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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Whirlwind Rabun County Tour!

Whirlwind Rabun County Tour!

Late this past Monday afternoon, I drove up to Clayton, Georgia, and took a tour of Chevin Woodruff's beautiful event facility, Splendor Mountain. It's an ideal place for a small wedding, family reunion, or special retreat.  Here's one of the  many scenic views at Splendor Mountain.

I'm hoping to possibly partner with Chevin for some Christian retreats in beautiful Rabun County. My newest retreat topic, "JOY on the Journey," is designed to help women refresh their minds and bodies through retreat sessions and activities, restore their souls through Bible study, and rediscover the joy of their salvation, while meeting and interacting with other amazing women! Anybody interested in prayer and inspirational retreats, individually, with friends, or for groups, contact me!

A fortuitous phone call to my childhood friend, and neighbor from Fernandina Beach, Florida, Hugh Williams, resulted in a visit from his family while they were on the way to Tennessee. Hugh, his wife, Ann, and daughter Landyn arrived Monday night, for a spur-of-the-moment stay. We "caught up," made some tentative plans for the next day, and enjoyed the hot tub before bedtime!

Tuesday morning, we realized the coffee pot didn't work. No problem for me, since I don't drink coffee; but we piled into the car for a quick trip to Grapes and Beans for Hugh and Ann. Coffee, tea, and muffins fortified everyone!

We picked up the new issue of Georgia Mountain Laurel magazine at Grapes and Beans. It's always my "bible" for where to go and what to do in northeast Georgia and adjacent areas of North Carolina! The new online version makes it so easy to share stories, shopping finds, and restaurants with friends who're coming to the area!

While everyone was at Grapes and Beans, Cook's Computer Services, across Savannah Street, let me use their wi-fi to send some documents! They're very nice!

We went to Warwoman Dell, and climbed the stone steps up to the old railroad bed, then crossed the road to climb up to Becky Branch Falls.

All the climbing and hiking made us hungry, so we headed to Tiger Food Mart for the world's best burgers and sweet tea! (And a BLT for Landyn.)

Since Tiger Food Mart didn't have their famous chocolate cake, our dessert was from my favorite dessert place: Linda's Sweet Treats and Antiques in Tiger. Fresh German Chocolate cake, and white cake with Chocolate icing were finger lickin' good! (When I get Linda's caramel cake, I want to keep eating it till it's gone!)

Next stop: Goats on the Roof! Landyn loved feeding the goats. She earned her "Goat Ranger" sticker by delivering goat food to the goats via pedaling a bike and hand pulling a clothesline-type delivery system. Landyn also cracked open a couple of geodes to discover what kinds of crystals were inside.

Pedaling to deliver goat food.
Mission Accomplished

Overview of part of the Goats' Rooftop Village

Geode Cracking Machine

Next on our tour, was viewing the Tallulah Gorge from the Tallulah Point Overlook, and, of course, doing a little bit of shopping! They have GREAT nature and children's books, toys, souvenirs, and nostalgic signs, furnishings, and foods!

Since Tallulah Point Overlook didn't have any boiled peanuts for Landyn, we went on the Indian Springs Trading Post to get some. There are lots of oddities and antiques here, and it's where I bought my bear bench for outside. We had our pictures taken with their indian and bear cutouts.

We made a quick stop at the Chattahoochee National Forest Tallulah Ranger District Office, north of Tallulah Falls, on 441, so everyone could see a taxidermied black bear, the size of one we'd seen at our house. We also picked up some brochures and area information.

Hillside Orchard is one of my regular stops. We sampled their peach and strawberry ice cream--both of which were delicious--and some of their jellies and salsas. Hugh and Ann stocked up on jellies, jams, pecan apple butter, salsa and honey! (We also bought some peach bread, which I used for French Toast with Praline Pecan Sauce, the following morning. Their breads make AMAZING French Toast!) After we finished shopping, Landyn and Hugh enjoyed feeding more animals at their petting zoo.

