Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Scouting the Gorge

It is amazing how just a couple of days of perfect weather can wash away weeks of rain soaked frustration. Wrapping up an extremely soggy August, we are now in a cycle of dry and unseasonably cool weather. Guess what? Time for another road trip. So, we wound up Hemi-Lou and our canines made for the Blue Ridge Mountains of North East Georgia. Destination: Tallulah Gorge State Park.

The drive was surprisingly easy. Interstate 985 transitions into Georgia Hwy 365 and takes you almost to the doorstep of the state park. I always like to see non-stressful approaches to places of wonder. I am more likely to return with the travel trailer when the terrain is accommodating. From our current base in Cumming, GA, the distance was 77 miles or 1 hour, 28 minutes of travel.

Tallulah Gorge State Park is the home of a series of 4 cascading falls that make up Tallulah Falls. The gorge has been given the nickname of the “Niagara Falls” of the south. It is also listed as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Georgia.

More pics here.

Attempting to describe such a place definitely demonstrates the limitation of adjectives in the English language. I can use words such as majestic, breathtaking, splendorous and awe-inspiring, but they really do not convey what we experienced with our eyes. 

Unlike the major tourist draws like the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone, this site only gets a few thousand visitors a year. Permits are required to hike the floor of the gorge. We were able to hike around the north and south rim of the gorge, but pets are not allowed on the floor of the gorge, nor are they allowed to venture down to the suspension bridge.

So, we count this trip as a scouting trip. The short term goal will be to target a long weekend in September to take our time hiking and shooting photos, engorging ourselves in the gorge, if you will. 

Kat is starting to get requests for some of her prints from prior locations, and I am sure that demand is going to increase after she finalizes the edition on the images she captured on this trip. In the future, I will add some links to purchase some of her artwork in various formats.

We can't wait to go back and do some real exploring.

Until next time - 

Happy Trails,


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Not Always Fun and Games

Just a short note as I do not want to dwell on it.  But it does help keep our lives and travels in perspective.  The North Georgia August has continued to break records for rainfall.  We have tried our best to enjoy the outdoors even in rainy weather, but lightning and flooding are more than plastic panchos can cover.  So, we have been spending more time indoors in our camper than we would like.

The poor dogs have had to endure short and wet walks, mostly just to relieve themselves.  The timing has been uncanny, every afternoon as I am coming home from work, the rain starts and has spoiled most afternoons and evenings.  Kat and I have been frustrated, mainly because we desire to stay active both struggle with our weight and we begin losing the battle if we have periods of inactivity.  Plus, who wants to stay cooped up in a 29 foot home.

So we did take some action to increase our living space.  We setup an 11 x 11 covered screen room so we can enjoy the outdoors sans 6 legged flying critters.  But, even that has been challenged by sideways rain.  But we have been able to use the room a few times now.  It makes such a difference eating and relaxing outdoors

We have also been more able to utilize our outdoor kitchen.  (A camp stove and oven).

The 2nd thing we did was to purchase a 22 inch TV and install it under the counter.  We had been getting by without a television since we were spending most of our free time outdoors.  The constant rain did cause us to adjust our priorities a bit.

We did not do anything elaborate like get cable.  We are using our Roku for most of our entertainment and the antenna for local coverage.

So, we did add spend a little money to upgrade our living space this week.

The next item was not such a success.  Last Sunday evening (a rare dry evening) I was walking the 2 bigger dogs by the lake.  It was a nice, enjoyable walk.  The dogs were able to play and wrestle.  So, with them secured on their leashes, we starting walking back towards our camper.  As I neared the road that leads up the hill to our camper, I noticed that the neighbor's toy poodle had got free from its owner and was running straight toward my dogs, barking and growling.  I tried to move away from the small dog, but it veered right into and attacked my (much bigger) dogs.  Obviously, this is not an example of how smart poodles are supposed to be.  Now, Zorro, really hates to be in fights, so he actually slid out of his collar and put some distance between himself and the situation.  But Nova, who notoriously has small dog aggression, did not back down.  She ferociously defended herself.  The poodles owner finally arrived and helped me to free the poodle from Nova.  It was quite horrific.  I expected severe damage to that poodle.  Fortunately, no vital places were punctured on the dog.  It had blood on 3 legs and will make a full recovery.  One more minute may have been a different result.

I know the poodle was traumatized, but it will do the same stupid thing next time.  I was traumatized too and even Nova seemed pretty shaken up from the whole matter.  So, I have decided to just pick Nova up in future instances like this.  We were very lucky that it was not worse.  Then a few days later, I got a chance to test this method.  Again, the rain was a factor.  A storm had come through right as most people were coming home from work.  So, everyone had to wait until the lightning and rain subsided to walk their dogs.  As we were walking our dogs, I noticed about 10 other dogs being walked, not usually a big deal, but ... the rain had caused all of the dogs to feel a bit anxious, it seemed.  To make things worse, a little girl (about 7) was trying to walk here medium size dog.  It was too much for her.  The dog pulled her off her feet.  She let go and the dog was headed right for us.  (Deja vu).  Just then a chihuahua got off leash and headed toward the loose dog which was headed for us.  A perfect storm of events.  I did manage to pick up Nova.  Kat took Zorro and we headed up the hill without incident.

