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Today is Carl’s birthday.

I had figured it all out by Carl's first birthday!

Me me and Carl on his first birthday!

When he was little, we celebrated it with the Birthday Frog bringing him presents. He wondered why there was an Easter Bunny, Sandra Claus for Christmas, etc. and nothing for birthdays. So, we created one.

Carl’s laugh was infectious and like music to my ears and his sense of humor wonderful. He loved to fish better than anything other than science and taught himself how to make his own fly lures at eight for fly fishing. At first, he caught more limbs than fish but he didn’t stop trying.

My blue eyed baby...Carl around age 8.

My blue eyed baby…Carl around age 8.

When he was sent to military school by Ava’s father, it changed him forever. He became a hurt and angry young man who had succumbed to hazing and learned how to drink and smoke pot at the age of thirteen. He took his life down a tragic path regardless of the time, money and help I could get and, by the age of eighteen years, two months he had disappeared.

Carl about the time his step-father decided he needed military school.

Carl about the time his step-father decided he needed military school.

For the fifteen years he was a “missing person,” I spent this day praying and fasting as I cut trees and bushes at Mom’s just to get through the day wondering if I’d ever know what had happened to him.

The last picture taken of the three of us in March, 1984. Twenty-eight years later, Ava was gone too in that same month.

The last picture taken of the three of us.

After I found he had been murdered, I spent the first six years fantasizing about killing his murderer who was already dead! Irrational, emotional and illogical however it was what happened.

These last few years, I’ve been trying to do something to celebrate who he was before he got sidetracked from a creative, happy, talented, bright child into a tortured soul. One year I spent time with the Native Americans at their mounds near Macon, GA. Other more spiritual adventures included traveling to his favorite fishing holes or visiting places out of town that he loved.

While I was pulling weeds out of my little patch of flowers I stole from Mother Nature this past week in meditation of this day, I knew I wanted to do something totally different.

I remembered that I’d found one of his old fishing lures as I cleaned out his tackle box…one he’d missed when he was selling his precious treasures for drugs. I’d carefully placed the hook still attached to a piece of line next to some of Ava’s treasures. Somehow, I knew I wanted to take these relics of their respective childhood to them.

Having just ordered Ava’s marker, it seemed fitting that I go to the cemetery where they now are side-by-side. They absolutely adored each other from the day Ava was born.

I thought I was going to go alone because so many things like this are uncomfortable for others to deal with and I’ve had to do so much of my hardest work alone. I was surprised to have the comfort and company of my good friend and neighbor, Jackie Miles, volunteer to go with me. This time, I thought, I’m going to have someone who understands what this day is all about.

I took these treasures which represented their innocence and hope.

At Ava’s request, Carl’s marker had a circle cut into the granite when we finally put in his marker ten years ago. As I looked at Carl’s lure, I knew it represented his innocence; his name tag from military school represented what stole both his innocence and hope away. I placed the fishing hook down into the circle and buried his name plate above his remains.

For Ava, I had a tiny pink bow she wore in her hair as a baby. She was born with more hair than most adults have and I needed to keep it pulled away from her face! This tiny pink bow represented her innocence. I buried it over her remains. I’d found the key to Ava’s treasured Vegas home which had a happy young woman’s face on it. It reminded me how happy she was to have that hope of her marriage working but knowing it’s where she tragically ended it because she had no hope. I placed it beside Carl’s fishing lure already in the circle on his marker and poured sealant over them.

I spoke to each one, apologizing to Carl for being so absorbed in Ava’s death to pay much tribute to him these last two years and reminded him of my unconditional love for him. I told Ava that I would love her unconditionally forever as well but that I was still upset over her permanent decision to a temporary problem and that she darn well better help us help others with Avascorner.org because we need her.

I walked around and visited my other relatives resting there and drove off to visit Mom at the facility where she’s, hopefully, getting better. Mom looked better than I ever hoped for. I even got to see the doctor and we all had a nice chat as Jackie perked up the room with rearranging Mom’s flowers and clearing the old ones out.

