One hour south of Atlanta and thirty minutes from Macon is the small town called,”Flovilla”. If you are traveling down I-75 between these two cities, I urge you to hop off the exit and take the back road detour to explore this area.
The Whimsical Garden, is a botanical treasure that resides behind Mrs. Lee’s Sweet Stop in the Village at Indian Springs. The garden, sitting atop a hill, is almost hidden behind the town’s sparse buildings. You can enter the garden through an education shed or near the Big Chief Store. A stone path winds through the garden, making it an easy stroll for wheelchairs, walkers, or strollers. Every where you look you see, impatiens, daisies, jonquils, rhododendrons, purple heather, and jasmine brightly shining in the sun. Large oak, willow, and pine trees gently sway, kicking up a gentle breeze. The cicadas sing their sad tune throughout the trees lining the perimeter of the garden. This is truly a botanical beauty.
We started our garden tour in the rose garden where a large wooden totem stands greeting you. There are hundreds of roses in every color surrounding it. I wish I knew who carved this beauty.
The garden itself is situated so perfectly within the Village at Indian Springs so that if standing in the center of the garden you see the chapel in the background and a lovely fountain in the foreground. There is a large gazebo with ceiling fans and rocking chairs that provide a place for visitors to relax while taking in the botanical scene. Shane and I sat for a spell, enjoying the warm breeze, surrounded by blooms that permeated a sweet fragrance throughout the garden. We enjoyed our ice cream that we picked up at the Sweet Stop. (Try the banana pudding flavor) The birds were singing, and the chapel was in the background. It was a hot summer day, but sitting under the fans of the gazebo was cool and relaxing. We just sat and connected with each other.
Following the path that winds under archways and through manicured tunnels, we continued on. Bright pinwheels twirl along the way and playful stone animals await children to pose for a photo op!
As we moseyedalong we came to a screened building that had at least 50 vintage metal “Tonka Trucks”. These are kind that my brothers and I used to play with. Sadly, ours were left behind in the crawl space when we moved from our childhood home. Years later my brother Chris and I went back to the old house, hoping they were still there, but alas, no, they were gone. This was a nostalgic gold mine! They are old, battered and covered in mud and rust. I could picture these fellas being played by little boys and girls, making dump truck and screeching tire sounds as they plowed through the Georgia red clay! Ah! the good ole days of childhood in 1975!
The architect that designed the garden paid attention to artistic details. Our favorite was the “flower bed”, such a fantastic idea!
Before we knew it, we came to the end of our tour in the garden. A small potting shed acts as an exit. You enter through one door and leave the garden through another. Inside the shed are pots, spades, and signs that teach children how to plant flowers. We hated to leave the garden but we had other things to see and do so we parted ways with a, “bye Y’all!”
I sure hope you take a hour out of your drive to check out this town and garden. It is worth the trip down the back road.
While camping at Indian Springs State Park in Flovilla, GA. Shane and I took some time to check out this small hamlet right outside the entrance of the park. The small town is so close that you can walk to the village from the park. And if you aren’t careful you will miss it.
Even if you are not planning on visiting the park, I implore you to take an afternoon to visit this wonderful community. The folks here are some of the nicest characters you will ever meet. They all share a common goal and that is to enrich their environment and help it thrive.
There are only a handful of stores in this tiny village, but it is so quaint and beautiful it is worth your time. In all, Shane and I spent 2 hrs here, and that’s because we stopped to talk to the locals and enjoyed an ice cream cone in the Whimsical Garden.
The first thing I saw when I entered Big Chief’s Country Store was the large pallet hanging on the wall next to a Jeff Gordon statue. It said, “Hey Y’all!”. In the south this is the standard greeting. I immediately fell in love with this pallet and wanted to take it home with me. Shane said, “no”. Our home is not decorated in southern charm. Maybe I should consider changing just for this sign!
This store has your normal gas station merchandise but is also reminiscent of a store from the past. As you enter you see the “penny candy” baskets. This really took me back to my childhood when my siblings and I would walk to a local 5 and dime with 50 cent in our pockets and come home with a pocket full of candies. Like any good country store there are local products to purchase such as: local honey, yellow root tea, scorned-woman hot sauce (hmmm interesting), scented soaps and lotions made with the Indian Springs mineral water and jarred preserves with the villages own label. I couldn’t help but pick up a jar of the F.R.O.G jelly for my toast. (no frogs were injured for this jelly) It is Fig, Raspberry, Orange and Ginger jam!
