Thursday, April 11, 2013

Spring Break in Rock City

The Castle in Mother Goose Village

I've written about it before, how I'm on a quest to visit as many fairy-tale and Santa parks as possible before my little ones outgrow their wonder at and of them. I learned, not too long ago, of the Fairyland Caverns and Mother Goose Village within Rock City near Chattanooga, Tennessee.

I grew up less than three hours from Chattanooga and asked my mom about Rock City. She insisted I'd been there, but I'd seen some photos of the blacklight-responsive sculptures, and I thought better. I talked Jim into incorporating Rock City into our spring break. Then I talked my BFF Erin (who lives in Chicago) into meeting us there with her family (Dave and Mira).

Ok, let me just say up front: Rock City is a freakin' weird place. Weird, weird, weird. I have neither the words nor the photos to explain adequately what it is, but I've never experienced anything remotely like it.

For one thing, it's totally dangerous, so there's tremendous irony in the fact that it houses fairy-tale sculptures. I don't recommend it to anyone with a child younger than five. Hear me; I'm serious. Huge drop-offs; inadequate railing; short (climbable) walls; wet, rock floors; tight squeezes; pitch-black spaces. It's not stroller, wheelchair, or heavy-set-person friendly.

We had, in our party, four children younger than five. It's a wonder we all made it out alive. At one point, we looked up, and Charleigh was sitting on top of a rock wall with a twenty- or thirty-foot drop-off just behind her. I'm not even kidding. That's the point at which Erin took charge of Charleigh. I was wearing Chip and barely made it through "Needle's Eye" and "Fat Man's Squeeze." Jim had Clementine; Dave had Mira; Cade had loose control over my nephew Boone, who's seven.

Having said that: durn, what a fascinating place! My biggest challenge, yet, with my camera, given that we had six children in our party; many of the paths were narrow; there were often people pressing in from behind; many of the rock structures wouldn't fit inside my 50mm lens (i.e., I couldn't back up enough); and it was difficult to get clear photos in the caves.

I wish I could go back, today, with all my lenses but without any children. Here are some of my better photos:


Clementine, Mira, and Boone

Charleigh. (She actually fell down the steps in front of her, onto the wet floor.
I'd feel worse about not holding her hand if it weren't for the awesome photo.)

Clementine and Boone


Lookout Mountain. I had memories of standing here before but didn't remember anywhere else in Rock City.

Not a great photo, but it will give you an idea of the unsafe conditions for free-roaming toddlers.

Dearly love this photo. Charleigh and Erin.

This is just what I could fit inside my lens. There's more to it.

Erin and Charleigh

My Rotten Teen

(L) Erin and Mira; (R) Me with Chip, Clementine, and Boone

Because gnomes are such good examples, with the cigarettes and all...

Me. I mean...the Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe.

Old Mother Hubbard

Peter-Peter's Wife


Good (weird, scary, death-defying) times. I'll tell you, next, about the Chattanooga Choo-Choo. If you're interested in my fairy-tale and Santa park posts, you can read about Story Book Forest of Idlewild (Ligonier, PA), here, and Santa's Land (Cherokee, NC), here.


  1. This is so well written,(and Funny!) but I can feel the mama terror...I would probably have had a nervous breakdown, lol.

  2. Okay so you know there's a storybook land in my city right? because...there is. (hint hint)

  3. Ta DA! You should totally make the trip, and of course you can stay at my house.

    1. I'm dying to make a trip out there for several reasons. And I would totally "pull a Becky" and stay w/ you (can't wait for her to see this comment). xxoo