Friday, May 30, 2014

A Visit to Providence Canyon, Georgia's "Little Grand Canyon"

Did you know Georgia is home to its own "Little Grand Canyon?" Providence Canyon was created by bad farming techniques in the 1800s, but the results were so pretty they became a tourist attraction. Voila! Providence Canyon.

I visited this place years ago as an elementary schooler. It's a few miles down the road from Historic Westville so I guess they figured they'd have a two for one field trip. I'd forgotten all about it until we moved back, and when some cooler temperatures rolled in one weekend, I told Fionn we should capitalize on the good weather and check out Providence Canyon.

When you arrive at the park, you take the canyon rim trail down to the canyon floor. Once there, you can take time to explore the canyons and then walk back up along the rim of the canyon or, if you're a serious hiker, you can undertake the arduous 7 hour hiking trail through rugged terrain.

I am NOT a hiker. Heck, I'm pretty much the farthest thing from "outdoorsy" or "athletic". So you can imagine which path we took! 

Smiling for the camera, but being a complaining Grumpy Cat otherwise...

When visiting Providence Canyon, make sure you're prepared. If you decide to explore the canyons, you'll be walking through small streams and wet, red clay. Your feet will get wet if you're wearing regular shoes, and the red clay stains like crazy. It's also a good idea to bring a hat, sunscreen, and water. It's hot in the canyon!

Fionn had a great time exploring canyons, schlepping through streams, and going off the trail to get hit in the face with stray branches. I was much more of a baby about it. I probably spent a good 20 minutes complaining about wet feet and bugs flying into my face. But thankfully, I married a patient man who also challenges me to get out of my comfort zone, and I ended up having fun in the end (despite my feet getting wet).

Yeah, I can be a princess sometimes.

In the end, I was really happy we got our feet a little wet and explored the canyon. If you only stay on the canyon rim trail, a lot of the viewpoints are obstructed by trees. But when you're on the floor, looking up, there are so many cool striations and rock formations to see. Totally worth the sweat (plus, you'll feel like a jungle explorer!)

Once you leave the canyon floor and continue on, you'll come across a dumping ground for 1950s era cars. Back in the day this was the place to dump your clunker, and since it would be too damaging to remove them (and because critters now call them home!) they're a permanent part of the park. I thought it was cool to see these old things, even if they were a little unexpected.

After completing the trail, we took a moment to see it from above. 

"Is this what the Grand Canyon looks like?" I asked my West Coast companion.

"No," laughed Fionn, "It's way bigger. And fewer trees. This still looks like Georgia. Plus we can hike around and not worry about bears and mountain lions."

Hmmm...maybe I'll skip hiking on the West Coast...

the Outdoorsman

If you'd like to visit Providence Canyon in Lumpkin, Georgia you can find it at 8930 Canyon Rd. It's in a very rural area, but it's perfect for a picnic lunch and getting away from it all (there's even a playground for the kids!). Parking is $5 and even cheaper if you're military.

If you're in poor health or if you have very small children, I wouldn't recommend taking on the trail. It's not terrible, but it is uphill and can get tiring. If you want to explore the canyons, make sure to wear waterproof shoes and bring a hat, sunscreen, and water.

Oh, and bring your camera! 

So how 'bout it? Did you know GA had its own Grand Canyon?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Happy (belated) Easter

I know, wasn't Easter ages ago? Yeah, you've got a point...but better late than never, right?

I had a great Easter. My brother and I both went home to our parents house and had a great time as a family. It was especially exciting because this is the first Easter I've been home in like 3 years. 

The weekend was great. Family, fun, and lots of delicious food.

I tackled Easter dessert and baked this lamb cake, just like the ones I saw all over Germany and Alsace. Isn't it cute?

It was a pretty simple almond and vanilla flavored batter. It could use some tweaking, but hopefully by next year I will have perfected my lamb cake recipe.

Of course, I can't visit my parents without this little guy being in the majority of my can you resist the cuteness??

Mom outdid herself again with a delicious Southern Easter feast, we attended a great church service that really uplifted us on this day of hope and rebirth, and we had beautiful weather the whole time.

Perfect weekend.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

We Might Be Moving Again

After nearly 3 months in our new town, I finally feel settled. Our apartment has really come together-the pictures are finally hung up, I painted, DIYed, and sanded flea market finds into submission, and everything feels's the very definition of gemütlich or gezellig to me! I need to do an updated apartment tour now to show off my hard work..

I really threw myself into settling in here, especially after the attitude adjustment I talked about in my Two Month Post Move Reset. I made friends with the wives of Fionn's coworkers, and we've enjoyed lunch dates, shopping outings, and excuses to get out and have some girl time. They're a great group of girls and I feel incredibly blessed that once again, in another corner of the world, I have found nice people. 