The friendly shop keeper told us to check out the other shops and garden while we were here and off we went. As we were crossing the street we ran into a lady, who was delivering an iron to one of the cottages. Now, mind you, Shane is a stand-offish kind of fella. He doesn’t like to stand around and yammer on but I will stop to be friendly. This southern belle was so enthusiastic about showing us the cottages that I couldn’t tell her no and I am SO glad I didn’t. She introduced herself as “Frankie” and called herself the “village idiot” when she misplaced the key to one of the houses. Her good nature and friendliness made me giggle. She told us about the houses, the cottages and the village. “It was in ruin but has been refurbished,” she said. She left us to walk through the cottages on our own. Take a look at the photos of one the cottages that are for rent. They are gorgeous!
From there we headed down the side walk to the local antique store. If you are into country furnishings you should come down here for a peek. It’s a neat shop!
As we began to walk around the stores, the locals would greet us and were so friendly . They were genuinely glad to see us. I wanted to spend all my money here supporting them!
Upon entering one store, we met Bob who told us that he was the newest store owner to the area and he told us that he just couldn’t resist the pull to setup shop in this small village.
Bob’s store front is beautiful. Everything in order and had wonderful symmetry. He told us that his daughter helped decorate the store including the shelves behind the counter. The store has all kinds of decor for the country home. I want to bring my nieces and sister down here because this is right up their alley!
We talked with Bob a good while about the pulley’s hanging in his shop and the hand crafted barn doors his son makes. He told us more about this town and this is where the story got good.
This is how I heard it: This area was pretty much in ruins a few years back. It was drug infested and run down until a local woman named “Frankie” decided that she wanted to make a difference in her community and help nurture it back to a prosperous village.
The woman who was delivering the iron to the cottage, the “village idiot” was the entrepreneur, and renovator of all this! She was so humble and down to earth I would never have guessed it. She took no credit for any of it. She just was so happy to share with us the town she loves, the history, and the beauty. She was proud of this hamlet and just wanted to show it off!
I hope I have the story straight. Frankie, being a small business owner, purchased much of the stores, cottages and homes in the town and refurbished them. Painstakingly each building was restored with great attention to detail. Frankie used to grab a sandwich at Fresh Air BBQ and sit on the dock at Indian Springs State Park. There she dreamed of making this place beautiful and with the help of others that is what they did!
The coolest building in the town is the Outfitters store. When it was purchased it was in horrible shape. Thick with Georgia red clay (thick and hard dirt) that was two feet deep on the floor and really run down. But during the restoration process they were able to keep the original wooden siding on walls and the indispensable counter along with the antique cash register.
In town there are two shops with antiques, and country home decor. There is a bikers shop with leather goods, the outfitter store, a woman’s clothing boutique, and a children’s wear store. The cottages and church are usually open for people to meander through.
Before you leave town make sure you stop at Mrs. Lee’s Stagecoach Sweet Stop for a scoop or two of hand dipped ice cream. The banana pudding ice cream was wonderful and we stood and talked with the mother/daughter staff. They are a hoot! Just sit back and let them talk and you will be in stitches.
Shane and I grabbed our ice cream cones and headed up to the Whimsical Garden which is the shiny gem of this town.
Keep the Lust for Wandering Y’all!
P.S. I told you I bought the F.R.O.G. jam right? Here it is smeared on my campsite toast.
For more information about the Village at Indian Springs please visit
On August 21, 2017 my girls and I drove to Columbia, SC to be in the path of totality of the solar eclipse. It truly was a once in a life time experience and here is why:
You cannot see the anything less than 100% of the eclipse without glasses.
Without glasses it looked like a normal day for the most part. That means
You see this…
Instead of this……
There were a lot of disappointed people who thought they would see the a lot more being in the <99% range but the sad realization is: if you are not in the path of totality you will just notice a lighting change. But put on a pair of glasses and you can see so much more.
It took 1 hour for the moon to travel across the face of the sun. During that time you could only see the eclipse through the filtered glasses.
