"The be-all and end-all of life should not be to get rich, but to enrich the world."
– Bertie Charles Forbes
I like this quote because this describes what we tried to do with the grandkids these past two weeks. Both Jeremiah and Darius (and Darius' sister, Diamond) are young teens and very curious about how the world works - - although they all think they have it figured out already. Each of them have a completely different approach to life and will go in completely different directions when they become adults. Our jobs, as their adult influences, is to help them see that the world is full of opportunity and challenge. We are to help them expand their horizons so that they see their future as something other than what is contained in their backyard and to let them know they have what it takes to reach those horizons. I am not saying that their backyards are bad places by any means. What I mean is that if they are to stay in their backyard, they do so because they have consciously chosen to do so and not because they didn't know there were other opportunities for them. Know what I mean?
Anyway, we finished our visit with Darius and Diamond by doing a little hiking down Stone Mountain and playing Mexican Train. That is such a fun game that a whole family can play so we highly recommend getting one and engaging your kids with a little family night activity. The last bit of excitement for D & D before they left was tackling a zipline tour. We took the kids to North Georgia Canopy Tours which allowed them to experience 9 different ziplines. Steve and I didn't get to see much of their experience since we didn't tag along, but what we did see was a total blast. Here's a video of them racing to the finish. Both D&D seemed to really enjoy that experience and talked about it all the way home. I am not sure I could have done it given my fear of heights and the difficulty I had with the Sky Hike earlier in the week. Steve would have been great with the kids, but he and I stayed behind to do some geocaching near the end of the zipline tour, which was fun.
D&D went home on Wednesday afternoon and Steve and I came back from the airport and took a nap! It is unbelievable how two teenagers can physically drain you. Nonetheless, we are very grateful that we had our grandchildren, and our children, for the past two weeks and consider every minute with them a blessing. We will hopefully see them again when we are near Washington, D.C. later in the summer. As with the quote above, we believe that taking the grandkids to D.C. will enrich their lives both in an appreciation for the country that they live in as well as some of the history that they will learn about as we tour the Smithsonian Museums.
At present, Steve and I are in Mountain City, Georgia - - the very northern part of Georgia just before you get into North Carolina. I must say, this was not a planned stop on our journey and boy am I glad we stopped here. This place is absolutely gorgeous. We are in the middle of the beginning of the Blue Ridge mountains and as a result, we are surrounded by absolute beauty. Mountain City/Clayton is about 90 miles north of Atlanta but seems a world away from the hustle and bustle and the stifling traffic jams of the city. Here, life is definitely slow and the great outdoors is all anyone cares about. There is just so much to do here. There are several great state parks within spitting distance. We drove to the top of Black Rock Mountain in Black Rock State Park. The views from their were quite breathtaking and as we looked west from the top of the mountain, we imagined Terry, Jill and Rooney traversing the moutaintops we could see. From this vantage point, the Appalachian Trail looks like an insurmountable task, but based on Jill's (or who we affectionately refer to as "Poopy") blog, their first week was a good one and they covered 79 miles so far. (Her and Terry's website addresses are located in the blog post from the previous week).
Our next stop here in Mountain City was to visit a little museum called Foxfire. This was a total surprise. We expected to visit an old mountain farming village, but little did we know that this entire museum, as well as the 12 books in the Foxfire series, were put together by local high school kids back in 1969. The museum village is quite impressive. They have gathered an interesting collection of old mountain homes, chapels, barns, etc. and put together an interesting and educational exhibit that helps explain life in the mountains. These same kids, along with their English teacher, wrote a series of books based on their mountain heritage. I have bought the first book of the series and look forward to enjoying the folk lore contained therein. We even have a new contest based on something we learned at this museum while in the wagon makers barn. The first person to correctly guess what this item is will receive a bar of handmade Lemongrass soap and a handmade ceramic soap dish. These two gifts are made by a woman named Jenny and her young son, "Muddy Moses", so named because he always liked to play in the dirt and was apparently filthy all the time. Please post your answers in the blog comments.
One of the best things that Steve and I did was visit Tallulah Gorge State Park. Here in the park is found one of the most beautiful gorges in the United States, and the deepest east of the Mississippi. This gorge is not only beautiful with the Tallulah River running at the bottom through huge boulders and pine trees, but it is also famous for having been crossed by high wire walker Frank Wallenda in July of 1970. Steve and I hiked a few good trails in this park, not the least of which was one that took us 620 steps down to the suspension bridge that crosses from the north rim to the south. We couldn't go the additional 400 steps to the bottom of the gorge because during this weekend, a very special event takes place. On four weekends a year - - two in April and two in October - - the Georgia Power and Light Company, who owns the dam at the mouth of the Tallulah River, opens the dam to take the water flow from 30-50 cubic feet per second to 700 cubic feet per second into the river. The result is an absolutely astounding 2 mile course of rapids for the local (and not so local) kayakers. Steve and I stood and watched these kayakers for quite some time conquer the three waterfalls that we could see: Hurricane, Oceana and Bridal Veil Falls. It was so cool to watch these men and women take on the challenge of this torrent of water. Check out the video that Steve has posted to get a feel for what we saw that day. We especially enjoyed watching this kayaker take on Hurricane Falls. He contemplated his strategy for about 10 minutes before mustering up enough courage to go down. You can't tell by the video but he made it just fine...trust me.
Since we had no idea what the river looked like without the intense water flow from the dam, we came back to the park the next morning to see the river as it transformed from simple stream flowing over rocks, to the torrent of water flowing from the dam. Georgia Power closed the dam at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon and then reopened it at 8:00 a.m. Sunday morning so that is how we could see the "before and after" transformation of the river. As we stood there waiting for the flood to come, we marveled at the beauty of the sunrise in the mountains and watched the birds soaring BELOW the vantage point that we had. Steve even captured two turkey buzzards mating, but we aren't going to share those pictures in an attempt to keep this website at a "G" rating. ; ) Anyway, while we were waiting for the water to flow downriver, we could hear the roar of the rush coming toward us. That was really cool to hear. We couldn't see the water yet, but we knew for sure it was coming. It was really cool to watch the gentle, comforting and meandering river turn into a tempest. I wish I had the guts to attempt the kayak challenge as I am sure it would be a life-altering (or ending) experience. We shot a video of the water flow increasing. It's 6 minutes long but stay till the end and you'll be rewarded with a look down the beautiful Talluah Gorge just after sunrise.
Ok, that's it for this week. Steve and I are headed to Marion, North Carolina for a rally with one of the camping clubs that we belong to: Escapees. We are also getting some of the little gremlins of our trailer home repaired while we are there (since the campground is next door to an authorized Redwood service provider). While in Marion we will be visiting the Biltmore Estate in Asheville and taking in some other sites in the area. We may even catch up with Terry, Poopy and Rooney, which would be a nice surprise.
Take care all!