Thursday, March 30, 2006

Goodbye Friends

Tomorrow after work my brother and I will be leaving for our Cumberland Island backpacking trip. I am so excited! I just hope I haven't left out anything vital. Usually, I wouldn't sweat anything like that, but there are no stores on the island. It's sort of like being on a deserted island, in a way.

I have been frantically packing my backpack tonight. I thought I had it all together and then I'd remember one more thing. My pack is so heavy! It's all that friggin' water I'll be lugging. Unfortunately, that is something I will need for sure so there's no cutting out pounds or even ounces in that department. I have cut a few "luxuries" out, though.

I have all the trails I want to see mapped out. We will be walking MANY miles before those 3 days are over. It's a true test of the effectiveness of my Hotness Plan, I guess. (Hope I don't fail!) :)

The only thing I am really worried about is running across a snake. Most of you know about that uncontrollable, unreasonable, and psychotic fear of mine. If I could change one thing about myself it would be that paralyzing fear of mine! It's hard to be so outdoorsy with those wretched reptiles around!

Anyway, I can't wait to post some pictures of the trip! It's such a unique and beautiful place. It's also full of history. (Another one of my favorite things!)

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. I should be back home Monday night. Until next time... Bye!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

My 2005 Spring Break

Spring Break last year was awesome. I was looking through the pics I had taken and thought I would post some and take you all along on the trip with me. Lord only knows how badly I wish I could go back!

The Flight
I had a connecting flight Phoenix to Salt Lake. My flight from Atlanta to Phoenix was nice. The sky was beautiful. I took pics out the window. All was right in the world and I was too excited to be going on this trip. Then my plane landed in Phoenix.

I stepped off the plane and looked at the prompter screen to see which gate I needed to get to since it was not posted on my ticket. There was no gate listed but my matching flight number and the destination (Salt Lake) was up followed by the wonderful words “On Time”. Cool. I went to the restroom. No gate posted. I browsed the stores. No gate posted. When it was about 15 minutes until I figured my plane would begin boarding and still no gate was posted I asked one of the wonderful America West agents about it. My flight had been canceled and I was directed to go to customer service. The agent pointed to a line so long that it rivaled Christmas Eve rush at the mall. I lost it and totally went off on him. Okay, I know that doesn’t sound like the mature way to handle it. It wasn’t his fault. It should be no big deal. I’d just take the next flight out of here, right? Well, you might think. But let me just say the only reason I was flying with AWA was because of the credit I had with them resulting from a disasterous flight that previous December.

And that brings me back to why I was so pissed that this spring break flight seemed to be headed down that road again. Standing in the long customer service line, I called Best Friend to let her know what was going on. I was cursing a long line of profanity and telling her how I was going to own that @#$%^ airline. The guy in front of me chuckled. Oh no he did not just do that! Now sometimes when I get really angry, my southern accent comes out more thickly. That was one of those times and I thought maybe he was making fun of me. I cursed him out. Then when I shut up and he spoke back to me to explain what he was laughing at, he spoke with a familiar southern accent. He was also from Georgia and had missed the same flight. I apologized for cursing him out and he apologized for laughing, explaining to me that he heard this fierce angry voice and turned around to see that it was a little blonde girl spouting out those obscenities. He said he wanted me on his side because he had to be in SLC for business this day and he knew that I would be one of the people who got on the plane because I was such a firecracker. We concocted a story to tell the agent that we were getting married that evening in SLC and so we had to be there. We walked up to the counter together. I slammed my license and ticket down on the counter explaining what happened and that I must be on the next flight to SLC. She didn’t even look at me, just typed away furiously on her keyboard and then said, “Here’s your tickets. You’ll be on the next flight and you have seats together.” Shocked at the simplicity of the procedure, I looked at my ticket. Seat B? Dammit! I had specifically asked for a window seat so I could take pictures of the Grand Canyon from above! I opened my mouth in protest and thought better of it. “Thank you,” I muttered.

We had an hour to kill before we could board the plane so we went to a bar in the airport. I had cursed this poor guy out a short time ago and now he’s buying me drinks. (Sometimes it is cool to be a woman! :) I had a rum and coke to calm my nerves. Then another and another. I was a little tipsy on the way to the plane. It was a little bit fun walking along the moving sidewalks in that state. We boarded the plane and I informed my new friend that I was going to curse out whoever was in the window seat because that was supposed to be my seat! He gave me a worried look. I reassured him I was only joking but he didn’t look so sure. The truth was I couldn’t wait to see who did get my seat.

I found my row and put my bag in the overhead bin and went to sit down. I saw who was in my window seat. It was a totally hot guy. I don’t mean wow, he’s cute. He was hot as in hotter than Orlando Bloom hot. I became nervous like a school girl and couldn’t speak at first. His hotness intimidated me. Then he noticed my camera in my lap and asked me about it. I told him that I had it out to take pictures of the Grand Canyon and explained how he was actually sitting in my seat. Then he showed me that he also had a camera and was planning on doing the same thing. Turns out he was an outdoorsy guy from Wisconsin. We compared notes about the time that we each had visited the Grand Canyon. He told me that I could lean across him to take pictures if I wanted. Yeah, I was going to like this flight. I didn’t get any pictures but I did lean across Hot Guy to “try” to compose a shot. Hot Guy and I talked the entire time, laughing and playing the cheesy trivia on the TV screens. Before all was said and done, Hot Guy and I shared a kiss (I blame the rum for this behavior. haha) and exchanged numbers. He called me once. I called him once. We haven’t spoken since. But his number is still in my cell phone as a reminder of that fun flight.

Columbia River Gorge

Best Friend, our dear friend we call Goofball, and I started on our way to Oregon shortly after my arrival. We stayed in Boise, Idaho that night. I thought it was cool that I was in four state capitals in one day…Atlanta, Ga., Phoenix, Az., Salt Lake City, Ut., and finally Boise, Id. We made it to the Columbia River Gorge the next morning. It was absolutely stunning. The mosses, the ferns, the enormous waterfalls, the thick mist. I was in love. Best Friend and I hiked while Goofball hung close to the car and smoked. She said she could see enough from the car. She was right. Beauty was all around us, but I wanted to see more. I was disappointed that I couln't even see Mt. Hood because it was so shrouded in fog and clouds. But I did see Mt. St. Helens as we were crossing the bridge across the Columbia from Portland, Or. to Vancouver, Wa. I had my zoom lens attached to my camera ready to snap a shot the first chance I got. I looked down at my camera for a moment to check my settings and when I looked back again, St. Helens was covered in a black ashy cloud! It had vented out some ash! I heard people complaining about their cars being covered in the ash the next day at the gas station. No picture, but still something cool to witness.

The most beautiful greenery one can imagine! Just look at the mosses and ferns! Even the trail markers (above) were adorned in this rainforest drapery.

Best Friend and Goofball trying to keep dry!

The famous and beautiful Multnomah Falls. It's much larger than this pic suggests!

One of the many beautiful falls along the Historic Columbia River Highway.

A view of the mighty Columbia from the Washington side of the river.