After a tour of the area near my house, we headed to another water fall to wade and take photos. I was trying to recreate the Raisen book cover photo below, by sitting on the rock, and letting the water massage my back. However, as you can see, the water flow was so powerful I was unable to even get close to the rock ledge! The further left I got, into the main flow, the more difficult it was to stand. The water was literally holding me away from the rocks! I asked Hugh to hold on to me so the force of the water didn't push me over headfirst, but I was unable to climb on the rock! (By the way, the water was probably about 60 degrees!)
As you can see by comparing this with the photos below,
there was a lot more water flowing when we were there!

I could stand to the right of the main flow, but as soon as I moved left and closer to the rocks,
the water started pushing me over!
Hugh was helping me balance as I was trying to back up to sit on the rock.
The force of the water is literally holding me off the rocks!
We called Mama G's to pick up pizza and Greek salad to take home with us for supper. Always delicious! 
Pizza on the porch!
After supper, we took a walk to a little waterfall near the house, and Landyn found several LARGE bear tracks! We didn't see any bears, though!

After a relaxing time in the hot tub, we looked at the photos from the day, and went to bed, tired and happy!

Next morning, after French toast, a little more local exploration by Hugh and Landyn, and packing up, we went to the Dillard House for their bountiful, family style lunch! Ed was happy! I brought the leftovers home for him! 
Sunrise--I love all the layers of mountains!

Sated, but not stuffed! 
We ran out of "available meals" and didn't get to go to Zeppelin's or the Clayton Cafe, which are two of my favorites. I wanted the Williams to see 
Reeve's Hardware, too, but we'd need a full second day to fit all those in! 
We tried to go to the Tiger Drive-In, but they're not currently open on Monday-Wednesday! Maybe next time!

Click HERE for more photos! 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thankful Thursday!

I'm linking from my friend, Kim's blog, for Thankful Thursday!

I am thankful to be living in the United States of America, where I am free to worship God!

I'm thankful to be involved with Wellspring Living, an organization that provides a safe place for girls victimized by sex trafficking, and others victimized by childhood sexual trauma.

I am thankful that we are getting two new lab puppies (in a week)! Even though I'm not much of an animal person, I know Blake and Ed really miss Tommy (the bird dog we just lost to cancer.) As you can see, these are CUTE puppies! It's going to be like having babies at home again! LOL!

Ed and Champ (with me in the background on left!)

Blake and his puppy. Name to be announced!

I am thankful for my family and friends! I am thankful to be alive and in relatively good health. I think that sums it up!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Journey Back to Simpler Times in My Mountains of Rabun County, Georgia

A Journey Back 
to Simpler Times
in "My Mountains" 
of Rabun County, Georgia

I recently had the opportunity to read an un-proofed, pre-production manuscript, written by Rabun County native, Barbara Woodall. The  upcoming book, which I understand has just undergone final edits, and been sent to press as I write this, is due out in mid to late July, and is called It's Not My Mountain Anymore.

Barbara's stories, and lyrical descriptions, evoked many wonderful memories of my childhood visits, with my maternal grandparents, Sam and Helen Queen, of Mountain City. I called my grandparents "Papa" and "Gan." I was also reminded of time spent with other relatives and friends, in Rabun Gap, Dillard, Clayton, and environs. I decided to share some of my own memories, to whet your appetite for Barbara's reflections. 

Papa and Gan with Daddy and Mama (Herb and Betty (Queen) White)
My grandmother, Helen (Wilson) Queen, far right, with her cousin, Beth Moon, and and unidentified Man, in front of the Old Hotel in Mountain City
(which was in the movie Deliverance, also mentioned in Barbara's book!)
My grandmother used to send me over to the hotel with a pyrex container,
and the proprietress would fill it with thick slices of ham for our supper!

While reading Barbara's book, it was interesting for me to note how many "connections" we have had in common! I guess that's not so rare in the relatively "small county" of 30-50 years ago! I wouldn't be too surprised to find out that we may even be related, somehow! It's interesting how often I'm finding "new" relatives, and "relatives by marriage," as I'm spending more time in Rabun County!
Rainbow, April 2010

Sunrise, June 2010

As far back as I can remember, I wanted to have a home in Rabun County. I grew up at the beach, but have always been a "mountain girl" at heart! For six years now, I've been living my dream--part time! I think Rabun County today is the "best of both worlds!" My Rabun County roots go VERY deep, as you can see from the tombstones below. I love my rich mountain heritage and my cloggin' "hillbilly bones!" (Ahhh, what I wouldn't give to have the Mountain City Playhouse reopen for clogging and other "mountain dancing!") I'm also enjoying, and embracing, many of the changes that have come about over the last 50 plus years. (I love the new restaurants and shops and galleries featuring the works of local artists and artisans.) The changes are not all good, but they're not all bad, either!

