My Road Trip with My Son to Ruby Falls in Chattanooga in the 2018 Mazda CX-5 (Featuring the Original New Theme Song I Wrote)

Despite me being a work-from-home dad, I am aware that it can still be a struggle to spend quality one-on-one time with my son; as I’m constantly also taking care of my nearly 2 year-old daughter when my son is around.

So I figured while I had access to the 2018 Mazda CX-5 for the week, I would devote an entire day of his Spring Break to just the two of us: father and son.

So we drove from one side of Lookout Mountain (Fort Payne, Alabama) to the other (Chattanooga, Tennessee) to go discover Ruby Falls; the tallest underground waterfall in America.

Despite growing up only an hour away from Ruby Falls, I had actually never been there myself. So it was a completely new experience for my son, as a 7 year-old; and for me, as a nearly 37 year-old.

I must say, Ruby Falls was so much more than I expected. I thought it was as simple as just getting into an elevator and immediately seeing a waterfall.

Instead, I’d say it’s more of an adventurous excursion.

The best way I can explain it is like this:

We rode an elevator many stories underground, inside of a mountain. That seems weird to say, but yes; Ruby Falls is in a mountain, underground.

One of the things I have documented quite well here on my blog over the years is how much my son and I love to go exploring on hikes.

So naturally, the long mysterious journey deep into the caverns was right up our alley.

Along the way, there were so many hidden treasures, beyond the actual waterfall at the midway point of the route.

I made this quick promo video for Ruby Falls, which provides a “one minute tour”, and includes a new original theme song I wrote for the attraction. You will love it:

Fortunately, thanks to the amazing and colorful lighting all along the way, I was able to take plenty of really cool pictures. I am grateful for this, as I’ve been taking pictures inside caves for a few decades now, and this is the first time the pictures actually look awesome!

In fact, it’s a guided tour; in groups of 50. The tour guides are well-versed on every little (and humongous) landmark leading up to Ruby Falls itself…

Once each group arrives in the room where Ruby Falls is, there’s a lights show to making the waterfall come to life even more. Needless to say, my son was in awe of this natural wonder in a mountain, underground.

But I suppose no tourist attraction would be complete without a proper visit to the gift shop, where my son was very proud of the items he purchased.

And there was one more surprise after we left the gift shop: We got to go on top of the roof and take a look over Chattanooga. My son thought that was really cool too.

So, mission accomplished! I wanted a special day with my son so we could spend quality time together, in a way that compliments our identity. Ruby Falls was the right choice!

And if this all sounds like fun to you, I have a feeling it will be if you take your family to Ruby Falls too!

Dear Jack: Our New Canon PowerShot G7 X Camera

5 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack: Our New Canon PowerShot G7 X Camera

Dear Jack,

Last weekend you and I got to test out our brand-new camera: a Canon PowerShot G7 X.

We picked up right where we left off from the weekend before, when we followed that creek to the treehouse.

Whereas my new toy was the camera, your new toy was a gift card holder, which is a functioning toy tractor from Tractor Supply Company.

j1

You made it your mission to run that red tractor through the water and soot in the creek. I served as your camera man.

I love our new camera. The camera I’ve been using for the past 4 and a half years up until this point was the 2011 version of the Canon PowerShot, which was only 12 megapixels.

Dear Jack: Our New Canon PowerShot G7 X Camera

Apparently that’s my favorite brand. I find it very user friendly and absolutely durable. Mommy and I dropped the last one several times and it never damaged the camera at all.

With the upgraded version, we now have 20 megapixels, plus a 1 inch sensor which causes the background to blur; giving the images a more professional look.

Dear Jack: Our New Canon PowerShot G7 X Camera

(Thanks to Best Buy for their educated staff, who were able to enlighten me!)

With your sister Holly scheduled to be born in less than a month, and with you starting Kindergarten this fall, Mommy and I figured it was the right time for a new camera.

j4

As for our journey in the neighborhood walking park a few neighborhoods away from us, we trekked on far enough to discover a really cool school playground.

