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Fall Branch Falls: The Waterfall So Spectacular It Has To Say It Twice

Buried within the Chattahoochee National Forest, hidden off a very worn dirt road along Aska Road, resides Benton MacKaye Trail. The trail climbs upward along Rocky Mountain for a few miles and has some beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Shane, Julia, and I were content with hiking just to the falls and back as Shane has a herniated disk and his back was bothering him from cutting lumber a few days prior. I chose this hike because it is a short jaunt to the falls and back coming in under 1 mile total (score! I got to see a waterfall and he didn’t have to hike too far.)

NOTE- Before you go: LTE in them thar hills is limited.

I am a techie and an IT manager by trade. I use my phone for EVERYTHING; and glancing down to see “No Service” doesn’t make me overly thrilled when I have: no map, no documented route and no sense of direction. “I ain’t got no map nor directions and I have no earthly idear where we’s at,” flashed into my brain as we trudged along the dirt road. We saw a neat house that had hitching posts out front and the coolest cabin railing (literally made of sticks that seem to be collected from the forest).

We rounded a sharp curve on the packed Georgia clay road and came upon an abandoned shack and a barn that looked like it was about to cave in. My mind immediately went to a horror movie and I said, “This is where the city folk family from Atlanta gets it by the country folk that don’t like no trespassin‘ on their land!” This is a whole lotta nope and I looked for a place to turn around to go back to civilization.

Creepy little homestead
This creepy homestead belonged to Forest Warden Garfield Stanley

The road was about as wide as our car and we had no choice but to continue passed the scary dilapidated house. We crept by slowly as “the hills have eyes” watched. Not a single bird could be heard as Julia mentioned that the shack looked like the one from “Until Dawn” a horror video game that she and Shane played.

Great… queue the chainsaw sound effect now.

The windows in this house were dark and the weeds had grown up over the entrance but we could see rocking chairs sitting abandoned on the front porch. A screen door slapped in the cool autumn breeze.

At this point I just knew we took a wrong turn and my phone continued to flash “Hey you idiot, there isn’t a cell tower up here A.K.A No Service.” Thankfully, just ahead we saw the white diamond marking the trail head. Whew! we survived. Turns out with a little research before hand, this abandoned shack is the homestead of Garfield Stanley of the Stanley Settlement that is prominent in this area. Garfield was the warden of this mountain area, and took care of the area until his death.

Fall Branch Falls Marker
Finding this waterfall is quite easy with directions.

We parked and headed to the trail head. You will see the sign pointing to the falls so from here it is pretty clear which way to go. The .5 mile hike to the falls is pretty easy, however the trail is muddy and goes up a fairly steep incline.

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Path incline. Shane can be seen at the top of the trail

The trails are lined with rhododendron, that bloom in late June. We went in September so the flowers weren’t in bloom but that didn’t change the beauty of the trail. Moss covered the trees and mushrooms peeked up through the soil. The sound of the babbling brook resonated through the trees and there was a soft breeze. The smell of damp earth made us feel in touch with the environment in which we walked. Our legs could feel the strain of muscles being worked and our lungs were filled with the cool morning air.

Along the way we saw two cabins, one appeared to be abandoned and the other occupied. Oh! To have a cabin on a creek with a waterfall at its end.

.4 of a mile you will encounter a fork in the trail. If you take the left trail you will continue climbing Rocky Mountain for fantastic views of Trail marker to Fallsthe Appalachian Trail and the Blue Ridge Mountain range. There is a sign here pointing to the right to the falls. Once you take the right fork the, terrain takes a slight decline and the waterfall is just ahead. The ground has eroded and the trees root system in this area are showing so be careful not the trip. It is much cooler here under the thick canopy. Moss is thick on the trees and the air is damp. The forest floor was littered with colorful fall leaves when we visited. The sound of the waterfall is not deafening like a lot of falls but you can hear the water tumbling over the smooth rocks before you round the bend to see it cascading across the stone surface.

