North Georgia Mountain Adventures

First I need to say that this post is longer than usual but I am sharing the adventures of my weekend in North Georgia including wine tastings and getting lost in a parking lot ….. So get a cup of coffee or a brewsky in hand before you begin reading.

There are advantages and disadvantages to being married and the same goes for being single. It the end it is your attitude that determines how you view this…just as one sees the glass half empty or half full. Although being single is a choice that I did not want, I have come to grips with the concept that I have to look for and enjoy the advantages of the single life.

One advantage is I do not have to get anyone’s permission or blessing to do things….the choice is basically mine. But I must be willing to get out there and do things…. or else I will spend the days of my life just treading water and never trying anything new.

Thus, I decided to take a long holiday Thanksgiving weekend and go to Hiawassee, Georgia and along the way, to do some site seeing in some of the small North Georgia Towns. So, on the Friday after Thanksgiving, Beasley and I headed out. (For those new to the blog, Beasley is a small stuffed bunny that has traveled with me to Europe. I know it sounds weird but just go with it. His story is found on Italy!! Thursday (Post #2)—Beasley’s Story) 

I will confess that at first Beasley had an attitude about this….after three trips to Europe, he indicated that the North Georgia mountains would be too dull for him. However, his ears did perk up when I told him we would visit at least two wineries and also participate in some wine tastings.  And when I told him I would let him play with my new iPhone as we traveled, his spirits lifted. (I hoped the iPhone would decrease the number of times I would hear “are we there yet?”.) 

We left at 10:30 Friday morning and the first stop was the Cajun Depot in Ellijay. My son Chris had told me that I had to get their Andouille Sausage Po-Boy sandwich. I looked it up on-line and the restaurant looked pretty easy to get to. Sooooo………..how is it that I can have a GPS in the car…. a GPS on my iPhone …… and several printed maps in the car and STILL get lost?  But I did.

When I got close to Ellijay, I managed to zig and not zag when I was supposed to and instead of being in a cute downtown area, I am driving along some industrial parkway. I find finally a parking lot and come up for air and enter the address for the Cajun Depot into my GPS and head out again.

The good news is that I am becoming a pro at getting lost…..  I have learned to not let it fluster me but instead I just laugh about it. (Beasley, however, is not quite so easily amused by my wanderings about.) 

I did finally arrive at the Cajun Depot and Chris was correct…… they served the best po-boy sandwich I ever had. (It even rated TWO pictures in the photo slide show at the end of this post.) From there we drove to downtown Ellijay which is adorable.

They have a very small park-like center in the middle of a roundabout and stores all around the center. We wandered up and down the streets, going in and out of shops. I found the perfect walking stick for my hikes in Marietta.

Next stop: Cartecay Wineries for our wine tasting. It was so fun… they have a small two story building in the midst of all the vineyards. You pay $8 to get 5 tickets along with a printed list of wines they are offering that day for the tasting. You choose a wine to try and then turn in a ticket and then choose another wine and so forth. They have various sitting areas including one with an outside fireplace.

I found a wine I really liked ….. something called Hellbender which, I think, is an awful name for a wine (truly sounds like a name for a beer) but it is a wonderful and unique red wine.

We left the winery and headed to Hiawassee, making a couple of stops along the way. After I checked into the Ridges Resort, it was time to head to Crane Creek Winery.  I had read they had a wine tasting with a tapas menu. I sampled a couple of their wines and then walked up the driveway to Holly Hall where the Tapas event was going to take place.

At this point, the evening started going downhill….very quickly. The tapas event was a tactical error for me—one of the first I have made in a long time. Usually when I am going somewhere and I have to eat by myself, I look for a place that has a small table that is positioned so I can people watch.

The small house that this event was in was filled with tables that would seat 6 or 8. When I entered, they had lots of couples at the tables and my soul sank as I just did not have the energy or the desire to be the only single person sitting with a bunch of strangers. So I left.

Needing to quickly regroup, I decided to stop at Brass Town Valley Resort for dinner. It was on my way back and I know they have a nice restaurant there. But by now it is very dark and it is also misting a bit.  I sort of know where I am going but not totally.

