In June, Kellie and I flew back to Tennessee to celebrate our fathers, visit friends, and spend some time in Chattanooga. The original plan was to spend most of the week hiking and rock climbing. Unfortunately, it rained almost the entire trip so we spent the week exploring the city. Here are my highlights from the trip.


We left San Diego early and landed in Nashville around midday. The afternoon was spent celebrating Father’s Day with my family. My brother and his wife hosted a wonderful cookout at their house. I learned that Sam’s Club all beef hotdogs are delicious.

My sister couldn’t make it to the cookout due to being hospitalized so we went to visit her in the hospital. Luckily, she was on the up-swing and we spent about an hour catching up before heading back to the cookout.

That night, Kellie and I made the long drive to Chattanooga and checked into the Kinley Hotel around midnight.


After the long, coast-to-coast travel day, we slept in until midday and had a nice brunch at the hotel bar. We spent early afternoon walking around Southside and happened across a few really interesting places: a woodworking academy, a climbing + Ninja gym, Niedlov’s Bakery, and Velo Coffee.

Back at the hotel, I spent the afternoon working to get this blog up and running. It was a struggle to contain my emotions as I authored George’s memorial.

That evening, we ventured to downtown. We enjoyed a quick meal at Tazikis before heading to High Point Climbing Gym for an indoor climbing session. The gym was really nice and far less crowded than we’re used to out west. The routes were well set and there was enough variety to keep things interesting.

We enjoyed a well-earned trip to Ben & Jerry’s before heading back to the hotel to relax and binge the first half of The Night Agent.


On day three, we awoke at a slightly more reasonable hour and had brunch across the street at Frothy Monkey, an old favorite from my days living in Nashville.

Then we headed east. We enjoyed a serene drive through Booker T. Washington State Park before meandering down to the local REI.

On our way back to Chattanooga proper, we stopped by the Riverside location of High Point. It was somewhat spartan but felt like a gym for more serious climbers compared to the novelty of the downtown location.

For dinner, we went to Toto where we enjoyed some sushi and poke! Rather fortuitously, we ran into my old college friend Sydney and her family.


We made it to First Watch on time for breakfast on Wednesday. Ironically, this chain started in Pacific Grove but after an eastward surge of expansion, it no longer has any locations in California. I’m not keen on the farmhouse style but the food was excellent!

We went for another nature drive, this time up to Signal Mountain. The drive was fun and once we made it to the top, it was so calm and quiet amongst the trees. The view of the river from Signal Point was beautiful. I often forget how lush Tennessee is compared to California.

We drove back down to Chattanooga to enjoy an afternoon snack at Cadence Coffee while waiting for our friends Clay and Loren to arrive. Once they arrived, we checked into our joint accommodations at Hotel Clemons.

We enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Wooden City. I’m currently taking a break from alcohol and I particularly enjoyed their mocktail menu.


We decided to start the day climbing as a group on Thursday so we walked to Puckett’s (in the rain) for breakfast before heading to High Point Downtown for several hours of climbing. We enjoyed a post-climb coffee at this adorable little coffee shop called Sleepyhead before heading to lunch at Niedlov’s Bakery in Southside.

That afternoon, we drove south to Lookout Mountain. We caught a break in the weather so we made the short hike down to Sunset Point. I was glad we did because I got my first glimpse of what Chattanooga has to offer outdoor climbers: a seamingly endless series of stainless steel climbing anchors lined the cliff.

We made the short drive down to St. Elmos for some coffee then finished the day with good food and fun trivia at Five Wits Brewing. I enjoyed a very nice non-alcoholic beer from Untitled Art.


Unfortunately, Kellie wasn’t feeling well on Friday so the rest of us ventured to Bluff View Art District without her. We went to Rembrandt’s Coffee House for breakfast. Then we made our way Hunter Museum of American Art. The art was very nice but I was particular enthralled by the exquisite wooden benches throughout the exhibits.

Kellie recovered enough to join us for lunch at Cashew, a surprisingly tasty vegan spot. That afternooon, we crossed the pedestrian bridge to explore North Shore.

For our final meal in Chattanooga, we walked to a Levantine restaurant called Calliope (pronounced “cah-LYE-eh-pee”) where we enjoyed easily the best meal of the week. I’m still thinking about the braised lamb shoulder.


We ended our time in Chattanooga with one final trip to Sleephead. This was easily the best coffee that we had on the trip.

Then we made the drive to Knoxville to spend our last day in Tennessee with Kellie’s folks for a belated Father’s Day celebration. We enjoyed homemade taco salad and a very tasty cake that (rather ingeniously) used ice cream sandwiches as the base.

After a nice visit, we made the long drive back to Nashville and began our even longer journey back to San Diego.