Chattanooga Trip

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Last week I posted about my experience at the 4 Bridges Half Marathon, and I barely touched on anything about the weekend besides the race.  This post is going to be about the sights  and experiences that Susan, her sister, and I had over the weekend.  There might be a little overlap with my previous post, but the majority of the info will be new,  I will not rehash the race or our bed and breakfast, The Mayor’s Mansion, which was awesome.  I will, however, talk quite a bit about food, especially food that is not ideal for weight loss.

The view from the park

The view from the park

The Places We Ate

Anyone that knows me knows that when it comes to going out to eat, I prefer to go to a local place.  It is great to support your local community, try some unique recipes, and bathe in the culture.  This is doubly true when I travel away from Memphis.  I can have the same mediocre steak at an Applebee’s anywhere!  I usually refer to Yelp!, Urbanspoon, the Man vs. Food website, or Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives website to see what is out there.  This trip, however, I did not have to rely very heavily on electronic reviews since my sister-in-law lives in Chattanooga and served as our culinary tour guide.

The first place that we ate at was Good Dog, which is a hot dog restaurant by the park in which the race expo and packet pickup was at.  I know not everyone likes hot dogs, but I do, and this place was beyond amazing.  There were numerous varieties to choose from and a plethora of toppings as well.  The fries were home cut in-house and come served in a cone that sits in a hole drilled into the tables.  There are four types of house ketchup available on the table and a house rub as well.  I went with the BLT dog, which was exactly what it sounds like.  The homemade mayo, called fritesaus was great, and I cannot wait to try some more of the menu items here in the future.

Our food was a little bit better than this

Our food was a little bit better than this

The second place we visited was the Big River Grille & Brewing Works.  This is not 100% local because there is a restaurant open in Nashville, and Lake Buena Vista, FL, but we don’t have one in Memphis, so it counts.  The wait here was insane, so we opted to sit on the patio.  This was a big mistake.  The temperature was steadily dropping and by the time we finished our meal, all of our teeth were chattering.  It was this experience that prompted the trip to Wal-Mart for my cold weather gear.  I did not order a beer since it was cold and we were trying to rush our order, but I really wish I did.  Susan had a grilled chicken sandwich with avocado and bacon, my sister-in-law had a cobb salad, and I tried the Mac ‘N Chicken.  My meal was rich, but very good, and portion was huge.  I only ate about half of it, which I appreciated the following morning during the half marathon!

After the race on Sunday, we went to Taco Mamacita.  This is another local place that is expanding to new markets, namely Nashville and Sullivan’s Island, SC.  The place is billed as “Fresh-Mex” due to the high quality of the ingredients.  We all three opted for the two taco and side deal.  We ordered the California Club (chicken, avocado, bacon), Taco Royale (double stacked taco with chicken and chorizo), and Oy Vey (brisket) tacos, and the Mexican street corn, charro beans, and green chilli rice as our sides.  The California Club and street corn were the far and away winners, but I would have no reservations about ordering anything that we had again.  I also enjoyed a Sweetwater 420 while the ladies had homemade sangria.  There was also something on the menu called a Durty Sanchez, which was a PBR and shot of tequila.  The man beside us order this against the wishes of his wife and young daughter.  She almost had him convinced that it was too early to drink when are drinks from the bar came out.  Whoops!

Durty Sanchez

Durty Sanchez

For an afternoon snack, I suggested that we try an ice cream place called Clumpy’s.  My sister-in-law had never been there, but it was next to Good Dog and seemed promising.  The was a considerable line when we got there and it only kept growing as we waited.  There was only one poor soul working, and he was earning every tip that he got.  The ice cream and waffle cones are homemade on site, so this is what I had.  I used opt out of a cone, but the ones coming off of the waffle iron smelled too good to pass up.  The ice cream selection seems to change daily and my chocolate peanut butter and pistachio ice cream waffle cone combo hit the spot.

This the whiskey available at Urban Stack

This the whiskey available at Urban Stack

Dinner was a Urban Stack Burger Lounge, which is actually owned and operated by the same people who own Taco Mamcita.  This was a burger joint with a vast selection of whiskey and beer.  They use local ingredients and have several specialty burgers, which is exactly why I eat at local places, variety and fresh ingredients.  I opted for the Good Day, Sunshine, while Susan and her sister went for a more traditional burger.  My burger was topped with a fried egg, bacon, a white vinegar mayo, and cheddar.  It was big, tasty, and excellent, even if it was not the best burger of my life (that honor is still bestowed upon the Pharmacy in Nashville).  The fries were house cut and there was a homemade chilli ketchup as well.  Also, all of our burgers came with a side of house-made Fire and Ice pickles.  I ate all three orders of the pickles and had no regrets.

Greatest sign ever! No Crocs!

Greatest sign ever! No Crocs!

Our breakfast at the Mayor’s Mansion was also delicious, even though I missed my all time favorite, French toast, on Sunday morning since I was running.  We also stopped at Publix on our way home because Susan loves the subs from there and she cannot get them here since Kroger has a grocery store monopoly in Memphis.  This is the second trip in a row where Publix subs have made an appearance and will be a sign of things to come on future trips to Publix friendly towns.