It was on our drive back toward home that we knew we were surrounded by Guardian Angels.

We were approaching I-85 on I-285 East at Malfunction Junction (aka Spaghetti Junction) when I noticed the cars in front of the truck directly ahead of me were stopped. The white Expedition with blacked out windows immediately in front of me never put on their brakes and ka-pow slammed into the stopped vehicles. I knew there hadn’t been a car to my right a second ago and I only had about that much notice. I pulled over in total faith preferring to be sideswiped over than becoming involved in that fray.

As I continued past the occurring wreck, we drove into what felt like time-lapse photography…a spray and also a barrage of black glass and car parts for me to dodge.

Well, I gotta say that’s the worst wreck I was never in and saw firsthand. Jackie and I both started saying our “Thank you GODs” over and over hardly believing we’d missed being horribly injured just by a second or two. WOW!

We kept hearing the replay of the horrific sounds coming from the impact for miles and continued to say our “Thanks.”

So, Happy Birthday, Carl. We still need you and will love you forever. But, hey, Ava, can we make your birthday a little less exciting?

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My whole life has been a constant arm wrestle with my brain on paying attention, focusing on focusing, not losing my temper, not taking things personally, searching for the good wrapped around all the bad, and, last but not least, finding peace and unconditional love on the human level.

Me with Mom 1950. She wore this skirt to the store so I could find her. I was always getting lost looking at all the pretty colors on the labels and boxes.

Me with Mom 1950. She wore this skirt to the store so I could find her. I was always getting lost looking at all the pretty colors on the labels and boxes.

My mother is the opposite of me. She was born with all the above. Why is it that we’ve been bound together in this life? Her to teach me all of the above and me to teach her how to let go and play? Who knows, but I do know this, she IS my true definition of unconditional love on the earthly plane.

Any patience I may exhibit here…on earth…is from what she has spent the last sixty-five years teaching me in direct combination with all that life has thrown at me, humbling me to acquiesce.

I know myself better than most people because I have spent a lifetime working on knowing me. At the very impressionable age of nineteen, I was told by some very learned Europeans that earth is where we come to learn and grow. I believed, IF…just IF these learned Europeans were right, I was going to work my ass off to learn from everything thrown at me. Their learned opinions came also at the same time Mom told me to read the book, The Power of Positive Thinking. It only made sense to combine the two efforts and, hence, my daily practice was born.

I had figured it all out by Carl's first birthday!

I had figured it all out by Carl’s first birthday!

I had figured the whole game out by the time I was nineteen! Imagine that! Now all I had to do was practice for the next 16,790 days (not counting Leap Years) just to get to today. But, I still don’t have any patience or good concentration without struggle or anything that might resemble a good caregiver.

It’s taking care of my ninety-three year old mother for more than a few weeks which brings me to my knees and reminds me of my battles…past, present and future.

I love my mother more than I love anyone simply because I’ve lived through so much with her where she has had my back, front, sides, top and bottom. And, if I were capable of doing all I needed to do to attend to her last days, I would if it were not for all the horror I’ve faced in my last 16,790…especially the last 545, give or take a day or two.

See, I do my best healing alone. I like being alone. I’m crowded when I’m not alone especially since Ava’s death. And, as the airlines tell you, “put the oxygen mask on yourself first,” it’s what I must do but with great trepidation and a guilty-yet-not-guilty gut feeling.

So, I’m putting my mom in the hands of professionals who need to understand they have the most precious person in their care .

Well, they probably also should know  it’s been said that the only difference between me and the Incredible Hulk is that I don’t turn green!

Happy Trails (or Trials)!

It was wonderful being with my daughter’s dear friend of eighteen years and her precious baby who celebrated her first birthday recently. They live in Florida, and, anytime I’m on the west coast, it gives me a good excuse to go to my favorite beach. I can’t tell you the name because it’ll become my hated beach…too many people will show up and ruin it for me!