I am also trying to turn my high beam lights on some of the time but then I see this message on my dashboard (officially called the Electronic Vehicle Information Center or EVIC) stating that the high beams are on automatic……… but I do not want automatic…I want manual and I am not sure how to override that. (ggrrrrrrrr). I keep pushing on what I think is the high beams lever on the steering wheel but it does not seem to work.

I finally see the Brass Town Valley Resort sign and turn. It is a lot further up the road than I remembered and the road is narrow and curvy and then all of a sudden this picture message appears on my EVIC and it is a picture of my car with all 4 tires and it has a pressure reading around each tire and it changes some….32 to 33 to 34 to 32…………

Aughghghghghghghgh………….why is that there?  Do I need to worry???  What IS a normal tire pressure any way?? What is it trying to tell me?? And where is the lodge??  I finally see the lodge and find a parking place which is hard to do as there are a lot and I mean a lot of people there and it is dark and I feel grumpiness coming on.

I get out of the car…get my car manual and walk up to the lodge only to find out that the wait is 2 hours if you do not have  any reservations (which of course I do not.)

So, before I go back to the car, I sit in the lobby and read the manual and it says my car pressures should be listed on my car door. So I walk back to the car only to discover I cannot read the tire pressures on the door as it is dark (note to self: get the flashlight app for my iPhone when I get home) so then I try to get out of the parking lot and I get lost in the parking lot and go around in a circle and come back to where I started (I do not think the GPS Chick could have helped me. In my defense, this is a big resort and it is dark and I do not know where I am.)

The whole time I keep looking at the car tire message on the EVIC to make sure I still have a number higher than 2 listed and asking God to make sure it stays at the correct number (whatever that is.) 

I finally find my way out of the parking lot and down the mountain and I get on the road to take me back to my resort/hotel only to miss the turn and have to drive a mile down the road to turn around and come back. I am now thinking that if I could find a box of Twinkies to eat then I would be happy.

At this point the “joys of the ordinary life” are starting to fade and I am now thinking “grumble grumble grumble……….whose flipping idea was this to go to the North Georgia Mountains this weekend??” 

Oh …yes… MINE ….. due to the “advantages” of being single and all that…………..per my earlier comments “I must be willing to get out there and do things…. or else I will spend the days of my life just treading water and never trying anything new.” 

I am now thinking that there is nothing wrong with treading water.

I make it to the hotel and still have the tire message. There is enough light in the parking lot for me to read the tire pressure numbers and they say 32 to 33 so what is that stupid message doing on the EVIC?

I look at my tires in the semi-light and I still have 4 tires that look pretty good to me so I say to myself “I will deal with this tomorrow” and off I go to the hotel restaurant. The dinner was just average but I did not have to drive anywhere so I was thrilled.

When I got back to my room, my brother just happened to call me to see how things were going and I shared my tire story with him. He educates me on this…..it turns out that the message was not a warning message but somehow in my flailing around trying to turn my high beams on, I pressed a button/pushed the lever that brings up the tire information menu. The car thought I wanted to know what the tire pressures were and was giving me that information.

Silly car……. I did not want to know about my tires………..I WANTED THE HIGH BEAM LIGHTS ON.

That mystery being solved, I decided to try to salvage the tiny bit of evening that was left. The Ridges Resort has this great lobby area with a large fireplace. It is also decorated beautifully for Christmas. Beasley and I went and sat by the fire for a bit and I unwound with a cup of decaf coffee (I did consider something stronger) and I soon recovered from the grumpies.

It is truly amazing but sitting in a lovely room with a big fireplace and Christmas lights can truly help restore the soul. By the time I went to bed, I was back to laughing at myself and being grateful for such a fun day.

Saturday morning I woke up and checked the forecast which said a high of 46 degrees and abundant sunshine. What a great forecast….. Abundant Sunshine.  The day was a true joy. Started off with a continental breakfast at the hotel…drove into Hiawassee and then over to the small town of Hayesville where I did some window shopping.