Dear Jack: Our New Canon PowerShot G7 X Camera

Now that we’ve been exploring the surrounding neighborhoods for the past couple of weekends, I have a feeling this will be the norm for us; that we will try to squeeze in an exploring journey whenever we can.

While Mommy’s taking care of the baby this summer, I’ll be there to guide you to excitement in the great outdoors.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Our New Canon PowerShot G7 X Camera

Dear Jack: A Dad’s Letter To His Son On His 5th Birthday

5 years old!

Dear Jack: A Dad’s Letter To His Son On His 5th Birthday

Dear Jack,

Good morning. You are officially 5 years old today!

I’m so glad you are. The older you get, the closer our relationship grows.

The way I look at it is sort of like a good road trip. You have to appreciate the journey as much as the destination. As you and I both grow older and mature together as individual human beings, we also are able to know each other better as well.

Dear Jack: A Dad’s Letter To His Son On His 5th Birthday

Just today you were asking me about the first time you spoke “real words” to me and I understood them; and you understood me back.

You’re old enough now to where years have actually passed since those days of helping you learn to talk; back when many of your first words I taught you were vehicles we saw on the way to and from daycare each day.

“Jeep!”

“Mustang!”

“Dump truck!”

The older you get, the more I am able to appreciate our relationship and our time together.

Five years ago I was clueless on how to be a parent. I had to figure it all out together with Mommy.

These days, the guessing games and the related frustrations are gone. I know you now.

Granted, you’ve got a baby brother or sister on the way in April. This is your final birthday as an “only child”. And as for me, I’ll be thrown back into the mode of changing diapers and preparing bottles.

Imagine how much you will change, for the better, when you are Mommy and Daddy’s much needed helper!

I remember how surprised I was back when you were a newborn, having parents who are both of Italian heritage (and Mexican on my side), ended up with blonde hair and blue eyes.

And I also remember several people said your hair would get darker and your eyes would change color.

But you’re 5 now, and your eyes are still blue and you pretty much still kind of have blonde hair. You’ve made it this far still looking this way!

It still amazes me.

Happy 5th Birthday, Jack. I’ve got plenty more letters to write you and we’ve got plenty more growing up to do together.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: A Dad’s Letter To His Son On His 5th Birthday

Dear Jack: A Dad’s Letter to His Son on His 2nd Birthday

Dear Jack: A Dad’s Letter to His Son on His 3rd Birthday

Dear Jack: A Dad’s Letter to His Son on His 4th Birthday

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Nashville Auto Show Last Weekend

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Nashville Auto Show Last Weekend

After being invited by Chevy to attend the Nashville Auto Show last weekend, you and I made the nearly one hour drive from our new home in Spring Hill to downtown Nashville.

Nashville Auto Show 2015: Pictures of the 2016 Chevrolet Lineup

I think one of your favorite vehicles to check out was the City Express. But of course, you went crazy over the Corvette; as did I.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Nashville Auto Show Last Weekend

Nashville Auto Show 2015: Pictures of the 2016 Chevrolet Vehicle Lineup

You also enjoyed playing a dice game at the Geico booth and getting your picture made with the big gecko.

Of course, there’s no denying that perhaps your favorite part was running and jumping through the new Music City Center where the event took place.

When you and I hang out together, I always find way to help you run wild and burn off “little boy energy” in the process.

You got quite a thrill out of jumping off 4 stairs at a time. You truly are Jumping Jack Flash!

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Nashville Auto Show Last Weekend

We also explored downtown Nashville a little bit.

You commented that the people riding the peddle trolleys were “too loud.”

Granted, that’s what many tourists do when they come here. They drink beer at 10:47 in the morning while shouting the lyrics to Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance”, as they ride the peddle trolleys downtown.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Nashville Auto Show Last Weekend

A stranger offered to take our picture together with the “Batman Building” in the background.

And I took your picture with the year 2010 engraved on the sidewalk, which is the year you were born.

I’m glad Chevy reached out to us about the Nashville Auto Show. By us going there, it provided good quality father and son time for us.