Where's Montana? On the beach!

Where’s Montana? On the beach!

As I was drooling over the small black line roads everyone tries to avoid, I found a new treasure. There’s no using the GPS when you’re going back roads. It’s map all the way!

Florida back road through Three Rivers State Park. Ponds loaded with wildlife and  fishing lakes.

Florida back road through Three Rivers State Park. Ponds loaded with wildlife and fishing lakes.

Back roads lined with blooming bright red clover and thistle!

Back roads lined with blooming bright red clover and thistle!

Lily Pads floating lazily in the ponds.

Lily Pads floating lazily in the ponds.

Blooming thistle.

Blooming thistle.

Beautiful Spanish Moss draped oaks and mysterious dwellings tickling one’s imagination about who lives/lived there and where in the world did they work? There’s nothing for miles!

What a view!

What a view!

Then you cross the Georgia State line and the terrain switches to commercial pine thickets and agricultural fields.

Then you cross the Georgia State line and the terrain switches to commercial pine thickets and agricultural fields.

Fields and old houses of a different nature.

Fields and old houses of a different nature.

I've passed by this State Park a million times over the last 45 years of taking back roads to my favorite beach but I'd never taken the time to go to it. This time I did. Kolomoki Mounds was intriguing and I'll go back.

I’ve passed by this State Park a million times over the years of taking back roads but I’d never taken the time to go to it. This time I did. Kolomoki Mounds was intriguing and I’ll go back.

Then civilization! I just love this beautiful south Georgia town. Blakely, Georgia is so very quaint.

Driving by Quail Motel has been part of my back roads experience for over 45 years. I never see cars there!

Driving by Quail Motel has been part of my back roads experience for years. I never see cars there! Bates Motel?

At the red light near Quail Motel looking toward the square in downtown Blakely.

At the red light near Quail Motel looking toward the square in downtown Blakely.

Early County Courthouse in Blakely, Georgia.

Early County Courthouse in Blakely, Georgia completed in 1905.

Early County shows off their history on the side of their downtown buildings.

Early County shows off their history on the side of their downtown buildings.

BkRdsGaSmTwnd4-21-13

And the last thing you see as you leave Blakely, is beautiful roses planted along the sidewalks instead of trees! They were in full bloom!

And the last thing you see as you leave Blakely, is beautiful roses planted along the sidewalks instead of trees! They were in full bloom!

Even though I’ve traversed this route for many years, I never get tired of the quaint small town feel as you weave around the squares and watch the locals chatting as they walk along the sidewalks. It’s just southern and I’ll continue celebrating my history and the joys my parents gave me by taking me on this roads as a child.

Happy trails!

Yes. 2012 was incredible…incredible loss, incredible growth, incredible pain, incredible gain, incredible on so many levels I can’t even list them all here. I ran away for this first holiday season to save my soul from anticipated emptiness and loss during this first hallmark and it worked thanks to the love and support of Kimber, Angela, my friends, chirrens and family. Thank you all for standing by me when I was lost and loving me back into being found.

New Year’s Eve was scary. I’m still processing what triggered me into talking to myself out loud as I struggled with purchasing the one thing I wanted for my New Year’s Eve celebration…a small package of NutterButters. I found myself uttering sounds of disappointment and frustration which felt more like Ava than me which I couldn’t get rid of all night. It wasn’t until I saw her spouse’s announcement that he is now engaged to the woman who moved into Ava’s house just a couple of months after her death that helped me realize what was going on. I now know it was Ava’s way of letting me know of what was to come. The good news is that I didn’t have internet most of this week so I didn’t get the Facebook instant message. I got it twenty-four hours after the fact and one tortured night of wondering if I was losing my mind. The good news is that I usually know when she’s “visiting” me but because I was arm-wrestling with my brain over the events of last year, it threw me off a bit I cleared my head until to see what she was trying to say.

