Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Some Pictures From the Summer (Part 1)

These are not all in order. I had to go through over 1,000 pictures from three different cameras for a decidedly limited number of people who are going to look at them, so it won't bother me if they are not arranged perfectly.

Tallulah Gorge State Park, Georgia.

This was this year's vacation spot determiner from the 1960s encyclopedia. The state park as currently organized seems to date only from the 1990s or so. Like the rest of society, the leisure opportunities at Tallulah Gorge are increasingly bifurcated between expert level rock climbing and walking along smooth paved footpaths to a series of marked and designated views. There were steps at various points leading down into the gorge, but the danger/warning signs posted at the beginnings of these descents were so dire that they scared us off of going down them, though my older children were interested in doing so. Near the end of our visit I came to a vantage where I could see down to the chain footbridge that crossed the gorge and it looked like there were plenty of ordinary fitness level tourists and other visitors walking across it, so I think we probably could have gone down. They have a good museum there too.

The place was beautiful, though due to having all of the children with us we only walked on one side of the gorge and did not go down into it at all, so for my own sake I felt that I did not commune with the nature very closely--the park is not very wild if you follow the designated paths. I was not psychologically prepared for that.

There was another site from the 1960s encyclopedia's family recommendations that I attempted to see on the way south--Elephant Rock in Talleyville, Delaware,  just north of Wilmington. I couldn't find it however. One assumes it is still there, though other than my encyclopedia the only reference to it I have found to it anywhere is from a guide book from 1976 that is on the internet. This gave a pretty precise location, being presumably on US route 202 3.5 miles from the Pennsylvania border on the left side driving south. However I did not see any rock that looked like an elephant at this general spot, but a string of shopping centers and then a suburban housing development. Perhaps the rock was dynamited to clear the way for this real estate. I am going to be going that way again soon, so maybe I will try to find out what's going on with this once vaunted and now apparently unknown attraction.

This is back at home, just a regular afternoon. It's a happy picture. The two little ones are very photogenic, which is good, because in an overpopulated world in which resources are running out, 4th and 5th born children need to justify their existence in as many ways as possible. 

The two younger children on the beach at Wells, Maine. We went to a campground there for four days in August. While I do like to see other parts of the country, summer in New England is special too, and I don't want us to miss out on those experiences either.

On the trolleybus in Wells. The two little ones are getting a lot of face time so far. They still smile for the camera, I guess

Now we are back in July on our southern trip. We camped on the way to Georgia in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest in western Virginia. This is a view from there.

Our campsite in Virginia, with #s 1, 2 & 5.

In Georgia we stayed in cabins in Unicoi State Park (a very beautiful park with great facilities and what appears to be a man-made lake), which is near the tourist town of Helen. Helen is famous for having all of its buildings being decorated in the Bavarian style. There are consequently numerous beer halls and German-themed restaurants, though unfortunately I did not get to sample any of these (having to feed five children numerous times a day away from home precludes all but a couple of restaurant outings on a week long vacation).

Representation of Smokey the Bear at the visitors' center for Anna Ruby Falls in the Chattahoochee National Forest, which is adjacent to Helen and Unicoi State Park.

There are actually two falls facing each other at about a 45 degree angle. This is also a very beautiful walk, but again the path is paved and perfectly maintained and the walk is only about 0.4 miles, so it is as if all the work has been done for you. Our trails in New England, even the most popular ones, are not quite so completely streamlined for the convenience of visitors.

#2, back in Helen.

I would come back to this place sometime, to eat some German food and see what the bar scene is like. Even though it is in Georgia, it is in the northern part, at the edge of the Appalachian mountains, and it feels more like Gatlinburg and the Smokies than your Flannery O'Connor/Ray Charles idea of Georgia.

Underneath the dome of the Georgia State House in Atlanta. This picture is out of order.

Back in Helen at the pancake house (which was adorned outside in the Heidiesque manner). This is the reclusive, camera shy child #3.

Child #2's collection of patches from the trip. On the way home we drove up through Smoky Mountains National Park (where we have gone twice on vacation--pictures somewhere on the site) and stopped at the visitors' center on the North Carolina side so he could get that patch.

Really on the way home now, looking at New York City from I-287 in Brooklyn.

Back in Atlanta, the group hanging out in some kind of southern tree that I can't think of the name of on the Georgia State House lawn. 

We only went to Atlanta for the day, which really ended up being about six hours, and we only saw two things. I had never been there before. My impression was much more positive than I was expecting. Having lived my entire life basically in the Northeast (north of D.C.), the rest of the country, other than a few obvious cities such as Chicago and the great cities of the Pacific coast, really is portrayed in a very negative light. My ideas of Atlanta were that the traffic was biblically horrific, that the downtown was nothing but an endless stretch of hotels, parking garages and highways, and completely devoid of people, and that any structure that had character or predated the 1970s was compulsively torn down to make way for some garish corporate enterprise, So I was pleasantly surprised to find that it really did not differ all that much in its general feel from being in most of our northeastern cities on a weekday, that there were people out, and busy shops and restaurants on Peachtree Street, and that there were a few pockets (such as the area around the State House) that evoked something of the sense of the charm that many people do associate with the South, notwithstanding the ugly truths of history that you are always aware of lying behind it. It probably helped that I had the good luck to be there on an 83 degree day in July with no humidity. I would like to go back to Atlanta now too. There is actually quite a lot to see and do there. It is a major city now.

Last picture from Wells Beach. I will probably do another set of these at some point, as a few things got left out. It will probably be a month or two though.  

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