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The double waterfall with falling leaves, mountain laurel, and rhododendron surrounding it is beautiful in the Fall, I can only imagine it in the Spring and early Summer. If you visit during this time please comment with photos!

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Directions to the falls: Hopefully you aren’t like us and are looking for directions and not depending on your phones GPS.  So getting there is easy but first…

IT Manager Pro Tip: While in Blue Ridge go ahead and search for Fall Branch Falls on your phone. If you are traveling to other locations, make sure you add each location to your phone in the order you want to visit them. Leave this app open, do not close it because if you have zero service it will not search, but the phone is smart, it will continue to direct you if it is already open.

Address: Fall Branch Falls, Stanley Creek Road, Cherry Log, GA

From Blue Ridge:

  • Follow Aska Road south for eight miles.
  • You will see a sign on right side of road that says “Fall Branch Falls –>  Toccoa Riverside Restaurant is on the left side of road.
  • Turn right on Stanley Creek Road right before the restaurant.
  • At about 2 miles the road goes from paved to gravel. Keep going.
  • You will see the hitching post cabin on a curve. Keep going.
  • You will pass the scary homestead of Forest Warden Garfield Stanley’s (not so scary now that you have read who it belonged to, right?).
  • The trail head is maybe 100 yards past the homestead. The road widens a little for parking and there is a white triangle on the tree.
  • You can either head left or right down a trail. You will head right if your back is facing the homestead. Look for the sign pointing the way to Fall Branch Falls.

Enjoy! Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Keep the Lust for Wandering Y’all!

Inexpensive Outdoor Stress Reducing Activities

stressShane and I both have pretty stressful jobs.  He is in law enforcement and I am an IT manager. Not a day goes by that we don’t feel the overwhelming stress associated with our jobs. Do you hear the squeak of the world tiniest violin? Anyone want to give me some cheese for all this whine? Or can you relate?  Face it.  We ALL have stress.  Whether it is our jobs, our kids, our significant’s.  We all have to deal with it.

I think the technical age in which we are living, adds to our stress. 200 years ago our ancestors worked hard from sun up to sun down and by evening they kicked back on the porch with a jug and a fiddle. They worked very hard and went to bed early. They had stress but it was different than today’s. In today’s world, we go all day, work through lstress2unch, and in the evening we have to rush to cart the kid to one activity or the next. That device in your hand, keeps you connected to your boss and co-workers 24/7.  For example, I left work yesterday at noon for a doctor appointment.  While I was in the appointment, I answered 10 emails and made 7 calls to trouble shoot issues at work. Tonight a coworker called me at 7:30 PM, because something wasn’t working right for him. Just now, my laptop just notified me that another co-worker was logging into our server. I mean come on people! Your OFF, why are you working?  Go spend time with your wife and family already dude! There is no escaping work these days!

Bottom line: We stay connected and therefore we feel as if we don’t get a break from the dreaded four letter word, “WORK“.

Shane’s Theory:

Returning from vacation, a worker feels refreshed and it is about 6 weeks before that same person really starts feeling the urge to throat punch someone. 

Shane’s Observation:

It’s a Fact!

My Observation:

Yep! He is right

Proof:

I conducted an experiment.  I started paying attention to what my body and mental state were telling me.  All is great when you first return from your lovely holiday, you are ready to help anyone with anything and all is wonderful in the world.  Then about 6 to 8 weeks in you utter the words, “Imma kill somebody“.  

Conclusion:

Realistically we can’t take a vacation every six weeks.  We ain’t Kardashian’s (I just threw up a little just typing the name) or any other insanely rich person.  So how can we have a mini vacation without spending a ton?

