It was a wonderful weekend in Chattanooga, TN with James and our two friends Dan and Lauren.  We explored, ate great local food and did everything we could to keep from melting in the hot summer sun.  Chattanooga is a great little city and only a few hours away from Birmingham and Atlanta.  It is worth the trip if you are ever in the area, as they have little pockets of awesomeness around every corner.  There are lots of independently owned restaurants and many outdoor activities to enjoy without all of the crowds of a bigger city.  The only real touristy thing that we did was ride the Incline Railway which takes you straight up the side of Lookout Mountain.  I think my favorite restaurant that we visited was Aretha Frankenstein’s – it was small, artsy and quaint… and the food was to die for.  If you plan on going yourself though, don’t be in a rush as it’s a small place with an even smaller kitchen.  Sooooooo delicious, and get their pancakes!  They are made with a special cornmeal and probably the best I’ve ever had.  Another great restaurant was Easy Bistro & Bar near the river.  All of us really enjoyed our meals there, and I could have injected their raw oysters straight into my veins.  We stayed in the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel, which is close to a lot of must-see and things-to-do in the downtown area.  James did a Priceline on a good place to stay, and that’s what popped up for us.  Once we arrived, we upgraded to a room in a train car which added a little local flair to our experience.  It was super affordable to stay there, too.  Before we departed the city, James and Dan organized a Burger Coalition at Urban Stack with some awesome local creative folks.  It is always great to make new friends in different places.  If you are considering a trip there yourself, you should check out the Crash Pad.  It is a local state of the art hostel with private rooms for $70 a night, and bunks for even less.  We were unfortunately too late to get a reservation there, but I would love to check it out in the near future.

This weekend I will be driving to Louisville to see one of my best friends in the whole world – Lee Ann Massey.  We’ve been planning for some time now to go to the Forecastle Festival together, but I think I will only be able to attend on Saturday…which is fine by me since that is the day that My Morning Jacket and Girl Talk perform.  :))  James will ride up there with me but continue on to his hometown of Cincinnati for his mom’s b’day.  It should be another fun short weekend away from home.  I only get to see Lee Ann a few times a year, so getting to be with her is always a special occasion.

We all carry our own weather around with us – whether it’s sunny, cloudy, rainy or rainbows.  I know some people who have almost nothing to call their own, and they are some of the happiest.  On the other hand, some people I see everyday have more than most of us could ever dream… yet they are the most miserable.  It’s because their outlook sucks.  Material things can’t bring you joy, as joy comes from within.  Do you ever think how freeing it would be to only have what you really need, to dejunk your life?  I think minimalists have something to their design aesthetic, because maybe less is truly more.  There is so much noise in our lives – TV, radio, people, work, daily chores, schedules….when we get home at the end of the day there is nothing better than to find a little peace.  And if it can’t be your entire home, then maybe it is just a room or a space to call your own.  Maybe it’s a garden or a bathtub, anything that brings you comfort and silences your world for a few minutes so you can listen to your own voice and thoughts.  When things get “too loud” for me, I like to go outside.  Going for a run or to a local park can really help to clear my mind.

I’d like to work on making my world more minimal, only surrounding myself with the things that either bring me peace or inspiration.  That will be a nice ongoing project to have.

Southside Chattanooga

Lauren and I at the Pickle Barrel.

Oysters from Easy Bistro (photo by James)

Aretha Frankensteins – thanks for the recommendation Will!

This boy.