Jeeping in Moab

Shortly after returning to Utah, Best Friend and I headed south to Moab. We rented a Jeep Rubicon and had a blast! I climbed things in that jeep that I never dreamed possible, drove nose first down impossibly steep rock dropoffs and hung precariously close to cliffs. ME! Just look at me on top of that Jeep like I own it! haha. I had never driven an ORV until that day but it didn't take long to learn to when to put it into 4-low. Best Friend and I had so much fun that day. We drove along the Klondike Bluffs Trail over some very rough and steep terrain. I saw dinosaur tracks along the way! I was so amazed that I stopped to put my hand inside of them. I felt like I was back in Hollywood in front of the Mann's Chinese Theater placing my hands inside of the celebrity's prints to see how I measured up. Let me tell you, I found it much cooler to place my hand inside of the print of a long extinct Allosaurus than Marilyn Monroe's handprint! We did a more challenging trail next called Fins 'n Things. It was so awesome! Talk about steep climbs and descents! Our cooler tumbled from the very back into the front seat a couple of times. Of course, Best Friend and I were the only girls we saw driving and I am proud to announce that I got an applause from a group of men after making a steep descent that they were hesitating on attempting. Not me. I felt unstoppable. After finishing that trail, we moved onto a calmer trail that lead to little-visited arch. That road was so sandy and bumpy! We loved fishtailing the jeep, though. It was fun! Our last trail was a little more risky. Not because of the difficult terrain (though there was some) but because we had to be extremely careful to not get lost. It required great map reading skills and sense of direction as we had to follow a dry river bed to another wash until we finally arrived beside this gorgeous canyon. To get to the canyon, we had to walk through this tunnel in the rock called the Dallenbaugh Tunnel. We found crystal quartz in there and I took a few small pieces as a souvenir.

Jeeping was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I definitely want to do it again. But it does leave me wondering...does this make me a redneck?????? :(

Can't wait to see how Spring Break 2006 will turn out!

Just a few shots of our trails. These pics are small hills compared to some we climbed! :) If you click on the last pic, you can get some perspective of the terrain. This was taken through the windshield (note the mud spatter to the left). The darker part of the slickrock is the trail. Look to the right to see the tiny dude on the dirt bike. Now that gives some perspective!

Thanks for coming along on my trip!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Countdown Begins

I have been a slug on this uneventful weekend. I was supposed to go on a hike with some friends on Saturday until one by one they backed out on me. (YOU PUNKS! :) I was going to go by myself (as usual), but then I woke up with a terrible stomach ache and nausea. Guess if they didn’t back out on me, I would have been the backer-outer. (And I KNOW if that had happened, they would have called ME a punk!)

I am wondering if maybe the food I ate Friday night might have been what made me sick. I guess it is punishment for eating food that is not on my Hotness Plan. Haha. Whatever. I went back to Atlanta to go out with Best Friend and some of the other girls I met from her training. We had a good time, had a few drinks, ate at the restaurant that made me sick and had a crack-head for a waitress. I am not kidding! She was indeed a true crack-head. She was soooo high! It was quite painful watching her count out money. I guess we should have taken it as an omen when the hostess, when finding out who our server would be, told us the name of the manager in case we needed him. Nice.

I also went back to Atlanta on Saturday night to see Best Friend, even though I still felt quite sickly. This is her last weekend here before she goes back to Salt Lake. She graduated flight attendant school on Friday. (Yay! Congrats Best Friend!) I’m so excited that she picked me as her Flight Companion (and even though that sounds really gay, it’s NOT) so that I get the benefits of flying for about 3 cents a mile anywhere the airline flies, even international. It’ll cost me $15 to fly to Salt Lake as opposed to the approximately $400 I am used to paying. I’m writing out my list of places to go right now! Thank you, Best Friend, thank you!!!

So it’s the final countdown for spring break. Five more days! I will be going to meet my brother in a bit for a trip to REI so we can decide what food we want to take to Cumberland Island. I would also like to purchase a more detailed map of the island’s trails than the one I have. I need to start packing up my backpack and weighing it out. Even though the island trails are mostly flat, they are quite sandy and carrying a too-heavy pack around for about 30 miles or so isn’t recommended. I am praying that the weather warms up before this weekend. It has been colder these last few days here than it was any day in January. Crazy! So as long as it warms up, it should be a great backpacking trip roaming around with wild horses. The rest of the break isn’t carved in stone. All I know is that I want to drive far away from here to somewhere pretty. Can’t wait to see where I end up.

It’ll be hard to top last year’s spring break, though. I flew to Salt Lake to see Best Friend. We managed to drive up to and hike in the Columbia River Gorge on both the Oregon and Washington sides. Then later that week we went to Moab, Utah and rented a Jeep Rubicon and did some jeeping along the slickrock. It was awesome! Maybe I’ll post some pics. from that trip next time.

Until next time…it’s five days and counting!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Heads: They win; Tails: You lose.

Isn’t it crazy how life itself can be so contradictory and ironic? It’s not at all difficult to understand where the saying “You can’t win for losing” came from.

I was listening to a couple of my friends at work venting about things. It was the whole “damned if you do; damned if you don’t” scenario. That started turning the wheels in my head. It’s really true…sometimes you truly are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. You just have to make the decision of which damnation is worse and go from there.

The more I listened to these friends talk, the more I realized that we have no choice about taking risks in our life. Sometimes the risks pay off and sometimes they don’t. The fear of them not working out sometimes leave us so worried that we aren’t even enjoying life and the whole point of taking the risk is to make a better life. Right?

On more than one occasion, someone has asked me why I do all the “crazy” things I do and why can’t I just be content doing nothing. My answer? I don’t necessarily believe in reincarnation and if I’m only here for a short while, I want to experience as much of this life as I can. I don’t care if anyone thinks I am crazy. I am full of life and I want to live it. Still, I am not one to tempt fate by doing something foolishly dangerous. I don’t have a death wish after all. But if something should happen to me while I am enjoying my life, I won’t have any regrets. Some people are so concerned with what other people think of them that they never really find out who they are. That’s just not me. I know and like who I am. And whatever anyone says about me when I’m dead and gone is fine with me. I am reminded of a verse from a Jimmy Buffett song that says, “I’d rather die while I’m living than live when I’m dead.” And that pretty much sums up my thoughts. I would rather die tonight having experienced the things that I have than to take them all back and live until I am 100 and live in people’s memories as the old woman who had a million dreams and great ideas but never did a thing with them.

Jimmy Buffett must be a better writer than me! It took him one line to make a statement. It took me many lines to make my point! Hahaha! :0)

In that we wish to remain secret, it is foolish to confide
Yet some secrets are self destructive if undeclared inside

Often those in whom we trust dim the faith we hold in ourselves
Yet without faith in our own capacity, we trust not in anyone else

The attempts we make in hopes of gain too often leave us striving
Yet without any of these endeavors our lives will never become thriving

The guarded heart is secure, but remains empty and unfilled
Yet taking the chance to love, may inflict wounds that can’t be healed

We suppress painful memories which we loathe to recall
Yet without remembering, we forget how to avoid that fall

Our peace can be destroyed; replaced with worry and fear
Yet not knowing anxiety, we take for granted serenity so dear

We wish for better times; dreaming ahead for what we lack
Yet all the while, precious time ticks by that we will never gain back

We wish to discover and we question and we implore
Yet often the answers we seek to find are best left unexplored

We live this thing called life in a contrary state
We live on the reliance of a quirk of fate

We live afraid of living life; still we live to evade our deaths we dread
Yet not seeing that our fears to live have already pronounced us dead

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Creepy Pics

So here are the creepy pictures I have been promising to post. (finally) The ones taken in the vacated Brooks Run Sanitarium do not reveal anything "ghostly" that I can see, but it was so creepy and scary in there that I had to post a couple just so one can get a feel for the atmosphere. Keep in mind that while it doesn't look that dark in the pics, it only seems that way because I used my flash (which I usually don't use when trying to "catch" something paranormal. Don't want the flash to cause any reflections or shadows that might be interpreted as a fake ghost! haha.) When cameras were still, the only light we had was from three flashlights and whatever moonlight happened to stream through the broken windows. Yikes...can't believe I was in there.

The sanitarium's morgue. Ewwww.

What appears to be a dentist chair...Or was it a tool used in some cruel experiments? bwahahahaa!

One of the many dark hallways in the place.

Same hallway moments later. White orb-like shapes showed up in this pic. It could very possibly be just dust particles. It was quite dirty in there.

