Winter at Point Park

We had the wonderful experience of having dear friends come down for a post-Christmas visit (a little more post than planned due to a blizzard hitting the midwest the day they were planning to leave).

We picked a couple of highlights to share since they only had a day and a half after the storm cleared out enough for them to come on down.  Of course, we took them to Point Park.

It’s one of those places that meets many criteria for many different people.  For those who want an outdoor adventure, there are dozens of hiking trails through the woods to spectacular overlooks.  For those who want a nice easy stroll, there’s a ¼ mile paved loop around the top of the point that doesn’t even require climbing a step.  And it still offers spectacular views.  The list of increasingly challenging things to see goes on–basically, any level of physical activity or lack there of can be achieved and all levels are rewarded with amazing views of Chattanooga, Moccasin Bend, and even down into Georgia.

Pat and George pose for me in front of the overlook above Moccasin Bend

Pat and George pose for me in front of the overlook above Moccasin Bend

For the history buff, there are lots of Civil War memorials and information about some of the events of the Civil War related to this location.  I’ve come to have a new respect for the Civil War living down here–I find myself growing more and more interested in the battles in the area.

Georgia, Paris, and Bonnie pause briefly in front of the memorial at Point Park

Georgia, Paris, and Bonnie pause briefly in front of the memorial at Point Park

Our visiting friends included my bestie, Georgia, her equally wonderful husband George, (yes, George and Georgia) and two of their fur-kids, Paris and Bonnie.  We were also sitting for Twiggy, and, we, of course, had Tisen.  Having 4 dogs created a few logistical challenges, but it actually worked out quite well.

Twiggy and Tisen spent a day at doggy daycare together (which Tisen enjoys much more with his buddy Twiggy to play with) while Paris and Bonnie went exploring with us.  Having 4 dogs and 4 humans in one mini-van just seemed like a bit much.

Remainders from the war, these canons still stand guard over Moccasin Bend

Remainders from the war, these canons still stand guard over Moccasin Bend

The last time we walked the loop at Point Park it was about 110 degrees.  This time, it was in the 30’s, the sky was spitting at us, the wind was whipping us around, and the sun was no where to be seeing.  I liked this weather better than the 110 degree day.  But, with no umbrellas and the sky looking increasingly threatening, we walked quickly and skipped the jaunt out to the point.  It was still beautiful–I never know if I like this park so much because of the views of because of the special people I’ve had the pleasure of taking there?

Returning to the car, we all had the same thought on our minds–we were uncomfortable in our high-tech winter coats with fleece and down and our warm, waterproof boots.  We tried to imagine living through the war in wool coats and boots full of holes (if you had either).

I just like this image--the boys having fun together

I just like this image–the boys having fun together

We went home feeling more than a little spoiled.

New Sight

Ever since our first weekend visit to Chattanooga a year and a half ago, I have wanted to peruse the Hunter Museum of American Art.  The building itself has appeared in many of my photos.  Perched high on the bluff overlooking the Tennessee River next to the Walnut Street Bridge, it’s a place I have walked around many, many times.

I just haven’t made it inside.

But, with temperatures rising into the 100’s in time for Pat’s family to arrive in Chattanooga and an enticing exhibit called Sound and Vision:  Monumental Rock and Roll Photography, it was clearly time to go.

I would love to have access to shoot the interior of Hunter Museum when no one is there.  As it was, tripod-less and hurried, I didn’t do the architecture justice.  Photos of the photos were not permitted, but it’s just as well.  The photos in the exhibit should not be reproduced by taking crappy pictures of them hanging on the wall.

I wanted to spend hours absorbing each of them.  So many of the muscians I had come to know and love were so artfully captured.  I wanted to know why.  Why was each image so uniquely powerful?  I looked at each photo going through a portrait photographer’s checklist:  eyes lit well, subject framed with rule of thirds, soft light, subject fills frame, etc, etc.  Every image violated at least one if not many of the “rules” of portraiture.  I’ve suspected as much.  If you want an interesting portrait, you’ve got to do something different.  I can’t wait to go back when I can sit and absorb some more.

We moved on through the permanent exhibits in the museum, including those in the historic mansion portion of this building.  Once again, I wish I had the opportunity to do the architecture justice.  I’m not always a fan of deconstructivist architecture (except for the inherent irony in the term), but somehow the juxtaposition of the historic mansion against the ultra-modern section works.  Apparently the ultra modern section was designed by a student of Frank Gehry (according to an employee of the museum).  There is certainly a resemblance in the style.

Later that night, we went up to Lookout Mountain to celebrate Pat’s 50th birthday.  I’m now married to a 50 year old.  It bothers him, not me.  Pat’s sister was supposed to join us, but having missed her flight from Denver, she didn’t arrive until after dinner.  We took Pat’s parents to Point Park before she arrived and then ended up back there again first thing the next morning.