From there I drove to a scenic area where the Appalachian Trail crosses the road and I walked along the trail for 3 minutes. That is all I may ever do of the trail but it was awesome to be there.

Next I drove up the steep and curvy road to Brasstown Bald, the highest point in N. Georgia. I had forgotten how curvy and steep some of these roads can be and will confess to being a tad nervous. But we made it to the visitor center and I chose to take the .6 mile hike up to the top instead of the shuttle bus.

It is very steep and I foolishly thought I could handle this due to my hiking Kennesaw Mountain. My goal was to make it up and the trail and not stop once to get my breath. Alas, I did not reach my goal….I had to stop twice. But I did manage to hike up the trail and the views were wonderful.

Beasley and I then headed over to Blairsville where we had a late lunch then back to Crane Creek Winery for the wine tasting. When I was there on Friday, it was dark and I wanted to see the vineyards and the tasting cottage in daylight. What a fun and cute place—in warmer months you could sit at the tables or on chairs on the lawn overlooking the small lake and the vineyards. It was beautiful.

After my wine tastings and the purchase of another bottle of wine, it was back to The Ridges Resort. It was a big football night on TV so I decided to watch some TV in the lobby area sipping my coffee and sitting by the fire. It was a lovely way to end the day.

Today (Sunday) I had the continental breakfast at the hotel and we were out by 10:30 AM. The first stop was the Mercier Orchards and store in Blue Ridge Georgia per Chris and Allison’s suggestion. What an awesome place (www.mercier-orchards.com). It is a family owned and operated apple orchard started in 1943 by Bill and Adele Mercier and the 4th generation is now in “training”.

Ms. Adele Mercier is in her 90s and still lives on the land and comes to work in the bakery each day…… being a bit older, she does not come in until 11 AM. (God Bless Her!) 

They have everything from bottles of fresh cider, jams, jellies, vegetables, fruit, a bakery, toys, pet items and etc. In addition they now have a Cider House where you can have a cider tasting. During certain times of the year you can pick berries or apples. They also offer free 20 minute tractor tours (like a hay ride but a tractor pulls a wagon behind it).

Beasley and I went on the tractor tour and the land is just beautiful. I also purchased several small food items including some fudge. (My post Thanksgiving diet will start tomorrow but until then………..) 

From there, we drove across the highway to the small town of Blue Ridge which I immediately fell in love with. The streets had many lovely small stores all decorated for Christmas; the Blue Ridge Train was at the depot (very picturesque) and there were people milling all about the town. It was another day of abundant sunshine and just wonderful.

I had timed my day so that I would arrive back at the Cajun Depot in Ellijay at 3 PM for one more Andouille Sausage Po-Boy sandwich (I said………the diet starts TOMORROW.) It was as good as the one on Friday. From there, we headed home and arrived back in Marietta a little before 4 PM.

So, we are back in Marietta… I have unpacked my wines, fudge, goodies from Mercier and started the wash. This truly was a delightful weekend and I learned so many things……one being that the North Georgia area has many fun places to go and visit … many of these places are within a two hour drive of my home and I need to try to venture out some more.

I realized that I really do not want to live my life just treading water…. in this case, I did get out of the boat (2012-11-15 To Walk on Water, You Gotta First Get Out of the Boat)  ….. and got a bit wet when things started going south on Friday night but as with everything else, I found that keeping my sense of humor intact (even when driving in circles in the dark in a parking lot) is critical.

I also learned that if your sense of humor begins to sag, then sitting by a roaring fireplace with something to drink can lift one’s spirits and re-center you.

Not a bad lesson to learn. 

jfh

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Beasley and the iPhone-Cajun Depot-Cajun Depot-Ellijay-Cartecay Winery-Ridges Resort-Appalachian Trail-Appalachian Trail-Brasstown Bald-Crane Creel Winery-Crane Creek Winery-Ridges Resort-Ridges Resort-Mercier Orchards-Mercier Orchards-Mercier Orchards Tractor Tour-Blue Ridge-Goodies