.
We stay up late.
I love having them home in the summer.
So seeing the backpacks lined up, the school supplies in the bags waiting to be used, the new clothes hanging in the closet for the first day makes me sad.
On Friday night, I was all alone, and I watched Rhoda, ate salt and vinegar chips and a glass of wine and sobbed.
On a side note: I may or may not have been premenstrual.
I need to be on medication when they leave for college.

I hate that my parents live far away.
I realized how far away they live from me when I had to drive it this past week.
11 hours of driving, by the way.
Seven of which were in Illinois.
That’s a whole lot of Illinois.
But as much as I hate how far they live, I love where they live.
It’s very easy on the eyes down there.
The entire state from border to border on highway 24 is eye candy for people who don’t live in pretty areas.
Mountains, green hills, rocky plateaus…I didn’t even see a plateau, I just made that up.
But you get where I am coming from.
It’s pretty darn exceptional.
No wonder those country artists write such damn pleasant songs.
They are happy.
Because they have pretty rocky plateaus to look at.

The incline railway.
Aka- choo-choo of death.
I really need to work for the Chattanooga tourism board.


Going up!
It was so steep you could see below through the TOP of the railcar.
This, however, was my view for most of the ride:

Not gonna lie, I had a hard time with this.
Going up the hill was actually harder on me than going down the hill.
Especially at the top.
Because you are almost facing directly down the mountain when you get up there.
But you get a reward when you get there: you are still alive.


This. View.


Chattanooga, sigh.
Please don’t make me go back down the scary choo-choo.


See that parking lot down there to the right?
That’s where we had to go.
I didn’t take this picture, by the way.
My adopted daughter for the week, Hailey, took it.
Because, you know, scary choo-choo.

The above was the incline we were on while waiting to go down the mountain.
I took this picture while I buried my head in my mom’s shirt.
Those are two of “my girls” ahead of us.
Looking all nonchalant.
Meanwhile, I was looking for a barf bag.
When I could open my eyes at all.


My view the entire ride down. Thank you, mommy.


On the way to the Smoky Mountains, we all got a little slap-happy in the van.
So we started adding “Y’all” to everything we said.
And really, it just makes everything happier.

Case in point:
I got diarrhea, Y’all!
It even makes diarrhea sound friendly!
I love the South.


Pretty rocks in the Smoky Mountains, Y’all!

My favorite stop off in the mountains.


The Ocoee River.
Where the 1996 Olympic rafting event was held.
They diverted the river this day.
So that’s why you see more rock than water.
The woman who worked at the visitor center said they use these as “swimming holes” during the week.
She had me at the “swimming hole”.


Bear-proof garbage can.
Because bears.

Rafts heading down the road.


Georgia Boys BBQ on vacation

We didn’t eat here, but I kind of wish we did.


Restaurant in Tennessee or Georgia

Instead, we ate up there.
Where the bathrooms were in Georgia and the rest of the joint was in Tennessee.
Shout out to the staff here who made us feel like family.


Georgia Tennessee line

In fact, it divided the town.
Copperhill, Tennessee.
AND McCaysville, Georgia.

On my mom's southern porch on vacation

Sitting on my parents’ screen porch.
Eating a peach.
It just doesn’t get better.


Beautiful Chattanooga

I got to walk across the Tennessee River in downtown Chattanooga, Y’all!!

Beautiful Tennessee River in Chattanooga

The Delta Queen on the Tennessee River.
It doesn’t get much more South than that.


Downtown Chattanooga on vacation

Hip Frazier Avenue in Chattanooga was the bomb.


Chickamauga Battlefield

Chickamauga Battlefield over the Georgia border was amazing AND I got to spend a few hours alone with my mom and dad, so that made it even more amazing.


Cannon at Ft Oglethorpe


Battleground in Georgia

How can something so beautiful have such a violent past?

Beautiful flowers at Chattanooga Market
Chattanooga Market is so cool.


Cool tops at Chattanooga Market
These tops. THESE TOPS!
So I don’t normally freak out over things.
Unless it’s covered in chocolate.
Or tequila.
But these tops.
As soon as they came into sight, I ran, RAN, over to this booth.
I think I may even have startled the owner a little.
I was maybe a little “enthusiastic” when seeing this booth of awesomeness.
“Enthusiastic” or “nut job crazy”.
Tomato. Tomahto.
I wanted the top on the left, but they didn’t have it in my size.
I got this pattern though:
I would eat these patterns for dinner if I could.