Here are a few ways we get out of our rut and feel better.

poohsticks

  • Play Pooh Sticks – If you haven’t played Pooh Sticks you aren’t living!  My girls and I used to play “Pooh Sticks” from a small bridge over a creek by their Nana’s house. Great times!
    • Step 1: Find a park with a creek and a bridge.
    • Step 2: Select sticks from the ground.
    • Step 3: Stand on one side of bridge facing upstream
    • Step 4: On count of 3 everyone drops (not throws) their sticks into the water
    • Step 5: Rush to the other side and see who’s stick emerges first and is crowned the “winner”.  This never gets old.
  • Visit One of Georgia’s State Parks – They are awesome!  Seriously!
  • Go on a Mural Hunt – There are tons of murals in the city of Atlanta.  Check out the Belt Line, Cabbagetown, and Krog Street for starters.
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CabbageTown, GA Mural
  • Take a Train Ride – Hop on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway or the SAM Short Line for a wonderful afternoon.  The trains go from point A to B and back again. Stopping at small towns for a bit of shopping in between.
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    Blueberries collected from Gardner’s Farm, McDonough, GA

    Pick fruit – There is something very satisfying about picking your own blueberries, strawberries, peaches, or blackberries.  All these can be done in Georgia, check your local area for farms.

  • Connect with animals – Visit an animal rescue or rehabilitation center like Noah’s Ark, Dauset Trails, North Georgia Zoo, or The Wild Life Sanctuary. The animal’s personalities will raise your spirits and if you leave a donation you will feel very good about it.
  • Enjoy Silence – I have this great hammock swing in my back yard.  On nice days, you can catch me outside relaxing with a good book.

  • Be Alone with Nature – There is a quiet trail near my kids schools that I like to hit by myself.  It is kind of creepy being alone in the quiet woods and I must admit as I approach, I pull my ear buds out so I can be more aware of my surroundings (Michael Myers might be waiting for me in there, I need to be prepared to run screaming). As I walk through the small trail between the two schools, I hear the rustling of leaves, squirrels running from tree to tree and birds chirping. It pulls me in and centers me. Always be aware of your surroundings when exploring alone and have your cellphone on in case of an emergency.Photo Jun 17, 10 37 55 AM

  • Find a Hobby and Do it in a Park – Shane and our daughter Julia are artists. Recently we visited the Goat Farm in Atlanta where Julia sat and sketched the old mill’s buildings. Shane likes to take his painting supplies to the woods where he gains inspiration. Me? I am not creative, so no art for me, but I do jot ideas for my blog while engulfed in nature.

  • Visit an Outdoor Museum – Try the a living history museum such as Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village,  or Westville . You could also check out some outdoor art – by visiting Pasaquan, or the the campus of the University of North Georgia’s outdoor-sculpture exhibit.
  • Find a Weekend Festival.  There is always something going down somewhere. Check my blog for ideas, I try to post once a week what is going down.
  • Walk a Lonely Pup – The city of Augusta’s animal shelter has a dog walking program. Check out a pooch and hit the Augusta Canal trails for a morning or afternoon constitutional.  Contact with your local animal shelter to see if they allow people to take their pup’s on a walk. The dog will enjoy it. You will feel great and the shelter will thank you. A lot of shelters also allow people to come love on the kitty cats if that is more to your liking. These babies need love and while you can’t take
    Church
    Concord Primitive Baptist Church – Jasper County, GA

    them all home, you can give them the affection they so desperately need no strings attached.

  • Take a “Photo” Trip – Recently my oldest daughter, Emily, her friend Morgan, and I went on a afternoon photo trip, taking photos of abandoned churches in Shadydale, Monticello, and Jackson. Find a topic, hit the road for photo ops. Need ideas for your area? Ask me in the comments.  Here are a few: Libraries, street art, birds, old iron gates, architecture, machinery, abandon buildings, exotic animals at a zoo, or flowers in a garden to name a few. Note: I did some research on locations before hitting the road.
  • Find a Covered Bridge – There are 16 covered bridges in the State of Georgia. Make a list and start crossing them off.  Use this map to locate them! NOTE: Callaway Garden bridge is not open to public.
  • Hike to a Waterfall.  – Pick one, pack a lunch, grab some water and go!  Use this link to Google for the closest waterfall to you.
  • Start a blog about what you see and do!  – That’s what I did! I feel better just typing this and sending it out into the interwebs!  Thanks for letting me share, I no longer want to smack someone upside the head.

 

Keep the Lust for Wandering Y’all!