We can make an adventure out of anything. We can make a road trip out of a one hour commute to downtown Nashville to look at new cars and then run around the new Music City Center.

I think we are pretty cool, actually.

Love,

Daddy

Nashville Auto Show 2015: Pictures of the 2016 Chevrolet Lineup

Nashville Auto Show 2015: Pictures of the 2016 Chevrolet Vehicle Lineup

Nashville Auto Show 2015: Pictures of the 2016 Chevrolet Vehicle Lineup

Dear Jack: Webisodes 9 & 10 of Jack-Man

4 years, 6 months.

Dear Jack: Episodes 9 & 10 of Jack-Man

Dear Jack,

Last weekend you and I left the house at 9:00 AM and didn’t return until nearly 3:00 PM. During those 6 hours, you and I made Webisodes 9 and 10 of Jack-Man; plus we got to hang out at Whole Foods for lunch and you bought Fuzzy (your new rabbit) at TJ Maxx for 3 bucks.

We filmed Webisode 9 in our neighborhood, finding the perfect “haunted house” for Jack-Man to encounter. My twist on the story is that the ghost could only exist if Jack-Man believed in him.

In Webisode 10, I got to try out not some newly learned editing tricks to speed up the action sequences. I also wrote a brand-new song exclusively for this episode, “I’m Coming For You.” I plan to do more of these original songs for Jack-Man.

I’m really excited about Webisode 11, which we are planning on filming this weekend while your friend Sophie will be in town, along with Madison as well. That will be a really fun reunion!

Something that I hope is becoming evident for Jack-Man fans is that these storylines contain social commentary and/or a deeper message than is on the surface.

For example, in Webisode 9, the ghost that only exists if you believe in him represents the psychological limits we place on ourselves that only bother us, but not other people.

EP10 Title Card Actual

And in Webisode 10… well, I feel it’s pretty obvious what Chill Pills represent, as they are easily prescribed to combat “the signs of hyperactivity.”

Jack-Man is a web series that is obviously geared towards children yet contains concepts geared towards adults.

Like in Webisode 11 this weekend, the Green Meanie will be attempting to get Jack-Man to spend the money he got from finding the treasure chest in Webisode 10, instead of investing it.

I can’t wait to record it!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: The 1st Month Of Living In Our New House

4 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack: Our 1st Month In Our New House

Dear Jack,

It was January 29th, more than 5 weeks ago, that we closed on our new house and began moving our stuff in. The next day, we slept in our new house for the first time.

Dear Jack: The 1st Month Of Living In Our New House

I didn’t plan to start chronicling each week in our new house the way I’ve done with my letters to you for the past (nearly) 5 years, but it’s just turned out that way (since these posts about our new house have proven to remain very popular among readers).

Dear Jack: Our 1st Month In Our New House

At this point, we’re obviously settled in our new life, in our new house. Other than finishing up hanging some wall decorations, and waiting on our new sofa to arrive next Saturday, we’re pretty much past the moving in stage.

Dear Jack: Our 1st Month In Our New House

This past Saturday, it was finally warm enough outside for you and me to go out and play together for the first time in our cul-de-sac. For the past couple of weeks since the big freeze, you had been asking to go play where the neighbors’ remaining snowman is on the sidewalk.

Dear Jack: Our 1st Month In Our New House

You have collected a decent number of Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars that served as great snowplows. In fact, one of them even buried St. Peter in the snow! Fortunately, a dinosaur helped save him, as the shark from Finding Nemo watched from above.

Dear Jack: Our 1st Month In Our New House

From there, we finally got to walk along the sidewalk trail along the woods, which circles around to our cul-de-sac.

We were able to walk along a treacherous board where the sidewalk ended…

Dear Jack: Our 1st Month In Our New House

Sit on a broken tree, throw huge rocks…

We were able to walk along a treacherous board where the sidewalk ended...

And even go “fishing”…

Before we headed back to our house, you made a “Mintacinno” out of some things you found on the ground as we walked together.

We were able to walk along a treacherous board where the sidewalk ended...

It’s still currently melting on our front porch right now.

