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.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We found this Underappreciated Gem. You Should, Too.

Let’s jump right into this one shall we.  Two things to say first.

  1. If you live in Georgia and don’t go “drink” in this small town you are an igit.
  2. If you don’t go this weekend, you are a bigger igit.

2017-07-22 09.14.36Cave Spring, GA population 1,154 (2016) is a quaint little town on the outskirts of Rome, GA, in the area known as the Historic High Country.  This place is is tiny and cute and awesome!  The town has 1 full time police chief and a handful of part time officers.  The grocery store is a ma and pa type shop.  If you Google Earth the town you will see an “H” for the medical center which is a tiny walk-in clinic, the largest building appears to be a day care, this tells us what everyone does on a date night.  There are old buildings covered with ivy, trees lining the quiet streets and a smell of honey suckle in the air. 2017-07-22 09.14.52Surrounded by rolling hills and sweet Georgia pines this area is the quintessential small southern town you would expect to see in a movie about a big city doc from Hollywood, who had to move to a small town for one disastrous reasons or another.  (please tell me you get the movie reference — Shane didn’t….)

In the middle of town square is a gazebo, seriously y’all, a gazebo.  Two roads intersect here and are littered with a handful of stores selling antiques, flowers and clothing. There is even a general store that had three retired men sitting in rockers talking about how hot it was. Unbelievable!  I fell in love with this town immediately! This place is currently in the number 1 spot for where I want to live out my retirement!

Currently, we were in search of breakfast, so we headed into a local restaurant called Southern Flavor. We entered and tried to head to a quieter area but the staff directed us, “Not back there, it’s cooler up front“, so we turned heels and went to sit with about 15 locals who greeted (nodded at) us as we entered the dining area.  It was crowded so we slid into a two top and glanced around.  A number of the locals were seated around a very long table that took up the length of the room. They didn’t sit directly beside each other and the plates of food were all in different degrees of consumption. They came and went greeting each other or saying goodbye, all taking up a seat at this communal table. Fascinating! They talked about the weather yesterday, the fishing tournament today, and church tomorrow.  Walking into this made me feel as if I had a glowing neon sign that flashed the word “Outsider” on my chest. Poor Shane, he is along for this whole “Wanderluster” ride and is not outgoing or a “step outside your comfort zone” kind of guy. So when I struck up a conversation with three local men, I am sure he was less than enthusiastically thinking, “Ok well, here we go, whoop whoop“.  But look, you find the BEST information by talking to locals.  I mean seriously, what better way to get in good with them, than gettin ’em talkin’ bout themselves. When in Rome, (GA) use your best southern drawl and drop your G’s!

Cave Spring General Store

We discussed The Trail of Tears that runs right through Cave Spring and the fact that you can see Chief Vann’s Inn (house) in the town square. 2017-07-22 08.25.50They directed where the house lies “O’vr yonder” (I could see it through the window) and where the trail starts even though it is clearly marked right outside the restaurant. Such southern charm!  The waitress came to and planted our breakfast in front of us and we dug in as the local men convinced us that we needed to research the Cherokee and Creek Nations history (I agree). Shane chimed in about his great great grandfather who was a Cherokee that married a white woman. Interesting fact: this was quite common in the late 1800’s because the natives knew that the best way to survive was to assimilate to the white man culture. Sad, but true.  We drank our first and second cups of coffee from mugs that were obviously picked up at a local rummage store.  Shane’s had “Delta” imprinted on it and mine, well.. I sure hope it was Christmas themed, because it had “hohohoho” printed all over it.

……. ……. ……..

We finished up our coffee and headed on out to take in the local sights, and there are TONS!  I mean come on this is like going to Orlando!  (just kidding) There isn’t much to see if you are into tourist stuff.  But if you like exploring, then this place is a goldmine. In town there is Chief Vann’s home that was getting a spring cleaning. New turf and whatnot so all we could do was walk up on the porch.  smurfWe meandered down the deserted street of the square (it wasn’t even 9am) and headed over to the general store.  Well now, this must be where the restaurant purchased their coffee cups!  This store is packed with all kinds of crazy odd and ins.  It isn’t so much a general store as a yard sale on steroids. Fun to look at if you like all sorts of junk.  Never know what you may find in these places right?  I mean who couldn’t use a Papa Smurf glass from Wendy’s Collection circa 1984.  Right?

We headed off to check out the local architecture of the buildings that seem to date back to the 1800’s.  GOLDMINE! I couldn’t resist the ivy covered buildings and snapped some photos of the town’s old mill and may or may not have trespassed a little to get some of my shots.