At the start of the eclipse my middle daughter, Olivia, noticed birds flying very high, almost too high to be thought of as normal, a quarter of the way in they began to chirp as if it were morning, but at the moment of totality, I do not remember a single chirp.
The lighting during the eclipse is so weird. I saw blue and silver hues and then darkness. Moments before the moon blotted out the sun, the light around us shifted. It became highly concentrated, filtered or polarized. It was a silvery white light and when you looked around it was slightly unsettling. Your shadow is off, not in the right place. During totality it was like 8 pm on a summer night. I am not sure how to explain it. It is nothing like I have ever experienced.
This photo was taken 40 seconds before totality. Look how bright the sun was. It looks like my face is over exposed. You can see it was hurting Julia’s and Emily’s eyes
The shift in lighting or the pull of the gravity made us feel off balanced and out of sorts. As my eldest daughter Emily put it, we felt disoriented. My friend Lance said, that a happy dread came over him. It definitely has an psychosomatic effect on you.
The moon slid across the final portion of the sun and in a flash of brilliance we witnessed the “diamond stage” where there is a ring around the sun and a bright spot on the edge. This lasted only a moment. One breath and it was gone. (Photo credit: Instagram jakeihde and Team21studio)
The moon slid into place and we sat there in awed silence. It was this amazing flicker and then it was there. My mind told me that I heard a sound but this couldn’t be possible, I could swear I heard a “swooosh”. The sun’s brilliance glowed and danced behind a solid black mass. It was glowing white and shown so brightly but didn’t hurt to look at. The moon looked like a pupil and the sun the iris. This was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.
2 minutes went by in a blink of an eye and we witnessed the diamond stage again on the other side.
There is a change in the vibrations and the frequencies of the energy on the earth. You can feel it. Some feel emotional. Some feel exhilarated. This is scientifically proven. I felt emotional looking into the eye of the sun. I felt in touch with the galaxy. I was in awe of God’s creations. I teared up with emotion. My youngest daughter Julia said it was the coolest thing she has ever seen or felt.
Towards the end of the totality a red ring came around the moon. My Aunt Anne gets credit for this photo. At this point, I was too busy sitting there gawking at this site.
In a quick flash, it was over. Our eyes were blinded by the sun’s rays again and we had to quickly look away.
The moon made its retreat and for the next hour it slowly moved away.
Photos taken don’t even come close to what we saw and words just can’t describe the beauty of it.
All four of us had a slight headache afterwards. Our eyes felt sore like muscle strain. By the time I got home, I just wanted to close them.
I felt a bit of vertigo. Emily felt sick, her tummy was in knots. Olivia got into the car and immediately went to sleep. Julia was full of energy. All of these are symptoms that have been documented of people after watching an total solar eclipse. We couldn’t understand why we were feeling the way we were so Emily did some research and found this neat article. Sure enough everything we felt was discussed. It may seem like a bunch of hooey but if you were in the path of totality. I know you felt what we felt and can accept that we are all connected to the earth, sun and moon. All four of us felt the connection.
It isa once in a life time event to be in the path of totality. The next solar eclipse to hit the USA will be in 2024 and I will again, be in the path of totality, this time with my husband who couldn’t attend this one because of work. I urge you to get inside the path of totality it is amazing.
Keep the Lust for Wandering Ya’ll
Thank you to Anne Townsend for her wonderful photo of the red ring around sun.
Thank you to the city of Aiken, SC for the beautiful photo of the diamond phase.
Encounter the ancient biblical world through its history and culture. Through authentic archaeological replicas, Biblical meal presentations, artifacts, lectures, ancient Middle Eastern life comes back to life today
Tour the 13,000 sqft home and garden of the Callaway family which is considered one of the best preserved 19th century gardens in the country. Built in 1916 it is rich in history. If traveling with children ask for the Earle’s Great Hunt tour which is catered towards them.
Fort Tyler was the scene of a desperate last stand by Confederate troops on April 6, 1865. Command of the city and Fort Tyler fell to Brig. Gen. R.C. Tyler, a Confederate officer. His death during a heroic last stand at the Battle of West Point made him the last general of either side to be killed in the Civil War.
1111 6th Ave, West Point, GA 31833-1128
The battle here took place 7 days after Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox.