This pic. is defintely something I cannot explain. This one was taken in the upstairs (which is off limits to the public, btw...shhh!...Don't report me!) in the Moon River Pub in Savannah, Ga. Best Friend and I sneaked up there when no one was looking because we had been told it was extremely haunted. We peeked into some rooms and snapped some shots. All of the sudden, Best Friend shrieked. "What is it?" I asked. She told me to look at the top of the stairs. I did and saw nothing. "There's nothing there," I said. She insisted there was and I looked again. Nothing. Then I happened to notice she was looking at the top of the stairs through her digital camera screen. I looked through it also and saw this purple misty shape floating around at the top of the stairs. My heart stopped. I looked at the top of the stairs with my naked eyes again and again I saw nothing. But when I looked into the screen I could see it. "Is your shutter frozen?" I asked her and then yelled for her to, "Take a picture! Take a picture!" It took a few seconds to get the shutter to work. Then we ran like hell back down the stairs and looked at the picture she just snapped. This picture is the result. It's a bit blurry because we went by the no-flash rule. It's pretty much what I saw through the screen, only a bit brighter. (Most likely due to the longer exposure the shot required without using the flash.) I have zoomed in on it and it just looks like a huge misty purple blob. I just don't know what it is! A part of me wants to go back and check it out again. Who wants to come along? :)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


It's been a rainy two days. We all become aggravated with rainy weather putting a damper on our moods and crashing our plans. One too many camping trips have been washed out or one too many hikes cut short. Picnics in the park have been washed out. Sometimes it is a fight just to keep awake and alert on a rainy day. And last, but definitely not least, it seems people forget how to drive when it rains. Idiots.

But sometimes I enjoy the rain. I like it because it quiets down all the commotion of the world. It calms me sometimes when I have let myself become overstressed. One of my favorite things to do is grab a good read and hop into bed and listen to the rain as it lulls me to sleep. And sometimes I like it when it rains on one of my bad days, sad days, or plain blah days. I feel like the world is sympathizing with my feelings and weeping right along with me.

Today is one of those days. I don't mind the rain today. I'm not sad, upset, and nothing terrible happened today. I just feel blah. Maybe I'm feeling that way because it is raining, but I prefer to think that it is raining because I am feeling blah. :)

I wrote this for just such an occasion...


From above spills the rain
It tenderly taps my window pane
Some wish it away, but it's all in vain

It looks like the rain is here to stay
It lingers around for another day
To wash the world's transgressions away

I welcome the rain, the teardrops of the sky
Releasing for me what I am feeling inside
And I listen along to its subtle, faint cry

The rain feels so lonely; not a soul to be seen
Only empty sidewalks glistening in watery sheen
Rendering the world silent until sun casts its gleam

But I find it beautiful, if not a touch gray
The rain granting me a serene and peaceful day
Though the world is sleepy, I rather like it this way

The sleepy day turns to a nighttime sky
The rhythmic dripping refusing to die
And the rain sings me to sleep like a gentle lullaby

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Best Friend had a short day in training today so I picked her up from her hotel and we went to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Rain has been threatening to fall all day today so it didn't seem like a great day for outdoors in the mountains.

I have been to the gardens before and it is a really beautiful place worth multiple visits. It's the perfect place to practice close-up photography or just photography in general. I realize that I have mentioned photography many times in my blogs, yet the only pictures that I have posted have been my "snap shot" photos to go along with stories. So I decided that I would post some of my more creative photos from the gardens...

I took this close-up because I thought the colors were so beautiful.

Love the misty Fuqua Orchid Center.

A cactus from the Desert Room of the Fuqua Conservatory.

Tulips are my absolute favorite flower!

Another shot of my tulips.

This little guy came out of the pond to meet me then he followed me along the walkway.

I made Best Friend pose for the camera.

Here's ME! I don't know why I am posting this one. I guess I am just trying to prove to everyone that I was there, too! :)

Thursday, March 16, 2006


AAAGGGGGHHHHHHHHH! I hate traffic! Really, I detest sitting in traffic. I just sat needlessly in 45 min. of traffic because I forgot to buy something I need while at the store the other day. I could have been home already. But nooo, I decide that I will save myself the trouble of having to go out later by hitting the store on my way home. Bad decision. If I only had a crystal ball I could have seen the accident and rubberneckers bogging down the should-be-moving traffic! What should have taken me a mere ten minutes turned into 45 minutes of traffic plus the 10 minutes that this simple task should have originally taken. An hour of my life wasted all because of metro-Atl’s freakin’ traffic! On my list of Top 10 Reasons I Like To Hike And Disappear Into The Wilderness, traffic ranks right on top.

So what’s this got to do with Yosemite? As usual when I need to escape and can’t, I dream. I’m a big dreamer. I came home (when I finally got out of the Automobile Hell) and pulled out one of my photo books. It was my book of Yosemite National Park pictures. I was thinking about how beautiful and amazing it was. And, of course, I began thinking about my next trip there when Best Friend and I plan to hike Half Dome (the scary cables and all!). I really wish that I had some photos to post but I visited in the summer of 2000 and that was before my digital photography days. Of course I do have a scanner that I could hook up, but that sounds like too much work right now.

I hope my words below will suffice. I wrote them a while back when I had thought I would be able to go back and then my broken heart realized I didn’t have the money. So again, I dreamed and remembered what I did when I was there in 2000.


Down in Yosemite Valley, I look up high
I gaze at the granite giants reaching for the sky
El Capitan, Cathedral Rocks, and Half Dome
Gaze down back at me, their faces of stone

Tumbling waters down from their great heights race
Feeding the Merced River that mirrors back their gaze
The Bridal Veil, Yosemite, Nevada, and Vernal Falls
Roaring loudly so all can hear and answer their call
To witness and behold their mighty power
And stand by the spray of their drenching shower

Walking amidst Giant Sequoias so tall
I am most humbled; I am so small
Yet I feel a sense of greatness, so heartfelt
Walking in the steps of John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt
Who walked along the Redwood cove
Along this ancient Sequoia grove
Who walked this sanctuary with such adoration
Who declared this most beautiful in all the nation
And as I stare up at the towering trees
I must admit that I have to agree

Leaving the enchanting valley floor
One may wonder; could there be more
What more could leave me as awestruck as this
The forest, the green, the shades, the mist

Rising slowly to stand in the sky
Mighty mountains are passing me by
As I travel to meet them and walk upon their breast
I see them close in around me and know I’m truly blessed
To be standing in the Tuolumne Meadows, sprinkled in colors galore
I lie down in this alpine meadow to watch the eagle soar
After a while I climb higher still
I’m in the clouds; I feel the growing chill

High up in the Sierra Nevada Range
The impression of summer season has begun to change
To a whisper of winter, with peaks in white powder
The rush of the wind growing steadily louder
As I finally reach the high Tioga Pass
Is this scenery real or has a spell been cast
Upon me, whose breath has been stolen
Along with any words to express what my heart is holding

Moved to tears I can barely take my leave
Ever since I left her behind, I have grieved
A longing for California in my heart
A longing for this place two worlds apart
There is only one cure; only one remedy
And I know that I must come back to Yosemite

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


1. After taking a closer look at the pics I took on Sunday at the haunted sanitarium, I did not see anything I would have to declare paranormal. I did have a few pictures that were filled completely with orbs, but I am not too convinced that they were anything other than dust particles in the air. I also listened to my digital recordings. I couldn’t discern anything from all the natural and normal noises. But I do have to say that the pictures are creepy nonetheless.

2. Decided on and made some plans for spring break. Woo-hoo! It’s only 16 total days counting weekends, but only 12 if I count the days I have left at school with the kids. My class is becoming more horrible by the day. I don’t think my break away from them can get here any faster! And what’s even better is that I won’t be doing any tutoring over the break, either! Yay!

