Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Annual Road Trip South - Day Four




Hampton Inn, Helen, Georgia
What a difference a day makes.  Today was wonderful.  

We left Marion, North Carolina this morning.  Bill and I said our "goodbye's" to my good cousin Bob and his wife Marie.  They just made our two days in Marion so enjoyable.  They were the perfect antidote to the hateful remarks that my other distant cousin (his great grandmother and my grandmother were brother and sister) made to me on Sunday.  I think I've gone through the five stages of grief over that incident:  

Denial 
Anger
Bargaining
Depression
Acceptance

I'm at the "acceptance" stage now.  I knew he will never change as many won't in this country.  They will go to their grave believing that it is their God given right to discriminate, harass and threaten gay  people.  I have to tell you though, I was shocked and a chill went through my whole body when he said those hateful words to me.  But we left that area of the country this morning and I doubt if I'll ever be back.

Now for the good news.  It was a fairly short drive to Greenville, South Carolina where my brother lives.  I wanted to leave my Mother's jewelry with my brother's wife to distribute to her daughters and granddaughters.  


Me and my "baby brother" in front of his garage in Greenville, SC

Bill and I had a short visit with my brother and his wife.  We went out to lunch with John (my brother) at the Golden Corral.  One thing I notice about the south, they sure do eat good.  Lots of buffets with LOTS of food, and GOOD food.  The only buffets we have in Delaware is the one Chinese food place and who knows how old that food is.  

Will in Greenville I purchased a Garmin 3565 GPS, Voice Activated device.  My cousin Bob suggested that we get one and am I ever glad.  All the stress just disappeared for our road trip.  Bill and I usually end up fighting when turns are missed.  With this fancy, dancy GPS device, those mishaps are now going to be few and far in between.  Thank God.  

After our visit to my brother and his wife, Bill headed towards Toccoa to visit his old boyhood haunts.  Unfortunately, his old neighborhood has gone downhill drastically.  And I mean BIG TIME DOWN HILL.  The lady who now lives in Bill's old family house invited him in to look around.  That was very gracious of her.  Of course the inside of the house looks nothing like it did when Bill lived there.  And it looks a lot smaller, but doesn't everything when you go back to it as an adult remembering what it was like when you were a kid?


Bill's old home on Alexandra Street in Toccoa, Georgia

Now here is the really good part of the day.  We planned to stay in the area for two days until we head back home.  But there aren't any decent hotels in or around Toccoa.  So I put a search in my new fancy fancy GPS and asked for a Hampton Inn.  The Lady in the GPS came up with a Hampton Inn in Helen, Georgia; about 34 miles away.  Okay.  That was a too awful distance to travel.


Bill on the street outside of his old home - he says it "has changed a lot."
So we follow the GPS instruction and we're taken to a beautiful little theme town for tourist.  This town is called "Helen" and is build like a Bavarian village.  Bill loves Germany!  He was stationed there while he was in the Army.  And here is a replica right here only 34 short miles from Toccoa!

Now the story gets even better.  The Hampton Inn we're staying at is also built like a Bavarian house. And our rooms!  Wow!  The best I've ever had, ever!  I actually have a suite for under $100.00 a night.  Bill and I both have suites (we sleep not only in separate beds but separate rooms).  My suite (as well as Bill's) has a fireplace, a living room, a kitchenette, a big whirlpool in the bathroom, a king size bed, two flat screened TV's (one in the living room and one in the bedroom) and a beautiful view of the mountains right outside our windows.  And even better.......we can walk out of the hotel down a real sidewalk to all the shops and restaurants.  No getting in our car and figuring out how to get across the interstate and those butterfly turn roads just to get something to eat.  This town even has an Old Time Photo shop! Yes, I am going down tomorrow and get my photo taken.  This evening I had my photo taken in one of those old time photo booths from the Fifties. What great fun!  


Street scene in Helen, Georgia

After dinner at the Heidleburg House (a tasteless hamburger but great french fries; I opted not to get a big traditional German dinner because I had already made a pig out of myself for lunch at the Golden Corral).  However, I did get the apple strudel and yes, I ATE THE WHOLE THING even though it looked like it was a family serving. 
Memo to Ron: eat less tomorrow.  

It's late now.  I was on the phone with Apple Support.  I was in a Catch-22 with my passwords.  don't ask.  It's straightened out now.

Oh, one more thing.  I took a long soak in the Jacuzzi tonight.  Wow.  Was that ever relaxing but after I got out I kept sweating and sweating.  I had to take another shower and I was still sweating.  And I think I'm down to my last set of underwear. I may have to get some quarters and use the hotel's laundry facilities.

