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Saturday, October 15, 2011

More Rabun Ramblings!

More Rabun Ramblings!*

A group of 36 adults from First Baptist Peachtree City had a fabulous 3 day fall retreat at McAfee Mountain (located at Andy's Trout Farm), near Dillard, Georgia. Sonya, Paula, and Diane tailored our event to meet our needs, and made sure we all felt like "family!"
Visiting in front of the fireplace in the Lobby area
We left Peachtree City Sunday after lunch at church and arrived at McAfee Mountain about 4 p.m. After quickly shedding our possessions in our rooms, a decent contingent of folks undertook the task of fishing for our supper! The Andy's Trout Farm staff cleaned our catch, and an hour later, we were enjoying freshly fried Georgia mountain trout, with coleslaw and hushpuppies!
Fishing at Andy's Trout Farm's beautiful mountain setting!
After supper, our speaking tag-team was Laurie Altieri and Barbara Woodall, long-time friends, who worked together on the world-renowned Foxfire books. Foxfire revolutionized learning by sharing the methods honed through publishing a student initiated magazine

Laurie and Barbara were among the first Foxfire students. They worked for Foxfire briefly after high school, and now Laurie is back working with Foxfire at their museum. 

Laurie passionately shared background on the Foxfire program, and how the Foxfire class impacted both Barbara and herself. Laurie shared lots of information and fun facts about the Foxfire Museum & Heritage Center, where Foxfire students used book royalty funds to purchase property, then moved and restored over 20 historic buildings, representative of Appalachian life in the late 1700's through the 1800's. This session was designed to give everyone background information for our Foxfire Museum tour on Tuesday. 

Barbara spoke with enthusiasm about growing up in Rabun County, her relationships, and the simple pleasures she enjoyed. Barbara has recently published the regional bestseller It's Not My Mountain Anymore, which she signed and personalized for purchasers.

Barbara's talk was seasoned with colorful colloquialisms. She kept telling us, "I ain't no preacher," but her strong faith and her interpretations of Scripture, left no doubt that she is a FINE preacher! Watch the video, and decide for yourself! 

Barbara Woodall, author of It's Not My Mountain Anymore

We did an evening devotion about the Jewish concept of Kehillah Kedoshah--a sacred, intimate community of faith. We purposed to get to know each other better during this trip, and take the concept home with us. Everyone took a treasure from the pirate treasure chest as a reminder of the many "treasures," including relationships, with which we are already blessed, and the need to continue to store up "treasures in heaven."

After Monday morning's continental breakfast at McAfee Mountain, about half our group joined me in stretching and exercising to praise music. Our morning devotion time explored the JOY of the Lord, and everyone took another treasure from the treasure chest as they left.

Part of the group departed for the shops of Dillard, the rest enjoyed a leisurely morning. We all met up for a veritable Southern feast, served family style, at the Dillard House for lunch. 
One of four tables at the Dillard House
We all received Dillard House buttons and discount coupons.
(The "gold coins" necklace was part of the treasure from our weekend's "PirateTheme.") 
Because I saw an ad in last month's Georgia Mountain Laurel for The Whistle Stop Mall in Franklin, after lunch, part of our group went shopping there! The rest of the group enjoyed relaxing at McAfee mountain, and hiking to a waterfall. 
The Rock House Waterfall, where Cherokee Indians hid out during the Trail of Tears.
After a "souper" supper at McAfee Mountain, we  enjoyed learning some of the basics of square dancing from veteran caller, Jerry Cope. 
Circling Left
After square dancing, we did sparklers, roasted marshmallows, and made s'mores, then fell into bed, happily exhausted! 
Tuesday morning we had breakfast, did early morning exercise and stretching, then had our morning devotion about personal renewal. We took our last "daily treasure" from the pirates' chest, then packed up to leave. Several of us would have loved to stay on at McAfee Mountain! 