If this is your first time hearing about her visitations, I know it comes as a surprise. It doesn’t to me because we had a pact after Carl’s disappearance that we would maintain communication with each other after the first of us passed. She certainly has kept her promise. And, as long as she doesn’t scare me like she did in July, I’m good with it. I even look forward to it because it’s how she’s going to help me write the third portion of their book…the one about Carl, Ava and the hereafter.

On a lighter note, I wanted to share some photos from my trip.

Montana bird dogging a Blue Herron on New Year's Eve.

Montana bird dogging a Blue Herron on New Year’s Eve.

Last Florida sunset of 2012.

Last Florida sunset of 2012.

Think I wanna' do this every year!

Think I wanna’ do this every year!

First Florida sunset of 2013

First Florida sunset of 2013

Each year I get a message as to the challenges of the year. Last year was “faith” and, boy, was mine ever tested. “They” say that this year is “change” which doesn’t surprise me at all. After all, that’s life. I’m just trying to continue to work on my faith to help me get through the changes coming this year.

Happy New Year and Happy Trails.

I love this area of Florida so much that I’ve tried to buy a place every time I come down but things are just never right…either timing, or kids or work or money. Now it’s just money but I still look. I don’t even want to be on the beach…just close enough to smell the fresh salt air and feel it on my face.

First, however, I went to a little-known place called Cedar Key. It used to be a covey of very talented artists about twenty years ago. Now it’s just another snow bird nest. Lots and lots of condos have been built and they certainly cater to the winter flying birds. It’s still a nice place, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just not what I hoped it was. It had changed and I’m grieving over the loss of such a cozy community of varied talent.

Cedar Key

Cedar Key

You probably can't see them but there are HUNDREDS of pelicans perched on the pier just outside this restaurant in Cedar Key.

You probably can’t see them but there are HUNDREDS of pelicans perched on the pier just outside this restaurant in Cedar Key.

Montana didn’t know they were birds for the first few seconds during this shot…but…

Birds?

Birds?

We stayed one night only because we were ready to get some sugar white sand in between our toes! Whooohooo!

Where's Montana? On the beach!

Where’s Montana? On the beach!

Quit? Now? But there are more birds to bark at!

Quit? Now? But there are more birds to bark at!

IMG_4926Gulf

Montana running in the Gulf to chase down some birds!

Montana running in the Gulf to chase down some birds!

I have more of sunsets but can’t download them right now. They’ll be in the next post! We’re smiling!

Happy Trails!

Patty wanted to see my favorite antebellum plantation in Nashville. And, because I’m memory challenged more this year than ever, I could only remember what it looked like from the road and that it started with a “B” so after driving all over Nashville to find the wrong one, we finally got to Belle Meade. Of course, they don’t put the GPS address on their brochures so we got lost amongst the synagogues and huge beautiful Buckhead-looking houses bt we did arrive.

We were able to walk around the grounds with Montana before the docent guided tour which did a world of good for us all. Days packed to the eyeballs in the truck meant we all bolted out of the truck like caged animals! Montana was so glad to smell grass and trees again (or the animals in them) that she didn’t take her nose from the ground until we made her go back into the truck!

Our first self-guided tour was at the original cabin built by John Harding in 1807. He and his wife started the legacy which became a world-famous horse breeding stable siring such famous horses as Secretariat, Seattle Slue and so many others that we can’t remember.

IMG_4841Cabin1807

IMG_4844

This single couple created an empire from their strategically placed facilities where they carved out a cabin and a variety of services like blacksmith shop, gristmill, cotton gin and other services for the Chickasaw Trail which eventually became the Natchez Trace.

The John Harding’s eventually built the original plantation house.

IMG_4837MontPat

Patty and Montana in front of the Plantation house. No pictures could be taken on the inside of the house so you’ll have to go visit it yourself. It’s worth the trip.