If you like this type of thing the Town Hall (at least I think it is the town hall) is something to see.  It appears to be an old wood mill of sort.  There are these old creepy stairs leading up two a second floor that I just had to go see!  They creaked and were broken in places.  It was fantastic!

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Now here’s the best part of our trip. Rolater Park, is the gem in the middle of this quaint town.  This is the reason we came.  It is this small park that drew my attention, weeks ago. Within Rolater park resides a tiny little limestone cave. Visible inside the cave is a natural spring that produces over 2 million gallons a day.  It is this spring that gives the Cave Spring it’s name. This natural spring water is the purest water I have ever put in my mouth. There isn’t any additives that coat your tongue.  It is cold and pure.  It comes out of a grate right at the mouth of cave where you can fill up your bottles.

Cave Springs Water
Spring Water right from the mouth of a cave

ducksIt was crowded at the park that morning. The Veterans Administration was hosting a fly fishing tournament and it was in full swing.  Men were fishing, children were splashing in the water and women were fussing at children. The freshly caught fish was fried up right there and eaten on the spot. Just as we found a park bench and sat down to watch the spectacle, a flock of geese made their way on to the scene.

The cave doesn’t have any business hours posted so we were a bit concerned that it would not be opening that day.  We spoke to a few locals who said, “I reckon they’ll open it today with the tournament and all….just giv’em a bit.

Southern small town y’all, they do things on their own time stamp not yours.

Finally, at 10:30 A.M. an elderly gentleman announced that he was opening the cave.  It took him 15 minutes to open the door, count the money till and turn over the sign. It was like opening the gates to Disney World, y’all a mass rush of people swarmed the entrance separating Shane and myself, who were waiting patiently to enter.  I think you will agree that it was in our best interest to let the group of 25 people go on ahead of us….

The cave has stalactite hanging from the ceiling and is coated in Georgia red clay. The day was beginning to get hot but as soon as you walk into the cave you are blasted by a draft of cold air.  We both were sweating and it felt really nice to have some of God’s natural air conditioning blowing on us. We were hoping for a quiet meander into the cave but we heard a lot of children’s holler’s echoing throughout. They were hoopin’ and hollerin’ listening for the echoes. They climbed on the stone steps and rolled on the rocks and got good and dirty. That bath water is going to be brown tonight.  We could have waited for the rush to die down and enjoyed the silence, but hey you gotta live on the edge baby! The cave itself is tiny. It is a quick walk from entrance to the back of the cave. The tunnel gets very small in the very back. Shane, being 6’2″, decided to passed on going through the final crawl space. Even I had to scrunch down to squeeze through the opening and I am short.   We hung out in the cave for about 10 minutes hoping to enjoy it in silence but with this many people at the fishing tournament it just didn’t happen.

pool

There is a short nature trail outside the cave but we decided to pass on it. It was muggy and hot here in July and I was recovering from being ill the previous week.  On our way out of the park we stopped the Hearn Inn Bed and Breakfast that oddly wasn’t open, like I said, small towns operate on their own agenda.  I guess if there “ain’t a guest, the B&B ain’t open” . Makes perfect sense to me.  I peeked through the windows and then we sat on the porch a few minutes rocking in the chairs and enjoying the seen and silence.  Before leaving we checked out the 2nd largest swimming pool in the state of Georgia. This pool is really cool. The natural spring water from the cave feeds the pool so it is a very cold 68 degree dip on hot summer days here in Cave Spring.  People say the pool is shaped like Georgia and I can kind of see it, but.. no.. not really.

If you are looking a quiet laid back few days, come to Cave Spring, GA y’all.  We stayed right outside the city in a small loft cabin on Dry Creek.  We meandered through the town, ate with locals, sat on the porch, drink from the springs and enjoy the people and the southern charm of the small town.

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Keep the Lust for Wandering Y’all!

Fran

2017-07-23 08.09.02 HDR
Relaxing on Dry Creek

New Moon on Monday – Solar Eclipse is Coming!

Where are you going to be on Monday, August 21, 2017?

white_light_coronaAre you going to be working in an office?  Or will you be seeing the sight of a life time? The countdown is on!  To steal a quote from one of my all time favorite movies, “LadyHawke”.

In 26 days, in Columbia…

there will be a day without a night…

…and a night without a day.

In less than a month a small portion of the United States will be experiencing a total solar eclipse. While eclipses happen somewhere on the planet every year, the path of totality (total solar eclipse) hasn’t swept across the U.S. in 99 years and this time it is making a transcontinental cut straight through the center of the country.

