As the pouring rain transitioned to a drizzle, we crossed from Georgia to Tennessee to see the spectacle of Chattanooga on the horizon ahead: a town with damn good food and a plethora of family-friendly activities.
The Chattanooga West KOA, which is actually back in Georgia, welcomed us with a great playground, adorable general store, and a throwback arcade!
After a nice slumber, we awoke with one thing on our mind....Breakfast....back in Tennessee.
Now, here's the great thing about Chattanooga - they have some REALLY great food. As you may have already gathered, grazing is a top travel priority for the Royan clan. We've been to 'Nooga before, so we have some favorites that we like to frequent.
Topping the Royan "must eat" list is Milk and Honey, a small coffee shop with the best breakfast sandwich on the planet: The Farmhouse Biscuit. Imagine, if you will, sausage, bacon, tomato jam, egg, arugula, white cheddar, caramelized onions and shallots on a homemade buttermilk biscuit. Now imagine eating it. Damn delicious.
You can try to make it at home... but it will never be the same. You can't replicate magic.
Still hungry? Finish it off with a homemade Paleta (smoothie popsicle)! Or a bowl of fresh fruit! Or eat all three... as the smallest Royan did. Face covered in popsicle, Max exclaimed "I'm havin' a glorious feast Dada!"
Bellies full, we headed to another fave Royan stop, the Tennessee Aquarium. Fishtacular!
Max was super in to trying to be a fish. Solid performance, little guy. Solid performance.
We walked the Tennessee Aquarium and its grounds until we worked off our breakfast, knowing it was then time for lunch!
As we have learned many times before, the road can be a fickle mistress. She giveth, and she taketh away. Great restaurants are no exception. Right around the corner from the Aquarium was a quaint joint called "212 Market." Good kids menu, one of Tennessee's top and original farm-to-table restaurants. Sadly, we arrived to find them closed. Permanently.
Cool chick and Chattanooga local, Katie Stewart, gave us the skinny, noting that "There are so many newer, more hipster-friendly restaurants in town that they just couldn't compete."
It's a cruel world out there in the restaurant industry. R.I.P. 212 Market. You've been put out to pasture (that's a farm-to-table joke) too soon.
This gastrointestinal hiccup didn't slow us down. Hipsters that we are, we made a beeline (Yay! Another pun!) to Milk and Honey's sister restaurant, Community Pie.
Andrew, completely enthralled by the glass windows overlooking the pizza kitchen, decided that today was the day he would try mushrooms. He just ordered them as a topping with the waiter as if it were no big deal... as if this kid doesn't hate anything that is sort of like a vegetable. And he loved them... saying that he suspects that "mushrooms are a lot like tofu... they absorb the flavor of whatever is around them." Thank you, whatever Food Network program on which that was overheard. Fungi forever!
Just as we were patting ourselves on the back for how mature he is, he showed us his picture of "General Fartso."
After lunch, we loaded up in the truck and set about heading back to the campsite to pick up our rig and make our way to Alabama. Along the way, Mark took a moment to be awesome (and set a great example for our kiddos in the process).
Not only was this selfless act a big hit on Facebook, it provided for hours of backseat discussion among the boys as we drove toward Huntsville.
We didn't mention in the Facebook post that the man had no legs...but this was of course the only thing the boys could talk about. They went back and forth for hours discussing what they'd do if they needed to help someone with no legs.. what they would give away... how they could help the man with no legs find a job... how they could help him find a home. Then the topic got off legs and how one could help a homeless person with other missing body parts.
We just listened...
Max: "Dada, if I saw a man with no arms who had lost all of his groceries on the street, I would give him my ice cream cone."
Andrew: "But, Max... how would he eat it?
Andrew: "That's a good idea, Max!"
Good deed and miles of thought-provoking conversation in the books, we pulled in to the US Space and Rocket Center RV park and prepped out little astronauts for their next adventure: Space Camp!