Grammi and I were a little sad that we couldn’t spend Christmas day with all our children this year, but getting together for a week afterwards more than made up for it. We rented a wonderful three story log cabin with five bedrooms, a hot tub, game room, and a spacious balcony overlooking a stunning lake in a beautiful mountain setting near Hiawassee, Georgia. It was the perfect place to gather and celebrate the New Year with our family.
Only if you are from a large loving family would you truly know what it was like at the cabin each day. A cacophony of sights, sounds and aromas abound while meals were prepared, good-hearted banter erupted, spontaneous laughter ensued, children running through the house as their mother yelled for them to stop, grampa sheepishly snickering at instigating the children’s ruckus, and impromptu sing-alongs and dancing enticed everyone to join in. As the days wound down we marveled at the gorgeous sunsets and enjoyed the evenings playing games and soaking in the hot tub. It was a happy time and Grammi and I were in our glory.
North Georgia is beautiful anytime of year but a recent snowfall presented our family from Florida a captivating charm seldom experienced. The unspoiled snowfall created a enchanting winter wonderland. It could have easily been a scene from a Thomas Kinkade painting. Amazing were the enormous icicles hanging on the rock walls along the side of the highway. Even the frosty air caused us to dance and giggle to this unfamiliar feeling.
The snow was short-lived as the days warmed, if only slightly, prompting us to get outdoors. Each morning after breakfast we went off to explore and experience what the area had to offer. Eager to see what adventures lie ahead, we would load the clan into two vehicles, sometimes three, and caravan from place to place. We found plenty to keep us busy and pursued a variety of activities to satisfy everyones diverse interest. Below are some of the highlights from those adventures.
Hike to DeSoto Falls
There were actually two falls, the upper and the lower, and we hiked to both. Crossing a wooden bridge over the rhododendron lined Frogtown Creek, we came to an intersection in the trail. To the left was the lower falls trail and to the right was the upper falls trail. We went to the upper falls first then retraced our path to go to the lower falls. A wooden viewing platform is located at each falls. The crowds were practically nonexistent as we were the only people at the falls for quite a while. It was about a two mile round trip hike to both falls.
Anna Ruby Falls
Anna Ruby Falls is a popular waterfalls near Helen, Georgia. Its paved uphill trail is about ½ mile long and is accessible to strollers and wheel chairs. There are two wooden viewing decks at the base of the falls. Thousands of visitors come to see this rare double waterfall every year. It was very crowded on the day we were there.
Helton Creek Falls
Driving the 2.2 mile narrow gravel road to Helton Falls is part of the adventure when visiting this falls. There is not much parking and traffic jams are common during busy times. It’s a short hike to a stunning two tiered falls dropping more than 100 feet. Wooden observation decks provide easy access for viewing. This was my favorite waterfall out of the three we saw this week.
Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, Helen, Georgia resembles a Bavarian Alpine village. It’s successful transformation more than fifty years ago has made this one of the most visited places in the state. We’ve been there several times in the past. I love wearing my wool felt alpine fedora with the feather while clinking steins of beer and dancing to the oompah band at the annual Octoberfest. I can’t quite explain how the Chicken Polka can suddenly transform my otherwise introverted persona.
We went to Helen to have lunch and to walk along the main street, stopping occasionally at some of the many shops. Holiday decorations still adorned the village. Aromas from the bakery shops and candy stores swirled through the air and I confess I could not resist the temptation. The sights and sounds of bustling tourist filled the street. It is an ultra tourist destination, but one I seem to tolerate better than others. Maybe it’s my fascination with all things German.
Ice Skating in Highland, NC
Our granddaughter, Ivy, was so excited to learn we were taking her ice skating. Located in downtown Highlands was an outdoor skating rink. It was her first time on the ice and she was eager to learn how. The admission fee included skate rental and one hour on the ice. Her mom accompanied her on the ice while grammi and I played in the snow with two year old Eliza. Eliza needed no encouragement to throw snowballs at her grampa.
Vogel State Park
We braved the elements to have a picnic lunch at Vogel State Park. Hot chocolates purchased from the camp store helped to warm our insides, but the highlight of our visit was a hike around Trahlyta Lake. The 20-acre reservoir built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s is the center-piece to the park.
Booze, Beer and Wine
I was convinced by my son-in-laws that no trip to the mountains is complete without a visit to a moonshine distillery. We went to the tasting room at Grandaddy Mimi’s Distillery to sample a flight of “legal” moonshine.
The ladies in the group, being much more sophisticated than the guys, said they were not fans of the moonshine and much preferred a good wine. So we went to Crane Creek Vineyard where they sampled a flight of locally made wines.
At the Hiawassee Brew we sat outside around a fire for a bite to eat and to sample some locally brewed beer. I tried the Appalachian Amber.
Since we had most of the family together, the girls planned a family photo shoot. We found a suitable location at a park in town. So we combed our hair and put on a clean shirt. The photos shown here are just a couple of probably a hundred taken that afternoon. I gush when I see the ones of the grand kids.
New Years Day
New Years Day was the only day we didn’t go anywhere as we had activities planned at the cabin. It was the last full day before heading home. We started with a big breakfast of pancakes, bacon, eggs, potatoes, fruit, muffins and oatmeal. Then there was fun games to play and a gingerbread house to build. And then finally the grand finally for the week was the opening of gifts.
I was surprised Ivy was up in time for breakfast. Last night, she managed to stay awake long enough to celebrate the arrival of a new year. But this was an exciting day and she was keen to get it started.
Our adventures have taken us to some amazing places. This week’s adventure is a story filled with priceless memories. One shared with family. We are Grammi and Grampa and that means we are blessed to be a part of a family. We shall forever cherish these moments.
Until next time…happy days and safe travels.