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.
  • 2017-06-08 14.32.56
    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!

2017-09-02 19.58.39

  • 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

2017-09-02 17.57.28

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

2017-09-02 17.59.15 HDR

2017-09-02 17.38.28

  • 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

2017-09-02 20.47.19

7 Georgia Festivals to Visit August 24-27 2017

Football Fest at Georgia Football Hall of Fame

  • Aug 26, 2017
  • 250 Marietta Street NW – Atlanta, GA
  • Free with ticket to the Hall of Fame which is $21.99/adult 17.99/child

Grant Park Summer Shade Festival

  • Aug 26, 2017 – Aug 27, 2017
  • 700 Boulevard Avenue SE – Atlanta, GA
  • Free Admission

German Bierfest

  • August 26, 2017
  • Wooddruff Park – Atlanta, GA
  • Tickets $35/advanced $40/day of  $10 Designated Driver ticket

Chattooga County Agricultural Fair

  • Aug 24-27 2017
  • 34 Middle School Road – Summerville, GA
  • Tickets are $5 – Sunday is Free Admission

Rabun County Fair

  • Aug 24-26 2017
  • 115 Longview Dr. – Tiger, Georgia 30576

  • Free Admission

Pigs & Peaches Bbq Festival

  • Aug 25 2017
  • Adams Park, 2753 Watts Drive – Kennesaw, GA
  • Free Admission

Villa Rica Frontiers Rodeo

  • Aug 25-26
  • Villa Rica Civic Center – 1605 GA-61 -Villa Rica, GA 30180
  • $13/Adult $7/Children

Keep the Lust for Wandering Y’all!

Fran

7 Georgia Festivals to Visit August 19-21 2017

Butterfly Festival, Dunwoody Dunwoody Nature Center

  • August 19th
  • 5343 Roberts Dr. Dunwoody, GA 30338
  • Adults $8/Children $4

Brooklet Peanut Festival –  Brooklet, GA

  • Aug 20, 2017
  • 29 Parker Ave. Brooklet, GA
  • Free Admission

Tomato Daze Festival – Young Harris, GA

  • August 18-21st, 2017
  • Crane Creek Vineyards 916 Crane Creek Road Young Harris, GA
  • Eclipse Party on 21st 1pm to 5pm
  • Free Admission – Everything is A la Cart

Southern Wing Showdown – Atlanta, GA

  • Aug 20, 2017 – Aug 20, 2017
  • 916 Joseph E Lowery Blvd NW Atlanta, GA
  • Adults $30

Eighth Annual Piedmont Park Arts Festival – Atlanta, GA

  • Aug 19, 2017 – Aug 20, 2017
  • 1215 Piedmont Avenue Atlanta, GA
  • Free Admission

Caribbean festival – Jonesboro, GA

  • August 19, 2017 (1 to 8 p.m.)
  • 2300 Highway 138, SE Jonesboro, GA
  • Free Admission

Get Off the Grid Fest Solar Expo & Sustainability Fair – Blairsville, GA

  • August 18, 2017 – August 20, 2017
  • 73 Saddle Club Drive Blairsville, GA
  • $10/day $30/weekend

 

Keep the Lust for Wandering Y’all!

Fran

Georgia Solar Eclipse Viewing Parties

The Best place in Georgia is at to catch 100% totality of the upcoming solar eclipse is:

12 Spies Vineyard Solar Eclipse – Rabun Gap, GA

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:

2017 Eclipse Across America – Lavonia, GA

  • Path of Totality 100%
  • http://www.exploregeorgia.org/listing/60630-2017-eclipse-across-america
  • 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:

Total Eclipse of the Park – Blairsville, GA

Honorable mention for a great theme party name goes to:

The Grape Eclipse Wine Tour

If my top 4 don’t catch your attention check out these other viewing parties.