Georgia Peaches on vacation

I would have ripped that sign down if no one was looking.
I love signs.
And peaches.
And signs about peaches.


Big ass pretzels at Chattanooga Market

Pretzels the size of your face.
They didn’t market them this way.
I think they should.

Ice cold ....soda?
In the South, they call pop SODA.
It would serve you well to learn this before you go.
Because if you order a pop, they will look at you like you are “enthusiastic”.

Let me set up the next picture.

My mom and I wore matching outfits on our last day there, completely by accident.
But we wanted a pic of us together in our “matching outfits” because 1) we never get a pic of us together and B) uh hello, “matching outfits”.

So we were at this restaurant we like in downtown Chattanooga and posed in front of it:


In front of Cheeburger Cheeburger on vacation

The sign says BIG IS BETTER.
And we are standing under it.
I like to think my Gramma in Heaven was chuckling a little at that karmic product placement.

Oh, and by the way, I am literally saying to my dad, “did you take it vertically so we can see our “matching outfits” as he took the picture.
You cannot make our life up.


My amazing mom and I
By the way, meet my mama.
She is the peanut butter to my jelly.
Or the beanie to my Zac Brown.
Ritas Ice in Chattanooga

Rita’s Ice in downtown Chattanooga.
We had this for lunch one day.
So good.
And we helped the girl behind the counter with the spider problem at her apartment.
Long story.

Chattanooga Choo Choo

Did you know that at the Chattanooga Choo Choo you can actually stay the night in a real train car??
Get. Out.


Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel in Tennessee on vacation

This is a hotel.


Ballatore on the porch on vacation

Last night’s tradition.
Ballatore on the porch.


Matching white pants

In our “matching outfits”.


Scattergories with my mom on the porch

Another tradition?

This trip solidified how much I love the South, the people, the beauty.
I can’t wait to go back.
It also solidified how dearly I miss my parents.
We left at five in the morning to drive home.
In the dark curves of the mountain roads, with Carrie Underwood playing softly in the background and the girls quietly sleeping, I vowed, with tears in my eyes, that I would be back for good someday.

“‘Til I see you again. This is not where it ends. I will carry you with me. “Til, I see you again.”

16 thoughts on “What I Did on My Summer Vacation – The Train From Hell Incident”

  1. What a beautiful, sweet, magical, and hysterically funny post. Instead of me saying "aw hell no" to an adventure of rafting (which, by the way I have done before), I can hear Marianne saying "where's the booze?"


  2. It looks like you had a wonderful time and your pictures are so gorgeous that now I totally want to go! We have tubing around me where you pack your wine in a cooler bottle and then lazily ride down the river while sipping on wine. Well, I mean you're not SUPPOSED to, but that's what we do and you would totally rock the crap out of it too. =)BTW you NEED the pretty top with blue and yellow — it's so you!


  3. Made me miss Tennessee:(Very laid back and friendly. My kind of vacation!I wish we had time to visit Chattanooga though. Next time for sure!


  4. I just loved this blog…your humor is wonderful, and now I want to plan a trip to Chattenooooooga and maybe take a ride on the choo choo of death….yikes. Really, lovely!


  5. What a trip!! I'm coming with next time.And as far as a girls' zipline/watersport getaway, I am more than willing to stay in the cabin and mix drinks for everyone to enjoy upon their safe return.


  6. As always, I LOVE YOUR POSTS. Candy for me. Candy, I tell ya.

    I love that you wrote about supper at 3. You are my people. You would fit in nicely in the south. This is the truth.

    Your photography is great. How do you do it while terrified? (That train is on my bucket list! And the hotel. SHUT UP)

    Yeh, we don’t say pop. Really, soda is rare around here, but it would be understood. For us, it’s more like Pepsi. Pepsi or Diet. Or Dr. Pepper. These are what I hear most. People say Pepsi even if the restaurant only offers Coke products. Pepsi has quite the following down here.


    1. I feel like we will end up in the South sooner rather than later. Illinois can really suck it.

      And that photography was with my Iphone!

      That is the only issue I will have with my impending southern migration. I will stick out like a sore thumb with my I’LL HAVE A POP, PLEASE!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s