We struck out, during a steady drizzle, for O'sage Market for produce, then on to the Foxfire Museum. We were able to enjoy picnicking on Subway, and delicious desserts from Linda's Sweet Treats and Antiques, while seeking shelter from the rain under the porches of some of the Foxfire buildings. (Linda's Caramel Cake is my favorite, along with her chocolate peanut butter no bake cookies--just like Mama used to make!) 

This porch offered shelter for our picnic!

Roy Kilgore tries out the coffin in the church. 
After a stop for apples, jellies, and jams at Hillside Orchard, and a brief looking and shopping stop at the Tallulah Point Overlook, the group headed South toward home. I was able to stay and enjoy one more day of fall color in the mountains of Rabun County!

Hillside Orchard's fruit breads make THE WORLD'S BEST French Toast!

Click Here for an Album with More Photos.

*First Baptist's Pre-school Pastor, Charleen Smith's help was invaluable, as was Roy Kilgore's, and bus driver Bracken Stubbs! Thanks, y'all! 

Charleen's Photo Album

*Special thanks to Teka, from the Rabun County Convention and Visitor's Bureau, for all your help planning our trip, and for the "goody bags." (FYI--In addition to all the aforementioned places, we bought gasoline, visited drug and grocery stores, and shopped at assorted other businesses. Rabun County is a GREAT place to visit and live, and, personally, Rabun County is my favorite place in the world!) 

Please "Like" my Dancing on the Journey facebook page! Thanks!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Growing Up In A Magical Place: Fernandina Beach

Growing Up In A Magical Place:
Fernandina Beach 

ONCE UPON A TIME, longer ago than I like to admit, (actually, over sixty years ago), and not so very far away, there existed a magical place in which to live and grow up, called Fernandina Beach. Fernandina to the locals.

Fernandina is on Amelia Island, which is Florida's northernmost, east coast barrier island. The sun rises over the Atlantic Ocean and sets over the St. Mary's River. You can look across the river, from the docks downtown, and see GEORGIA! (This was amazing to me as a child, since Georgia was a different state and seemed far away!)
View looking down Centre Street in Fernandina
Photo by
Sixty plus years ago, Fernandina was a sleepy, small town. Doctors made house calls. Dry cleaning was delivered to your home. The Fuller Brush Man visited regularly with free samples. Doors were left unlocked. 

With drug stores, barber shops, clothing stores, a shoe store, office supplies, bakeries, hardware stores, a movie theater, jewelers, a bowling alley, grocery stores, gas stations, and a hospital, we had pretty much everything we needed without ever having to leave the island! 

Lots of children knew each other almost from birth, since many of our parents also grew up together. Some families had lots of relatives in the area. New girls and boys moved to town. Over time they became "old friends," as well, through interactions in our neighborhoods, churches, scout troops, clubs, sports, and schools. 

As children, we could ramble and explore for hours, because our parents knew everyone we were with, and their parents. My mother knew exactly where I'd been before I even got home to tell her!

We played in the park across from the junior high. We played tennis on the public courts. We walked or rode our bikes to buy penny candy from E-Z Pic, GW's, and Hall's Store. We rode our bikes to swimming lessons and "public swims" at the pool at the Recreation Center. When we got tired of swimming, we put peanuts in a bottle of Coke for a snack. We also had ceramics classes and "Sub-Teen" Club at the Rec Center.

We spent Saturdays, and lazy summer days, walking downtown for comic books and 5¢ Cokes, or 6¢ Cherry or Vanilla Cokes, from Gene's, or 10¢ ice cream cones from Waas' Drug Store. (Ice Cream cones were free from Waas' if you had a prescription for an ice cream cone from Dr. Stewart, our dentist, for having a good dental check up.)

We went to Becker's after school for Cokes with half-orders of french fries, or, when they had a promotion, we popped a balloon to try to get a banana split for a penny! (Prices ranged from 1-39 cents.)

We played outside till after dark, and our two favorite outdoor events were: (1) the Ice Cream Man and (2) the Mosquito Control truck's spraying, so we could get lost in the fog.

Fernandina Beach
Photo by
We walked to the beach with friends, where we jumped waves, rode rented rafts, balanced on skim boards, and surfed on longboards. When we were thoroughly parched, we sought hydration from public water fountains, where the water was HOT, or at the Golden Sands, Moore's, or the Blue Seas which had a walk-up service window on the beach!