Blooms, Beaches, Butterflies, Birds, and Bridges. Callaway has so many things to see and do you can spend several days here! You can zip through the tree top on zip-lines, relax in the spa, have fun on the rope course and see the beautiful gardens.
FDR first came to Warm Springs in 1924 hoping to find a cure for polio. His hopes was the 88 degree waters would heal him. Visit his home and see the unfinished portrait that he was posing for when he had a stroke and passed away.
401 Little White House Road – Warm Springs, GA 31830
12 Spies Vineyards is ground zero for the upcoming solar eclipse which means we will have the longest period of darkness during the eclipse on the North American continent! With that said, by resounding requests from our friends and guests, we have planned a solar eclipse event on the 12 Spies Vineyards grounds. You better call ahead to see if there is still availability 706-490-0890. Cost is 100.00/couple 60/single
If you can’t make it up to to 12 Spies Vinyard, here are some other parties happening for the eclipse.
Best small town party and 2nd place runner up goes to:
Come to Lavonia, Georgia to experience the 2017 Solar Eclipse. Beginning around 2:45 p.m. EST in beautiful downtown Lavonia, we will be hosting a celebration of this rare solar event. There will be music, refreshments, educational items and protection glasses for the first 100 arrivals. (you might want to go ahead and buy a pair just in case)
Third place is awarded for the best theme party name:
People love festivals for various reasons. Some people go for the crafts, others for the music. Some people like the livestock shows and others for the carnival rides. I go for the atmosphere and Shane goes for the food. It doesn’t matter the size of the festival to me. It could be a small town celebration with 20 tents, or a huge production with fair rides and livestock shows. I enjoy the people watching and eating an apple dumplin’ served up from a trailer by friendly southern folk. Festivals are a great way to get businesses or organizations some publicity. Some festivals have a purpose in mind: to raise funds for a community project. Below are 15 festivals in Georgia that give back to their community.
Decatur BBQ, Blues and Bluegrass Festival
August 12, 2017 – Decatur, GA
Benefiting Community Center of South Decatur is in it’s 17th year.
All proceeds benefit the Historic Oakland Foundation
Come dressed in your best Victorian garb at the 38th annual Victorian-inspired festival features a variety of live musical entertainment, living history demonstrations, Irish dancers and an opportunity to enter some of the magnificent mausoleums.
Admission is $7 for adults, $3 for children aged 4-12, and free for children 3 and under
Benefiting the Foxfire Fund, Inc. and support many educational programs at museum and in schools.
One-day celebration of the rich heritage of the Southern Appalachian mountains, featuring traditional music from numerous regional performers, showcases and demonstrations of time-honored heritage skills and trades, and all manner of traditional games and puzzles for young and old alike.
Benefiting Project Green and Back to Basics Kids Camp
Health & Wellness, Green Living Eco Festival help attendees learn how to integrate health and wellness plus natural, organic and green products into environmentally responsible eco living and to create a positive impact on the world as a whole.
It is a time for thousands to come and see fall colors peaking and celebrate Dahlonega’s 1828 discovery of gold. Over 300 art and craft exhibitors and food vendors gather around the Public Square and Historic District in support of this annual event. It is estimated that a crowd of over 200,000 visits over the weekend to join in the fun and excitement!
Chomp and Stomp Chili Cook-off and Bluegrass Festival
November 4, 2017 – Cabbagetown Neighborhood, Atlanta, GA
Benefiting Cabbagetown parks, green spaces, and community center
A little bit of country in the big city, featuring music that was popular when residents and mill workers. They played that old-time music and preserved rural traditions right here in the middle of Atlanta! Hard work and home-cooking, small houses and big hearts, recipes and religion, family and friends, stories and songs – relics of times past kept the community vibrant as it struggled to keep strong in a fast changing world.
This is a token event. Purchase spoons and drink tokens on website if you want to avoid lines. They’ll also be available the day-of at each of our 5 Welcome Centers (we will accept cash or credit / debit).
Georgians like Barbecue. Get us together during the summer and you better believe that someone will be grilling something. Whether it is ribs, smokin’ a butt or BBQ’ing chicken, we have it down. Don’t even get me started on the fixin’s. Mac n’cheese, pork-‘in-beans, pimento cheese, or Brunswick stew, collard greens, mmmmmm mmmmm that’s good eatin!