I will not be in an office in Atlanta (even though you will see a partial) on this day, oh no no.  I will be in South Carolina in the path of totality and I urge you to take the day off and hit the roads to catch a glimpse of stars in the middle of the day.

The last time the U.S. had a total solar eclipse was in 1991, and was only visible from Hawaii.  Before that, in 1979, the total eclipse that hit the mainland was only visible in the Pacific-Northwest, and would be 40 years before the next big one. The time has finally arrived and it indeed is big.  It hasn’t been since 1918 that a total solar eclipse made it’s away down the middle of the Continental U.S.!  The time is now because as you can see it is going to be a few years before you have a chance to witness it again.

21stCenturyNorthAmericanEclipses.png

The Path

Are you in the path?  NASA states that most of the country should catch a small portion of the eclipse but to see the total eclipse you need to be in the direct path.  The path of totality is only 60 miles wide, so it is very narrow. On this interactive map you can plug in your zip code to see if you are in the path of the eclipse, the animation is pretty cool, it will show you how much you will actually glimpse.

Visit Farmer’s Almanac to see where you can see partials and total’s and the times table.

map

“You suddenly feel as though you can see the clockwork of the solar system. Where you think you lived doesn’t look like the same place anymore. We kind of know — in the back of our minds — that we live in a giant ball and it revolves around a hot ball of gas, and we’re floating in space. But you don’t really believe it until you see something like a total solar eclipse, where everything is all lined up and you go whoaaa. Other planets pop out. You got instant nighttime. And you can see Mercury and Venus usually. And sometimes Mars and Jupiter. … It looks like the pictures from the textbook. It’s not entirely a science thing anymore. … It’s mostly a thing where you have a better appreciation of where you are in the solar system.” – Ernie Wright, NASA

Where Can You See the Eclipse in the South?

You can check out all the areas by visiting http://www.eclipse2017.org/2017/maps.htm  For my friends and family living in Georgia, you have a few options for viewing.

As stated above: Atlanta will see a partial eclipse.  “Partial” sounds so blase but even if you can’t take off to witness the total eclipse, you will still be able to see a large portion of it, 97% according to Farmers Almanac.

Atlanta 1:05 p.m. 2:36 p.m. 97.0% 4:01 p.m.

So if you are in your office, you may be wondering why it got dark at 2:36 in the afternoon.  97% partial is very dangerous on the eyes to look at as the moon is not covering the entire sun.  Eclipse glasses are a must in this zone. Start time is 1:05 and end is 4:01.

There is a tiny area in north Georgia (Toccoa, Blairsville and Clayton) that is in the total eclipse path.  (does anyone else start humming Total Eclipse of the Heart when you read that?)  Clayton has the longest totality time (how long the sun is completely covered) because it is almost dead center.  North Carolina, like Georgia has a tiny little portion of the state, but Tennessee and South Carolina has quite a few towns in the path.  Click the images to see up close.

 

If for some reason your boss has you chained to your desk during the small window of the eclipse. Fear not you can stream it live.

Eye Safety

Looking at an eclipse directly will damage your eyes.  Don’t do it.  Purchase glasses. Please read how to safely watch the eclipse here. I picked my glasses up at the Planetarium at the University of South Carolina in Aiken, SC for 2 bucks.

safety_2

Phone Apps

There’s an app for that!

 

Resources:

I urge you to read more.  It is fascinating! For more information please visit:

I hope you find a spot to see this phenomenon.  Lots of cities have events, and the areas are going to be packed.  I will be in the woods somewhere in South Carolina.  I am not telling you where, find your own spot! 😀

Keep the Lust for Wandering Y’all!

Fran

Finding Hope in Hopelands Gardens

This week, in the middle of our work day, our middle daughter, Olivia texted her daddy and me with a message. “I think I had a seizure“. This is not a message either of us wanted to see while at work in Atlanta, Photo Jul 12, 10 52 51 PM2.5 hours away from her. Olivia suffers from epilepsy and is attending culinary college in Augusta, GA. She had made it 13 months without an episode and we all felt a false sense of security, that maybe it wouldn’t happen while she was away. I immediately got into my car and headed her direction.  She is fine, albeit sick to her stomach and beat up.  Her shoulder dislocates during her seizures and even after surgery still causes her pain. It was hurt again. Her tongue was gnawed on during the attack and had huge tears on the sides and tip. She had dark circles under her eyes and was still disoriented when I arrived, but she is alive and safe. She sleeps 90% of the day after the seizure and it takes her a full 48 hours to gain energy enough to do much of anything, it will be a week before she feels remotely herself again. it takes a toll on the mind and spirit as much as the body.

