Atlanta Explorations

We ended a week in Orlando on Friday, drove home, unpacked and packed back up for an overnight in Atlanta. It was another volleyball weekend. After walking over 30 miles in the parks throughout the week, I decided to take it easy on my Saturday explorations.

First I headed to Piedmont Park to watch the sunrise. Not really the best place to watch the sun rise, but my plan was to go to the Atlanta botanical gardens when they opened at 9:00 am.

Piedmont Park and the botanical gardens share a parking lot, so it was perfect for me.

I walked around Piedmont Park and made sure to check out the Midtown Skyline over the lake. There were ducks, geese, and squirrels that came out in droves it seemed. I also caught a heron on the shoreline and then as it flew off.

As it neared 9:00 am I moved from the first level of the parking deck to the fifth…remember the less walking the better for my tired feet. The stairs were definitely not enticing me to use them.

I bought my ticket online, so at 9:00 am I was able to scan my ticket and walk right in. The tulips, daffodils and orchids put on a show for sure. There were some other random bloomers too.

After exploring the Botanical gardens, I went to IKEA for a little shopping and dreaming of tiny house living one day. Then I headed back to the venue to get a few photos of the teams and to watch my hubby’s team bring home the gold again; fifth gold this season!

Remember I said light on the walking…well once all was said and done, I put in over 4 miles. It was at a snails pace because I was snapping photos, so I was fine, but once we got home, I crashed.

Volleyball season will be over in a month, so I am just taking advantage of all our little overnights and opportunities to get out with my camera and wander.

Until my next wanderings, stay healthy and happy.

XOXO

-S

There is “more to life” even in a Pandemic

COVID-19, we give you the permission to get the heck out of dodge. It’s time to be wild & free. I have been out wandering, but with all preventative measures in place. I have been using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The plan is to continue all measures that are needed to protect myself and others. I don’t think things will ever go back to pre-pandemic times. Now we spend more time at home and sometimes are even able to venture out close to home for exercise or visiting local sites. Pre-pandemic our lives were so hustle and bustle; this is time to slow down and smell the roses.

Zanne at Where Gals Wander inspired me to answer the question – “Is there more to life”?

There is still more!

Quit making excuses and find your “more to life”.

This Pandemic may have you thinking that maybe there isn’t more to life outside your home’s four walls. But that is a lie, don’t listen. There are tons of opportunities to get out and about while still maintaining social distancing and wearing PPE.

COVID-19 Road trips

We have managed to get in quite a few road trips in to Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and around our home state of Georgia. All of our road trips were within a 5 hour drive from our house; if someone would have gotten sick, we could easily get home the same day. We whitewater rafted, boated, played at the beach, ate a lot of wonderful food, found our new favorite ice cream spot, visited some museums, went glamping, hiked and chased waterfalls all while masked and/or 6-feet apart.  Mostly, we are spending time making memories, once again, the more to life.

Here are some of my favorite places that we have visited during 2020 (The year of COVID-19).

Dry Falls, North Carolina
Upper White Water Falls, North Carolina
Margaritaville, Florida
Driftwood Beach, Georgia
Isle of Palms, South Carolina
Linville Falls Winery, North Carolina
Linn Cove Viaduct, North Carolina

Staying Safe

Everywhere we have went the majority of people followed all local ordinances.  You can be responsible and still be able to keep everyone safe. During this whole pandemic I can say, that I have never felt like anyone was doing anything unsafe that would negatively affect my health.

I am very fortunate that I am working from home and still have a job (that a lot of people no longer have). COVID-19 came into our communities like a wrecking ball, wrecking jobs, turning schools upside down and for goodness sake, we can’t even find any toilet tissue that is not sand paper textured.

The important thing that we have to see is that things are getting better and as soon as YOU feel safe, it’s time to get back out and spend your time on the trails, meeting new friends, and visiting beautiful sites. Now the timing will be tricky as all states are in different phases of how everything operates; some restaurants are only take out, while others you can eat in. Your perfect time, is when you feel comfortable. One day the supply chain will start functioning at full capacity and we will be able to get products we once could easily get, we will get back to our favorite restaurants, and exploring in favorite or new cities.

Travel Responsibly

Travel responsibly though, make sure you are close enough to home, so if you get sick, you can get home quickly. You do not want to be a hindrance on another hospital (that already might be at full capacity). Some smaller hospitals cannot handle a lot of patients and if a surge of folks travel to said location and get sick, much stress would be put on the hospital and its staff. Make sure to carry some food and water with you in the car, because some areas, restaurants have still not opened or are opened for limited hours. Be prepared to get take out, find a park, and have a picnic; make it part of the adventure…See there it is…more to life.

