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.
2017-08-26 11.01.00
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

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.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Hotter Than #$@* Out Here!

Some Things are Not Meant to be Hot

How to Stay Cool In Summer Months

Potatoes should be hot, chicken pot pie should be hot, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts should definitely be hot (There’s an app for that!).  Human beings are not meant to be hot!  I really want my family to camp with me, but if going into it, I told them it was going to be hotter than #@$@ out there, I would get a big ole’ “nope”.   I mean seriously, who likes to be hot?  As I am always saying,

You can put layers on to get warm, but you can be butt nekkid and still be hot!

15107276_10154664063142591_325089207861669979_n

This was tested while we were living in Germany 1992.  It was August, it was hot, humid and we were living in the attic of a non-air-conditioned apartment building.  I stripped down to my skivvies and walked around the apartment like this all month and as a result we have this kid.

It’s Hot and Humid in Georgia, Y’all!hot

Did I mention it is hot?  There is no way of avoiding it.  If you do not live in the southern part of the United States you have NO IDEA how hot and sticky it gets. We have two seasons here.  “Warm-ish” from October until March and “Get behind me Satan” hot from April until September!  I swear the devil himself has us by the big toe and is pulling us straight into the fiery pits of Hades.  Summer usually means the thermometer will push 98F/36C.  But the temperature isn’t the only bothersome issue. Humidity: oh how I loathe you!  Imagine living in a sauna. That is what it is like for us in the deep south.  By the time August gets here there is no point in styling my hair every morning because I walk outside and the humidity immediately styles it like a French poodle.  Shane really hates the humidity.  He can not stand feeling sticky.   When he was a small boy, his mother used to have to sprinkle baby powder on his hands and arms to stop him from complaining.  Today he just sits there quietly, brooding over how hot he is.

So How Do You Stay Cool?

I have read blogs from people camping all over the world and even if you don’t have high humidity, the heat gets to people.  The dry heat, un-shaded climate in Nevada, New Mexico isn’t fun either.

Cool down ideas:

  • Swimming in the lake or pool or splashing in a stream
  • Cave exploring
  • Kayaking
  • Venture into a small town for some shopping.
  • Grab an ice cream at a local shop.
  • Have lunch or dinner at a local grub hub (restaurant)
  • Showers: Thank goodness for showers because it does immediately cool you off and get you ready for sleeping.  Your hot body inside a tent will make for a miserable sleeping arrangement.  So take a shower before heading off to slumber.
  • Take a wanderlust trip:  Taking a look-see drive in your car to cool off is my favorite!  I love to get in a vehicle and pick a direction and go.  Have no direction just drive.  You find the neatest shots of cool things by just taking a back county road.

I snapped this photo of a old farmhousemill and windmill from the side of the road that we were exploring. My girls hate it when I turn around for these kind of photos but I don’t care! It makes me happy and Shane is more tolerant, so he indulges me and stops for a snapshot. The best when I am thumbing through photos and one of these gems pops up.

So if you see something neat, stop!  If you see a sign that says, “Natural Bridge” in Virginia.  Get off and go see it! *Ahem* (jab at my sister, Tracy.)

So how do you stay cool while camping during the sweltering summer heat?  Let me know in the comments below!

Keep the Lust for Wandering Y’all!

Fran

Are You a Minimal Campest or Full On Pack Rat?

Do you want to hike 3 miles into the woods, find a clearing, set up camp and live like they did 200 years ago in the wilds? Or do you want to glampingdrive into a campground, find a plot that has electricity, running water, a camp pad and driveway for easy loading and unloading?

BoG

Do the lyrics of Bon-Jovi’s song “Blaze of Glory” run through your head when you think about camping or are you a Pinterest-aholic and think that “glamping” is more your style?

Shane and I differ in our thoughts about what is needed for camping.  We have had to find a common ground and meet each other half way.  If you camp with others you also must find what works for all of you.  As Shane said to me, “It isn’t just me that is camping, I have to think about what you want too.”  Ain’t he sweet y’all?  I replied back to him with, “That’s great because, I need the following things to be comfortable

He Said vs. She Said

This is our first attempt at co-blogging.  We feel that both our points of view are valid and we want to make sure that both sides are offered up so that it is an honest portrayal of what is is like to camp consistently with someone who thinks a bit differently than you.