IMG_4836MontBelMed

Montana at Belle Meade!IMG_4831BelleMeadeBkBack of Belle Meade Plantation house (as expanded by later generations). Belle Meade was managed by four generations of Harding’s. The final Harding died just a few months after his famous grandfather throwing the 5400 acre estate in serious financial difficulties. IMG_4832CoachHseA very small portion of the enormous coach house still full of sleighs, buggies and other related  memorabilia of the family and period.IMG_4839DollHseThe Victorian Dollhouse for the kids. I thought it very small in comparison. The children certainly didn’t rank as high as the company who visited who often received diamond earrings and stick pins as gifts at major celebrations. All children were in one small room off the major suite. IMG_4851.DairyJPGDairy house in same style as the main house.IMG_4852SlaveCabinThe most remarkable stories came from this slave cabin where, after the Civil War, key now freed slaves became the highest paid and valued employees of this huge enterprise called a plantation. Bob Green came to Belle Meade as a child whose knack for working with the horses was recognized and he not only lived with his family in the original cabin with his family but outlived all the Hardin’s. He was so loyal to his employers that, when financial difficulties meant selling off assets, he handed over his favorite saddle horse to be sold. It was bought for him for $25.00.What a lesson in history this one place it. I have only seen two other plantations worthy of this praise and they are in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Tomorrow, we’re off to see the wizard!

Happy Trails!

As promised, Sautee, Georgia was my next Georgia back roads stop. I do have my favorites as I’m so not a shopper. Actually, I hate shopping but what I do like is seeing other artists with their talents displayed in a store with price tags on them.

Art, you see, comes in all shapes, sizes, styles, languages, media and methods. Music is an art that holds very few choices of notes but an endless supply of combinations,genre, rhythms, intensity, chaos, synergy, synchronization and style. As does sculpting, painting, carving, turning, throwing and turbulence.

For the size of the area, the junction of  a T-bone, back road intersection of two little known highways (255 and 17), it never ceases to amaze me, lo’ these last 10 years or more, how it holds jewels of art.

Old Sautee Store is the backbone of this small but growing community of stores.

Old Sautee Store, Sautee, GA

Old Sautee Store, established 1872 (www.oldsauteestore.com), has the absolute best Farmer Cheese on the planet. Farmer Cheese is a mild, tasty white cheese that’s fabulous with grapes, apples, crackers and wine. Yum. It also has some handsome Grog to be served with their ginger cookies, of course.

Shelves stocked with items from yesteryear.

When you walk into the front door, you’re reminded instantly of Little House on the Prairie or The Waltons. This general store was at a critical juncture for all who needed dry goods or tinctures in the late 1800’s living in this ancient Native American community. Old Sautee Store holds authentic treasures of the past with shelves stocked with products from days of old. It’s the charms of yesterday that beckon you to delve deeper into this quaint store.

Outside again, you are invited to have a snack or a delicious lunch inside the Deli inside Old Sautee Market which brings to mind an era of grass-covered roofs of the old country.

Old Sautee Market (and Deli)

Shapiro’s always promises a display of some of the finest artisans’ (local and not) wares of both the unique and challenging varieties. From delicate, unique hand-crafted jewelry to a huge moose sculpture made from wheel hubs and steel, this shop is one of my all time favorites. It’s always a surprise when you go inside!

Shapiro's at Sautee, GA

A peek inside Shapiro's.

My next stop is always to see my friends at Prairie Trails (706-878-8284). Fred Tinsley is always engaging and knowledgeable in the fine arts of Native American cultures. He is deeply steeped in their art, history and lives as he travels around to various reservations to collect only the finest items for sale in his shop.

Prairie Trails at Sautee, GA

As you can see, there is not only a fine display of Native jewelry but also music, weaponry, Kachinas, pottery, knives, drums, leather goods and other paraphernalia.

Fred Tinsley, proprieter

Next stop in this little area, all within easy walking distance from each other, is Sweetfield Mountain Company to meet Judy Hancock (706-878-3555).