The Places We Visited

Susan & her new friend

Susan & her new friend

The biggest attraction in Chattanooga besides the mountains is probably the Tennessee Aquarium, which I had actually never been to.  The place is separated into two buildings, with one being the ocean side and one being the river side.  All three of us agreed that the ocean side was better mainly because of the penguins and despite the butterfly massacre.  The penguins were all over the place and very energetic.  They interacted with the spectators as much as the could behind all of that glass.  It makes me feel sad for the penguins here at the Memphis Zoo.  Side note, Susan and I are Memphis Zoo members which carries discounts at almost every zoo, museum, or aquarium in the US, especially the southeast, yet this aquarium was not one of them.  The butterfly massacre is in reference the nets in the butterfly room.  There were hundreds, maybe thousands of dead butterflies caught in the nets surrounding the ceiling.  It was kind of off-putting.  There was a gigantic tank that was four stories tall and all manners of ocean life in it.  There was also a couple of touch tanks where you could touch a shark or ray.  The river side would have been better the otter exhibit would have been open.  That is the major draw for that side of the aquarium, and without it, the place seemed kind of dark and empty.  Also, when we walked into the building, somewhat commented that I looked like Walter White.  I’m 31 and I was compared to a 51-year-old meth dealer with cancer, so that wasn’t great.

Entrance to the park

Entrance to the park

After our ice cream snack, we went to Point Park Battlefield, up on Lookout Mountain.  It is a national park that thankfully had reopened after the government shutdown.  It was a Civil War battle site and has a great view of the city.  There is a small museum, a couple of cannons, and several places to take in the view.  This was the only place we went on the mountain since it was so late in the afternoon.  We didn’t have a chance to go to Ruby Falls or the haunted cavern that was up there.  Apparently the haunted cavern is a top ten haunted house and I was the only one that wanted to go to it.

If you need this sign, you are in trouble

If you need this sign, you are in trouble

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The Color Run Memphis Recap

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Back in July, I was given an entry into The Color Run Memphis and last weekend is when that event was held.  This is my first time to run in The Color Run or any of the color themed races that have become all the rage over the past couple of years.  I was registered for last year’s Color Run in Memphis, but a scheduling conflict caused me to miss the event.

The Color Run

The Color Run

The Memphis event was held at Tiger Lane which is the tailgating area adjacent to the Liberty Bowl.  It was a colder than expected morning, so I opted to wear my hoodie under my shirt.  Of course, I did not make this determination until after I arrived at the event.  I did not wear my Nike+ watch because I did not want it to be destroyed in the color stations, and since this was a untimed event, I have no clue how fast I completed the run.  The event is a 5K with four color stations throughout the race.  At each color station, you are covered with dyed corn starch.  After the race is over, you can go to the festival area for the Finish Festival, which is several runners throwing their color packets into the air.  This phenomenon leads to a gigantic cloud that you cannot see through.  The colors tend to blend together and the entire cloud ends up being black in color.  Most people come out of the cloud with color on their teeth and coughing a little bit.  The cloud and my asthma did not get along very well.  At the start of the race, everyone meets in the festival area where the MC/DJ hypes the crowd, gives out promotional items, and the crowd does some warmups.  When it was time to start, everyone participated in a giant conga line to the starting corral.  In the corral, there was more music, hyping, and swag giveaways.  With 5,000 runners, the wise choice of staggering the start was made, so every few minutes another group of runners were sent off.  And despite this being an untimed event, participants were still encouraged to run on the left and walk on the right, which was appreciated.

After the run

After the run

The race seems to be geared more to first time and non-competitive runners, which I am certain helps with participation.  The vast majority of the music played was not my preference (think Miley Cyrus and Pink), but several of the participants seemed to enjoy it.  The event is geared much more to group participation and people into the poppy genre of music and entertainment.  I ran into a friend from high school and his wife, and she absolutely loved the event.  She went to the Finish Festival multiple times and I am certain that she will participate again.

Course: A: It was a great 5K course, closely mimicking the Stars and Stripes 5K from July.  The color stations were spaced far enough apart to avoid bottlenecking, and they had an aid station as well.

The Color Run Swag

The Color Run Swag

Swag: B: All runners were given a t-shirt, temporary tattoos, color packets, and a headband.  At the event, backpack, fanny packs, sunglasses, beach balls, and socks were given out to random race participants.  I will say that this year’s shirt was much better than last year’s, both in looks and comfort.  In fact, since the shirt was so much better this year, I decided to wear last year’s event shirt so if I wanted to toss it after the event, I could.  On the course, bottled water was handed out, which was smart with all the color flying around.  At the end of the race, KIND bars were handed out.

Overall: B+: The event is well-organized and has a very positive atmosphere.  Participant enjoyment is very important to the organizers.  This is an amazing event for a first time runner or someone wanting a race free from worrying about pace.  Several people had iPhones or GPS watches with them, but I would not recommend carrying these items during the run unless you want them covered with color.

I would probably run this event again, but only if it was with a group of other runners.

I was given this entry into The Color Run, but this in no way influenced my review or enjoyment of the race.  Honestly, if I were not given the entry to the event, I was going to register for it anyway.