NOTE: Neither of us read each others blog until after we had finished writing.  Once we were finished we went back and added our own comments to each other’s. It amazes me that even after 27 years of marriage we still think very differently when it comes to comfort vs. needs.  

Shane’s Idea of “Camping”:  

Definitely a minimalist.

  • I would be perfectly content to carry just one back pack (or “rucksack”) that would have everything I need for two to three days.
    • Fran:  This is ideal, but if I put everything I need in a rucksack, I would tip over from the weight.

ksb072902102_1

  • Instead of lugging around 30% of everything we own, each person carries everything they need in one back pack.
    • Fran: It isn’t 30%, Shane.  It is ONE Rubbermaid tub of supplies, 2 chairs and a cooler!

      IMG_4705.JPG
      Despite what Shane thinks this is NOT a lot of items!
  • I don’t necessarily want or need the “luxuries” of home.
    • Neither do I, but basics are necessary, man!
  • Ideally, I would take MREs (meals ready to eat) instead of food that had to be cooked.  For two days, which is the length of time we have decided to spend in the woods on this little experiment, you would need only 6 meals each.  They are small and compact, have plenty of calories, and taste…edible.  Of course, you would also need something to eat with if the MRE does not come packaged with utensils.
    • Fran: *barf* room temp ready to eat meals – “no thank you!”

MRE_20071124

  • I can sleep on the ground using a mat and a sleeping bag just fine.  The first night we were in the woods, we actually slept on the ground (inside the tent of course) and I felt great the next morning.  The blow up beds are nice, but take up unnecessary room when packing.  I don’t need a pillow because you can roll up a towel or jacket to keep your head off the ground.  Again, pillows take up unnecessary space.
  • Water is the tricky part.  For two people spending two nights in the woods you need two to three gallons of water.  And that’s just for drinking.  So obviously, the space needed for water would be considered necessary.  The prepared campsites inside the state parks almost always have running water, though I am not so sure I would drink it right out of the faucet.
  • Fran:water
  •  There is also no need to pack a lot of clothes.  A couple pair of underwear, 3 pair of socks, one change of clothes and the clothes on your back.  Some type of rain gear is important (poncho, rain suit, etc).  A towel is nice to have because there are showers at the bathrooms in the State Parks.  A shower after a hot and sweaty day feels awesome, but you have to wait until the sun goes down so you don’t just get sticky all over again.
    • Fran: At least we agree on the showering part
  • Other than what I mentioned above, the only thing left is the tent.  Our tent is a small two man that weighs less than five pounds when rolled up.  I could easily strap that to my rucksack without taking up any extra room.
    • Fran: Agreed!

As you can see, you can fit all you need in one large back pack.  Of course, that is not how we camp.  I swear it feels like we are freakin moving when we pack our car…


Fran’s Idea of “Camping”: 

Definitely a “What else is necessary?” kind of camper

I don’t have to waste money on a Better Home Camp and Gardens version of camping, but I also don’t want to starve, freeze, roast, or become a smorgasbord for bugs.

Shane says he doesn’t want to pack a bunch of crap but he was the first to be picky about his egg sammich.  I started to scramble eggs for breakfast and he says, “Can you make mine a fried egg?”  Well no, no I can’t because I don’t have a spatula.  If you want to have specifics then you must pack for those.

Scenario:  I want fried egg sandwiches so therefore I need to pack the bread, toaster, spatula, frying pan, eggs, and butter, and grill or wood for camp fire.

OR

Scenario:  I want to eat a prepackaged breakfast bar, therefore I need to pack breakfast bars.

If you aren’t picky you can pack light, however if you want specific items you must be prepared to bring the kitchen sink if needed.

I, for one, want to eat a nice significant breakfast when camping because you are expending more energy and will need the protein and carbohydrates to power you through the morning and into the afternoon.  A small breakfast bar won’t do it for me, within an hour I will be wanting to eat again.

Grazing

When not camping, I am a grazer, with a lowish carbohydrate intake (100 carbs a day or less).  This means I eat something small every 2 hours, i.e. a handful of nuts or a cheese stick.  I can’t do this when camping because I feel run down from lack of carbs.

Grazing means you eat every two hours from 8am-4pm.   So think about it this way.  Pack a lot of snacks or pack the supplies to make a full breakfast.  Either way you are packing a lot of items.  My philosophy is: “carb up” in the morning and it lasts me until lunch time when I eat a sandwich and a piece of fruit, this pushes me through the afternoon until 4pm when I can have some granola or trail mix.