Summer is wrapping up here in the south. It is still hotter than a June bride, in July down here, but that won’t stop us from getting out over the next few months to take in some of the festivals. The next few issues of my blog I am going to be talking about festival and today, we are going to start with some BBQ Southern Style.
Decatur BBQ, Blues and Bluegrass Festival
August 12, 2017 – Decatur, GA
Benefiting Community Center of South Decatur is in it’s 17th year.
Let’s jump right into this one shall we. Two things to say first.
If you live in Georgia and don’t go “drink” in this small town you are an igit.
If you don’t go this weekend, you are a bigger igit.
Cave Spring, GA population 1,154 (2016) is a quaint little town on the outskirts of Rome, GA, in the area known as the Historic High Country. This place is is tiny and cute and awesome! The town has 1 full time police chief and a handful of part time officers. The grocery store is a ma and pa type shop. If you Google Earth the town you will see an “H” for the medical center which is a tiny walk-in clinic, the largest building appears to be a day care, this tells us what everyone does on a date night. There are old buildings covered with ivy, trees lining the quiet streets and a smell of honey suckle in the air. Surrounded by rolling hills and sweet Georgia pines this area is the quintessential small southern town you would expect to see in a movie about a big city doc from Hollywood, who had to move to a small town for one disastrous reasons or another. (please tell me you get the movie reference — Shane didn’t….)
In the middle of town square is a gazebo, seriously y’all, a gazebo. Two roads intersect here and are littered with a handful of stores selling antiques, flowers and clothing. There is even a general store that had three retired men sitting in rockers talking about how hot it was. Unbelievable! I fell in love with this town immediately! This place is currently in the number 1 spot for where I want to live out my retirement!
Currently, we were in search of breakfast, so we headed into a local restaurant called Southern Flavor. We entered and tried to head to a quieter area but the staff directed us, “Not back there, it’s cooler up front“, so we turned heels and went to sit with about 15 locals who greeted (nodded at) us as we entered the dining area. It was crowded so we slid into a two top and glanced around. A number of the locals were seated around a very long table that took up the length of the room. They didn’t sit directly beside each other and the plates of food were all in different degrees of consumption. They came and went greeting each other or saying goodbye, all taking up a seat at this communal table. Fascinating! They talked about the weather yesterday, the fishing tournament today, and church tomorrow. Walking into this made me feel as if I had a glowing neon sign that flashed the word “Outsider” on my chest. Poor Shane, he is along for this whole “Wanderluster” ride and is not outgoing or a “step outside your comfort zone” kind of guy. So when I struck up a conversation with three local men, I am sure he was less than enthusiastically thinking, “Ok well, here we go, whoop whoop“. But look, you find the BEST information by talking to locals. I mean seriously, what better way to get in good with them, than gettin ’em talkin’ bout themselves. When in Rome, (GA) use your best southern drawl and drop your G’s!
We discussed The Trail of Tears that runs right through Cave Spring and the fact that you can see Chief Vann’s Inn (house) in the town square. They directed where the house lies “O’vr yonder” (I could see it through the window) and where the trail starts even though it is clearly marked right outside the restaurant. Such southern charm! The waitress came to and planted our breakfast in front of us and we dug in as the local men convinced us that we needed to research the Cherokee and Creek Nations history (I agree). Shane chimed in about his great great grandfather who was a Cherokee that married a white woman. Interesting fact: this was quite common in the late 1800’s because the natives knew that the best way to survive was to assimilate to the white man culture. Sad, but true. We drank our first and second cups of coffee from mugs that were obviously picked up at a local rummage store. Shane’s had “Delta” imprinted on it and mine, well.. I sure hope it was Christmas themed, because it had “hohohoho” printed all over it.
……. ……. ……..
We finished up our coffee and headed on out to take in the local sights, and there are TONS! I mean come on this is like going to Orlando! (just kidding) There isn’t much to see if you are into tourist stuff. But if you like exploring, then this place is a goldmine. In town there is Chief Vann’s home that was getting a spring cleaning. New turf and whatnot so all we could do was walk up on the porch. We meandered down the deserted street of the square (it wasn’t even 9am) and headed over to the general store. Well now, this must be where the restaurant purchased their coffee cups! This store is packed with all kinds of crazy odd and ins. It isn’t so much a general store as a yard sale on steroids. Fun to look at if you like all sorts of junk. Never know what you may find in these places right? I mean who couldn’t use a Papa Smurf glass from Wendy’s Collection circa 1984. Right?