An interesting comparison in the photos (at least to me):  I was shooting with my 16-35mm lens in the evening shots and with my 100-400mm the next morning.  I managed to get a shot of our building at 400mm.  It doesn’t make a very good image with the morning haze, but it still blows my mind that we can see our building from Point Park.

Canon for Cannons

After spending the better part of the afternoon walking around Rock City, we made a beeline for food.  We were all starving.  I got out my trusty Urbanspoon app and discovered a little place called “The Cafe on the Corner” nearby.  The food actually sounded good, too.

When we got there, it was right between the lunch and dinner crowd, which was perfect for our four year old friend–he had some space to run around.  This is the thing that amazes me about young children.  About the time I would just lay down on the floor and take a nap because I’m so tired, they are just getting started.

The Cafe on the Corner turned out to be one of those amazing finds you hope for when you pick a place to eat.  The staff was friendly and wonderfully accommodating.  They were prepared for children with a children’s menu, something to color on, and crayons.  While that can certainly improves a dining experience, I don’t really care how nice the wait staff is if the food is bad.  Fortunately for us, the food was fantastic.

The fried-green tomatoes were breaded in panko bread crumbs and served with hot and sweet jelly.  Just writing this is making my mouth water.  The grilled vegetable quesadilla I ordered was by far the best quesadilla I’ve ever had.  Oops, I drooled–let me grab a napkin.

And, truly amazing, even the kids’ food was so good that our little friend cleaned his plate without prompting!  This may be my new favorite restaurant.

After gorging on delicious food and relaxing in the cool dining room, we headed back out into the heat and made our way to Point Park.  I think Point Park is going to be on my list of places to make sure I take all visitor’s to.  Especially since it’s close to Cafe on the Corner.  🙂

The view from Point Park is pretty darn spectacular.  And, there are cannons there, which amuse most kids, but especially our little visitor.  As I watched the four year old jump up and down with excitement over the cannons in the park, I found myself wondering what the fascination with shooting people is that all children seem to have.

Is this unique to the US?  Do children in India, for example, pretend to shoot each other with their fingers?  Is this an expression of a universal need that all children experience to gain some sort of control on what seems like an uncontrollable world?

I recall playing many games involving shooting people as a child (even though my mother would not allow us to have toy guns), but I can’t remember why that seemed like so much fun.

As adults, we enjoyed the view more than the cannons, I think.  Although, I enjoyed my Canon very much–taking many pictures.  Unfortunately, the light was not so good as seems to be true most of the time when I shoot opportunistically.  It was still fun.

This is the Point

. . . Continued from “What’s the Point?

High on top of Lookout Mountain’s Northern point, we make our way around the paved path that leads to the museum.  The museum itself is perched on the edge of the mountain, built of stone and probably a civil war relic, but we didn’t go check it out thinking I wanted to get set up on the West side of the point in time for sunset, which was fast approaching.

However, when I got set up on the West facing overlook, the light was just right for shooting back towards the museum–golden and dappled through the leaves that have appeared from no where in the past week.

The cliff face below the museum makes me think that whoever fell of the earlier rock formation was lucky it wasn’t here that they lost their balance.

We consider briefly taking the metal stairs down to the trail below, but the thought passes quickly as I stare down the stairs and imagine my knees after going down them.  I content myself with shooting Pat and Tisen seated amongst rock outcroppings while we wait for the sunset.

As I watch the light hitting different parts of the clouds, I contemplate why I still shoot sunsets.  When I’m looking through hundreds of sunsets images, I get bored almost immediately.  Yet, I can’t look out the windows and see interesting clouds at sunset without rushing up to the roof with my camera.  For some reason, I never grow tired of watching sunsets (or shooting them), but I quickly tire seeing pictures of them.

As the light fades, a line of cumulus clouds becomes more interesting.  As I line up a shot, a park ranger approaches and tells us the park is closed and we have to leave.  The park sign says they close at sunset (which officially isn’t for 4 more minutes), but he seems tired and I don’t really need the additional images to bore myself with later, so I don’t argue.

We walk out of the park with him and a group from Seattle.  We learn that a man did, indeed, fall and that he broke some ribs.  We also learn that the park ranger is from East Liverpool, Ohio originally–near the town Pat grew up in.

The group from Seattle is amazed by the weather.  They ask us if it’s like this all the time.  I laugh and tell them we moved down last August on a day when it was 110 degrees and that we had to use our AC in March.  They seem to think that sounds nice.

As a side note, I added a photo of Tisen from my iPhone.  I had my camera all set up for the sunset and didn’t want to swing it around to capture Tisen perched on a rock like a lion (although his Holstein fur doesn’t really conjure images of lions), so I pulled out the iPhone instead.  Another reason I need to get that second camera body!  🙂