Bottom line either way you look at it.  You gotta eat and unlike my Army Veteran husband, I am not going to eat an MRE – Meals Ready to Eat.

SIDE NOTE:  Shane, You should totally be crushing on me right now, I knew what the acronym “MRE” meant.

– Love,  F.

OTHER SUPPLIES:

There are so many other supplies that I feel are necessary but I am only going to list the top 10

  • Air Mattress – I am not sleeping on the ground. I did it the first night of our first trip and that’s a nope never again.
    • Shane:  Wuss
  • I am going to take a shower, therefore I need: soap, shampoo, conditioner, towel, shower shoes. I am not going 3 days without one, Nuh-uh.
    • Shane:  Soap and towel, you don’t need all that other crap.
    • Fran: You’re almost bald… You don’t have long hair.. I need shampoo, and you agree with me about shower shoes.. admit it!
  • Several changes of clothing. I need shorts for in camp and pants for hiking.  I need fip-flops and sneakers. I also need several shirts in case I spill my coffee, wine or food down the front of the one I am wearing.spill
    • Shane:  I will give you this.
  • Um bug spray and sun screen! Helllooo!
    • Shane:  I hate insect repellent, but if you don’t have it the mosquitoes will destroy you.
  • Extra tarps and air mattress. OH MY GAW what if we NEED these?!
    • Shane:  You don’t need this crap either.  You need ONE water proof bag that you put in your backpack and pack all your crap in that.
  • Cooling towel, hand towel and fans – I am not spending another day with a hot crabby husband. He needs these!
    • Shane:  I am not a huge fan of the cooling towels, I think a normal, small towel, to wipe sweat off would be sufficient.
  • First Aid Kit – what if we get a boo-boo?
    • Shane:  Yeah I suppose.
  • Blankets – what if in 90 degree weather we have a significant shift in global warming and the ice age 2.0 hits!
    • Shane: Blanket OR sleeping bag, you don’t need both.
  • Grill – *ahem* Shane bought this one.. not me.. I was happy to cook on the firepit
    • Shane:  If you insist on cooking, then the camping stove is the way to go during the warm months.
    • Only Breakfast in summer months is now my motto.  Read here why.
  • COFFEE POT – nothing else to say here.
    • Shane:  I need my coffee, but I could settle with instant coffee and boil water over a fire.  Many MREs come with a packet of instant coffee.
    • Fran: Instant Coffee is NASTY.. that’s a big fat “Nope!”

Keep the Lust for Wandering Y’all!

Fran & Shane

Indian Springs State Park

Indian Springs State Park is the Oldest State Park in Georgia and it Shows.

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There are old oak trees and a lazy creek that falls slowly over stones that were there when the Creek Nation inhabited the lands.   The park is old and beautiful. As you pull into the entrance, to the left, you see the water tumbling down the rocks with a picturesque view of an old bridge in the background.  In front of you there is a lush, tree lined, lawn with a creek running behind.  You might glimpse a picnicking family throwing a foot ball or children chasing one another.  People grilling hamburgers and hot dogs on the park provided grills while pet dogs run along side their owners.

What did we see?

snake.JPG

We were really lucky and had the pleasure of seeing one guy with his pet snake wrapped around his torso.  Why would you bring your pet snake to the park?

People are fascinating!

 

Old stone buildings that were built during the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps are standing as strong reminders of the labors who built them.  As you curve up this shaded road towards the visitor center you can’t help but love the southern charm of the park.  At the top of the hill is the visitor center, which is an old white house.  You either turn left to enter the visitor center and museum or right for everything else.  There is a beach, dock and boat ramp, a play ground, putt-putt course, cottages, and camp ground.  Back towards the entrance is the Spring House for the natural spring and the slow moving falls.

Most of this park is still beautiful but a few aspects of this park needs some tender loving care and an overhaul.  Which is what it is getting!

At the time of this writing June, 2017 Indian Springs State Park was working on the lake and the dam and all fishing, swimming, kayaking, and aquacycle was prohibited. Always visit the state park’s website to see if there are any warnings or closures before heading there.  

Our Camping Experience:

butts

We came into the park through Jackson, Georgia down Hwy 16  If you are a fan of the Netflix Original show “Stranger Things” you will want to note that Jackson square was used for filming.  Make sure you pay attention to all the old houses in the area, some are beautiful!  We even saw a house that had it’s Christmas Tree up in the window still with lights on.. IN JUNE!  The best thing I saw on way into the town was this water tower!