Opportunity Knocks

COVID-19 has made us come to the realization that we now have opportunities with our families, that we would normally not have pre-pandemic. Life seems to have slowed down. There is more time to exercise, hike and explore nature, participate in your hobbies, maybe play some backyard baseball, and time to prepare delicious recipes.

Things can be simple; even with simple things, there is still more to life. A lot of people complain about all things COVID-19 and I can be one of them too. When you think about the times 10 or 20 years down the road, there will be stories to tell about dinner table conversations, that time when mom made me hike on Mother’s Day, crazy graduation ceremonies, and inventive things we had to do to be safe while also having fun. We will look back and have memories of all the together time that we have been blessed with. Perspective.

Bottom Line: Even when things aren’t status quo, you can still find your “more to life”. Make the ordinary extraordinary by finding something fabulous in each day!

I have been hiking more, running some, recreating photos that I took on my travels in digital design, and traveling the world through food.  I have been cooking Mexican, Filipino, Indian (here’s my vindaloo & naan recipe), Italian, American, Canadian, French, Spanish, and Caribbean cuisine.  If I can’t travel internationally right now, I can surely pretend (remember we learned that in kindergarten) and enjoy the foods of my favorite places.

Planning for that dream vacation

And of course, being on the International travel sidelines…I have been planning two huge trips booked for 2021; Peru and a Mediterranean Cruise.  While sitting the bench, it’s a perfect time to get to plan that dream vacation; you can plan a local road trip too!

Start dreaming about what you want to do, where you want to go, how you want to make a difference, make a plan, put your mask on, grab the hand sanitizer, give people their personal space and most of all be nice. Everyone is dealing with COVID-19 and there could be things going on in others’ lives that you don’t see on the outside. Be the reason they smile today!

Life will go on!  Live it!

XOXO

-S

Sprewell Bluff Park

Today I headed out to check out Sprewell Bluff Park in Thomaston, Georgia. I stopped to take some photos at the lookout (located right across from the store and before the gate where you pay your parking fee).
I went down to the Flint River for a while and just relaxed with my feet in the water.
Did a little hiking along the river before I had to head to the car…thunder claps warned me just in time. The rain started before I even got out of the park.
The sky was phenomenal though, before, during and after the rain. On my way home I stopped by Auchumpkee Creek Covered Bridge to take advantage of the clouds and blue skies…it was a quick stop as the rain couldn’t make up its mind and would start and stop at a moments notice.
I did however get plenty of time cruising with the top down and got some exercise in with beautiful scenery.
It was a nice day to get out of the house and explore.
Get out there! Explore until your heart is content.
Until my next adventure.
XOXO
-S

Wandering around Atlanta

Today was a wandering day…had to go to the airport this morning to drop off my son, so I figured since I had to take the day off, I might as well put it to good use! First I headed to Cartersville to see the abandoned airplane (G-159 Gulfstream). It is covered in graffiti inside and out. There are still seats in tact albeit mismatched seats. It has been in the elements for over 15 years and you can tell! It is absolutely fabulous though as I love to photograph things that are in decay.

This was my only intended spot to explore today, but quickly found more things nearby. After I explored the airplane, I headed to High Shoals Falls. Today, surprisingly it seemed just like a trickle, and we’ve had a decent amount of rain recently. I have seen photos where much more water is flowing over the edge.

There is a small parking area and cemetery there at the trail head. You can also hike up to the top of the waterfall.

I drove through Kennesaw Mountain on my way to Sope Creek Mill Ruins. It was a short half mile hike in. I had read that due to tree growth you couldn’t really photograph the ruins, but the way I hiked in I had no problems. The ruins were surprisingly not fenced in and were not defaced. Hopefully this beauty will be able to be enjoyed for quite a lot longer. There were quite a few families hiking in to play in the river and were already quite a few splashing around when I got there.

I headed back south after Sope Creek…the clouds were so beautiful, so I stopped at Jackson Street Bridge to get a skyline shot with the phenomenal sky! It did not disappoint.

A short day walking wise…only about 2.5 miles total, but saw quite a bit. Was a successful wandering day!

Live, Love, Explore!

XOXO

-S

North Georgia Exploration

What do you do when you have a long weekend?  Well this long weekend, I rented a tiny house in Clayton Georgia and headed north to get a sneak peek of the fall colors.  I do think it was a little early for the full leaf changing, but when I get an extra day off of work I take full advantage of it.

Before we could hit the road Saturday, Perry played in Region Tournament…We had to leave before it even ended, we headed to Atlanta to drop Baylee off at the airport to head to meet up for her cruise…we dropped her and headed north east to get to our weekend getaway started.

