Traveling Through Chattanooga

On my most recent adventure I was visiting family all the on the East Coast. Being the brave and ever adventurous animal that I am I decided to drive across the country! While this wasn’t my first long road trip, this was going to be my first that I encountered car trouble with (I’ll get to that part in a moment).

My family lives on the coast in South Carolina and I was planning on staying with them several weeks. It seemed inconvenient to me (and them too) if I had to rely on them for a ride everywhere I might need to go. I also don’t mind long drives and it gives me time to reflect on my life and is almost soothing in a way.

Anyways I was all geared up for a nice long vacation several thousand miles from home. I always take great care of my car, regular maintenance on time and the whole 9 yards from the dealership. While it may be expensive it brings me peace of mind that I can always rely on getting from point a to point b whenever I need to.

The first leg of my trip went without a hitch and I decided to get a room in Chattanooga, TN for a night. I’ve heard many great things about this city and wanted to prowl around and see what all the fuss was about…it’s not like I’m ever going to just be passing through again! I end up getting a room downtown at the Double Tree, it’s walking distance from a lot of the sights and unique culinary offerings that this city has to offer. I was exhausted upon my arrival and didn’t do much but a grab a bite to eat from Lupi’s Pizza (a really great hole in the wall hipster type pizza place) and went to sleep.

I got up the next morning refreshed and ready to tackle the touristy parts of downtown. I ended up walking around the riverfront parkway for a while just enjoying the view of the Tennessee river (but definitely not the smell EWWW, there were even signs posted to not consume more than 2 fish a month due to pollution!) Aside from their overly green river everything else was beautiful. I ended up spending hours inside the Tennessee Aquarium in awe at the amazing exhibits they. You’d never know there were so many different types of seahorses and jellyfish!

I couldn’t spend all day as I needed to get back on the road and make it to South Carolina that evening. That’s when tragedy struck…I went to start my car and it would not start. The battery was charged, but it would not crank no matter what I did.

OH CRAP…

I got on my phone looking for a mechanic with a towing service that could come get my car and hopefully fix it too. This was going to be expensive especially if I have to pay for another night at the hotel on top of the towing and repairs.

During my search I found Chattanooga Tow’s website and they said they do roadside repairs, awesome sauce I thought! I called them up and told them my problem and they suggested that my starter is most likely the issue. I gave them the information about my car and was told they would pickup a starter from the local auto parts store and would head over to my location and see what they could do. Less than an hour later 2 guys arrived and after a quick introduction immediately got to work. They had the new starter installed and my car running again in under 2 hours total!

They saved me a ton of money by fixing my car on the spot and getting me back on the road before the sun even went down. I told them I would give them a shout out on my blog so here it is. If you’re ever in Chattanooga and experience any type or automobile issues give the guys at Chattanooga Tow a call!

I’ll be back soon with an update to the rest of my trip and how I fared staying with family for weeks on end!

Starry Summer Nights Are Calling

death-valley-reds-trip-collectiveI am based in California, so I thought I would start out reviewing a local destination I have visited many times in my life. You know, the kind of place your parents always took you that never seemed so special, until you grew up and realized how thankful you were for the tradition. This trip incorporates many exciting elements, all coming straight from Mother Earth. What a better place to start than with what the world is already offering us for entertainment?

As it turns out, if you are looking for a place to view the specter and wonder that is our night sky, living in California is just the place to be. Death Valley National Park, spanning over 3 million acres between the Great Basin and Mojave deserts is the largest area designated as a national park in the lower 48 states and the very best place for viewing lunar eclipses, the many constellations visible, and even meteor showers. While I have visited the park from California, people also enter its sprawling acreage through Nevada as well. The closest cities to the park are Lone Pine, California and Beatty, Nevada.

reds-trip-report1

What makes the park so well suited for nighttime sky viewing is how little artificial light is generated. Just over 90% of the land is deemed wilderness area and cannot be developed. This leaves the stars and moon as the only light filling the sky for as far as the eye can see.

On this adventure I drove in from Lone Pine on California Highway 190.  This was the first time I had taken a trip to Death Valley since I was a kid. I decided I would use my trusty GPS, excited that I, unlike my parents years ago, was lucky enough to have a digital guide to my destination.

RED’S TRIP WARNING #1– Do not rely entirely on your GPS to guide you into the park. I ended up at 3 dead end roads and at one point imagined myself lost in the wilderness for good! Luckily I found a map stashed in my back seat and was able to make heads or tails of this situation, but I would highly advise employing another form of guidance to make it in.

Death Valley does have a visitor’s center called Furnace Creek, which will also prove helpful in planning your stay. You will come across it once entering the park. As for activities to experience while in the park, I made sure that Dante’s View was at the top of my list. For the best view, with remarkably, the easiest trek, Dante’s View offers breathtaking views of the Valley and much cooler temperatures than most of the park.

RED’S TRIP WARNING #2– Beware of the large red wasps! I’m not sure what attracts them, but bringing bug spray is not a bad idea at this locale. I had some with me and was not the only person using it! I am an artist in real life, so I couldn’t miss something called Artist’s Drive. This aptly named stretch of road leads through the most magical landscapes I have ever seen. It’s almost like someone took a paintbrush to the land and changed it as they went along, culminating in an awe-inspiring surreal finish.

The last destination I will focus on for this blog is Panamint Mountains. This mountain range has been compared to those in Australia. The land almost looks like layer upon layer of different kinds of sediment piled on top of each other. It gives a marbling or layering effect to the peaks. This is where I pulled off and was able to take out my telescope at night. Another advantage to having a telescope is all the friends I made who wanted to take a look through my lens! So, if star viewing is your thing, I have found the spot for you in Death Valley National Park.

Welcome to Red’s Trip Reports

Welcome to RedsTRCollective.  This is a blog about my travels around the world and some of the interesting places I’ve visited.  Some trips were good and some not so good, and I created this blog as a way for you to get my first-hand experiences before you decide to book a trip somewhere.

eiffel-towerRanging from the beaches of Fiji to the mountains of Virginia, I’ve seen some beautiful sites during my travels.  Some of my most memorable moments include viewing the lights of Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower at midnight one summer, and walking across the black hardened lava plains of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to see the fiery lava erupting into the Pacific Ocean.

Whether you’ve been to three states or all fifty, to one country or ten, Red’s Trip Reports will be a collective view of all things travel-related.  This blog is kind of like Fodor’s for dummies :)  I will break it down and simplify things so you don’t have to buy and read a lengthy travel guide for every place you want to visit.

My posts will be categorized by location, so you’ll have an easy reference to go by when planning your trip.  As the blog grows, I hope to have some guest posts by fellow bloggers who’ve traveled to some of the places I’ve not yet visited.  In time, this site will be a comprehensive listing of personal travel experiences for you to learn from and enjoy.

So my plan is to start with the places I’ve visited in the United States and then go from there.  If you have any places you’d like to know about that I don’t cover in the beginning, leave a comment and I’ll send you a reply if I’ve been there and can give any recommendations.

I hope you enjoy the blog!