Checking in was Confusing and Irritating.

Shane and I arrived at 6:30 PM to find the visitor center closed.  We looked around for a on duty ranger but no one was to be found.  5 O’clock comes and “dem bitches be gone.”  We looked around the porch for some sign of how to check in and couldn’t find anything indicating what we were suppose to do.  I pull up the website and start reading to find zero information on what to do if the visitor center is closed.  The site does state that you can check in as late as 10pm, but where?

For 20 minutes we wandered around, asked campers, looked for clipboards or signs and drove back and forth between the visitor center and campground. Finally, Shane spots an information board directing us to see the camp host in plot 62. Photo Jun 16, 8 14 05 PM No one was home but there was a note, “if not here see camp host in plot 29“. Shane, at that point, was crabby as I sat in the cool car happily playing Bubble Witch Saga on my phone.  At plot 29 we were greeted by Angie who said, “well, alright, go register in the morning at the visitor center”  Shane got into the car and stated, “well that was about worthless!”

Lesson learned: Every park’s check in is different. If no one is on duty when you arrive, look around for signs and read them!  The next morning, the host from plot 62 came by said, “good morning, go check in at the visitor center before 10am“.  Yup talking to Angie was about worthless.

The Healing Waters

springhouse

Before this was a state park the land belonged to the Creek Indian Nation.  The park was signed over by Chief McIntosh in 1821 and 1825 to the Government.  I won’t go into the history of all this, my opinion is that the Creek Indians were done very wrong and Chief McIntosh “got his due”.  Curious?  Read about it here and here.

The tribe visited the area to bathe and collect the “healing water”  of the natural springs, thus giving the name to the park.  There are several springs within the park, but the most known and used is within the spring house, near the entrance of the park.   This where the Indian Springs mineral water is delivered.  This pump looks kind of looks run down and dirty.  There is an (oh not so beautiful) PVC pipe sticking out of the stone that drips the water onto the floor of the pump house.  The dome covering the natural spring is plastic that has been scratched and is dirty making it difficult to see down in the hole where the natural spring comes out.  I am not even certain why it needs to be covered as such. springThe water smells straight up like sulfur (rotten eggs) and tastes like rock when drank. Even still, this doesn’t stop people from coming from miles around to fill up their jugs. Locals say that the smell goes away after two days and they use the water in local products such as jams and soaps.  You can taste the pungent water straight out of the fountain or head up to the visitor center where they have it chilled and in a much more pleasant looking pitcher.  There are 12 different minerals found in the water and there is a small sign that tells you the chemical compound of the water at the spring.

Museums

Check out the museum in the park for a history lesson on the Creek Indians in the area. Right outside the park is the Indian Spring Hotel and Museum.  Built by Chief McIntosh in 1823 and is the only known antebellum mineral springs hotel in Georgia still standing. Once you have learned about the Native American’s that lived here, come back to visit the park during the fall when they host the 28th Annual India Springs Festival and PowWow

Cemetery

Photo Jun 17, 5 25 41 PMOkay here’s the skinny on the old cemetery that resides within the parks boundaries. If you turn right at the top of the hill from the entrance and go past “Swimming Area Road” there is a VERY old grave site to your left. These graves date back to the 1880’s and at least one confederate solider is buried there. But the wonderful thing about these graves is that even though they are over 130 years old, someone visited their family’s graves in the recent past because a few had sun bleached flower arrangements on the headstones. The poor cemetery is in disarray.  The stones are smashed, the slabs are broken from the sink-in effect, the little fence that surrounds one families plot is lying on the ground and over taken by weeds.  It is just sad sad sad. But who is responsible?  It amazes me the legal system in the U.S.  I found an article from 2014 that Friends of Indian Springs State Park finally got the go ahead to begin overhauling the grounds and here we are three years later and it still looks as if no one has gotten a thing accomplished.  I hope they are still working towards this and making progress.  The State Park system cannot update this old place because of the cost. We walked around the grave yard trying to read the headstone but many of them are not discernible.  I snapped several photos using the “live” feature on my phone and as I was viewing them I saw this…

Lively

(Note we were out there alone and the road was to my back)  Any thoughts on what it is?

