Author: Josh Watson
•1:54 PM
Back in November, we took the boys to visit their Uncle Burton. He has recently moved back to Chattanooga after having grown up on Signal Mountain. Burton had been telling us about Stringer's Ridge. Since he lives in North Chattanooga, it was just a few minutes away. Technically the ridge was still closed, but you could hike a little trail up to a nice overlook of the city.

After the threat of the development of 500 condos on Chattanooga's North Shore on historic Stringer's Ridge in 2007, The Trust for Public Land and the City of Chattanooga got involved to purchase 37 acres and eventually all 92 acres to develop an Urban Park.

Here are some of the pics of the boys enjoying themselves on a beautiful late Fall day

Nice overlook of the Chattanooga

Baker's first taste of climbing

Little brother has to do it too!

Here is map showing the future of Stringer's Ridge. I know we cannot wait to explore it more.

Author: Josh Watson
•1:03 PM
Since it is winter and we are not currently doing much outside, I thought I would share some adventures from the past. Finally both boys were of the age and coordination that I felt comfortable taking them both hiking, and letting them roam. I decided to finally hike the trails at Barfield park here in Murfreesboro. Barfield park is a multi use park that has playgrounds, disc golf, camping, and hiking trails. The trails were better than I expected and easy enough for my 3 year old. We did the Marshall Knobbs red trail that begins behind the Wilderness Station.
The boys loved hiking out there. I think they could have spent the entire afternoon jumping off of rocks or from one rock to another. Baker even tested his balance on every fallen tree he saw. You will not feel like you are only five minutes from town out here. That was the best was 10 minute drive from our house, but felt like we somewhere else. 

I enjoy running races, and ever since I ran my first trail half marathon I have not enjoyed road running. Trail running offers a peacefulness and scenery that the road just cannot offer. The boys loved running or blazing through the trails. Hopefully there will be some trail races in their future. This video is actually from the very next week. The boys loved it so much they wanted to go back as quickly as we could.

Author: Josh Watson
•6:13 AM
We spent Thanksgiving weekend on the Farm in Columbia at my wife's parents house. This farmhouse has been in the family for nearly a century. My wife's great grandfather built this house out of red oak from the trees on the property. In the spring, lightning struck the last remaining red oak tree on the property. This was a huge tree that had limbs the size of small trees. There were piles and piles of wood that was just begging to be burned. The stump to this oak tree was enormous. It was doused with kerosene in the hopes that it would the stump away. After an entire night of burning it still stood the next morning. In total, we had bonfires for 3 straight nights during Thanksgiving break.

The boys loved the fires. Their uncle Burton would throw large pieces of wood into the fire to make embers fly up in the air. The boys thought they were fireflies. They also ate way too many hotdogs and marshmallows over the 3 nights.


Not to be outdone, I made preparations for a bonfire at our house for the Stewart family Christmas dinner. I had two cedar trees already on the ground that needed to be cut up. I cut them into logs and then split them with my axe. Caleb was the helper of the day and stacked all of the wood. Unfortunately rain rolled in 30 minutes prior to the party and there was no bonfire. The boys were bummed, but that wood will be burned at a future date!

Author: Josh Watson
•2:53 PM
This was our first trip out to Chickasaw Trace in Columbia, TN. We were already in town for the thanksgiving holiday at my wife's parents house. The weather was sunny and 55-60 degrees depending on the wind, so I decided to get out with the boys to enjoy the day. Chickasaw has 8.5 miles of single track and covers 300 acres. The park is located on the banks of the Duck River and a tributary, Knob Creek. It is a popular place for mountain bikers and is maintained by the Columbia Cycling Club. Chickasaw is also the location of the popular Jail Break Triathlon which consists of 3.5 miles in a canoe, 8 miles on a mountain bike, and 2.5 miles of trail running.

We ended up doing the River Trail. It was labeled easy, and I would completely agree. My boys are 5 and 3, and they had no trouble with the terrain. The trail follows the Duck River. It is not the prettiest river in the world, but some of these sections provided nice scenery. I have canoed several sections of the Duck...starting in Normandy and Shelbyville, through Chapel Hill, and in Columbia. So I have a history with this river, and walking it banks was a good reminder of the past adventures I have had on this river. Today was not about me though, it was about introducing a new place to Baker and Caleb. The River Trail was a good short hike. Caleb and Baker love bridges. I guess they think it is really cool to run across them and jump up and down on them because they will do it for awhile before getting bored. Anyways there was a cool bridge on this trail pictured below.