Fran & Shane

9

This Festival Will Take You to New Heights!

2017-09-02 17.57.04Each year during Labor Day Weekend, Callaway Gardens, holds a summer’s end festival. Sweltering August makes it’s exit as Georgians soar into September in baskets attached to flimsy, wibbily-wobbily nylon material. The Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival is a sight to behold. Enormous balloons lift towards the sky in a slow climb, as the cool lake beckons you to take a dip. Music from live bands and the smell of festival foods fill the air. Summer is coming to a close and this is it’s last blast.

Shane had to work…again (why does Atlanta think it is a good idea to schedule college football games for teams that aren’t even in the state of Georgia, Dragon Con and a pride parade all in one day?) Crowds in the city are insane and while I would love to go to Dragon Con, I decided to head south instead. My mama and my best friend Lana, joined me on this adventure.

The Event Low-down:

If you are wanting to see flowers, AND balloons, it isn’t going to happen. The flowers are no longer blooming during this time of year. However, if you want to hang at the beach all day as images of billowy balloons slowly undulate in the background, and have fireworks blast overhead at night, then this is right up your alley. It is a festival more than an event. There are car, bird and dog shows, face painting, zip lining, food & drink, paddle boating, water fun, and pyrotechnics galore. The lines are long but people are pretty nice ‘cus they are either borderline heat stroking or imbibed with adult beverages.

2017-09-02 19.54.08Before arriving I advise you check the festivals schedule. on Callaways Gardens website. Some nights there are not tethered balloon rides. These nights the balloon are set on the beach and all are set aglow at the same moment for a breath take view photographers love this picturesque shot. Note: not all balloons glow.  I suppose it depends on how thin the material is. My mama was disappointed that they weren’t all glowing at once when we were there as we went on a day that there were tethered rides but we were able to see the balloons individually glow in the night as the pilots ignited the gas.

Callway Gardens Hot Air Balloon Festival

Here are a few more tips to help you if you are planning on attending the festival.2017-09-02 20.13.35

  • The Festival is held at Robin Lake Beach – This is only documented on the website event page. There also weren’t any signs stating this inside the park.  Follow the signs to Robin Lake Beach, you will see the cars and balloons as you approach.
  • “Patience: Grasshopper” – A Long slow-moving line of cars makes it seem like forever to get through the gate. There are only 3 huts that collect the entrance fees for each person.  To save time I recommend using cash or pay with one debit card.  We saw one car hand over 6 different methods of payment to the attendant. (of course they were directly in front of us).
  • We entered through the main entrance off of U.S. 27.  The beach entrance line was horribly long.
  • Entrance fee is higher on event days.  It was $30.00/person,  $25.00/Seniors, $15.00/Children
  • Once inside the park, traffic is not bad.  The park is so large that it feels like there really isn’t 40,000 other people there (until you get to the Butterfly House or Beach)
  • The “Gardens” are actually trails. If you think it is going to look like the Palace of Versailles, you will feel deflated.  (Did you see what I just did there? 😀 )
  • There isn’t much in bloom in September so if you are here for the flowers, um yeah… don’t come.
  • Walking the entire park isn’t feasible. But you can drive from each point of interest and park your vehicle. The park also has golf carts, canoes, and bikes for rent which is really nice.
  • The beer and food lines (serving typical festival foods) are super long.  Bring a picnic!  We had a cheese & charcuterie (meat) board and fruit.
  • If you want a bottle of water you can buy it at a little shop right on the beach (no line at all) My mama asked me to go purchase a cup of ice from a vendor selling fountain drinks. Instead my bestie and I went to the little shop and bought an entire bag of ice. WeRSmart!
  • Everything is over priced.  3 bottles of vitamin water and a bag of ice cost me 12 bucks!
  • Make sure you see the enormous bald eagle balloon on the beach.  It is HUGE!

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  • Balloon rides are tethered but go up fairly high in my opinion. I am guessing 200 feet or so.  High enough to make people happy, but low enough not to scare kids (or myself). You go up, hover for a few minutes, and then back down.  The cost is $10.00/adults $5.00/children. CASH ONLY

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  • Inflating each balloon takes 30 minutes or more.  It’s really neat to watch.