Hiking the Trails

Indian Springs trail system is minuscule.  A 3/4 mile nature trail and a 3.25 mile trail, leading to Dauset Trails Nature Center, is all there is.  This is plenty for us, but if you want a real hike head over to Dauset Trails were there are 25 miles! (don’t get lost). Dauset Trails is not part of the state park system. It is privately owned wildlife preservation.  You can read about it by clicking here.

map

The map above has been highlighted to show you the trail as it starts at the park entrance and continues to Dauset Trails. The Spring House is circled in purple on the right side of map. As you can see McIntosh Lake, beach, boat ramp, and dock are closed until 2018 for renovations.  The X on the upper left side of the map is our camp site and the red dot is where we took the photos below.

Photo Jun 17, 3 59 11 PMPhoto Jun 17, 3 51 41 PM

 Cooling Off in the Springs

IMB_V9ezLl.GIFOne of the best things to do at ISSP is to climb on the rocks and play in the stream.  My mama and dad used to take my siblings and me down there in the summers to play in the park.  I too have taken my kiddos down there when they were growing up.  The rocks get crowded in the late afternoon but in the morning it is pretty deserted.  Go early and leave when the crazies arrive.  The rocks get slippery and hot so you may want to take some swim shoes.  When we were there the water level was pretty low, but it didn’t stop people from sitting the pools that are created from the downward pull of the creek.

photo-jun-17-4-37-47-pm1.jpg

The Village at Indian Springs

Another thing to do on a hot humid day is to eat ice cream and shop in neat little (and air conditioned) country stores.  This brings me to The Village at Indian Springs.  This village deserves it’s own blog entry and I will be adding it over the next few days, so head back to read about this wonderful little place!

Photo Jun 17, 11 17 45 AM.jpg

Keep the Lust for Wandering Y’all!

 

Fran

Hard Labor Creek State Park

First up on our Georgia State Park bucket list is Hard Labor Creek State Park.

Why did we pick this one in particular?  Well two reasons:

  1. The name is fascinating!  I mean seriously, how did it derive it’s name?
  2. It is close to home and on the way to our daughter’s apartment in Augusta.

So let’s talk about the second reason first.  Our daughter, Olivia, lives 2.5 hours away in the most eastern area of Georgia.  She has epilepsy and cannot drive so we visit her every other weekend to to check up on her.  We figured this would be a good park to hit first so that a large portion of our day Saturday could be spent with her and we would not have to figure out what to do all day in the woods.  I know, I know, we are camping losers!  But I swear we will get better!

This brings us back to the number one reason for choosing this park as our first to visit.

So What’s with the Name?

My husbands first thought was that maybe it used to be an old prison camp.  Wouldn’t THAT be fun with the rich history and ghosts of dead inmates running around.  But alas, that is not how the name came about.  The park is named after Hard Labor Creek, a small stream that cuts through the park. The creek’s name comes either from workers who once tilled the summer fields, or from Native Americans who found the area around the stream difficult to cross.  Still kind of cool.

How Did Our First Camp -Out Go?

We came unprepared, un-supplied, and unworthy of calling ourselves “campers”

In my very first blog I discussed camping supply list.  My husband and I didn’t want to invest in a lot of items for camping until we knew that this is really something we wanted to do.  Therefore we purchased four main items before setting off for the woods.

  • A tent
  • 2 sleeping bags
  • 2 chairs
  • Cooler with 2 meals in it (Hamburgers and eggs and bacon)

After spending one night in the woods, on the second afternoon, we went shopping for a wee bit more supplies, such as bug spray.  Lesson #1:  Don’t get caught without the right gear ya’ll.  Check out a complete (and ever growing) list of items needed here.

So, I could lie and tell you it was all sunshine and happiness, but I won’t. Here is the dirty truth of our first camping weekend.

It starts here…

Y’all, let me tell you something, I am like the princess and the pea when it comes to my pillow.  I can tell the minute my head hits the pillow if I don’t have the right one. I also will wake up with a crick if I don’t have it.  Can I get an “amen” from all you out there who understand me on this?

The weekend started by Shane picking me up at work on Friday evening.  I glance in backseat and see my bag and squishy pillow.  My man, being thoughtful, packed the right one for me.  I get in and give him a quick kiss and say,

Thanks for making certain that you got my squishy“.