So here’s my plan so far…My brother and I are going backpacking on Cumberland Island. I love that place…wild horses, long sandy trails, history, and huge seashells! We are going to hike the entire island. It’s about 15 miles long, so we know we will at least be hiking 30 miles, probably more. I don’t know what else I am going to do because that is just a weekend. I want to take a road trip. We’ll see where I end up. Who's coming along?

Originally this was the time that Best Friend and I were going to take the Bahamas trip I won, but with her new job beginning, we are postponing that until summer. If my summer plans go accordingly, I will have one awesome summer!

3. I have been sticking faithfully to my Hotness Plan. I’ve been eating well and doing some muscle toning exercises. Tonight is my cardio night, so I’ll be jumping on the Gazelle and working it for 45 min. to an hour.

I feel inspired that the Hotness Plan is working. Last night while out to eat with friends (I ate salmon and broccoli) I was hit on by a young guy. I don’t mind a younger guy at all but he was way too young for me! Not even in my age bracket! I don’t know what is up with me and the young guys! If any guy is going to hit on me or ask me out, 9 times out of 10, he is 21-ish. I do take it as a compliment and love that people always think I am younger that I am, but sheesh…that much younger? The sad thing is that he was such a cute, cool, nice guy. He even wanted to go skydiving just like me. Too bad he wasn’t about 5 years older! Ah well…it’s just one of the things that I will have to endure with increasing my hotness. Haha!

Speaking of which…better go hit the Gazelle now!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Why I am such a scaredy cat now...

As requested, here is my account of the experience I had in November while visiting the Chickamauga National Battlefield near the Georgia/Tennessee State Line. I realize that it may sound made-up, but you asked for it! And so here it is…my true account of that night.

I was so freaked out by this that I wrote this all down in a notebook when I got home.

On Sunday, November 6, 2005, I went along with a couple of friends of mine T. and C. to the said battlefield. We arrived around 4:00 that afternoon to scope out our area. I was familiar with the battlefield because being the history nut that I am, I had already been there, but this would be my first “ghost” hunt and my first post-dark experience here. Since it is a National Park, all roads but the main highway would be closed at dark. We had to find a way to get to the reportedly most active part of the battlefield. Since I am usually the “map person” on all my trips, I took on this assignment and found a hiking trail that would still have accessible parking (since it was along one of the highways) that would lead us to Snodgrass Hill, the site of the battle’s climax. (Just a quick tidbit of info…The battle of Chickamauga Creek is one of the bloodiest in all of the Civil War. You just don’t hear as much about it since it occurred in the fall of 1863, a few months after the Battle of Gettysburg, which, along with the fall of Vicksburg immediately afterward, is considered the turning point of the war and so the Battle of Chickamauga Creek is considered less significant in the whole scheme of things.)

Right before dark my two friends and I parked our vehicle and started off on the trail through the woods to Snodgrass Hill. As we trudged along in the growing darkness, the thought did occur to me that it might be a wee bit freaky to hike back in the complete darkness of the woods of a grisly battle site. But remember, I was still fearless at this point and giggled it off as nothing. We made it to our destination of the open field and small hill right before dark. We sat along a log in the woods, hiding out and waiting for the cover of complete darkness and the slimmer chance of being busted by a park ranger.

As we waited in the ever-darkening woods, all three of us heard a faint “tink-tink-tink” sound a few yards away that sounded like metal hitting metal. It was odd, but I wasn’t freaked out at all. I figured there was some logical explanation. A few minutes later C. reported that he heard what he believed to sound like a horse’s breathing. I asked him from which direction he heard it and he pointed behind him. As I looked in his general pointing direction I saw this whitish/gray movement through the trees. That was even more odd and I felt my heart skip a beat for moment, but then it passed and I was still not freaked out.

Complete darkness, excluding the moonlight, took the battlefield and we came out of hiding and began walking along the edge of the field, at the bottom of the hill, and by the woods. Immediately the top of the hill was covered in a thick fog. I thought it was a little weird because normally the bottom of a hill would grow foggy first, not the top. This “fog” never “rolled in” either. It was simply not there one moment and there the next moment I looked. As I looked at the top of the hill, I saw glowing, moving shapes around the monuments, cannons, and the cabin that sat atop the Snodgrass Hill. I blinked hard, looked away and then looked back, believing that my eyes must have been playing tricks on me somehow. But each time I looked, I saw the same thing. And then T. asked me if I was seeing the moving, glowing shapes. I stopped looking there for a while, feeling a tiny bit freaked by this point.

Nothing else caught my eye in the open field or in the nearby woods so I looked back to the top of hill. Now in addition to the occasional glowing shapes, I was also seeing dark shapes/shadows moving between the monuments. These dark shapes begin to scare me and I am now becoming increasingly freaked. These dark shapes scared me because they were eerily about human height and they were moving in groups of two or more shapes together. I watched them hoping to either convince myself that my eyes are being tricksy or that I am really seeing something unexplainable. T. was also doing the same and every now and then she would make a statement like, “Did you just see that? That dark figure moved to the left and then this white mist floated over it?” Every description she made was what I was seeing also.

We walked through some cold spots. I had heard that sometimes spirits manifest themselves as cold spots. When I say these spots were cold, I mean they were frigid. (When we left later that night, the bank in town read that it was 61 degrees.) When I stepped through these spots, I would be so cold my teeth would chatter and I would tremble all over. It felt like a 20-30 degree difference, no exaggeration! I could see my breath and then take a couple steps forward or away from the cold spot and feel normal again (with no visible breath).

The next out-of-the-ordinary thing that I experienced was the scent of a strong floral perfume. I thought it was strange to smell anything flowery since it was November and nothing was in bloom. As I had the strongest whiff of perfume, I stepped into another one of the icy spots.

Moments later we passed through several more frigid zones and then, all of the sudden, we all three came to a dead stop. We stepped into a warm spot and I don’t mean that it was normal temp that was feeling warm to us in comparison to extremely cold patches. It was hot! I could actually feel the heat seeping through the fleece I was wearing! My face felt like it was being hit by the air of a hairdryer. T. and C. also were feeling it. Just as C. exclaimed, “You have to be feeling how warm this is!” all of the sudden our noses were filled with smell of gunpowder…strong gunpowder! Then it passed, but this happened a couple more times. I knew then I was truly experiencing some type of residual paranormal event. It was very exciting.

The next thing that happened, however, terrified me and has drug me down to be the wuss that I have now become. As we were searching for more of these warm, gunpowdery spots, we ran into another of those extremely cold patches. Then in the not-so-far distance, we heard a woman’s voice moaning. She sounded panicked and distraught. Her moaning eventually changed into what sounded like her calling a name. It was one syllable name…something like John, Bob, or Tom…I couldn’t quite make it out. C. and T. also were hearing it. The woman sounded so pitiful that I wanted to cry. Her desperate name calling was moving closer and closer to where I stood. I was then utterly and truly freaked! I wanted to run…quickly. But I was totally frozen. I could not move at all. I was scared to death. I could hear my blood rushing in my ears. As I stood there petrified with fear, I wondered what would happen when her voice eventually reached my face. Even now, I feel sick recalling the sound of that disembodied voice coming ever closer to me. Luckily, it suddenly stopped. I touched my pants to make sure I didn’t wet them. (haha) Then I stared over at T. and C. who were looking just as dumbfounded as me. It was several minutes before we could move again.

C. pulled out a recorder to see if we could catch the voice on tape. I wanted to cry. I wanted to leave right then. No more of this! C. spoke into the recorder asking for anyone to make their presence known. As soon as he spoke the words, there was an extremely bright light at the top of the hill. I dove into the woods, not even caring that I might be crouching down with a snake. I feared that it might have been a park ranger, but we never saw the light again. Whether it was a ranger or a beckoned presence, I don’t know. The jury is still out on that one.