We headed off to check out the local architecture of the buildings that seem to date back to the 1800’s. GOLDMINE! I couldn’t resist the ivy covered buildings and snapped some photos of the town’s old mill and may or may not have trespassed a little to get some of my shots.
If you like this type of thing the Town Hall (at least I think it is the town hall) is something to see. It appears to be an old wood mill of sort. There are these old creepy stairs leading up two a second floor that I just had to go see! They creaked and were broken in places. It was fantastic!
Now here’s the best part of our trip. Rolater Park, is the gem in the middle of this quaint town. This is the reason we came. It is this small park that drew my attention, weeks ago. Within Rolater park resides a tiny little limestone cave. Visible inside the cave is a natural spring that produces over 2 million gallons a day. It is this spring that gives the Cave Spring it’s name. This natural spring water is the purest water I have ever put in my mouth. There isn’t any additives that coat your tongue. It is cold and pure. It comes out of a grate right at the mouth of cave where you can fill up your bottles.
It was crowded at the park that morning. The Veterans Administration was hosting a fly fishing tournament and it was in full swing. Men were fishing, children were splashing in the water and women were fussing at children. The freshly caught fish was fried up right there and eaten on the spot. Just as we found a park bench and sat down to watch the spectacle, a flock of geese made their way on to the scene.
The cave doesn’t have any business hours posted so we were a bit concerned that it would not be opening that day. We spoke to a few locals who said, “I reckon they’ll open it today with the tournament and all….just giv’em a bit.“
Southern small town y’all, they do things on their own time stamp not yours.
Finally, at 10:30 A.M. an elderly gentleman announced that he was opening the cave. It took him 15 minutes to open the door, count the money till and turn over the sign. It was like opening the gates to Disney World, y’all a mass rush of people swarmed the entrance separating Shane and myself, who were waiting patiently to enter. I think you will agree that it was in our best interest to let the group of 25 people go on ahead of us….
The cave has stalactite hanging from the ceiling and is coated in Georgia red clay. The day was beginning to get hot but as soon as you walk into the cave you are blasted by a draft of cold air. We both were sweating and it felt really nice to have some of God’s natural air conditioning blowing on us. We were hoping for a quiet meander into the cave but we heard a lot of children’s holler’s echoing throughout. They were hoopin’ and hollerin’ listening for the echoes. They climbed on the stone steps and rolled on the rocks and got good and dirty. That bath water is going to be brown tonight. We could have waited for the rush to die down and enjoyed the silence, but hey you gotta live on the edge baby! The cave itself is tiny. It is a quick walk from entrance to the back of the cave. The tunnel gets very small in the very back. Shane, being 6’2″, decided to passed on going through the final crawl space. Even I had to scrunch down to squeeze through the opening and I am short. We hung out in the cave for about 10 minutes hoping to enjoy it in silence but with this many people at the fishing tournament it just didn’t happen.
There is a short nature trail outside the cave but we decided to pass on it. It was muggy and hot here in July and I was recovering from being ill the previous week. On our way out of the park we stopped the Hearn Inn Bed and Breakfast that oddly wasn’t open, like I said, small towns operate on their own agenda. I guess if there “ain’t a guest, the B&B ain’t open” . Makes perfect sense to me. I peeked through the windows and then we sat on the porch a few minutes rocking in the chairs and enjoying the seen and silence. Before leaving we checked out the 2nd largest swimming pool in the state of Georgia. This pool is really cool. The natural spring water from the cave feeds the pool so it is a very cold 68 degree dip on hot summer days here in Cave Spring. People say the pool is shaped like Georgia and I can kind of see it, but.. no.. not really.
If you are looking a quiet laid back few days, come to Cave Spring, GA y’all. We stayed right outside the city in a small loft cabin on Dry Creek. We meandered through the town, ate with locals, sat on the porch, drink from the springs and enjoy the people and the southern charm of the small town.