Sweetfield Mountain Company, Sautee, GA

At Sweetfield, they have an eclectic variety of clothing, leather accessories, jewelry and home decor featuring favorites from Brighton and Pendleton as well as from local artists.

Judy at Sweetfield Mountain Merchandise in Sautee, GA

After leaving Sautee, my favorite easy and most breath-taking hike is just down the road a bit on my way home. It’s a little known place called Minnehaha Falls in the Seed Lake area of Rabun County.

Minnehaha Falls, Rabun County, GA

Full view of Minnehaha Falls

Now, it was time to get back to the cabin and crank up for the first day of our annual family reunion.

Happy Trails!

It’s been strange trying to settle back into a life of not traveling! Instead of  planning  my next camping stop or hiking place, I’m doing loads and loads of  laundry,  pulling weeds (as Mother Nature is very possessive), cutting grass,  cleaning the  house and so forth. During all this labor intensive service to my  home, I’ve been  pondering my real love of Georgia. So, it will be Georgia’s  back  roads and flea  markets that I write about this summer.

This has really been my first day “back” where I’ve had time to think or drive  around since returning with my daughter on Monday. I’ve run back and forth  from  Atlanta delivering her and helping Mom and now, at last, I’ve got a couple  of days  to gather my thoughts and see some of my favorite spots that I truly  missed while  on my journey.

My home is about 12 miles south of Clayton, Georgia which is located in the  northeastern most corner of Georgia in Rabun County. Highway 441/23 runs  through the center of town bisected by Highway 76. If you continue north on  Hwy. 441, you’ll go through Clayton, Mountain City, Dillard and end up  heading toward Franklin, North Carolina. If you turn left  onto Hwy. 76  heading west, you’ll be going toward Blairsville over one of the  prettiest  highways in Georgia. If you turn right heading east onto Hwy. 76 ,  you’ll end up  in South Carolina in about 20 minutes.

It takes me one hour to get to I-285 and I-85 in Atlanta and another 30 minutes  to run the I-285 gauntlet to Mom’s house in Sandy Springs. It sounds further  away than it really is. Totally doable in a day but best when savored. I’m only  hitting MY favorite spots. There are so many shops to explore and so little time!

Driving north on Hwy. 441 is my favorite thing to do early on Saturdays until all  the venues close at the end of the “season” (winter). There are so  many shiny  objects to satisfy that A.D.D. itch I get.  My A.D.D. itch happens to be pet  friendly indoor and outdoor flea markets.  There are so  many friendly people to  visit with and interesting collections for  sale.

I also like driving north on Hwy. 441 as there is a creamery just across the  North Carolina state line that has the best ice cream on the planet because the  milk is from happy cows. Usually, milk products upset my stomach, therefore, I  don’t eat it much at all. This is my coming home treat. I get a half scoop of  Pralines & Cream and a half scoop of Espresso Fudge on a waffle cone and I’m  good for another couple of months.

Spring Ridge Creamery in Otto, NC

“Farm Fresh Dairy Products from Spring Ridge Creamery

Whole Milk, Butter Milk, and Chocolate Milk

Eggs fresh from the Farm, Hand dipped Ice Cream and a variety of Cheeses

Egg Nog available during the Holiday Season

dairy products,milk,eggs,cheese,ice cream

Just 1.5 miles north of the Georgia border on hwy. 441 in Otto, North Carolina

2 miles north of Dillard, Georgia

11856 Georgia Rd. (Hwy 441) Otto, NC— Phone: 828-369-2958

Jim Moore, Proprietor

Email: jmmooresr@msn.com

(Copied from: inthesmokymountains.com/springridgecreamery)

You can sit outside overlooking this river, pasture and the "happy cows" just beyond the river and the trees.