Great-Great Grandfather, Samuel Patton Queen's  Original Grave Marker
at Blue Heights Baptist Church, Mountain City, GA

Great-Great Grandfather, Samuel Patton Queen's Confederate Grave Marker

Barbara's colleague, and dear friend who is mentioned throughout It's Not My Mountain Anymore, Laurie Brunson Altieri, worked on the Foxfire project, while in high school, with my college friend, Frank Hill. Laurie and I met over 35 years ago, and recently reconnected via facebook. I surprised Laurie with this photo of her with Frank. 
Frank Wells Hill with Laurie Dale Brunson Altieri

My earliest "Mountain Memory" is of visiting my great-grandmother, "Gran Queen," Ida Rosette Minnie Elizabeth Earwood Queen, in Mountain City. (I love saying her "whole name!") I don't remember my great-grandfather. I was just a little over a year old when he died. "Gran Queen's" home was always bustling with activity! She had ten children who lived to grow up, and lots of grandchildren. There were always plenty of family and friends around when we were there!
My Great-Grandfather's and Great-Grandmother's Graves
Tyra Queen was a former mayor of Passover, now known as Mountain City

My grandparents (Gan and Papa) didn't have a bathroom until about 1965, and Gan wouldn't let me go to the "outhouse" by myself. She was afraid I'd fall in. (I was probably 7 or 8.) I never "fell in" the toilet at home, and was indignant that my parents wouldn't tell my grandmother it was ok for me to use the bathroom without Gan standing there watching with the door open! At night, we had to pee in a "slop jar!" It was dark outside, and you had to walk "a right good piece" to get to the outhouse, so I don't remember anyone going to the outhouse during the night. 

Since there was no bathtub, we had to go to my great-aunt Reecie Cathey's house to bathe--Her husband George spoke with some kind of "device." He'd had throat cancer, I think, and had a "hole in his neck," (tracheostomy) through which he breathed and still smoked cigarettes! He'd put a "microphone thing" up to his neck to talk, and it gave him a funny electronic voice, which was a little scary to me at the time. 

My grandparents, and Aunt Reecie and Uncle George used to go "rock hunting." Papa and Aunt Reecie were "rockhounds." Papa found a really big ruby in Franklin, and had it cut and polished. He made my grandmother a necklace out of what was left. Uncle George burned a hole in my grandfather's car seat, during one of their rock hunting adventures, which remained a very sore subject with my grandfather, until Papa got rid of that car! My grandmother stuffed the car seat's hole full of Kleenex!

Uncle George and Aunt Reecie lived on 441, across from the turn off to Black Rock State Park--their house is still there. The old hotel (shown above) used to be right across from them. Aunt Reecie was my "hero!" She had red hair till she died, and she drank CoCola's, and ate cookies, for breakfast, dinner, and supper! (By the way, Karan Cathey, the caterer who owned Karan's Restaurant was also a great-niece on Uncle George's side. She and I established that a couple of years ago!) 

We spent Sundays at Blue Heights Baptist Church in Mountain City, and the singing doesn't get much better than that! Store owner, Mr. Jimmy Law, did some fine Sunday School teaching there over the years! The stained glass windows, adorned with the familiar names of family and friends, make me feel at home.
Gan's and Papa's "Back" Neighbor, Mr. Hoyt Dixon, whose wife is Mary.

Chevin Woodruff, mentions Madison McCrackin's work in Barbara's book. Madison's done grading work for me, too. Ed and I enjoy our theological discussions with him. I've heard Madison preach at Battle Branch Baptist, on Warwoman Road, a couple of times recently, and I can't wait to go back. 