I'm already planning on coming back here next year.  Bill can visit his hometown again and I can "get away from it all" by staying in this lovely suite of rooms nestled in the Georgia mountains.  Too much of our vacation is spent driving on the road.  When we leave here Friday we're faced with a 12 hour drive of about 645 miles.  We can't make that in one day so we'll have to stay over somewhere halfway in between.  But we're definitely coming back here next year.  I like this place!


22 comments:

  1. Much like Bill, I love German-themed things. The hotel looks fantastic. I am so glad that the nasty part of the trip is behind you and that you've discovered new, wonderful things beyond the horizon!

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    1. Jon,

      Yes, the nasty part of the trip is behind us now. Bill's actually smiling and happy as I am. Only glitch this morning, sour waffle batter in the breakfast room. That's small beans compared to being threatened by my homophobic cousin up there in those mountains.

      Bill loves anything German. You do too? I love this place! We plan to spent our whole vacation here next year, from Sunday to Thursday. I hope they have the waffle thing straightened out by then. :)

      Ron

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  2. Ron, Helen, GA, looks great -- especially the Hampton Inn whose lovely tour you gave us. I think I am ready to go.

    Maybe next Blogger Palooza should be in Helen, especially since they have an old-time photo place. A lot of us live in the South, you know!

    Glad you got that GPS! You and Bill can now be friends again -- and blame the voice (male or female?) for all the wrong instructions. Turn around next chance you get. Turn around next chance you get. . . . recalculating . . .

    David

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    1. David,

      You would like Helen, Georgia. I don't know what kind of facilities they have though for an event. This would be a good place because there is so much to do just a few short steps out of the hotel. Someone else would have to organize it though. I only do events where I work where I can get the discounts and convenience of make the event happen. I couldn't do that at any other location other than where I work and live. Someone else could do it here though, someone who lives nearby.

      The GPS is saving our vacation. I'm glad my cousin put me onto it. It is a lifesaver.

      I'm going to visit that Old Time Photo place too. By the way, in Rehoboth Beach, they know me and also gave me a discount at the old time photo place here. Living and working in Delaware I have advantages that I wouldn't have anywhere else. I also got a break (she didn't charge a gratuity or an extra server which they normally require on a catered event - I hired Linwood, one of our housekeeps to clean up which I paid him for out of pocket) on the caterers but still came short a couple hundred which I made up myself. The per cost per person is actually higher than $25 per person but I didn't want the price to go over that. And the hotel where I work also let me use the meeting room for free. Normally they charge $600 for the use of the Parkview Room. That would mean I would have to charge everyone about $75 if I didn't get a break on the prices plus no discount on the hotel rooms. I'm glad to run the event but I can only do it from where I work and live.

      Ron

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  3. I’m sure glad this part of your trip is turning out well. I know you are tall but standing by John you look like a small guy. He definitely looks like a preacher in his suit! It’s been a while since I’ve been to Helen, GA. After reading your nice description, I’m getting the urge to visit there again. If you are going to be there another couple of days, I can suggest an interesting place to visit that’s not far away: Tallulah Gorge. This is a Georgia State Park that according to my map program is exactly a 30-mile drive from your hotel in Helen. If your GPS doesn’t know of ‘Tallulah Gorge’, put in Tallulah Falls, GA, which is right next to it. A visit to the park ‘Interpretive Center’ is very interesting, especially the history of the gorge and the nearby town. If you feel physically fit, you can walk to the bottom of the gorge on a nice stairway and cross a really neat bridge down there. Here is where you can find more information: http://www.aboutnorthgeorgia.com/ang/Tallulah%20Gorge%20State%20Park

    This is another place I need to revisit soon. I’m about your age and I enjoy walking to the bottom of the gorge from the ‘Interpretive Center’.

    I sure hope you enjoy the rest of your trip.

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  4. Brian,

    Great suggestion! We visited Tallulah Gorge last year but I would like to go again, especially on a beautiful day like today. I didn't realize it was that close to Helen, GA. We did walk to the bottom of the Gorge last year and I bought a small velvet pouch of gemstones last year. I would like to get some more. Thanks for the tip!

    Yes, my "baby brother" John is much bigger than I am. I have another younger brother, Isaac, is is almost as big as John. Both weigh around 300 lbs and are still growing boys.

    Have a great day!

    Ron

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    1. Be sure and go early in the day, it will be cloudy with a good chance of rain by 4PM today.

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  5. Brian,

    Just getting ready to leave now. Bill wants to visit his hometown of Toccoa this morning. We may stop by Tallulah on the way back home tomorrow.