His reply was a matter-a-fact: “well yeah I was so worried about getting all your $h!t, that I forgot my own pillow……

*wow! I am already hearing crickets and we aren’t even in the woods yet!*

After the song of silence, I have a brilliant,  “save the day” idea!  I jumped out of the car and run back into my office building.  I came out holding a small square pillow from the 1980’s that I stole  borrowed out of the owner’s office. po

Look carefully, you can see the pillows in the photo. Shane still wasn’t impressed, but as usual, I was please with myself.

We arrived at the park around 7pm, checked in and headed down the quiet, tree lined road towards the camp ground.  We found the perfect spot that was a little secluded and unpacked our supplies.  Seeing that the packing list was very small it took all of about 45 seconds.

Tent went up in a cinch!  Whooo! we are off to a good start!

Shane had picked up some food to cook in the evening and some charcoal so he started preparing the hamburgers to cook on the grill while arranged our sleeping bags out in our tiny two man tent.

Shane thinking that charcoal would do the trick for cooking, started the fire only to realize it wasn’t getting hot enough.  The grill inside the little fire ring was too far away from actual coals.  We needed wood.  We don’t own a truck so hauling wood around in our cars trunk is not exactly what we would like to do, so it was not purchased. However, my man had thought ahead and purchased this little cable saw so off we went into the woods to gather some fallen limbs to stoke the fire.  So far we hit two obstacles but over came both pretty easily!  Not bad for two middle age city dwellers who have no idea what we are doing. Edit by Shane: he knows what he is doing it has just be a while since he has done it.

As Shane is tending the fire, I decide that I am going to send a text to my girls to let them know we made it to the site and to keep in touch with us and each other in the event there is an emergency.  I have a 23 year old, who lives on a lake with her boyfriend, a 19 year old who is attending college and a very soon to be 18 year old who was staying home for the weekend.   I unlock my phone and open my messages and quickly type a message to Emily, Olivia and Julia stating what should happen in case of an emergency.  I hit send and immediately I get a bounce back saying, “MESSAGE UNDELIVERED“.  I look at my signal expecting to see one bar and was horrified to see the words “No Signal”.  

Don’t Expect to have a Signal in these Woods.

Oh.. my … gosh.. that is SO uncool!  Technology is my friend!

I NEED MY PHONE!!!

My ADULT children have no way of knowing I am UNREACHABLE!

I start to slightly panic.   I consistently ride the crazy train of anxiety when it comes to my family and I know that I am going to be channeling that very Ozzie Osbourne song in about 2 minutes.  I can hear the lyrics resonating in my head, “All Aboard… hahaahahahaha”.  This is the first time in 24 years of being a mother that my children have no way of contacting me.   This is not an option…  Or is it?  I start walking around holding my phone up in the air hoping to see a tiny bar pop up.  Nothing.  So I move around closer to the fire. Nothing.  How about towards that tree over yonder?  BINGO!  I hit the sweet spot!  One bar!  I quickly hit send again and call my sweet sister to tell her she was on emergency duty all weekend.  All I heard from her through the garbled signal was, “I heard you! On it!”   Whew! No panic stricken Crazy Train singing needed.  My chair was planted in the spot and it stayed in that spot all weekend.  Turns out, I didn’t even need the phone again. It was an option and it was going to be okay.

Fire Pits are Hot in Georgia Summers

9As the fire began to roar and the heat coming off of it (combined with the Georgia summer humidity) caused lines of sweat to run down our torsos and into the cracks of our butts, now we’re cookin!  Shane threw our frozen hamburger patties on the grill and looked at me and smiled.  I went to the cooler and opened it.   Looked around at the bags on the table and rummaged through them and then announced, “um, we forget the condiments and seasonings”  *sigh*   Now boarding the crazy train!  “All Aboard! Hahahahaha”  (Please tell me you get the reference, if you don’t you should definitely go listen to a lil’ Ozzie.)

Seriously, we were either very hungry or those frozen patties came pre-seasoned because they were dang good! Or maybe it was what was in my solo cup that made me care less.

By the way: Alcohol in GA State Parks is Prohibited.

Don’t say I didn’t warn ya if you get caught playing “True American” in your campsite.

NA
“it’s  75 drinking, 20 Candy Land, and by the way the floor is molten lava.” – Schmidt

Best keep the noise down and the drinking to a minimum if you are going to break the law and all.  I also saw the rangers drive by a few times right after dark checking on things before they bunked for the night.