I should also point out this was the week in history in which you obtained “Blueberry”, a new stuffed animal that Mommy and I let you get after your marble set we got you for Christmas got broken in the move.

We were able to walk along a treacherous board where the sidewalk ended...

Blueberry means a lot to you; it’s quite evident. I was surprised you actually let me name your new bear.

It’s funny because actually Blueberry it’s one of those “My First Bears,” designed for newborns.

Hi Nick!  Here are some photos of Jack working on his wood working!   He was so proud of himself being able to use a real hammer and nails. He was very adamant about building a house. Even though he hit his finger with the hammer, he was brave and kept going (with a little help from myself) He used paint to decorate his building. He also made an "octopus monster" with styrofoam.    -Aimee

You don’t see it that way.

As for your new school, Rainbow Child Care Center, things couldn’t be better. Here’s a note I got from your teacher this week:

Hi Nick!

Here are some photos of Jack working on his wood working! He was so proud of himself being able to use a real hammer and nails. He was very adamant about building a house. Even though he hit his finger with the hammer, he was brave and kept going (with a little help from myself). He used paint to decorate his building.He also made an “octopus monster” with Styrofoam.
-Ms. Aimee

Hi Nick!  Here are some photos of Jack working on his wood working!   He was so proud of himself being able to use a real hammer and nails. He was very adamant about building a house. Even though he hit his finger with the hammer, he was brave and kept going (with a little help from myself) He used paint to decorate his building. He also made an "octopus monster" with styrofoam.    -Aimee

It’s been a great first month! This move has been a great thing for us. New house, new school, and a new version of life.

And, thanks to your teacher Ms. Aimee letting us know about it, we ended up buying tickets for the Repticon (reptile exhibition) in Franklin, TN next weekend!

Oh yes, pictures will follow…

Love,

Daddy

Hi Nick!  Here are some photos of Jack working on his wood working!   He was so proud of himself being able to use a real hammer and nails. He was very adamant about building a house. Even though he hit his finger with the hammer, he was brave and kept going (with a little help from myself) He used paint to decorate his building. He also made an "octopus monster" with styrofoam.    -Aimee

Dear Jack: You Think We’re Just Fishing… For Tadpoles

3 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack: You Think We’re Just Fishing… For Tadpoles

Dear Jack,

Immediately after leaving Walden Farm on Saturday, Mommy wanted to stop by some “cute” antique shops in downtown Nolensville.

I spotted a creek behind the shops, so you and I did the guy thing and opted for the outdoor exploration adventure as opposed to looking at beautiful junk in stores.

Dear Jack: You Think We’re Just Fishing… For Tadpoles

Our original agenda was simply to find rocks and sticks to throw into the water.

However, after you realized the creek was swarming with what appeared to be tiny tadpoles, you decided to “catch a tadpole” instead.

First, you called them: “Here, tadpoles! Come to me!”

Then you used a stick as a fishing pole, hoping to catch a few of them. I joined you, of course.

It didn’t take long at all before you thought you caught one, and boy, were you proud!

Dear Jack: You Think We’re Just Fishing… For Tadpoles

Granted, it was just algae… as it was each time after that.

But in your mind, there was a real possibility of actually being able to catch tadpoles simply by placing a stick down into the water for just a few seconds at a time; with no bait attached.

I love your fascination with fishing. Never mind the irony in the fact our family doesn’t even eat fish or any kind of meat.

Still, it’s as if it’s ingrained in a little boy’s mind to want to go fishing with his Daddy. Likewise, I want to “go fishing” with you.

https://familyfriendlydaddyblog.com/2014/10/27/walden-farm-pumpkin-patch-family-friendly-review/

You and I could have stayed out there at the creek all day, but Mommy eventually came back from looking around at the shops; happy to see us doing “guy things.”

Our recent fishing trip has inspired me to already consider buying us a small 2-man tent to put out on the back patio of our new house once we move in.

We could be camping out by next spring!

Love,

Daddy

https://familyfriendlydaddyblog.com/2014/10/27/walden-farm-pumpkin-patch-family-friendly-review/