Live a little deeper! Explore everywhere.

Any reason to travel and I am all on board. I have my life list, which shows my must see locations and must do activities, but actually, I am happy to travel anywhere to explore. I even believe strongly in exploring local. No matter where you are, make sure to see something new. It is easy to capture something extraordinary, but the key to true joy is finding something extraordinary in all the things that seem ordinary.

My husband is a volleyball coach and had a tournament in Villa Rica, Georgia (about 2 ½ hours from home). So we decided to get a room at a Bed & Breakfast for two nights and have the whole weekend to explore the surrounding areas. Well at least I got to explore Saturday while he was coaching.

We booked the Marie Antoinette Room at Maison Papillon (Butterfly House) in Villa Rica, Georgia.

We got off work early and headed North. Traffic was pretty light thank and we arrived at the B&B about 4 pm. Karen was our host and she was so nice. She offered breakfast to us for Saturday, but with our early start, we didn’t want to bother her. We settled in and decided on a dinner spot. Wine was definitely on the agenda, so that was our deciding factor. We have been participating in dry January and decide it was time to have some wine.

There were quite a few restaurants that I had scoped out, such as an unassuming authentic Mexican restaurant in a Mexican grocery store named La Chiquita and a burger shack called Jerry’s Gourmet Burgers. Remember Villa Rica is a pretty small town, so there are mostly low profile restaurants. I did however find, Gabe’s Downtown, a creole restaurant and Chat and Choo, LLC, a restaurant known for their southern cuisine (but only open for breakfast and lunch). I normally look for a farm to table restaurant wherever I travel, but didn’t have much luck in Villa Rica. I did however find ONE farm to table!! It is called The Southern Table; upon more research I found that it had permanently been closed. Their Facebook page did though lead me to another restaurant, The Otherside Steakhouse at Uncorked on Main. This one sounded right up my alley. With wine on the agenda, we headed to check out Uncorked on Main.

The Otherside Steakhouse at Uncorked on Main is located at 129B Main St, Villa Rica, Georgia 30180. They serve local wines (as you would imagine with the “uncorked” in the title) and local craft beers. I had two wine tastings with dinner. We had pimento cheese fritters for an appetizer that were delicious!

We were up and at em’ early Saturday. I took my husband to the tournament and then I headed out to explore. I arrived at Sweetwater Creek State Park just in time to see the sunrise. I love any sunrise for that promise of a new day.

Sweetwater Creek State Park is located at 1750 Mount Vernon Rd, Lithia Springs Georgia 30122. It was about a 20 minute drive from the Volleyball venue. It is only minutes west of Atlanta, Georgia.

The park has 2,549 acres with a 215 acre lake. It has over 15 miles in trails; if you love to hike and check out nature, this is a nice place to get out of the city and go. The park, just like all Georgia State Parks has a $5 parking fee.

The main reason I went to Sweetwater was to see and photograph the mill ruins. To get to the mill ruins, I had to hike the Red Trail (History Trail). I followed the Red Trail half mile down to the ruins of the New Manchester Manufacturing Company, a textile mill that burned during the Civil War. The mill is a five story building that is alongside the Sweetwater Creek. When I say creek, I use it because that’s the title; believe you me though it is more like a river.

The ruins are surrounded by a large chain link fence, but luckily I carried my GoPro and my Nikon with me. I was able to put the GoPro up to the fence and it has a wide enough lens to capture the mill in one image. I was glad I thought to put the GoPro in my pocket.

After I explored around the ruins, I continued about a half mile on the Red Trail to head to check out the rapids on Sweetwater Creek.

The Red Trail is one mile each way. The beginning of the trail was very easy; the first half mile was mostly flat to get to the mill. However when I made my way for the last half mile, it was quite rocky and more strenuous with some slippery rocks and set of steps to climb. But the beauty you see along the creek makes the hike all worth it.

Now I had to get back to the van. On the way back, I listened to some music and reflected on life and enjoyed my “me time”. I took my time; all in all I spent about 3 hours on the trails. But it was the best 3 hours spent in a while.

I drove through the country on the way back into Villa Rica. I did a little shopping in downtown; purchased a beautiful sweater, pantsuit and set of vases. I also found a mural that I had seen a photo of the day before at Uncorked. I was really surprised that they had maintained the mural for so many years.

I headed back to the tournament and like normal, I got to downloading and editing a few photos for Instagram while I had downtime. I love my WiFi features on my cameras. All four of my digital cameras have that capability. For me, always being on the go, I need that instant gratification of the perfect edit and Instagram post.

My hubby’s team ended up staying late and in the volleyball world staying late is always a good thing, for the team at least! By the end though, we were tired and starved!

We headed to Gabe’s Downtown for dinner. Gabe’s Downtown is located at 104 W Montgomery St, Villa Rica, Georgia 30180. The food and service were phenomenal. This restaurant will definitely make my recommended restaurant list! We had poutine for our appetizer; it had so much flavor. I had the pork nachos and my husband had the ribeye for our meals. We were both fat, dumb and happy when we left!

Sunday morning, we woke up leisurely and grabbed some Starbucks. We took a different route home, so I could photograph one more place on the way home. Starr’s Mill has been on my list of things to photograph for a while now.

Starr’s Mill is located at 115 Waterfall Way, Fayetteville, Georgia 30215. The property that became Starr’s Mill was owned by Hananiah Gilcoat who built the first mill here before his death in 1825. This site, on Whitewater Creek, was less than a mile from the boundary between Creek Indian lands and the State of Georgia. Hilliard Starr, who owned the mill from 1866 until 1879, gave the site its current name. After the first two log structures burned, William T. Glower built the current building in 1907. This mill operated until 1959, using a water-powered turbine, instead of a wheel, to grind corn and operate a sawmill. The Starr’s Mill site also included a cotton gin and a dynamo that produced electricity for nearby Senoia.⁣

The clouds were so beautiful and the flowing water and the red mill really photographed well. I love to find places that have been taken care of throughout the years!

This weekend was perfect for me. I was able to spend time with my husband, spend some me time, explore some new places and photograph them, dine at some new restaurants and do a little wine tasting. There is definitely more to life and everyday I strive to find a little piece.

XOXO

-S

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