8 Jun 2011

We ate breakfast at the hotel.  We were planning to meet Betty at the aquarium today and take the river gorge cruise, but when I called to reserve tickets for the River Gorge Cruise, I learned that they were sold out.  So I talked to Betty and we rescheduled our aquarium/cruise activity for Thursday.

Teagan and I regrouped and decided to visit the Raccoon Mountain Cavern today.  We headed to Raccoon Mountain, only 2 miles away on the other side of I-24, and got tickets for the tour.  Raccoon Mountain Caverns is pretty much the opposite of Ruby Falls.  To begin with, I’d never heard of it.  When we got there, we were the only visitors in sight.  They couldn’t get their credit card machine to work, so I ended up paying cash.  They didn’t have very much in the gift shop in the way of branded merchandise.  For example, there was no Raccoon Mountain shot glass.  I don’t mean this in a bad way.  They were just totally laid back about things.

The tour of the cavern was really good.  The formations in the cave were in good condition, the guide was informative, and the tour was very enjoyable.  It lasted about 45 minutes.  There was one other couple in our group.
After the tour, we grabbed lunch at Wendy’s (salads), and went back to the cavern parking lot to walk one of the trails near the cavern.  The hike there was not particularly interesting, except for the docile black snake Teagan spotted.  The snake decided it didn’t want anything to do with us, so it quickly slithered away.
We thought about doing the Go Kart track near the cavern, but there were no other riders, and we didn’t want to go by ourselves, so we didn’t do it.  Instead, we headed to Cloudland Canyon State Park in Georgia.  It is a short drive south of Lookout Mountain along the Lookout Mountain Scenic Highway.  Except, the highway was closed shortly after entering Georgia, so we took an alternate route to get there.

After paying our $5 entry fee, we parked and walked the Overlook Trail.  The views into the canyon were very nice.  Then we headed to the waterfall trails (2) and did them.  At the lower falls, we picked up a gulch trail and followed it for about a quarter mile before turning around and heading back.

The trails were nice except for the iron stairs that were frequently used.  It does not give you a feeling of hiking, but of going up and down stairs.  When hiking a trail, we both prefer to be touching ground, and not elevated stairs.  Nevertheless, the hike to the canyon bottom was really fun; the climb back up slightly less so.  I think we went down about 500 feet in elevation in all, so the climb back up was taxing for both of us.

We got back to the van around 6:30 p.m., then we headed back to Lookout Mountain.  We stopped at the Cafe on the Corner for supper because I had read some good reviews of it on TripAdvisor.  We sat outside where a two-person band was playing.  We began with an appetizer of fried green tomatoes.  The were breaded with panko crumbs and served with sweet pepper jelly and basil aioli.  We both thought they were great.

For our entrees, I had the shrimp and grits while Teagan had flat iron steak.  My shrimp and grits came with a chorizo cream sauce, pepper, onion, and andouille.  It was excellent.  Teagan’s steak came with a red wine demi glace, fried shallots, cheddar potato gratin (served as a square of thinly sliced potato stacked with cheese on top), and asparagus.  She enjoyed it a lot.
The band consisted of a rhythm guitar/singer, and a lead guitar/singer.  The lead guitar also played to dobro on a few songs.  They were both pretty good on the guitars, and entertaining as singers.  We chatted with the lead guitar player during their break.

After supper we headed back to the hotel and finished the night there.

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