I heard men’s voices in the woods behind us and toward the opposite end of the field. It sounded like many. I didn’t know what they were saying. I didn’t want to know. I wanted to be as far from there as possible. I knew that the voices I was hearing were not those of the living. I heard one man’s voice, yelling in the distance. It sounded like he was yelling, “Let’s leave! Let’s leave! Let’s leave!” I jumped to my feet. (He didn’t have to tell me twice! I was beyond ready to leave! haha.) I could tell by the expression on C.’s face that he was listening to the man yelling. I tried to calm down to listen again and the more I listened to the man repeatedly yelling out this phrase, I realized he was saying, “Retreat! Retreat! Retreat!” I asked C. what time it was. The time he told me was the time that I had read on a plaque earlier that the Union Army had retreated toward Rossville. And the direction that I heard the voice coming from? Oh, where else but towards Rossville!

C. and T. then told me they were ready to leave. I was so glad that I didn’t have to be the scaredy cat to tell them I wanted to go first! We walked the trail through the woods as fast as possible. I could still hear voices around me and occasionally see flashes of light in the woods around me. I felt like running as if something was chasing me. I had never been so damn happy to see any automobile as I was C.’s truck that night.

I was silent (for once in my life) in the truck for a while on the ride back home. When we did resume normal conversations, I tried to think of everything but what had just happened. C. dropped me off at my car in the parking lot that we met up in just off of the interstate. I had a five or ten minute drive back to my apartment. I felt so scared still, like something was with me. I know that sounds crazy. When I pulled into my apartment complex, a rock flew up and struck my windshield. Thinking (and hoping) it was kids acting up, I got out of my car only to see that no one was there and there was nowhere for anyone to hide.

I was so freaked out…no, I was terrified, actually. I slept with my lights on. I kept hearing sounds within my apartment that night. I had never wished that I was in the arms of some strong man more than I did that night! Yes, I remember wishing for one desperately that night…or at the very least my mama!

Monday, March 13, 2006

So much fun it's scary...

Best Friend is still in town for her Flight Attendant training. When we first found out that she would be in Atlanta for almost a month we were so excited. I thought I would see her every other day or so and we would do dinner, hike, drive up to Great Smokey Mountains N.P., go to Savannah a couple of times. Apparently we were wrong and apparently the training is demanding. I hadn’t seen her all week until this weekend.

On Saturday, Germaphobe and I drove to Best Friend's hotel by the airport for a night out on the town. It was so much fun and I met so many people from all over the country who there training for the airline. There was S. from Iowa, L. and C. from Texas, R. from right here in Atlanta, A. from the U.P. (upper peninsula) of Michigan, and a guy from The Dalles, Oregon in our group. We all had a couple of drinks at the hotel bar’s happy hour and then went to downtown Atlanta to shoot some pool. I really enjoyed hearing our new friends talk about their lives back in their hometowns. It was also very interesting to see their take on my home. The Michigan girl couldn’t get over the huge buildings. “I’ve never seen anything so tall! They’re so big!” she said. “They are?” I asked. Oregon Guy reassured me that they were and that Portland’s buildings aren’t as tall. I guess he was right. As I stood on Peachtree Street and looked up at the same buildings that I have looked up to so many times before, I thought to myself for the first time that maybe they are tall. We native Georgians and Best Friend (who was once a Georgia resident for 5 years) got an earful of the astonishment that Oregon Guy expressed when he saw that the gas station attendant was working behind bullet proof glass. We explained to him that it was because we had then entered the ghetto. There’s a thin line and short distance between the “safe” part of Atlanta and the unsafe. I thought it was funny that Oregon Guy was amused by this. But then again, the residents of Oregon can't even dispense their own gas because it’s against the law. I expressed some astonishment over the Oregon gas stations when I visited there, too, I guess. It was refreshing and fun to see my home through the eyes of others. (Though technically Atlanta is not my home because I am not a city girl...bleh!)

We went back to the hotel and talked until the wee hours of the morning sipping Bacardi and Coke. Best Friend and I talked the Oregon Guy’s ears off about how wonderful we thought that Oregon (except their gas stations, of course) is and how much we loved our visit to the Columbia River Gorge last spring. Then we tortured him with pictures we took there that Best Friend still has saved on her laptop. It was a fun night from the beginning until the end when I finally got into my bed at 4:15 a.m.

Sunday was just as much fun, though it was like a waking nightmare…No, seriously! It really was like a waking nightmare but in a fun way!

Best Friend introduced me to another girl at her training. This girl lives in Atlanta also. Best Friend had already mentioned her to me because this girl really likes to hike and participate in many of the other activities I enjoy. She even likes doing crazy things like ghost hunting. Best Friend told her my “ghost story” of what happened to me this past November when I went to Chickamauga National Battlefield past dark.

Let me explain that I am interested in the paranormal but don’t necessarily buy into it completely. When I was a little girl, I had a few creepy experiences and have sort of been interested finding something similar to those experiences now that I am an adult. I believe in the possibility (actually after the night at the battlefield I KNOW there is a possibility) but I don’t think that every strange sound, movement, or sighting is a ghost. I am a girl who is not scared of ANYTHING except snakes. But after that night on the battlefield, I turned into a real baby, came home trembling, and slept with my lights on (what little sleep I got, that is).

With that clarified, on with my story…This girl Best Friend introduced me to, C., was thrilled to find out that I am interested in this type of thing and wanted me and a few of the other people to go on a “ghost hunt”. C. happens to be married to man on the SWAT team. And he happens to have a key to an old abandoned sanitarium where the SWAT team practices some of their tactics. When Best Friend told me about this, I exclaimed, “You’ve got to be kidding me! A haunted insane asylum? That sounds just like a horror movie!”

I told her that I was game. (Though, I was actually terrified inside remembering my battlefield experience) So C. and her SWAT husband took four of us along with them, including myself and Germaphobe.

It looked like a horror movie when we pulled through its gates. It was dark outside and even darker inside. The windows were broken and doors were broken in. Yikes. I was wondering what I had gotten myself into. It felt like a horror movie, too, as we walked through long hallways with flashlights, broken glass and other debris crunching beneath our feet. I kept thinking of how eerily similar the movie House on Haunted Hill 's setting was to this place. Or maybe I was stuck in a game of Silent Hill.

We walked through the all three levels of this place and through nearly all of the rooms, including the morgue. That was sickeningly creepy. Still, the creepiest, horror movie-like things were the reminders of what this place once was, such as a few chairs with restraints on the armrests, what looked like dentist chairs with the restraints, and other equipment that were used in treatments. The fact that the old place was practically in ruins and so dirty only compacted the fear factor. I secretly wondered how many showers Germaphobe would take when she got home. (And I stifled a giggle when she expressed to me over dinner later that, despite how tired she was and that she would be getting home late, she was going to have to wash off the filth of the place. Haha) It really was dirty and smelly. I felt spooked every time that I passed another dark room and sometimes couldn’t muster the courage to peek into them. Or when I did look and saw a broken old mirror I jumped at my own reflection. Sheesh…where’s the girl I knew four months ago? I hardly know me anymore!

All in all, I am relieved to report that other than a few extremely cold spots and orbs (that could possibly be dust particles) showing up in a few pictures, nothing happened. And whereas, the once-brave girl that I was prior to the battlefield would have loved to have heard the eerie laugh and footsteps of the little boy who is said to haunt the 3rd floor, the wuss that I have now become slept much easier last night knowing that if there are any ghosts in that vacated sanitarium, they had no interest in communicating with me.

Of course, I have yet to upload my pictures from my digital camera to the computer for examination or listen to the recordings I made with my digital voice recorder.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Hotness Plan

...Sigh... I've come to conclusion that it is time to once again kick my "Hotness Plan" into full swing again.

