The Grinch for ICE 2018

Seeing ICE! at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center is an annual family tradition that we haven't missed since moving to the Nashville area approximately 6 years ago. This year, finding time in our schedule was a challenge so we were excited to be able to make it work, especially since we'd been hoping for them to make it a Grinch theme since the beginning!

Holiday LIGHTS at Cheekwood

If you are looking for a festive activity to do with the family this holiday season, check out Holiday LIGHTS at Cheekwood! After having seen it advertised for several years, we finally got to check it out! They have over one million lights illuminating their gardens as well as carolers and smores!

Cheekwood's Holiday LIGHTS are open from:
November 23 –  December 30
5:00 – 10:00 PM
*Holiday LIGHTS is a timed-entry special event so tickets must be purchased for selected times. They are also closed on Christmas Day.

Tickets purchased at the gate are subject to a $5 per ticket processing fee.
Adults: $22 (non-member) or $17 (member)
Youth (ages 3-17): $17 (non-member) or $12 (member)
Children 2 and under: Free
*Save $3.00 when you visit on Non-Peak Nights (Monday-Wednesday), all nights from December 13-24 are Peak Nights
Parking is included.

In this case I think the pictures and do the talking... scroll down for an idea of what Holiday LIGHTS at Cheekwood has to offer!


Holiday Trip For The Nashville Grotto To Tumbling Rock Cave Preserve

In 2017 we attended the Formal Wear Caving trip that was held on December 9, 2017 and enjoyed a festive trip that provided a great opportunity to meet folks throughout the caving community. Schedules prevented our attendance this year so instead, we through together our own Nashville Grotto trip to visit the famed Christmas Tree formation and take pictures with its lights.

On Sunday December 9, 2018, Grotto members (Ray Maslak, Dave Waescher, Alan Hatch, and Sean Evans along with Kevin McGinnis) and their children met at Tumbling Rock Cave Preserve at 10am. After gearing up with some festive attire and retrieving the battery cave manager Nathan Williams was generous enough to lend for the trip, we headed in.

The cave itself handles water well, but there was a significant amount of rainfall over the previous couple days so several key areas had small waterfalls or higher water levels than are usually seen. In particular the "King's Shower" had significantly more water flowing than usual.

Making its way down to the Christmas Tree formation, the group got to take a standard group photo as well as individual family pics before backtracking and making our way out.

As mentioned previously, it had rained for several days prior to the trip so the King's Shower had SIGNIFICANTLY more water-flow as is normally experienced during a trip to Tumbling Rock Cave. With the assistance of Hatch who was able to hold back the water flow momentarily while cavers climbed up to check out the Topless Dome. Others who had previously seen it stayed back to avoid the torrent.

Especially with children, Tumbling Rock Cave preserve will remain an annual visit in December for years to come thanks to the efforts of SCCi and preserve manager Nathan Williams. It was a fantastic trip for grotto members to enjoy with their children around the holidays. Merry Christmas!


The Caverns Christmas Giveaway!

On November 24th (2018), our friends at The Caverns invited us to come experience Shenandoah's Good Ole Fashioned Christmas! It was an amazing opportunity that we couldn't pass up that is about to become even more amazing.....

Burgess Falls along the Falling Water River

Located just off of Tennessee State Route 135 between Cookeville and Sparta lies Burgess Falls State Park. The main focus of the park is it's main 136 foot tall cascade, Burgess Falls... named after Tom Burgess, a Revolutionary War veteran who settled along this section of the Falling Water River in the 1790s, whose family used the Falling Water River's rapids to power a grist mill and eventually a saw mill that supplied early settlers with cornmeal and lumber.

Making the switch... the Olight H2R Nova

It's been 2 full years now since I started caving. For my first trip, I hopped on Amazon and ordered a helmet. Then I grabbed some knee pads, gloves, and a couple flashlights from the store and headed out with a local grotto on my first wild trip underground. It was amazing! I certainly learned some lessons on that first trip that were no-brainers for seasoned cavers. One important lesson was that having a handheld flashlight as my primary light source was a bad idea since a headlamp would free up both hands for tasks like scrambling over breakdown or snapping pictures.

50 Unique Elf On The Shelf Antics

A holiday favorite for my kids is the arrival of "Nick", our Elf (Elf On The Shelf) who visits before Christmas each year. Just before Thanksgiving they start to expect his imminent arrival until one day, "BAM!"... Nick's back and doing silly things each night... exhausting Mom and Dad and often creating a mess. Here are 50 of his antics from over the years.