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  • The line for the balloon rides start forming early and gets very long.  I am guessing at least a 2 hour wait in the sun, at the longest.  TIP: Instead wait until the last hour of the festival where you can walk right up with less than a 15 minute wait.  The downside to this is: it is dark, not much to see in the distance, but you get to see the balloon aglow.2017-09-02 20.32.39
  • If you can’t stand not seeing your college football game, there are large TV’s at the beach bar showing the games.
  • Take a blanket or chairs to sit on.

I urge you to visit the parks website do some research prior to arriving.  There are clear signs but if you have no idea where the sites are you may aimlessly drive around saying:

  • OK bestie, I need you to look at the map and figure out where we need to go from here”  
  • “Where the $@^& is the stupid Festival? Cus I see no balloons, do you see balloons?       
  • What the @#$% is that beach’s name again?”                                                              
  • “Ok, I have decided that there is no Discovery Center at all, it is a hoax.  (There really is a Discovery Center.. we just never found it.)

We did find the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center, Hydrangea Garden, Medowlark Garden, Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl, the Pioneer Log Cabin, and Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel.  But at summer’s end there wasn’t much in bloom.  Keep in mind that this is not the best time to see flowers, but this is what you come to see:

 

Keep the Lust for Wandering Y’all!

Fran

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Exploring a Hidden Botanical Treasure

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.

Down in these neck of the woods is Indian Springs State Park, Dauset Trails and The Village at Indian Springs.  You could see all three of these in just one day.

Photo Jun 17, 12 31 29 PMThe 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 throPhoto Jun 17, 12 13 28 PMugh 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.

Photo Jun 17, 12 12 16 PMWe 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.

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Whimsical Garden

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!Stone critters await you in the Whimsical Garden

 

 

 

 

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As we moseyed along 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!

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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!”

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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.

Keep the Luster for Wandering Y’all!

Fran

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The Village at Indian Springs

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.

community
Community

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.

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Hey Y’all!

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!

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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!

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Sharon’s Gourmet Soaps – https://www.facebook.com/SharonsGourmetSoaps/

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!

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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!

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Vintage Post Antiques – The Village at Indian Springs – Flovilla, GA
sit a spell
Come sit a spell

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.

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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.

*screeching record*

Wait, what?!

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.

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Watkins Outfitters – original counter and 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!

Fran

 

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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

http://www.thevillageatindiansprings.com/welcome  check them out on Pinterest and on Facebook

 

Disclaimer: I received no compensation for this post.  It is my honest opinion about this lovely village.

Path of Totality during Solar Eclipse

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.

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Without glasses it looked like a normal day for the most part.  That means

You see this…

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Instead of this……

Photo Aug 21, 2 37 17 PM (1)

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.

Photo Aug 21, 2 38 07 PM

  • 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.

Photo Aug 21, 2 40 26 PM

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.

Photo Aug 21, 2 45 52 PM

  • 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.

anne

  • 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 is a 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

Fran

 

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.

Thank you to http://foreverconscious.com/effect-solar-eclipse-mind-body-soul where we retrieve information on how we were feeling after the eclipse.

15 Things to do while at Lake WestPoint – Georgia

My friend, and the most fabulous hair stylist in the world, asked me to find her things to do while camping at Westpoint Lake in LaGrange, GA.  Well, I aim to please so, Christina this is for you.

Biblical History Center

bible

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

  • 130 Gordon Commercial Drive – LaGrange, GA 30241
  • 706-885-0363
  • Tuesday through Saturday, 10 AM to 6 PM
  • Donations accepted

River’s Bend Winery and Vineyard 

Get your wine on!