In late January 2005, I decided that I was going to lose weight. So I came up with my own weight loss plan and dubbed it my Hotness Plan. I ate foods lower in carbs, bought a Gazelle, and got into Pilates, Yoga, and jogs in the park. Guess what! It worked! I lost 35 pounds in 4 months. And it was so easy! I was never hungry, never deprived myself of food, and built up more endurance for all my outdoorsy activities. I felt great and was so proud of myself. But did I really achieve hotness status?... Weeelllll....Let me not be too hasty in claiming that title.

I haven't gained the weight back and I still exersize (lightly). I eat whatever I want, but throw in a few "weight maintenance" days in there from time to time, when I eat like a saint. It's worked. But then I began thinking that after the holidays how much better I could look and feel if I started back into my strict Hotness Plan. Why stay the same when I know I can improve and feel wonderful with a boost of effort?

I had a great motivation for becoming hot, too. In October, I won a cruise to the Bahamas that I have 18 months to take. And on my bathroom door hangs the cutest orange bikini as a reminder and inspiration. I bought that bikini 2 years ago at the end of summer when it was extremely cheap. Two years ago, I had no business thinking about wearing a bikini much less purchasing one! Now I am not only thinking about wearing it, but I am going to wear it. And I am going to wear it in the Bahamas! Yes, right after the holidays I vowed to kick the Hotness Plan into high gear and reach a smoking hotness that will turn every male's head in the Bahamas.

Then only 4 days after the New Year, I had that mishap with my ankle and it killed me to workout on the Gazelle or jog or walk or stand...Hell, it even hurt to sit! I have made great improvement since then and now is the time to reach for the hotness that I know I have within me. Tomorrow, I am going to the grocery store after work and my fridge and pantry will once again house lean meats, nuts, yogurt, vegetables, and fresh fruit. I will reinforce my ankle with an Ace bandage and jump on the Gazelle. I will once again religiously plop out my Yoga mat on the floor and pull out the Balance Ball and moan, groan, and curse along with my Pilates DVD.

In June (or sometime this summer), I will step out onto a sandy beach on Grand Bahama Island in a cute, orangey bikini and smile at all the men who can't take their eyes off me.

Then I will don my snorkeling gear and look like a big dork all over again.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Story of Savannah

Darn it! I meant to post this yesterday! It's something I wrote to describe the special "relationship" I have with with the city of Savannah. I've lived in northern metro-Atlanta all my life, but I feel that I did a great deal of growing up there in Savannah. It's a place that I have known since a child and it has now actually become a part of me. This is not at all one of my best writings nor one of my favorites. It sums up what I am trying to say, but the words just aren't quite right. Maybe I'll do some modifying, but for now here is what I've got...

The Story of Savannah

This is the story of Savannah; her tale I will share
From her very founding to the time I have spent there
Savannah, the old port city of the south
Standing proudly through the ages by the river’s mouth
The mighty river that flows to the Atlantic Sea
That beckoned the British, Oglethorpe and his Trustees
Who came here to settle along Yamacraw Bluff
Leaving behind them the seas so rough
The Yamacraw Tribe showed them this land
Of which they all agreed was indeed very grand
Men working and building until they were worn
And so it became that this city was born
The men had a plan; laid the town out in squares
That grew into her present state, standing still so fair

So much history lies within her sacred ground
So much of her past still lingers around
The American Revolution, for the independence we sought
Generals Washington and Greene’s men stood here and fought
The pirates docked their ships to come here plundering
Later and again more canons were heard thundering
As the Civil War reached Georgia’s coast
And the soldiers in forts set up their post
The old merchant sailors sailed up to River Street
And today’s commercial sailors, the city still greets
The past lives here; it can still be felt
The spirits of those who had here once dwelt
And the actions of greatness and those that are grim
The haunted city of ghosts and I walk among them

I played on her beaches as a young girl
And watched the tides rise then fall and the waves swirl
It’s where I searched for shells along the sandy shore
And where I brought in loads of sand dollars and then went to find more
I played in the old forts and peered over their wall
And ran up the spiral staircase of the lighthouse so tall

As I’ve grown up over the long years
Here I’ve spent much time, in both happiness and tears
I’ve walked among the ancient oaks with family and friends
I’ve walked through all the squares, beginning to end
And walked under the hanging moss clinging to the trees
All alone in the evening of a warm summer breeze
It’s where I strolled along the gardens in Forsyth Park
And sat by its spurting fountain until well after dark
I’ve walked numerous times through Bonaventure’s gate
And entered the peaceful world in its eternal state
I walked among the graves and the angels of stone
And read the names and dates of those who’ve passed on

This place has been a retreat for my broken heart
A place to shed tears and vow a new start
A safe place to remember friends that have passed on
A place to remember everything now gone
I awakened my friend’s memory, wrote her name in the sand
Then watched the waves as they washed it away
Realizing that, like her, it could not stay

It’s a place of great laughter and sincere smiles
A place for eating seafood by the piles and piles
Then afterwards sampling the pubs and the bars
Even a few nights of one-too-many beneath the stars
It’s where I took my friend from the desert to see the sun rise
For the first time she saw crabs frolicking in the tides
The two of us in search of new things for her to see
The marshes, the alligators, and the walk through tropical trees

And it’s where I first met him along the river that night
Like the beauty of the city, he entranced my sight
My heart soared as he stood so near
I can see it all so clearly as if it were now and here
The sweet smell of the candy shop floating in the air
All was right in my world; I didn’t have a care
As we talked and listened to the music’s lively tune
Beneath the shrinking day and the growing moon
But that’s all in the past; our relationship has stalled
Now he’s only a Savannah memory left to recall

I don’t know what my next memory here will hold
Or what turn of events may happen to unfold
The next time I visit the city that my heart holds
Or what new adventure I will have to be told
But I can’t wait to start another chapter when I return
To create a brand new tale in the town for which I yearn

Thus far is Savannah’s story, beginning in the year 1733
Through the long ages all the way down to me
The same as I am a part of her story and she is part of mine
One day I will pass, leaving with her a piece of me behind
For I know Savannah, over me, will surely outlast
I, too, will be a Savannah memory, am imprint of her past

Monday, March 06, 2006

From the mountains to the caves to the sea

I’ve been busy these last few weekends and this one no exception. Granted, they were all busy in a fun way so I am not complaining.

Best Friend flew in to Atlanta this weekend to begin her 3 week training for the airlines. We were both so excited! I saw her for only one day in December when she flew in for an interview with the airline that she is now training for, so I can’t really count that as a visit. Really, it has been since August that we have visited. And the last time she was here in August, we went to the same place that we did this weekend…Savannah, Ga.

We are both in love with the city and its wonderful seafood. I have been going to Savannah for nearly my whole life, sometimes 3 to 4 times a year! With Best Friend being a Utah girl, I took it upon myself to educate her with Savannah history and torture her with my “tours” of the coolest, most historic, and most haunted sites in the city. Poor girl...she's heard it all from its discovery to the American Revolution to pirates to the Civil War. Now I think that she may know more than me! I know for sure that she loves it as much as me.

I picked Best Friend up at the airport at 4:00 p.m. Saturday and we headed straight for Savannah. Thanks to an accident on I-75 north of Macon, it took us over an hour longer than it normally would to get there. But all was good in the world later that night when we stayed on the beach at Tybee Island, about 13 miles from downtown Savannah. We walked out on the beach, expecting it to be windy and frigid, but it wasn’t. The Atlantic was so calm that it looked like glass reflecting the stars on the horizon. Beautiful…tranquil…peaceful.

