Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tallulah Gorge

When I told my sister-in-law we were going camping, her response was, "you realize, that the definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting different results."

If you've talked to us over the past year about our camping adventures, then you probably know that our last couple camping trips have not gone so say the least.  If you haven't heard those stories...well...I'll save those for another post.  Needless to say, this camping trip was somewhat of a make-it-or-break-it camping trip.  Our "not quite ready to throw in the camping towel" adventurous spirits took us to Tallulah Gorge State Park.

We rolled into the park on Friday afternoon, and after setting up camp, we headed off to scout the shops of Tallulah Falls to find some firewood (the campsite was lacking in adequate firewood), where we found some unique shops with even more "unique" store owners.  One such unique store owner, not only helped us load the firewood into the car, but loaded our car with twice as much wood as we paid for.  There are kind, generous strangers left in the world :)

Having fun while searching for firewood

View of Tallulah Gorge from roadside overlook

Before settling into the campsite for the evening, we hiked the "moderate" rated North Rim Trail which has beautiful views of the waterfalls in the gorge. At one of the overlooks, we saw 20-30 huge birds circling around, flying in the gorge, and soaring 15 feet above our heads. It was amazing! I tried to take pictures but the birds would not stop in mid air and pose for me.   We hiked back to our campsite and devoured a yummy dinner of shish kabobs and fire roasted biscuits.

Home Sweet Home

Yep, I built the campfire, you proud?

The next morning we woke up, ate our scrumptious homemade breakfast burritos, and headed off to hike the Hurricane Falls Loop Trail (rated "difficult" and includes a total of 1,099 stairs) and the Gorge Floor Trail...gotta love the description: "2.5 miles, round-trip. No soil, all rocks and boulders. Rated very difficult."  Oh yeah, and it was...very difficult.

Tim on steps going down into the gorge

No, it was not that was STEEPER

And in case you hadn't been warned enough...

The workers at the interpretive center tried to warn us from hiking the gorge floor trail, showed us pictures, and gave us the stink eye when we said we didn't have walking sticks, but all that did not scare us off.  We got down all the steps, crossed the suspension bridge (which made us both almost pee our pants, despite only one of us being afraid of heights), and got down to the little gate that separates the last scenic platform from the gorge floor trail...kind of the last warning "go through this gate at your own risk".

Amy on the suspension bridge

The first thing you have to do when hiking the gorge floor trail is cross the river by climbing over big rocks with big gaps in between.  Tim and I were so thankful to be wearing our waterproof sturdy hiking boots...even after we both fell in...Tim up to his ankles and me up to my not so waterproof when you submerge them underwater.  We got about half way across the river, and looked at each other for a moment of: "if this is how the whole trail is, should we keep going?".  Watching the 9 and 12 year old girls reach the other side at that moment answered our question ( hey, no judging, they had daddy to carry them across.  I offered to carry Tim on my shoulder, but he declined :).

After reaching the other side, dumping water out of our boots and ringing out our socks as best we could, we continued on by following the people in front of us.  At one point we commented that calling this a "trail" was quite misleading because all the up-and-down over giant rocks was more like bouldering than hiking.  Come to find out on our way back, we were in fact not on the trail for the first half of the hike, and had made the "very difficult" trail into a "very very difficult" trail.  (I'm sure some of you expert hikers that have hiked this trail before are calling us names in your heads right now...maybe something like "woosies"?)  We did eventually reach the end of the trail where we stopped and ate lunch (tuna never tasted so good) and enjoyed the beautiful sunshine.  The weather could not have been more perfect.  I truly had a blast!

Enjoying the sunshine at the end of the trail

The next morning our very achy bodies reminded us of the fun we had the day before.  When I asked Tim if he wanted to go hike the moderate South Rim Trail (while thinking of my achy muscles), I was relieved when his reply was "I'm good".

The trip was so refreshing.  God truly made some beautiful places!  Gorgeous weather, great food, good company...looks like this family will continue camping for a long time :)
Link to more pictures from the trip coming soon!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

HiKing, Kookies, and Knights

With the lack of cute kids and funny pets, our lives are not that interesting on a daily basis, so I'm including a few fun things in one post. We are settling back into N. GA and our apartment only has a couple boxes left (probably going to stay as permanent fixtures). So we decided to explore the beauty around us last weekend and to go hiking. Our first stop was a park in Gainesville that was recommended to us. We arrived at the park and felt that the area was...well...a little sketchy...and, oh yeah, had no hiking trail. Then we realized we hadn't driven quite far enough and the park we finally got to see was pretty with several picnic benches and grills that I'm sure will be fun when the weather gets warmer...but no real hiking trail. So we decided to continue our adventure and try a park in Buford that I found online that offers hiking, camping, swimming, fishing, etc. We arrived at the park...and it was closed for the season. However, you can walk down the path to view the Buford dam.

Phone pic of us at Buford Dam

We were able to stay only a few minutes before realizing the hiking trails were open, but we had to leave to make it back for church...dam... (haha...ok...bad pun).

So in lieu of the impending Valentine's Day (and because I have way too much time on my hands), I decided to make cookies for our young adults group at church. But these are not just any cookies...they are my grandmother's recipe...which I attempted to make in ended with me in tears and very pathetic cookies. Needless to say, it's a difficult recipe. BUT...I thought I'd give it another try.


They were a success! Not as good as my grandma's, but hey, I don't think you get those powers until you're a grandma. Our young adults group enjoyed them, and I also sent some to work with Tim. I'm guessing they enjoyed them because in place of the platter I sent with him, was this...

Guess they liked my cookies :D

Yum...yum...(that's the sound of me enjoying a cookie :) ).

This morning we got to enjoy the outdoors and do some service at the same time. Tim is a Knight of Columbus (KofC) (if you don't know what that is, look it up, and this morning we helped the knights clean up the church property including some trails behind the church.  It was a beautiful, cold morning, and we got a lot of work done!

I was cold!

And they say knights don't exist these days...