Thursday, November 5, 2009

Oct. 30, 2009

Sometimes there is a reason it takes forever to drive 65 miles. Today I left Atlanta, Georgia with all good intention of making Jacksonville, Florida. I have been told Jacksonville is a fun, energized city. Far enough north, hurricanes are not a real concern, and offers four seasons with mild winters, Jacksonville, if I can ever get there, seems to be close to what I might enjoy.  With its colleges, lots of water, growing population, affordable, mild weather, and friendly people just might be a good possibility. But I didn’t make it today.

Getting on Georgia 400 heading south, it took me close to 4 hours to drive 65 miles. No kidding, 4 hours! Coming out of Atlanta in the midst of a dark dense fog, with drizzly damp muggy rain the traffic was moving at a snail’s pace at 10 – 15 miles an hour! This was worse than driving Route 128 around Boston during rush hour in a snow storm. This reminded me of when I got stuck on the George Washington Bridge at 3 o’clock in the afternoon on a Friday in the rain and I had to go to the bathroom! Talk about bladder control.

But as they say, and I don’t know who they is, but “as they say, there is a reason for everything.” Finally making Macon, usually an hour and a half trip, I pull into a Days Inn and register for the night. Now I won’t say that the receptionist was overly warm or the brightest light bulb in the box, but to her credit, she did steer me in the right direction for Applebee’s.

Arriving at the Applebee’s, I am greeted by the waitress from heaven, Cayla. Cayla reads my mind and brings me a glass of wine served with the brightest smile and a story to tell. When we start to chat, she asks me where I am from and I tell her about my fund raiser, seems her great uncle is suffering from Alzheimer’s, and you could tell from the look in her eyes, it breaks her heart.

I must introduce you to this delightful person. Cayla is a sophomore at Mercer University majoring in math and international studies. Hoping to graduated early, her attention is to go to med school, then focus on medical research for diseases affecting third world countries. Nineteen years old, and her heart is in the right place. I love this part, when she was 13, she followed family tradition and spent a month in Alaska staying with her grandparents and visiting an aunt. Now how cool is that! Last summer she spent time doing mission work in Brazil, and hopes to go to Africa.

This girl is a charmer. Not only is she a straight A college student, she works, tutors high school and college math students, and does mission work. Yes, there is hope in the next generation.

Thank you Calya - you go girl!!

Oct. 21 – 24, 2009

I visited Jasper, Georgia, a city in Pickens County, Georgia with a population of 2,167 at the 2000 census, and county seat of Pickens County. Named after General Andrew Pickens, a Revolutionary War hero who fought the Cherokee in 1760 and 1782, it has the nicknamed "The First Mountain City." Jasper is located 50 miles north of Atlanta, Georgia in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Mount Oglethorpe, the southernmost peak in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is located in Pickens County, and was the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail from when the trail was completed in 1937 until 1958. In 1958, as a result of over development around Mount Oglethorpe, the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail was moved to Springer Mountain. Mount Oglethorpe is considered by some to be a more dramatic mountain than Springer Mountain, but the construction of a gravel logging road on the mountain and the development of a number of pungent chicken farms along the route, contributed to the move.

Jasper, Georgia is also the hometown for my friend, Margo. Margo and I met when we were in high school on a 4-H trip to Washington, DC. She remembers the group from Maine and the group from Georgia became fast friends because no one else could understand our accents. She and I have exchanged post cards, letters and the very important Christmas Cards since first meeting. The last we remember meeting each other was about 15 years ago, and being so close, we decided on a visit. What better time than now.

What a great time we had!! From the minute I arrived to the second I left there was an activity planned. Margo's has a 24 year old son with Fragile X syndrome and he attends the Burnt Mountain Center. BMC offers a comprehensive continuum of services offered in the least restrictive appropriate environment. It is a viable part of the Community and offers services to a variety of Clients who are physically, mentally or socio-economically challenged. Along with these services, there is also entertainment.

Margo and Ryan invited me to the Lion's Club dinner followed with a hayride. After a fun hay ride we visited the goats, chickens and rooster, and a few people purchased green pumpkins. Yes, in this part of Georgia they harvest green pumpkins claiming they turn orange after awhile. In Maine, where I grew up, we harvest orange pumpkins!

Thursday afternoon we decorated the gym where Ryan's center had their Halloween party Friday night. He went as The Bachelor, and gave the red rose to his sweetie. He gave it to me a couple of times, but kept telling me "there just might be someone else!" Story of my life!!

During my visit I was treated to Southern Cooking. Hushpuppies are delicious, especially when jalapenos are added to the batter, and the catfish at Last Catch restaurant was delicious!

Since I was in North Georgia, I wanted to visit Tate, Georgia and see the pink marble house. Margo drove me to where the main quarries of the Georgia Marble Company are located, the second largest stone company in North America. These quarries are internationally known for their marble quality, and have supplied the marble used to build the New York stock Exchange annex, the statue in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C., the National Air and Space Museum, the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art, The Federal Reserve Bank in Cleveland, and the Buckingham Foundation in Chicago.

Thank you Margo and Ryan, I had a great time!!