The boys overlooking the Duck River

At the end of the hike, we walked down to the river for Caleb's favorite past time...throwing rocks in the water. I think he could do till his arm falls off. He is so much like me because I cannot be near a river bed and not throw rocks either. We probably spent 45 minutes just throwing at different targets in the water. Then there is Baker, who just wanted to throw large rocks up and make a huge splash. When he was not doing that, he was mischievously trying to jump in the water. 

All in all, it was a good trip. I look forward to going back and exploring more sections of the trail with my boys!

Author: Josh Watson
•12:58 PM
Christmas 2012 is near and here is list of the 10 gifts for your Outdoor Boy.

1.) REI Tarn 18 Pack - Youth - $40

* Great pack for kids in the 6-12 range
* Made from same heavy duty material as adult packs
* Hydration compatible
* Safety whistle built into sternum strap
* Gear capacity is 18 Liters or 1,100 cubic inches
* Weight is 1 lb. 3 0z.

2.) North Face Blue Ridge Sleeping Bag - $70

* 3 season camping
* Synthetic mummy style bag for temps down to 20 degrees
* Max user height 5'
* Stuff sack size 8"x17"
* Average total weight 2 lb. 8 oz.

3.) Merrell Moab Ventilator Z-Rap - $50-$60

* Suede leather with breathable mesh upper
* Soft Mesh Lining
* Non-marking rubber sole
* Machine washable

4.) North Face Atlas TriClimate 3-in-1 Jacket - $150

* Shell jacket and insulating fleece can be worn together or separately
* Fully sealed seams boosts weatherproofness
* Insulation type is Synthetic

5.) Ozark Trail 2-Person Junior Dome Tent - $25

* Great value for kids first tent
* Weighs under 3 pounds
* Simple setup
* Large door opening with screen
* Size: 6'x5'x36"
* Sleeps 2

6.) Patagonia 3 Midweight Top and Bottoms - $30 for each
* Highly breathable, moisture wicking, and fast drying
* Made from recycled and recyclable synthetic fiber
* Ideal for a wide range of temperatures

7.) Black Diamond Whiz Headlamp - Kids - $20

* Operates up to 50 hours on low with 2 AAA batteries
* 2 LEDs with a max output of 16 lumens
* Tiltable housing for adjusting direction of light

8.) Casio Baby-G BG3000-3 Matte Green - $90

* Shock resistant
* Water resistant up 200 meters
* EL backlight with afterglow
* 1/100 second stopwatch
* Military inspired

9.) Nikon Coolpix S30 - $$80-$120

* 10.1 megapixel
* Waterproof up to 3 meters
* Shockproof up to 2.6'
* Nice little camera that can withstand young kids

10.) Camp Out: The Ultimate Kid's Guide - $12

*Includes activities, skills, recipes, songs, and projects for the outdoors
* Learn to tie knots, pitch tents, use a compass and much more
* Illustrated
* For kids 7 +

Author: Josh Watson
•10:44 AM
My wife is from Signal Mountain, TN which overlooks the Tennessee River Gorge and the City of Chattanooga. We love the area, and try to get back there a couple times a year. My wife's brother just recently moved back to Chattanooga so now we have even more reason to go there. On this particular trip we were able to do a ton of fun things with our boys.

Coolidge Park is always a great place to go for kids. The park sits on Chattanooga's Northshore waterfront. Coolidge Park features a beautifully restored 100 year old carousel, an interactive play fountain, and lots of open space. Here is a good aerial view with park in the bottom of the frame.
Water area for kids to play in
Aerial View of the Park and Chattanooga
Beside Coolidge sits another park. Renaissance Park is a 23 acre urban wetlands park located on the north shore of the Tennessee River.  Features include hilly overlooks, nature trails with native trees, wildflowers, and river eco systems. One of those hills is used for a whole other purpose. Hill + Cardboard = Instant entertainment!

On the other side of Coolidge Park you can access the Walnut Street Bridge. This pedestrian bridge will take you across the Tennessee river to south side where you can visit the Art District or the Tennessee Aquarium. Our boys love getting ice cream for the walk across the bridge. Clumpies Ice Cream is located on the north side, and the Ice Cream Show is located on the south side of the bridge. You cannot go wrong either way.

Walnut Street Bridge