Chattanooga!

Since it’s been nearly a month since I was there, I figured I should get my Chattanooga blog goin’ on!  

This trip was kind of special.  We were going to my cousin Brett and his new wife Bonnie’s wedding reception.  I’ve never visited my Aunt and Uncle since they lived in Chattanooga, and I haven’t seen my cousin Brett in 13 years.

So, like most trips, we started our day at the Portland airport.  Our flight left at 6 am, so naturally my brother and I were hungry.  I was hungry for breakfast, Cameron was hungry for a double cheeseburger.  Eeeew.  

DSC_0261iOh and, Cameron’s favorite way to ruin most pictures on this trip is with his ‘blue steel’ face.

From Portland we flew in a tiny tube to Memphis, where I bought an I heart Elvis shirt, which I will later find out is waaaaaaay too small.  From Memphis we flew to Atlanta, and from Atlanta to Chattanooga.  We arrived there at 5 pm, and rented a car and drove to Signal Mountain, where Aunt Linda and Uncle Brad live.  On our way up the mountain I saw a sign for boiled peanuts.  I haven’t had boiled peanuts probably since the last time I visited Aunt Linda and Uncle Brad, when they lived in Florida.  Boiled peanuts are deeeelicious!  

When we got to the house Aunt & Uncle greeted us at the front door with big smiles and hugs.  It was so good to see them. 

We settled in and got ready for dinner.  Flank steak, green beans, and potatoes.  Oh. My. God.  I like my meat well done, a little burned even.  This steak was cooked all the way through and was so friggin tender.  Just perfect.  The steak was so good I had to try the green beans.  (for those who don’t know, I don’t eat vegetables of any kind) I like the green beans.  I ate them and they were good.  DSC_0270i

We spent the rest of the evening hanging out and waiting for the next arrival of guests.  Late in the evening Deb & Duane and Kathy & Madeline arrived.  All old family friends.  The champagne and wine was flowing freely.  After the looooooong day on various planes I didn’t last much longer, and went to bed.

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The women woke up today with a plan, wedding dress shopping.  After breakfast, we made our way into downtown Chattanooga.  Aunt Linda found a bridal shop called Boutique Couture.  My initial thought when I heard the name of the place was, Couture?  That sounds fancy.  It was.

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My idea of my wedding dress isn’t long, white and flowing.  I want a short dress.  So I tried on bridesmaids dresses.  In the midst of trying on dresses I figured out what style neckline I wanted, and what style dress I wanted.  The women were so great.  Before we even got there they were all talking about how they would be sitting in a circle and I would come out of the fitting room and stand on the pedestal and they would tell me how beautiful I was.  And that’s exactly how it happened.  It was pretty fun.  I’ve never actually tried on wedding dresses so it kinda felt like a right of passage as a bride to be.  

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This green dress was probably my favorite dress I tried on.  The color was so great, and the women thought that too.  If it wasn’t $300 and didn’t have to be special ordered, I would’ve bought it.  Then I tried on the wedding gown.  It was hot, and it made me sweat.  It was the only wedding gown I tried on.

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Of course when we were done, I needed a group photo of us.  I’m glad the women took me out to do this.

We arrived back at the house where the men and boy had been smoking a turkey all day, and picking up another friend from the airport.  DSC_0302iThe women and Ryan prepared dinner, while Cameron and I watched and picked at the food as it was being made.  Every meal here is like eating at a 5 star restaurant.  It was all so good, I ate was eating the salad, the arugula salad.  And then there was dessert.  Tonight we had frozen turtle pie cake thingy.  It was deeeeeelicious!

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Cameron had some drinks.  He had some wine, some beer.  The poor little guy was so tuckered out at bed time, he didn’t even notice me taking his photo with his stuffed bear.

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When I got up the next morning, I re-met my cousin Brett.  We haven’t seen each other in 13 years.  It was a little strange.  When we would see each other growing up, we were far apart enough in age that I was the annoying little kid.  At least that’s how I saw it.  I was really looking forward to getting to know him here.  Here’s a picture of our awkward greeting.  I’m a little bit taller than he is.  

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Aunt Linda asked us to leave for a few hours so she and the bartenders/catering staff could set up.  So, we had a three car caravan beginning with Uncle Brad, touring the mountain.  We stopped at scenic views for photos.  I was riding with the big kids, Brett, his wife Bonnie and their friend Ryan.  We took off and headed to a brew pub where the adults and another friend met up.  

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We went back to the house to get ready for the party.  I changed into my black dress from Target and joined the party.  I started my party night off with a cowboy margarita, which I discovered last summer at Rob’s uncle’s wedding.  It’s just a margarita with beer in it.  Fantastic.  I also had to be Cameron’s drink getter since there was bar staff.  There were a lot of people I’ve met at some point or another in my life.  There was a musician, I can’t remember what instrument he played.  It was a string instrument that laid flat.  There was all kinds of amazing food and dessert.  All of which Aunt Linda made.  DSC_0319i

Uncle Brad made a heartfelt toast to Brett and Bonnie before the dinner buffet opened up.

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Cam and I stuck together most of the night.  When he wasn’t with me, he was with Brett’s friends.  They were feeding him Manhattan’s and cigars.   

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It was a long, late, fun filled night.  After most of the party had left Brett and Bonnie had a dance.  The song?  Liz Phair’s H.W.C.  Pretty great way to end the night.

We had to be up fairly early the next morning for brunch.  A lot of the guests from the night before came back for brunch on Sunday.  We had creme brulee toast and mimosa’s.  After brunch we all made our way to the Tennessee Aquarium where Uncle Brad volunteers with the penguins.  We got a V.I.P. tour of the penguin exhibit and the main tank.  It was pretty awesome.  I love aquariums and everything about sea life.  I was very excited.  

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We got to go up above the penguin exhibit and see something I personally have never seen before.  Penguin sex.

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Yup, that’s it.  After they did the deed, the male penguin brings the female rocks to build a nest so she can lay her egg.  We watched as this male struggled to bring his lady rocks, and fight off another male who wanted a piece too.  

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You will be happy to know that they did lay an egg, and Uncle Brad is keeping me posted.

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Then we saw two of my favorite things: jellyfish and sea horses.  I wish I had lots of money so I could have a tank to house them in and a person to keep it clean.

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Then there were the sharks.  We got to see the shark tank from above.  We got to see how the divers go in and feed them.  And I have to say I was a little tempted to jump in there and swim with the fishes.

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We spent that evening watching slideshows of all the photos everyone had taken on the trip.  My mom and I had the most photos.  Surprise surprise.  I stayed up pretty late knowing we’d be leaving the house at 4 a.m. to get to the airport for our 6 a.m. flight. I was afraid of being in a tiny plane again, so I thought the less sleep I got there, the more sleep I’d get on the plane.  My plan worked wonderfully.  Our flight from Chattanooga to Atlanta was literally 20 minutes.  Once we were on our super gigantic plane in Atlanta I crashed.  I slept about 2.5 of  the 4.5 hour ride to Portland.  

We arrived home at 10:30 a.m.  Not too bad.  It was nice to be home.  But I also missed being in Chattanooga.  We don’t see our extended family often, and when we do it’s usually a special occasion.  

Since we’ve been back home, Aunt Linda and Uncle Brad have visited us for Cam’s graduation and will be back for my wedding, and have also decided to move to Oregon.  I’m glad that we’ll finally have family near us again.

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