As we ate our condiment free burger in the twilight fleeting evening a sense of relaxation came over us.  We quietly sat there just listening to the crickets, bull frogs, and owls.  The sun was slowly setting and the sky grew darker and darker until….

BOOM! DARKNESS FALLS

Dude, there is absolutely zero light under the canopy of trees.  I mean I know the moon was up there but dang.. I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face!  I tried to record the hundreds of fireflies that were in the woods beside us, in front of us and above us.  They were everywhere, but it didn’t pick up on my camera.  This show was so much better than watching TV or playing on my phone.  We sat there and talked about catching lightning bugs (that’s what we call them here in the South) when we were children.  Did you know that lightning bugs are not out west.  I read that and was shocked.  People in California say they have never experienced them before.

Interesting fact: The main reason Lightning Bugs flash is to attract mates.  Males fly about flashing while females perch on vegetation.  If the female sees a flasher and she’s ready to mate she responds by flashing right after the male’s last flash.

Electricity in the Camp Ground? Maybe, Maybe Not.

Right before bed we decided we should probably charge our cell phones over night in case of emergency so we headed over to the post with all the outlets on them.  By flash light we read the directions and plugged our phones in.  Nothing happened.  For the life of me we never did figure out how to get the electricity to work.  But as a note, this camp ground like most GA State Parks do have electricity (if you know how to work it.)

Sleeping on the Ground is .. HARD

Only thing to say here is: Buy a sleeping pad, air mattress or something.  Don’t sleep in just a sleeping bag.

Rutledge, GA

We bought food to cook for breakfast but instead decided to head to the small town of Rutledge to eat at a local dinner before heading to Olivia’s for the day.   We ate at Yesterday Cafe and the biscuits were to die for.  They were these huge fluffy pillows that melted in my mouth.  Shane could have used one of these the night before to sleep on!  I also hear that the buttermilk pie is heaven on a platter, but seeing that it was 8 am we didn’t partake.  The workers were so nice and it has just this quaint little cafe in a small town.  And I do mean SMALL.  Right next door is an old time hardware store that is really neat.  It is a museum of sorts about plumbing and such things.

Hiking the Trails

Every morning we had two lovely cardinals greet us.  It looked to be a male and female.  The male would come sit on the log while the female stood guard in the trees.  They enjoyed our bread very much.

21This park has 24 miles of trails.  We hiked 3 of them.  The terrain was very easy with several bridges to cross.  There is a swampy lake that is picture worthy.  We saw flowers and odd trees.  One tree grew up the side of a cliff, ran along the ground and died, sprouted new roots and then up it went to the sky.  Very cool indeed.  If you stumble upon this wonderful old oak, look inside the dead part for a Geocache.

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Don’t be a schmuck… see this beauty.  We missed it…  before heading to a park, check out what the park has to offer.  I didn’t.  I relied on just the site map and because we didn’t do our homework we missed this.

Hard Labor Creek State Park - Bridge I
Photo Credit : https://www.flickr.com/photos/mpsutt/

 

hlc

About the State Park

HLCSP is just outside the Atlanta metro area.  It is located between Madison and Covington off I-20.

The park has a plethora of things to do.

  • Golfing
  • Lakeside beach
  • 24 miles of trails
  • Horse owners can bring their horses and house them in stalls
  • Kayak rentals
  • Bird watching
  • Twilight and night hike guided tours
  • Night sky observations during summer months
  • Breakfast with Ranger John

The Creek Golf Course provides one of Georgia’s best golf values, along with a pro shop, driving range, rental carts and special rates for seniors and children. The 18-hole course is a favorite for its challenging layout and well maintained greens combined with a pristine, natural setting. The first hole has been called “the hardest starting hole in Georgia.”

4The Trading Post has a few supplies if you forget something like salt & pepper, like we did.  But be willing to pay a bit more for the luxury of not having to leave the park to run get ice.  Photo Jun 02, 7 42 21 PMMake sure if you visit the trading post you say hello to “Evander Holifield Kitty” (that is the name we gave him, not his real name) any guesses why we named him that?

 

 

 

There are:

  • 46 Campsites
  • 20 Cottage
  • 11 Horse Campground Sites
  • 4 Picnic Shelters
  • 2 Group Camps
  • 30 Horse Stables

Ready to make a reservation?  Visit Reserve GA State Parks

Keep the Lust for Wandering Y’all!

Fran