Walking up the boardwalk from the pier we began to think about how nice it would have been to have an Amaretto Sour from Moon River Pub on Bay Street. Mmmm. They make the best! So very cherry! It was getting late and knowing that we would be getting up at 5:45 a.m. to take pictures of the sunrise, we opted for a closer bar for our nightcap. We walked to one of the island’s bars. Let me first make something abundantly clear…Tybee Island is not on of those uppity beaches full of high rises and restaurants on the beach. Imagine hip Miami Beach in your mind for a moment….Got it? Now imagine the anti-Miami Beach. A sort of run-down place with a throwback from the 60s feel about it. That’s Tybee Island, Georgia. Welcome! Anyway, needless to say the bars here aren’t the cool pubs you will find on Bay Street, River Street, and City Market in Savannah. In fact, it was quite a redneck bar that we happened upon. And they were singing karaoke in the there…badly. Our ears couldn’t take too much of the noise pollution so we downed our Amaretto Sours quickly and walked back to the hotel…while the rednecks were yelling out to us,
“Don’t leave us! Y’all come back an’ sing with us!”

Sunrise came too damn early, but we decided to go ahead and take the sunrise shots since we missed it the last time we were there. (That’s because we did make our rounds to the pubs of River Street, Bay Street, and City Market last time and didn’t get back to the hotel until after 4:00 a.m. In the words of Joe Walsh, “I go to parties sometimes until four…It’s hard to leave when you can’t find the door.”) It was somehow colder and windier than the night before on the beach. It was freezing, actually! I got a couple of mediocre sunrise shots, because the sunrise wasn’t as spectacular as it has been in the past when it first paints the sky with pink and orange and then rises rapidly as a blazing ball of orange. I took some shots by the pier this time. It’s the first time that I shot sunrise pics somewhere other than by the lighthouse. Not sure if my photos were worth the stinging coldness we had to face, but it was still nice.

We went back to the warm hotel and slept for a couple more hours and then gravitated toward food. Not just food, but seafood, and not just seafood, but the best seafood in the world…The Crab Shack! But it was still another hour before they opened…dang it! We walked a portion of the 6 mile nature trail that begins at Fort Pulaski (A cool Civil War Fort) and meanders along the salt water marshes, tidal creeks, and palms to kill some time. We didn’t see an alligator, which made me a little sad. I guess we should have gone by the fort. We usually see two or three there sunning by the marshes or relaxing in the moat. We didn’t even see a pelican, egret, or heron! That was a first. Totally disappointing.

We made up for our letdown at The Crab Shack. Yummmmm. There is nothing that a bucket of steamed oysters and a broiled seafood platter full of shrimp and crab can’t fix for me! It was wonderful. The sun was bright and it was a gorgeous day to sit out by the tidal creek as we dined. The coolest thing about The Crab Shack (besides the food) is the atmosphere. You can eat outdoors on the deck that is dressed like a tikki hut by the water watching boats pass by as you sit shaded in the midst of palms adorned with white lights and hanging lanterns made from upside down baskets, while listening to Jimmy Buffett. Awesome!

It was a miracle that we were still able to walk after stuffing ourselves silly, but we managed. We headed for another of our usual spots for pictures, the beautiful Bonaventure Cemetery. I don’t care how morbid it sounds, but that is truly a beautiful place. It’s well known for the movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and its gorgeous statues, monuments, and architecturally artistic mausoleums. Primrose and now-blooming azaleas color the whole place. Of course, it is a little creepy, too. With the Spanish Moss drooping from the gnarled Live Oaks and the white forms of angels and other statues seemingly glowing under this grayish canopy, it gives off a ghostly feeling. Not that this cemetery, which is well-documented to be haunted, needs anything to give you that feeling!

We left Bonaventure for Skidaway Island for some hiking. It’s such a beautiful place. It’s very tropical in appearance, with all the cabbage palmettos and tall palm mixed with pine and Live Oak forest. The trails goes through a freshwater marsh, through the palm forest, to the saltwater marsh, salt flats, and then by earthworks used during the Civil War to defend the island and remains of an old liquor still. We didn’t see any animals here either. We usually spot wading birds and deer. However, some unknown creature made this growling hiss-like sound near my feet and disappeared before I ever caught a glimpse of that which nearly made me pee my pants. I am still wondering what that thing was! This island and its trails are very beautiful and unique and leave me forgetting that I am still in Georgia and not on a tropical island.

Before heading back to Atlanta, we went to downtown Savannah and walked through a few of the squares, which are little parks in between the grid of streets. Surrounding these squares (some of which have monuments, historical markers, and fountains in their centers) are old historical homes and buildings. If you have ever watched Forrest Gump waiting for the bus, you have seen Chippewa Square. Savannah was given the title of “America’s First Planned City” because of these well placed, functional squares laid out by Georgia’s British founder, James Oglethorpe. These truly interesting, beautiful treasures are the heart of historic downtown.

We walked down River Street. I was careful to not twist my ankle walking on the uneven old (original) cobblestone road. There was a concert going on. I have never seen such a huge crowd on a Sunday before! Being in close proximity to so many people reminded me of why I have never attended the super-crowded St. Patrick’s Day festivities held there each year. It’s almost as big as Mardi Gras! As usual, we walked through the delicious River Street Sweets candy shop and took a sampling of the pralines and glazed pecans. No place smells or tastes sweeter! We walked along the Savannah River on the riverwalk and then back up the steep steps to Bay Street. Best Friend wanted to check out some of the sites along Bay. After taking a couple of pictures of the Old Cotton Exchange and it’s lion fountain and George Washington’s cannons, we made our way to the Moon River Pub for dinner(…ok, so I really wanted one of their Amaretto Sours so badly that I actually passed up one of my regular restaurants on River Street, Olympia’s, which has the world’s greatest Greek food!) All the while at Moon River, I kept my eyes opened for one of the pub’s regulars that Best Friend, Germaphobe, and I met last August. We hung out with him and his friend that night. He was a really nice guy, except that he stole my cup from Wet Willy’s! I really wanted that cup, too, as a memoir of another crazy night down on the river and City Market. Before leaving Savannah that weekend in August, we left that thief a note with the bartender the next day demanding the safe return of the cup. I was willing to talk ransom. Alas, that cup is lost forever. My cup thief didn’t show up last night so I enjoyed my Amaretto Sour (but only one and with food, since I knew I must drive) at Moon River and we slowly walked through some more of the squares toward the gate of Colonial Park Cemetery, where I parked my car. We walked slowly, knowing that when we reached my car, we would have to leave.

Sunrise by the Tybee Island pier on a cold morning.

Entrance to The Crab Shack...where the elite eat in their bare feet! Man, I'm hungry!

A part of Jimmy Buffett's world...the awsome atmosphere of The Crab Shack!

Bonaventure Cemetery shaded with Spanish Moss.

One of the angels of Bonaventure. The last time I saw her, her wing was not broken.

Reflections in the marshes of Skidaway Island. The glowing palms pic. at the top of post was also taken here.

Late evening sun streaming through the oaks to highlight the blooming azaleas in Reynolds Square.

Best Friend can show you the way to Moon River.

A walk down on River Street, the Savannah River to the left and historic buildings on the right. (Home to pubs, restaurants, and gift shops nowadays.)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Oh, the agony!

Can anyone please tell me how long it takes a sprained ankle to heal?

I have had only one other sprained ankle in my life and it happened when I was very young. I think we were playing Boys-Chase-Girls on the playground and to avoid getting caught, thus catching the Cooties (because in this game, if you are caught, the boy would kiss you...ewwww!) I was running like the wind and stepped into a hole. Ouch! I know it hurt, but being a bit younger in those days, I think I healed up rather quickly. I contribute my sprain-free life to the fact that I am double-jointed.