  • 692 Adams Rd – West Point, GA 31833-4725
  • 706-645-1181
  • Thursday-Saturday 12:00-7:00pm Sunday 12:30-6:00pm
  • Tasting prices vary

Hills and Dales Estate

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.hill

  • 1916 Hills & Dales Drive – LaGrange, GA 30240
  • 706-882-3242
  • Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • $15.00/Adult $7.00/Students

Fort Tyler Historic Site

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.

callCallaway Memorial Tower 

  • Cypress St, LaGrange, GA 30240
  • This monument to textile magnate Fuller E. Callaway was built in 1929 and is patterned after the Campanile of St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy.hone: (706) 884-182

Rodeo Races

Rodeo races are held at the Pyne Road Park Arena. Twenty to fifty riders compete in barrel races, pole bending, Texas Barrel, flag races, and arena races.

  • 4194 Roanoke Rd, LaGrange, GA
  • First Friday of every month from March through October, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Admission is Free
  • Concessions available

Cascade Falls

cascPack a lunch and hike the Pine Mountain Trail,  a 3.7 miles around trip, to and from the waterfall inside FD Roosevelt State Park.   Visit Atlanta Trails for a map and directions to the falls.

  • 2970 Georgia Highway 190 – Pine Mountain, GA 31822
  • $5 dollar parking pass for day

Callaway Gardens

Blooms, Beaches, Butterflies, Birds, and Bridges.  Callaway has so many things to see and bfly 093do 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.

  • 4500 Southern Pine Drive Pine Mountain GA 31822
  • 800.852.3810
  • $20.00/adults $10.00/children

DinoVillage

Pine Mountains newest attraction may not be open yet.  Call to see before going!

dino

  • 214 South Main Ave. Pine Mountain, GA 31822
  • 706-489-3466
  • Wed 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Thu – Fri4:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Sat – Sun12:00 pm – 8:00 pm
  • $19.95\person for unlimited rides and fossil dig

The Little White House

LWhFDR 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
  • 706-655-5870
  • Daily 9 a.m.–4:45 p.m.
  • $12.00\Adults $7.00\Children

Wild Animal Safari

Drive through the park where animals roam free and come right up to your window to feed.

  • giraffeGo early! It’s hot and it gets crowded.
  • Animals eat in the mornings so it is when they will be most responsive.
  • 1300 Oak Grove Road – Pine Mountain, GA 31822
  • 706-663-8744
  • Hours Vary by day – check site
  • $76.95 – Includes 2 adult tickets and 2 children’s tickets or $21.95/adult $18.95/children

Butts Mill Farm

Check out the go-carts, bumper boats, archery, beach area, creek swings, train ride, gazebo, covered bridge, horse shoes and so much more!  A great family place.

  • Go early it gets crowded
  • 2280 Butts Mill Rd – Pine Mountain, GA 31822
  • 706-663-7400
  • Open only on weekends Saturday & Sunday 10am-4pm
  • Ages 10+\$15.95 Children 3-9 \$13.95

Horseback Riding @ Roosevelt Stables

Take a trail ride on horse back.  Reservations are requested, walk-ups are available basis.  You can take a guided ride or bring your own horse.

  • 1063 Group Camp Road – Pine Mountain, GA 31822
  • 706-6287463
  • Tuesday – Saturday 10 a.m. – last ride out at 4 p.m. Sunday – noon – 4 p.m.
  • Prices vary check site

GRUB

The Irish Bred Pub

  • 727 3rd Ave., West Point, Georgia 31833
  • 706-645-2600
  • Mon-Wed 11am-10pm, Thur-Sat 11am-2am
  • Check the website for nightly entertainment such as Bingo, trivia, and Karaoke

Cakes by Debbie

  • 1201 2nd Ave Westpoint GA, 31833
  • (706) 501-1400
  • Tuesday–Friday, 11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Saturday, 9:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
  • Winner of TLC’s Ultimate Cake Off in 2010-11 sells pastries and lunch boxes for picnics!

Charlie Joseph’s Famous Hot Dogs and Hamburgers

  • 2238 Westpoint Rd – LaGrange, Georgia, GA 30240
  • (706) 884-0379
  • Mon-Fri 10-6, Sat 10-4, Closed Sun
  • Charlie’s has been serving hotdogs in LaGrange for over 90 years.