Photo Jul 13, 7 58 14 AM
Snuggling post seizure.  Olivia’s kitty (Bast) is an excellent photo bomber

Her spirit was crushed with the hope that maybe, just maybe a miracle happened and she would never have another. The hope that she would be able to drive soon and live a normal life of a 19 year old student, were dashed. Olivia doesn’t talk much about the pain caused by seizures. She just says, “Epilepsy doesn’t have me, I have epilepsy“. She is not going to allow it to control her life. She doesn’t complain, but when I see her holding her arm close to her body, or hear her talk with a lisp because her tongue is chewed up, I know she is hurting. It’s difficult for her entire family.

EPhoto Jul 13, 10 35 45 AM (1)ven though our hopes were squashed, there is always hope. Without it what would humanity be?  We hope for love, the end of wars, a family, a job, a long life.  We also hope for sunshine, or rain depending on our needs. Our current need was to give Olivia positive vibes: in comes Olivia’s best friend Mikayla. We have known her and her mother since the girls were in 2nd grade, and they are family. Even though the two girls attend different schools and only see each other on breaks they still remain close. When Mikayla heard that Olivia had a seizure she dropped her plans and came to check on her bestie. The day after the seizure, even though Olivia didn’t feel up to much of anything, we thought flowers, sunshine and laughter were in order. As a plus it was Mikayla’s 20th Birthday! I did a quick Google search for what was near us and Hopelands Gardens, Akin, SC came up.

Hopelands Gardens was bequeathed to the town of Aiken by Mrs. Hope Islein and is now a city park. Mrs. Islein spent only winters in Aiken (I mean, Y’all it is hot here) and planted the now 150 year Oaks and Cedars as well as large estate gardens.  We had no idea what to expect when we arrived. We parked and walked over to a welcome sign, pulled out a brochure and became excited. “Welcome to the Labyrinth at Hopeland Gardens” it said.

7558e154-3968-439e-9edb-0eaba3b92a5d_l

“The labyrinth is a metaphor for life’s journey… Follow the path to the center and when you arrive linger and absorb all that the labyrinth and garden has to offer”

Side Note: The labyrinth was modeled after the Amiens Cathedral, France.

2017-07-13 10.51.12-1We set off down the path choosing a direction as we came to forks in the stone walkway. Walking under these trees provided shade as well as beauty, on the scorcher of this summer day. The trees are massive and beautiful with their long ivy covered branches arching out to the sides. The birds and girls chattered softly as we went.

Olivia was definitely on the “struggle bus”. She lacked energy and was stumbling about clumsily, which is very normal after a seizure.

2017-07-13 10.52.13-1

 

 

We came upon three brick reflecting pools guarded by two hound statues where the original house once stood. We lingered here for a bit, to allow her to rest. The pools water was algae green and reflected the tree tops. Tiny fish could be seen swimming within the green depths. A gentle breeze swept in.

A mother and child sat near us playing in the pool water and my two girls sat discussing a duck that Mikayla named “Quackers“.

Photo Jul 13, 10 47 56 AMIt was apparent Olivia’s spirits were being renewed by her friend in the warmth of the sun. Continuing along we hugged a few trees, “climbed” in a big oak, and rested by the small pond where we watched dragonflies, ducks and turtles play in the water. It was quiet and peaceful as we lay there on the green grass by the small stone gazebo. Olivia closed her eyes and rested on the banks of the pond as her friend sat near.

 

We found the labyrinth and the girls made their way to the center.  The sun was high in the sky and shined directly upon them. Olivia lifted her face towards the sun and closed her eyes and said, “absorb the good vibes of the labyrinth and gardens, Mikayla“. Together they stood there motionless, faces towards the sky. The best of friends in unity, soaking up the sunshine, warmth, air, and earth.  I stood on the outside of the labyrinth and allowed them to follow their “life’s journey”.  I smiled.  Our spirits were revived.  There is hope where there is the love of  friends and family.

Photo Jul 13, 2 17 34 PM
“Absorb the good vibes of the labyrinth”

Keep the Lust for Wandering through Life’s Labyrinth Y’all

Fran

See all the photos by clicking here

 

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Thanks to:

https://www.cityofaikensc.gov/parks-playgrounds-natural-areas/hopelands-gardens/

 

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