That is why I am so perplexed by my second spraining which occurred the first week of January! The sad part of it is that I sprained this ankle simply by standing up quickly from a chair and somehow twisting it. I felt a sharp shooting pain, then numbness and then the dull throbbing began. My ankle swelled up slightly but only for a day. By the looks of it, you would never know anything was wrong. But now, two months later, I still feel the soreness. I took some healing time off from my usual activities before exercising or hiking again. Even now, I wear my Ace ankle brace and high top hiking boots for support when I go on my hikes. I can't even tell anything is wrong when my ankle is supported like that, but when it's not supported, I have to really watch the way I move it or else it will throb again.

Is this old age? I certainly don't feel that old. I actually feel younger and more energetic than I ever have in my life (besides when I played Boys-Chase-Girls on the playground in 1st grade). I just hope that this isn't a sign of things yet to come in my older years! Help! I need a body to keep up with my youthful spirit!

Still, I think the worst part is answering the question, "How did you hurt your ankle?" And knowing that they, knowing me, are expecting a crazy answer like, "Oh, I was hiking in Montana when all of the sudden this Grizzly started chasing me and I had to jump off this really high bluff to get away!" and then I mumble, "I stood up." A puzzled look and then another question to clarify, "You did what?" I look down at the ground and say in a rather annoyed tone, "I just stood up from my chair." I try to quickly add tidbits about how it's not as bad as the time I twisted my knee in the Red River Gorge or how lucky I was to not have sprained an ankle when I slipped on a rock climbing by a waterfall in the Ozarks. Realizing my ramblings about other bodily harm to myself caused by myself are backfiring in making me look "cooler" and are, instead, making me seem rather clumsy, I stop talking. Then in my most humbling tone I say, "Yes, I just stood up."

Oh the shame! I can't look myself in the eye.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Wonders of the Lost River Cave and Valley

As promised, here are some of the interesting things I learned…

Geologic Wonders of the Cave and Valley

*Lost River rises 350 ft. from the cave entrance through Blue Hole and then disappears into the cave where it travels 3 miles underground beneath the city of Bowling Green, KY.

*The Blue Hole was thought to be bottomless for over 100 years and was later measured to be 437 ft. deep after a Railroad Engineer tossed a weighted measuring line into the hole. Robert Ripley visited this area to declare that Lost River, at 437 ft. deep and only 350 ft. long (before disappearing underground into the cave), was the “shortest and deepest river in the world.”…Believe it or not! ...Well,…possibly not…A theory exists that Lost River rises and descends through sink holes in the valley. A strong descending under-current could drag a measuring line horizontally which would lead one to believe the depth is much greater than actually is. I guess it would be like another river flowing beneath Lost River with Blue Hole being both the spring feeding the Lost River and an opening to the flowing subterranean river.

*The cave entrance is the largest natural entrance in the eastern U.S.

*The present day entrance is about 1 mile from the original entrance. The limestone wall of the cave was dissolved many years ago by flowing ground water and the roof of the cave collapsed creating the Lost River Valley. This explains the bluffs overlooking the cave and the many rocks strewn across the valley floor.

The Rich History

*Was inhabited by the Native Americans 11,000 years ago. Countless artifacts were left behind.

*An operating mill was established here around 1792. A couple more mills operated on the site off and on through the years until the last mill burned to the ground in 1915. The “Cave Mill” is the only known mill to have been built and operated within a cave.

*Numerous human bones have been recovered in the cave suggesting that it was used as a den for murderers or for grisly experiments made in the name of science.

A known example of this occurred during a time when doctors had a difficult time obtaining cadavers for dissection. Word got around to a local doctor that a convicted murderer was sentenced to be hanged the following day. The doomed man claimed his innocence to the end and requested some whisky to calm his fear of walking to the gallows. The jailer refused his request. The doctor conferred with his fellow doctors and schemed up a plan. The doctor visited the jailed man and made a deal with him. The man agreed to will over his dead body to the doctor in exchange for a quart of Kentucky’s finest bourbon. The following day the drunk man was hanged. There was an outcry from the straight-laced public for a proper Christian burial. After denying his plans and burying a coffin filled with rocks, the doctor and his colleges secretly took the man’s body to the cave for dissection as planned.

For several years following the incident, those who were privy to its knowledge dubbed the cave “Dead Man’s Cave.” Rumors spread and the residents of the area refused to enter the cave after nightfall as they were terrified of the cave’s ghosts.

*During the Civil War it was used as a campground for both Union and Confederate Armies.

The Confederates camped here first in the fall of 1861. The first reported mysterious incident involving Blue Hole occurred at this time. A wagon team was hauling supplies to the Confederates down the steep valley during a winter flood. The entire team of horses, loaded wagon, and driver disappeared beneath the swollen river, sinking quickly and without a trace, except for the driver’s hat which was found floating on the water after the accident.

Shortly after the Rebels moved out, the Union troops moved in. The Yankees did not leave without having their own disasterous encounter with Blue Hole. The tempting cool waters of the seemingly placid water beckoned them to cool off from the sun’s heat. Suddenly, one soldier let out a cry and waved his hands wildly then disappeared beneath the water. A second man came to his aid only to sink behind him and never resurfaced. A third man met the same fate. The men then realized a whirlpool existed beneath the calm surface that could suck them away into unknown depths of an unknown part of the cavern.

*Here’s a touch of Wild West History in the cave…In 1868 the infamous outlaw Jesse James and his gang, including bother Frank, used the cave as a hideout after robbing the Southern Deposit Bank in Russellville, KY, escaping with $60,000. It is rumored they hid out for at least a week in the cave. A physician reported treating one of the gang members inside the cave after being led there by Jesse James himself. Officers then guarded the cave believing they had the James brothers captured only to wait in false hopes. James and his gang apparently escaped through one of the many other cave openings about a mile away from the well-known entrance.

*After the last mill burned in 1915, the cave property was purchased by the Perkins family. They took advantage of the numerous Walnut trees and set up a walnut collection and processing operations.

*The Perkins family reinforced the stone mill dam and made a hydroelectric power plant to create lighting for an atmosphere suitable for dining, boating on the river, and even dancing, making this an amusement park of sorts open to tourists. Two large dance floors, a bridge, a stone bar, and a bandstand were built. It became a popular public gathering place. Cave tours were given also attracting school field trips.

*Somehow the cave traded in its spooky reputation for one of a romantic feel as the cave opened up as the world’s only underground nightclub in 1934. Such romantic encounters happened at the cave that some chose the cave as the site for their wedding. Walking the grounds and standing on the old dance floor, you can imagine young lovers dancing the night away and sneaking off together in the woods by the river.

The nightclub was in full-swing until the 1960’s when it was closed. The building of Interstate 65 diverted the traffic from US 31-W (the cave’s location) and it no longer pulled in the numerous visitors it once had.

*In the late 1970’s the cave and its surrounding area were posted a public health hazard after a local company spilled toxic chemicals into a sink hole a mile away. Shortly after the spill, the pollutant appeared at the cave.

*By the 1980’s the cave had luckily restored itself back to health and in 1985 the then owners of the cave property donated it to Western Kentucky University.

*Today the Lost River Cave is operated as Kentucky’s only underground boat tour and its valley a shady, green park with the beautiful and educational Lost Valley Trail leading by the cave, the river, and two other sinkholes.

Germaphobe and I walked the scenic trail and went into the cave’s entrance. We were amazed at the green that flourished in this area, even in the dead of winter. For anyone passing thorough the Bowling Green, KY area that loves history and geology, I would suggest a stop. Maybe you’ll have better luck and actually get a ticket to ride on the boat!

The Blue Hole and spring of the Lost River, allegedly 437 ft. deep in one spot.

Old power house and dam wall is seen at the mouth of the cave. The covered shelter also seen covers one of the two dance floors.

I took this shot while standing on the the dance floor at the mouth of the cave.

Here's the old nightclub entrance. Steep stairs wind down the bluff to the cave below. Adorned on the arch of the gate is "1934".