And, speaking of Warwoman Road: a childhood trip to the mountains wasn't complete without my yearly pilgrimage to Warwoman Dell. We'd wade in the icy cold stream till we couldn't feel our feet, then we'd get out for a picnic and buckeye hunting! Another favorite memory is horseback riding in the apple orchards in Mountain City, with my cousin, Danny Farmer, who lived next door to my grandparents.
Horseback riding at the Dillard House, 1975
Papa always planted a big garden behind his house. He grew the best potatoes, fordhook limas, butternut squash, corn, tomatoes, and raspberries that I've ever put in my mouth! There's nothing as good as tomato sandwiches, with ripe tomatoes fresh from the garden, or fresh raspberry cobbler with ice cream--except maybe Gan's biscuits and her Butternut Squash pie!

Not sure what's in Papa's basket, but I think I see a mess of string beans!
Another view of Papa's Garden. 
 Barbara mentioned Mr. Grover Bradley in her book. Papa loved to buy his
cornmeal for my grandmother to use for corn muffins. Gan didn't put eggs in her corn bread, like my other grandmother did! (Gan called that "egg bread, not cornbread!")

I'm holding some freshly ground white cornmeal. Grover Bradley is between Papa and Me!
Papa used to take me hiking, and climbing, on Scrugg's Mountain (or Scrugg's Hill), which was owned by my grandmother's best friend, Sally Mae Scrugg's family, in Rabun Gap.  Papa taught me to identify medicinal plants like sassafras. From the top of the mountain, papa showed me a peaceful valley, which was mostly untouched by civilization. That was my favorite place in the world for over thirty years, till we got our own "Mountain Fortress."  There were also old graves, and an old "Indian burial cave" on the land, that Papa said had been "diney-mited" because "people who didn't have any business, kept a goin' in there!"

Papa and me on top of Scrugg's Mountain. 
Old grave marker that has since been vandalized on Scrugg's mountain.
In my mountain home, I have furniture, crafts, quilts, and toys handmade by Kenny and Clyde Runion, and other local residents of Foxfire fame. Rabun native, Tim Lovell, built us some beautiful furniture, and did an amazing job with our renovations. According to my husband, Tim "replaced everything but the septic tank!"

Fish Bed, designed by Tim Lovell

Rockers built by Foxfire's Clyde Runion, Buffet Table by Tim Lovell 
Thanks for joining me on my tour down "Memory Lane," in my piece of "heaven on earth," Rabun County, Georgia! I invite you to follow my blog, and continue to literally, and figuratively, dance along with me, and share in the "JOY on the Journey!"

Barbara is taking orders for pre-sales of her book on the website that is linked to her book title here and above. It's Not My Mountain Anymore left me wanting to hear more details and more stories. I told her she should have included some recipes. Y'all tell her that, too, and maybe she'll do her sequel as a cookbook!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Rabun County, GA--Lake Burton Tornado Damage

I took these photos last week at lake Rabun. Over a month after the tornado, a lot of clean up has been accomplished, and damage cleared. Even so, evidence of the scope and ferocity of the storm was awesome to behold. It is hard to imagine the powerful force that can twist and snap huge trees as if they are match sticks, and move entire buildings hundreds of feet! The good news is that most of the homes weren't primary residences, and not many people were at the lake. One man lost his life as a result of the tornado. Rabun County was relatively fortunate.
I saw hundreds, probably even thousands, of twisted and broken trees. 

The one mattress I saw with a sheet on it!

I can't imagine losing everything. It was very poignant seeing tangible evidence of "everyday life," in the shallow waters of the lake, stuck up in trees, and strewn on the ground. This is a little random, but one thing struck me as very mysterious. There seemed to be mattresses all over the place, but no box springs! Only one of the mattresses had a sheet on it! You'd think more of the fitted sheets would have stayed on, wouldn't you? I also wondered, exactly where everyone's "stuff" went! You hear about some things, like paperwork, being found miles away. It still seems like A LOT of "stuff" just DISAPPEARED! Clothing, towels, dishes, food, furniture, toys, electronics...the "stuff" was there, in all the houses, then the houses and "stuff" were just GONE!  My prayers are with all those who lost friends, family, and possessions during the spring tornadoes. God Bless You All.

Click here for Gallery of Tornado Damage Photos.