 We managed to get through the week and it appears that this weekend will be drier.  Things are looking up, already.  This was not as much fun to talk about and post, but I do not want to give the impression that nothing bad ever happens to us.  We just push through and try to not let it impact our overall outlook.

Until next time - Kit.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Yes Virginia, the Grass is Greener …

More than a month has passed since we cut the tether from our stick house. We have been staying at a very scenic RV park by the lake. We are hanging around the edge of metro Atlanta while my current job continues. Our next big step will be to exit my full time job for other possibilities. Oh yeah, that is a big step for me. I am very comfortable where I currently work. I have been there 7 years and I have plenty of work for the foreseeable future. But, we want to travel across the United States, so I need to find a way to replace that income, at least a fair portion of it.

Now, that anxiety will always be there. But, I have to examine how far we have come in just a few months. We were able to save enough money to buy our RV. We sold all of the things that were holding us back. We transitioned out of our stick house and now we can just step out our front door and be in nature. That is quite a change in a short period.

I realized the other day, as I was talking to a co-worker, how different we are than most people. I mentioned that I went fishing the afternoon before and she stopped me. “Hey wait! Did you say that you went fishing on a Tuesday?” Staying a couple hundred feet from a scenic late does give you that advantage. I then remembered that most people (and formerly us) have to wait until the weekend to enjoy recreational activities. 

 The work week is bondage for most. Even most of your weekend is taken up with activities that you were too busy to do while you were working, further cutting into your recreation. No wonder so many people are burnt out. This year has been especially tough on people in Georgia. It has rained most weekends this summer. The weekend plans have been quashed for many. Fishing on Tuesday is a huge mental advantage.

A good place to fish on Tuesday or any day

The lifestyle change and decisions we have made are worth it. For the first time in our lives, we are on the side where the grass is greener. When I get home from work, it is like a mini-weekend, every day. Of course, it would not be as enjoyable without Kat here to partake in it all with me. She handles the little things during the day (laundry, housekeeping, etc.) that make it possible to jump right into enjoyment when I am home. I cannot emphasize enough how important her contributions are.

Free time is more valuable than I could have imagined. In the last month, I have been able to spend quality time with our dogs and work on their training. Zorro no longer requires a leash. We still keep it on him in public places, but it is good to know that if I drop the leash, he will stay close by.  Now, I want to start teaching him to catch a frisbee. Nova nearly has her small dog aggression under control. I have also taken some time to learn some Spanish.

Worth the extra free time

I am sure that this lifestyle is not for everyone. I wish we had embarked on this journey years ago. But we were not in the mindset to even consider such a thing. But now we feel more free than we ever have in our 27 years together.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Exploring the area

We had a lot of fun exploring this last week. Monday morning I went down to a sunflower farm that is just down the road. I had fun snapping so many photos of my favorite flower.

 It was a real thrill to try and capture their beauty. I spent probably a good hour just walking around trying to find the best perspective.

 Of course I had to purchase some to take home with me as well and after walking the dogs the next morning I noticed how the sun was shining through the trees on them and took a few more photos. 

Then this weekend Kit and I decided to check out another one of my loves, covered bridges. There is a Poole's Mill covered bridge not even ten miles from where we are staying. This bridge is a very old bridge and not in the best condition. The land once belonged to a Cherokee Chief. 
The area is gorgeous and we really enjoyed ourselves. I of course had to get a few pictures of the bridge. It is an old rickety bridge. The graffiti on this bridge is just sad and there are a lot of recent defacing of the bridge. 

A lot of people were having fun sliding down the rocks in the water. We plan on going back and doing the same. It looked like a lot of fun. Hopefully Kit will share some of his photos, he got some good ones.

Yesterday we took the bigger dogs back to Amicalola Falls. My little dachshund Ninja is slowing down a bit and we felt it would be best to leave him home. I have even noticed a little graying on his little ears in the past few weeks. We really enjoyed our walk up the falls and we both took a lot of photos. 

It is such a peaceful and beautiful area.  We plan on going back up to the Appalachian trails and even staying over night some time. It was interesting to see the dogs reaction to the falls. Nova was in awe and I was fortunate enough to catch her wonder. 
The pups made it up 174 steps and metal steps at that. They were not real thrilled with the stairs, but they did well. Instead of making the pups go back down the stairs, we decided to take a path through the woods to make our descent.  
Kit and I both love the great outdoors and are finally where we want to be in life. I have so many photos from our adventures already. I think that we get so caught up in life that we actually let life slip away. Remember to make time for your self and step away from all that is holding you back and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us. 

Until next time keep smiling,