We gathered sand dollars, conchs, whelks, angel wings, fingernails, and other shells by the hundreds. We ran through the head high foam on the beach. We tumbled head over heels, not knowing up from down when rogue waves surprised us, knocked us down, and washed us to shore. We got up sputtering and coughing and ran right back into the ocean!

We harvested sea oats for dried flower arrangements. We trudged up and raced down the multiple layers of sand dunes that lined North and South Fletcher, and the Fort Clinch Road, before Hurricanes Donna and Dora took most of them out.

We played Putt-Putt, jumped on the trampolines, ate snow cones, went skating, and played pinball at Main Beach. When we got our driver's licenses, we endlessly circled town and the beach.

Starting in junior high, we had beach parties with bonfires. (Of course, that was before there were turtle patrols, condos, The Amelia Island Plantation, The Ritz Carlton, the park at Peter's Point, or the multiple public beach accesses.)

The PTA had Halloween Carnivals under the bleachers at the city football field and there were Friday night high school football games at the same location. On the 4th of July, the Kiwanis Club hosted their annual fireworks and charity auction at the football field. (My Daddy served as auctioneer!)

After the Quonset hut movie theater by the water tower downtown closed, our only movie options were the Reef drive-in theater at Five Points or occasional movies at church youth group events. We also had hayrides, Shrine parades, and Shrimp Boat races for additional entertainment.

When our Girl Scout troop camped at Fort Clinch, we chopped trees for firewood, with hatchets, and used our Girl Scout knives to cut palmetto fronds for roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. No tree-hugging rules to worry about back then! We had great and scary adventures searching for alligators at Willow Pond.

"Gator Shining" on Egan's Creek--i.e. searching for the red reflection of alligators' eyes as we shined flashlights back and forth across the creek--was always a "must do" with out of town friends. I remember shrieks of fear and laughter as we fed the gators marshmallows from the dock, or from a boat when we were able to sidle up alongside them! Fiddlers scurrying around our feet and a myriad of waterbirds swooping out from under the boathouse unexpectedly kept our adrenaline pumping!

We went "sand surfing" and "dune buggy" riding on the huge dunes at the Fort. We could still get down into the entrance of a tunnel, and into the ovens, when we played "hide and seek" and "Sardines" at Fort Clinch! We also played Sardines at First Baptist Church, and enjoyed breathtaking views of town and the river from the third story roof!

We grew up doing a lot of things that are no longer considered safe, politically or socially correct, or environmentally sound. All those things were a LOT of fun, though! Fernandina was truly magical in "the olden days." It still is magical; just different now.

For the last 17 years**, a core group of nine "girls" have gotten together at a rented beach house to enjoy the beach and reminisce about "the good old days." Other friends join us periodically at the beach and about town.

In addition to this being our tenth year at the beach, it was also our 40th Fernandina Beach High School Class Reunion weekend, and I wanted to memorialize our beach weekend with some professional photos.

My new friend, Libby Wilkes, of Elizabeth Wilkes Photography, came out to the beach to capture some memories for us. The photo below is my favorite. I was already a fan of Libby's work, after receiving one of her photo books as a gift, and seeing her studio's beautiful video of the island.

Beach Chicks--Ten Years at the Beach & 40th High School Reunion
Photo by
If you have even one good, "old friend," you are rich, indeed! My Fernandina friends and I are fortunate to have so many long-term friendships. We're finding, as time goes on, it takes a group effort to remember the details of our joint history! It takes a long time to grow "old friends!" I am blessed!

Love to all my friends, OLD and NEW! (As we used to sing in Girl Scouts:
"Make new friends, but keep the old; One is silver and the other gold!)

**UPDATED 2018: 2014 was our 13th "Beach Chicks Reunion." Sadly, we lost "Little Lucy" Mierzejewski, far right in the photo, in 2014. A number of us still gather for our annual Beach Chick's weekend every year!