Nice Mill Dam Recreation Area

The Nice Mill Dam Recreation area area is located just to the east of today's US Hwy 41 (Nashville Hwy) between Smyrna and Murfreesboro. Named after Nice's Mill (once known as Ward's Mill) which has been lost to history... today it is a well-used fishing and swimming hole.

Lost Creek Falls

Lost Creek Falls is part of the Lost Creek State Natural Area and is fed from water emerging from a cave (Lost Creek Resurgence) that tumbles 60ft before disappearing into the ground below. In times of high flow, the water can spill across the sinkhole where it is located and into the mouth of Lost Creek Cave (which is also known as White's or Dodson Cave).

Windland Center Fossil Site Across From The Nashville Zoo

In addition to our previously posted fossil collecting sites in Nashville, the Windland Center fossil site is also a spot to take the kids to find these treasures of the past!

Dollywood's LumiNights Expansion!

Dollywood's Harvest Festival runs from September 28 - November 3, 2018 mostly in tandem with it's Southern Gospel music event. Families get to enjoy the glow of thousands of intricately-carved pumpkins as they wander through immersive harvest-themed displays throughout Dollywood's Timber Canyon along with "Pumpkin Artists" onsite who host demonstrations showing guest how to create their own masterpieces!

The Adventure Science Center in Nashville

The Adventure Science Center is a independent, not-for-profit science and technology center in the heart of Nashville that offers fun learning experiences for children (and adults!) throughout the region. It features 44,000 square feet of exhibit space with 175 hands-on interactive exhibits covering biology, physics, visual perception, listening, mind, air and space, energy, and earth sciences. Of particular note is the 75-foot-tall adventure tower where children can climb to the top and get a spectacular view the Nashville skyline and the Sudekum Planetarium that features state-of-the-art digital projection and surround sound. The Adventure Science Center serves for than 300,000 people annually!

Ozone Falls State Natural Area

Ozone Falls State Natural Area is located in Cumberland County, Tennessee and maintained \ park of Cumberland Mountain State Park. It consists of 43 acres of property centered around Ozone Falls which is a 110 foot plunge waterfall set against a gorge along Fall Creek. It is so picturesque that Disney selected it for filming scenes for the live action version of The Jungle Book that was released in 1994.

Tiny Bubbles At The Boils...

The Cumberland Plateau is home to countless sinking streams and springs. The Boils in Jackson County is one such spring and has the highest discharge of any spring in Tennessee. The water comes from the channel's side along with three large holes on it's floor. In times of high water, after it rains, the up-well has enough force that the water appears to be boiling... hints the name.

Cataract Falls

Less than ten minutes from downtown Gatlinburg and just to the left of the Sugarlands Visitor Center in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the trail to Cataract Falls. Only 3/4 of a mile in length, it is an easy trail for families with children of any age that includes the falls which are 25 ft high.

Charlies Bunion Via The Appalachian Trail

Finally after what seemed like a year of trying to fit it in our schedule, my son and I were able to take a trip out to Great Smoky Mountain National Park for a hike on one of its scenic trails. Considering that the only hike I had done there previously was the Alum Cave Trail to Mt. LeConte, I decided to post a poll in the Facebook Group "Hike The Smokies" to see what the consensus was on whether we should hike to Charlie's Bunion, Mt. Cammerer, or Chimney Tops... all trails that I had heard positive reviews of. Surprisingly to me, the response was overwhelmingly Charlie's Bunion. So, after scheduling a day off of work we took to the road from the Nashville area at roughly 4am.

Wilderness At The Smokies

Wilderness at the Smokies is a waterpark \ resort located in Sevierville, Tennessee that serves those visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or enjoying the attractions of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. For hikers in particular, the resort provides a great option where you can go out and enjoy the beautiful views of the Great Smoky Mountains and then return to cool off and relax as the waterpark. As an added bonus, if you happen to encounter inclement weather, you can always adjust your plans and spend the day at Wild Waterdome, the indoor waterpark!

Wilderness at the Smokies opened in 2008 with just a single hotel and outdoor waterpark, but quickly expanded to include shopping, dining facilities, the condominium resort and indoor waterpark, as well as an additional outdoor waterpark.

The Sewanee Natural Bridge

The Sewanee Natural Bridge is an hours drive from both Nashville and Chattanooga.. located in Franklin County, Tennessee it is the largest natural bridge in the southern section of the Cumberland Plateau. At 25 feet high and 50 feet wide, it's essentially a giant sinkhole that has partially eroded to form a large stone bridge.
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