We rented Little Red Roof, a brand new tiny house in Clayton Georgia. They have some specific house rules, like no shoes worn in the house, which just tickles my fancy. We are a shoeless house, so it makes me happy to see like-minded folks. I know it may seem silly to some, but my OCD just cannot stand the idea of shoes/germs on my floors and wearing down my wood finish and carpet…Our hosts were Andrea and Curtis. Their tiny house, was just perfect in every way. House listing

Up to $55 off your rental

Dinner Saturday night was at Universal Joint in Clayton. They are know for burgers and live music. While I’m not huge on loud music, I do love a good burger, so decided to check it out.

So it hasn’t rained in over a month in Georgia and guess what 80% chance of rain on Sunday…the day to hike Tallulah Gorge. So we let the anti-rain dance to commensurate. Hoping and praying for the best weather.

Rain dance didn’t work and it poured off and on until after noon or so. We had a quick breakfast and figured we’d drive up to Black Rock Mountain State Park and see what we could with the fog and rain. Rain stopped for a little while and we were able to get some photos of the fog in the mountains.

I wanted to check out Minnehaha Falls, but wanted to do it when the sun wasn’t too high, the cloudy skies were perfect so I could get the right exposure that I wanted on the water…a nice motion in the water as it falls over the rocks.  The hike to Minnehaha is only .2 miles, so it is very doable.  It is located off of Bear Gap Rd near Lake Rabun.  You depart the trailhead at the green diamond and number 147. The drive there was beautiful around Lake Rabun…all the houses and two story boat docks were phenomenal.

So the big thing I wanted to see was Tallulah Gorge.  Tallulah Gorge is one of the 7 natural wonders in the state. It is a must see! There are multiple trails there, but with my back, I had to just listen to my body and see what it could do as the day went on.  If you want to hike the gorge floor, you MUST get a permit.  

There are only 100 given out every day, so you need to arrive early!  My plan was to hike the easier hikes and see how I felt. Today though there were no permits given out because of the inclimate weather.

The easiest of the all is the Shortline Trail. It is 3 miles, but is paved.  This trail can be accessed from Terrora Circle Road.

Then next up is the Inspiration Loop Trail. It is 1.5 miles round trip; it is mulched with exposed rocks. This trail is accessed on the Interpretive Center Road.

The North and South Rim Trails are 3 miles total and take about 2 hours to hike. It is a mulched trail with exposed rocks.

The North Rim is accessed behind the Interpretive Center.  It is approximately ¾ mile one way with some incline and stairs. The trail has six scenic overlooks

1. Inspiration Point is the best southern view into the gorge.  Gorge depth is 900+ feet

2.View of Oceana Falls with Bridal Veil Falls at the far end of the gorge

3.View of L’Eau d’Or (pronounced Ladore) Falls, top of Tempesta Falls, and Hawthorne Cascade and Pool.  Gorge depth is 350 feet

4.View of L’Eau d’Or Falls, Hawthorne Pool and remains of Water compressor plant used in building the Dam

5.Good view of Tallulah Falls Dam (completed in 1913) and upper portions of the Gorge

6.View of upper gorge and southern view to Hawthorne Pool and Overlooks 2 and 3. Gorge depth is 250 feet

The South Rim Trail is accessed opposite side of the gorge from the Interpretive Center.  It is approximately ¾ mile one way with some incline.  The trail has five scenic overlooks

1. View of Hawthorne Pool, North Rim Trails overlooks 2 and 3, top of Tempesta Falls and down Gorge to Hurricane Falls.  Gorge depth is 350 feet

2.View of Hawthorne Pool, Tempesta Falls and Pool.  Gorge depth is 400 feet.

3.View of Hurricane Falls and Pool, Devil’s Pulpit outcrop below, and the interpretive center across the gorge.  Gorge depth is 500 feet

4.View of Hurricane Falls, Oceana Falls, Caledonia Cascade and North Rim overlook one. Gorge is 650 feet

5.View of Celedonia Cascade and the Wallenda north tower area.  Bluff to far right is approximately 1000 feet high.

I really wanted to go to the suspension bridge in Hurricane Falls Trail Loop…but had no idea if I could make it.  The Hurricane Falls Trail Loop has 1,099 stairs to the gorge floor…to get to the suspension bridge isn’t all the way down though. This is the trail you take to get to the gorge trail…and need a permit to go on the gorge floor.

Honestly I’m not even sure which trail we did…we did the stairs all the way down to hurricane falls and some of North Rim trail…my legs were jello and I was super thirsty. There are fountains along the trail, but are not functioning so make sure you bring water with you.