Totally Toccoa Eclipse 2017

Rabun County’s Georgia’s Total Solar Eclipse ‘OutASight’ Viewing Party

Park Tavern – Atlanta, GA

Solar Eclipse Kayak, SUP and Canoe Rental Extravaganza – Stone Mountain, GA

Eclipse Weekend at Timpson Creek Farm

Solar Eclipse Family Friendly Fun – Andy’s Trout Farm – Dillard, GA

University of North Georgia Solar Eclipse Program – Dahlonega, GA

Grayson Branch, Gwinnett Public Library – Eclipse Party – Grayson, GA

Tallulah Gorge Solar Eclipse Festival

Blairsville Eclipse Experience

Fernbank Science Center Great American Eclipse

Black Rock Mountain State Park Total Eclipse

Smithgall State Park Solar Eclipse

Solar Eclipse by Kayak – Elijah Clark State Park

Eclipse Paddling Trip – Fort King George State Historic Site

Eclipse Excursion – Panola State Park

Final note check out this awesome site that will show you what you can expect to see at any given location in Georgia.  

http://shadowandsubstance.com/2017/02.html

 

Keep the Lust for Wandering Ya’ll

Fran

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 Georgia Festivals that Give Back

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

JeepFest

  • August 31-September 3, 2017 –  Japser, GA
  • 100% of proceeds go on to help kids in and around community.
  • Jeep owners and enthusiasts come from all of the United States to attend.
  • Admission is free for spectators and passengers. $75.00 to register per Jeep

  • JeepFest – https://www.sheriffsjeepfest.com/event

AJC Decatur Book Festival

  • September 1-3, 2017 – Decatur, GA
  • Benefiting the DBF – Promoting a year-round literary community by hosting a series of fundraising and literary events.
  • Free Admission
  • https://www.decaturbookfestival.com/

Rock’n Ribville

  • September 16, 2017 – Lawrenceville, GA
  • Benefiting Lawrenceville Police Benevolent Fund this event is in it’s 10th year.
  • Enjoy live music and eat southern style barbecue
  • Free Admission
  • http://www.rocknribville.com/home

Blue Ridge Blues and BBQ Festival

Jekyll Island Shrimp and Grits Festival

Tiny Home Mountain Festival

  • September 23-24, 2017 – Elijay, GA
  • Benefiting the local area Boy’s and Girls Club and Gilmer County Food Bank
  • Explore Tiny Home Living at this festival.
  • $10 for Adults, $8 for Kids and under 3 will be free
  • https://www.tinymountainfestival.com/about

People First Fall Festival

  • September 30, 2017
  • Benefiting People First of Henry Count offering free socials for special needs families throughout the year
  • Come out and enjoy music, food, games, prizes, bingo, hay ride, social for special needs children and adults.
  • Free Admission
  • People First

Historic Oakland Foundation 40th Anniversary

  • October 1, 2017 – Oakland Cemetery – Atlanta, GA
  • 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
  • http://www.oaklandcemetery.com/?event=sunday-in-the-park-2

Foxfire Mountaineer Festival

  • October 7, 2017 – Clayton, GA
  • 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.
  • $5 per person, children age 5 and under are free
  • http://theblueridgehighlander.com/calendar/index.php?eID=3287

Alive Festival

  • October 21, 2017 – Suwanee, GA
  • 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.
  • Free Admission
  • http://aliveexpo.com/alive_festival.php

Gold Rush Days

  • October 21-22, 2017 – Dahlonega, GA
  • Benefiting Empty Stocking Fund
  • 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!
  • Free Admission
  • https://dahlonegajaycees.com/gold-rush-days/

Humming Bird Festival

  • October 21-22, 2017 – Hoganville, GA
  • Benefiting the Hogansville Charitable Trust.

  • A true small town festival, featuring 200 vendors, food court, live music, kids area, artisan crafts, and more.

  • Free Admission
  • http://www.hummingbirdfestival.com/

Moonshine Festival

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).
  • http://www.chompandstomp.com/

Top 5 Barbecue Festivals in Georgia

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

Pigs and Peaches BBQ Festival

  • August 25, 2017 – Kennesaw, GA
  • In it’s 17th year this festival holds a competition for best BBQ as well “Pigtales” a junior essay competition.
  • Free admission
  • http://www.pigsandpeaches.com/

Blue Ridge Blues and BBQ Festival

Rock’n Ribville

  • September 16, 2017 – Lawrenceville, GA
  • Benefiting Lawrenceville Police Benevolent Fund this event is in it’s 10th year.
  • Free Admission
  • http://www.rocknribville.com/home

Big Pig Jig

  • November 3-4, 2017 – Vienna, GA
  • In it’s 33rd year, this is Georgia’s oldest barbecue cooking contest.
  • Ticket prices vary by date and time – check website for prices
  • http://www.bigpigjig.com/

I gotta get on now, because I can smell what Shane just took off the grill wafting up the stairs and into my room.  It’s time to eat some grilled southern food y’all!

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Keep the Lust for Wandering

Fran