On the way to the creamery, I go to Osage Produce in Mountain City (just north  of Clayton) on the right as well. Their fields are right beside the facility and  fresh produce is being delivered straight from the local farmers as I pick through  peaches, cabbages the size of a giant’s head, tomatoes of all varieties, honey  (their own) and fresh-baked breads. It can be tough turning left from it on  Saturdays as it can get quite congested but so worth it. (www.dillardgeorgia.com/osage-farms)

Osage Produce near Dillard, GA

On the way back south, I hit my two favorite flea markets. The first one on the way home is in Mountain City called Rabun Flea Market. It’s several (at least 5) covered but not enclosed long sheds with booths of everything from herbs to plants to jewelry to used tools to cool junk. They are only open on Saturday and Sunday but a great place to walk with Montana.

Rabun Flea Market in Mountain City, GA

Some of the open sheds at Rabun Flea Market

After a walk through this facility chatting with locals and venders, I get back on Hwy. 441 south toward my next favorite flea market in the area, Georgia Mountain Market.

Georgia Mountain Market inside flea market in Clayton GA

Montana loves to shop here. Everyone who knows her runs up to get sugar!

One of Montana's special friends who always has loving treats for her.

One of my newer dear friends, Lynn Scholl has a booth inside Georgia Mountain  Market where she sells “Bodacious Vintage Jewelry”. She has a display of my  own One-of-a-kind  earrings…from a friend available for purchase.  (lynnscholl@mindspring.com). Her booth is the first one you see when you  walk into the main door. Tell her “a Friend” sent you!

Lynn Scholl has plenty of "Bodacious Vintage Jewelry" (including my one-of-a-kind earrings) to sell to you!

Another one of my favorite places to stop and visit in Georgia Mountain Market  is with Janice Grant of Turning Creek. Her specialty is “natural handmade  soap”. (turningcreek@aol.com). It was a pleasure getting to know her better  today and finding out that her husband, Bob, is a beekeeper. She also sells his  “Raw Mountain Honey”. I see from his card that he also makes hand turned  wood. Check him out at Turning Creek Artisans (rivercg@aol.com).

Janice Grant at Georgia Mountain Market selling handmade soap & raw local honey.

To give you a "feel" of the place. It's huge!

We still had more errands to run and the rain was pouring buckets so off we  went to get our day done and write this little ditty.

Next adventure? Sautee, a little known eclectic shopping corner not far from home.

Happy Trails!

We’ve had the best time in this sleepy little mountain town visiting friends and getting to know the quaint town of about 150,000 they call home. Roanoke Virginia is a mixture of mountains, valleys, old buildings and houses with some new blood.

Yesterday, we had breakfast at Thelma’s Chicken & Waffles (www.thelmaschickenandwaffles.biz 540-343-8888) in downtown Roanoke. Not only was the food amazing but the lady who served us made the whole experience that much more wonderful. The sparkle in her eyes and the smile on her face framed her fabulous energy. The cost was reasonable. Because it was Sunday morning, the place was packed and we ended up being there longer than planned but it was all good.

Issac’s Mediterranean Restaurant (theisaacsrestaurant.com) is one of the best of its kind. I haven’t had better Gyro… ever. The meat was fresh,tender, tasty and juicy. The sautéed kale was the best as was the Vegi Plate. Big recommendation.

Next, we stopped at Local Roots (localrootscafe.com) to try their Cherry-Tini martini-type drink made with fresh squeezed cherry juice, vodka and other good stuff.

The last stop was to see “Midnight in Paris”. The theater reminded me of a mini-Fox Theater in Atlanta. Nice atmosphere and a not-t00-complicated movie with great company.

We headed home via the Blue Ridge Mountains down I-81. The lush vegetation was a pleasant relief to all the vast arid areas I’d just been in for the last month. My daughter and I felt like our skin was sucking up all the moisture in the air like a fish gasping for oxygen when it’s outta’ water.

Blue Ridge Mountains I-81

GREEN!

Then you get into North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Mountains come alive!

North Carolina Blue Ridge View

North Carolina

As my home is nestled in northeast Georgia between North and South Carolina, I’m a little partial to the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountain views. Just sayin’!

Happy Trails!