    Ron

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    1. It's only a short distance from Toccoa to Tallulah Gorge. I don't know how the weather will be at the Gorge tomorrow morning.

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    2. Brian,

      By the way, we decided to stay an extra night. Bill wants to go to the Tallulah Falls tomorrow. It's only 28 miles away. We're going!

      Ron

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    3. Hey, that’s great! That’s really a nice place to visit. The weather tomorrow looks like it will be nice, partly cloudy, high of 73, and only a 10% chance of precip. If you didn’t before, be sure to pay attention to the history of the gorge and the area around it in the Interpretive Center, it is really interesting how it was a resort area until it pretty much burned to the ground at least once. The other major calamity was the building of the hydroelectric plant, which diverted most of the water around the gorge and still does except for special occasions. The building of that power plant was a major engineering challenge. Still the only way to get to it is the original incline railway. The facility was built to supply power to the Atlanta area, specifically for the streetcars I believe.

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    4. Brian,

      Bill is looking for the falls. Perhaps it is no longer there because of the hydro-electric dam?

      Ron

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    5. There are several falls as the river proceeds down the gorge but they are less spectacular now than they originally were because of the greatly reduced water flow due to the water being diverted for hydroelectric power generation. Several times a year they send the original flow down the gorge to 'flush' it out. Just by pure luck I happened to go there on one of those days and it was indeed spectacular then.

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    6. Brian,

      We had an absolutely perfect day to visit the Tallulah Falls. Even with the reduced water flow, they looked pretty impressive to me. We even took the stairs all the way down to the suspension bridge. Going down was tricky but going back up, I was getting chest pains! A once in a lifetime experience for this 71 year old.

      Ron

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    7. I’m glad you had a good day for your return visit there. The last time I went, I went down from the Interpretive Center side then back up on the other side. I then walked along the road/bridge by the dam and back around to the parking lot that way. I remember having to rest a couple of times going back up. That gorge is deep! I’m glad you thought the various falls were nice today but you should see them on the rare days when they turn the full flow back on!

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    8. Brian,

      That gorge is indeed deep! I too had to stop and rest. My knees aren't what they used to be either. I'm glad I had a chance to go down at least once and back up before I got too old. I especially liked watching the birds fly around in that pristine environment.

      Ron

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  6. Randy in NEB2:07 PM

    Ron, I bet it's a nice change for you to be a hotel guest instead of catering to hotel guests. From what you've said before Bill is relaxed in GA, because he don't mind having his photo taken. Cool place you found to stay at in Helen. Are the inn keeper rooms at the inn that big? I like europe themed places like that too. I've never been to Germany, even though I'm mostly German I don't sprchen sie Deutsche much. Did you see any cute guys wearing lederhosen around there? I like Dave's suggestion of having bloggerpalooza down there. But what would the locals think of a dozen or so gays and gay friendlies showing up? Looking for more great photos and enjoy what's left of your trip and have a safe drive back to DE. Remember to keep the wheels between the rumble bars!

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    1. Randy,

      Someone else suggested holding the next Bloggerpalooza here in Helen, Georgia. Actually a Bloggerpalooza can be held anywhere in the world, it's just that I wouldn't be involved. As I mentioned to the other person who suggested the change, I can only hold a blogger event in Lewes.

      Helen is pretty sparse right now and will be until school lets out. This is definitely a "family town." Bill and I are interlopers. We wouldn't feel comfortable here with all the families. In fact I'm having a problem with the Family of Four in the room next to mine right now. They have a three year old and a four year old. We ate at the same restaurant, and much to our horror, I discovered that they were not only staying at the same hotel as we are but the room right next to mine! And, as you know three year and four year old kids, all they do is scream and whine and bang things around which they are doing right. now. I tried to change rooms but was told none are available. However, they are checking out tomorrow so I only have to get through the night.

      Ron

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  7. Wahoo!!! What a fine way to make up for the previous nonsense.

    Glad it's all going so well! I love a smooooooth trip. And the new Garmin is the way to go! Satnav is wonderful.

    Keep driving safely, and if you're within an hour of Richmond, let me know...I'll meet you for dinner if you wish.

    Peace <3
    Jay

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    1. Jay,

      I remember on our way down we saw a sign for Richmond. I think it was in Norfolk. I don't remember how far away Richmond was. I'm not sure where we are stopping Friday night. I'll let you know.

      Ron

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  8. I learned in DE that the best GPS is having Sassybear in the backseat telling me what to do.

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    1. Harper's Keeper,

      Hey, that's an idea for our trip next year. Thanks for the tip!

      Ron

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