After our hike, we hit Goats on the Roof for some homemade ice cream…it was pretty good and servings were HUGE!

For dinner, yes I planned ahead.  I always look for Farm to Table restaurants before I travel anywhere.  The last thing I want to do is eat subpar food.  I made reservations at Fortify Kitchen and Bar in Clayton for 7:30pm.  Hoping that would give us enough time to see what we wanted to see and get back and showered and dressed for dinner. We had the special shrimp lettuce wraps for our appetizer and I had the pork chop and hubby had the lamb. Both were large portions and very tasty.

Monday morning we woke up and had to check out of the house by 10 a.m.

We had two little friends that looked to have be dumped by someone the day before. They even hopped in the van while we were loading it up…had to scoot them out and then we were on our way. Our host had no idea where they came from.

There is so much to see here, that really a few days isn’t enough to do it all, but if you know me, you know I will squeeze in everything I can.

I could not have come all this way and not visited a winery…after check out it was breakfast at the Dillard House. It is family style dining. You get a TON of food, my favorite was the cinnamon roll!  The Dillard House has been family owned since 1917.  They served locally sourced items and have won multiple awards in the Southern Living Magazine.  The views from the Dillard House were beautiful mountain views.  They are a full service resort…They also offers horseback riding and stables where you can visit their animals.  While there will be no horseback riding for me…I did enjoy visiting their beautiful grounds and animals.  

After breakfast and a visit of the grounds at the Dillard House, we were headed to Tiger Mountain Vineyards at 2592 Old Highway 41 in Tiger Georgia. But they were not open…so we changed our plans.

We went back to Black Rock Mountain State Park to the lookouts to get some more photos. It was very different without all the fog from yesterday!

After that we headed to 12 Spies Winery for a little wine tasting. We did the 10 tastes for $15 and hubby and I split it. My favorite was the sangria…it’s a blend of 5 different wines. The grounds were really pretty too.

After a little wine tasting and exploring, it was time to hit the road to make our trip home.

As we were driving down 441 I saw a sign for a tallulah gorge lookout…so we detoured to check it out. It was pretty but really not worth the detour as there were a lot of power lines in the view. There was a cute little store to buy souvenirs and local goods.

As we got closer to home, we were ready for dinner, so we stopped in Macon. We ate at Ocmulgee Brewpub. I had the Juliette Burger and this burger has moved up to my number one burger of all times. It is topped with a friend green tomato, bacon, onion, lettuce on a freshly baked bun…has a special sauce too! It won the best burger in 2018 and I know why!!

We are home and showered, ready for my next adventure…

Tomorrow morning…another adventure if you want to call it that-L5/S1 injections again…last round before nerve ablation.

XOXO

-S

Birthday Day Trip

If you know me, you know I’m always up for a trip to see, experience and of course find that next photo spot. On my birthday, it was no less. We woke up early, they gave me all my gifts, got a quick breakfast and headed to our first stop High Falls. When we got there, I asked 3 different people how to get to the Ruins and got three different answers; none of which turned out to be directions to where I wanted to go. Both girls agreed to let me take some photos of them for their senior photos…but within 10 minutes of arrival, they were hot and complaining, so I just gave up on the senior photos…and did what I wanted to do. The girls headed to the car to get a change of clothes since they were hot. Hubby and I continued to venture through the trails and I photographed the falls. A lot has changed since I went there last…a lot was roped off and you could no longer get to a lot of the cool spots.

Here are a few photos of the falls, the dam and some other interesting spots there.

After we left high falls, we headed by Indian Spring State Park because there was a bridge I wanted to photograph. There was a family there doing a session, so I went to the backside (although not as pretty) and got a shot of the bridge.

As we headed to lunch, we saw the sign for Fried Green Tomatoes in Juliette, so we detoured there and decided to have lunch there. Low and behold line was extremely long and both girls had to work in a few hours, so we hopped back in the car. Juliette is such a quaint town though and I would love to go back to explore it more some day.

We stopped for lunch at our planned location at Oliver’s in Macon. One of my favorite Macon restaurants! Had some bubbly and chicken salad on a croissant and I was happy! Then the girls wanted to stop at Scoops, so we obliged. I mean who doesn’t want ice cream on their birthday?

After ice cream we headed home so the girls could get ready for work.

For dinner, hubby and I headed to Bodega Brew for Latin Night in downtown Perry. We also scoped out some alleys in Perry for some new portrait session locations for me since I have 4 senior sessions coming up!

So all in all a pretty great birthday!

XOXO

-S