I was offered a job working with international students at the local university, due to start at the end of the summer. I was excited about the opportunity to do something I felt passionate about and work with a great team.

I felt really excited about the life that was starting to take shape here in our new home.

Then yesterday, we learned that we might not be allowed to stay here (like we previously thought was an option). 

We could be moving again in just 5 short months.

Drawing inspiration from my last move

I'm a bundle of emotions. Angry, disappointed, nervous, excited by the potential for a great new place and apprehensive of getting screwed with the assignment nobody wants but somebody has to take. Even more nervous that we still don't know WHERE we're going.

 There is currently no opportunity to go abroad again at the moment. I feel simultaneously disappointed at the loss of a potential adventure and relieved that I don't have to go through the gut wrenching process of leaving my home again for 3 years so soon after coming back. It's a weird mix.

Our potential assignment locations are many, spread out across the United States. My civilian friends keep asking, "You really have NO idea where they could send you?" and I keep answering, "No. The Army could literally send us anywhere, from Georgia to Texas to Washington State to Kentucky and more."

Obviously, our first choice is to move back to the post near my hometown, in Savannah. If I'm being honest, if I can't stay where we are now, I will be disappointed with any post besides that one. I know, probably better than most people, that your location is dependent on your attitude and what you make of it, but when the option to go home is so tantalizingly close, I can't help but be honest.

I want to go home. My real home.

Who wouldn't want to go back to a place like this??

I know that when I married a soldier, I signed on for this life too. The moving, the uncertainty, the following him around the world from one backwater post to another...but it doesn't mean that it ever gets easier or that I don't resent it from time to time. And right now, as I look at the life I was starting to cobble together, I feel angry that it's all so temporary. That I have no control over these big parts of my life. I feel tired of trying and tired of all the work that goes into putting your life back together again and again and AGAIN.

That's how I feel in my dark, beaten down moments. Like throwing my hands up and saying, "I can't do this again. I can't move and start over and be the new kid one more time. I can't!"

That's how I felt yesterday when I found out. I was so distracted and upset and preoccupied that I didn't pay attention and pulled out in front of an oncoming car, nearly causing a wreck. When I was safely out of the way (the other car still honking angrily at my mistake) I took a deep, terrified breath and realized something big. 

One, I was alive. Two, I needed to focus on the right now. Not just in the sense that I needed to pay attention while I was driving, but that I need to focus on the present and stop worrying about the future.

I am torturing myself over things that might not happen. I am allowing fear and doubt and uncertainty to weaken me.

More than anything, that scary near miss seemed like a wake up call from God. To stop obsessing over every possible worse case scenario and all the bad that could happen and realize that He always has my best interest in mind. That He is faithful in every promise and that He makes all things work together for His plan, which is perfect.

So many times in life things don't go according to your plan, and years later you see how that move, or meeting or event in your life changed everything for the better. How the path you're on is bigger than you can comprehend at the moment. How even if we don't get our dream assignment of Savannah, life will still be ok.

Yesterday I felt fearful and anxious and angry. This morning I feel at peace, especially after multiple random reminders to trust and lean not on my own understanding. Still nervous about what's to come, but strangely at peace. I'm trying to trust that whatever happens next is going to be good.

So, we might be moving. I'll keep you updated.

Exploring the 1850s in Westville

I am a huge history nerd. HUGE. I have a degree in history, I read historical research books for fun, I used to work in a historic house museum and give tours in costume, and if you say "living history museum" a la Williamsburg, I am SO there.

One weekend we were bored and looking for something to do, so Fionn suggested driving out to Westville, an 1850s living history park. I like costumes and old stuff...why not?

Westville is supposed to be a step back in time to an 1850s frontier town. They have houses (complete with characters just kicking it inside, which makes you feel a bit like you're intruding), the old county courthouse, a church, farms, stores, and even a school. The buildings are all period accurate and appropriately furnished and were brought from around the area to complete the park. 

The park started to preserve the traditions of rural Georgia life. It's also cool way to show the younger generations the resourcefulness of these rural frontier people.

The day we went was a lovely spring day, and the park was mostly deserted except for a few schoolkids and their parents and the occasional costumed towns person going about their business. Fionn and I skipped the guided tour and meandered through the houses. 

Fionn and I both studied history in college, so he's a good partner to have for history nerd outings like this. All my early America classes on architecture and material culture and daily life came flooding back as we wandered around, and he patiently listened as I prattled on.

He's good like that :)

Exploring Westville made me very grateful I was born in the 20th century rather than the 19th. It was a simpler life, but also dirtier and harder. I wondered what my life would look like as a woman in 1850s Westville. How many kids would I have had already? Would I have worried about Indians or crop failures or sickness? Would Fionn or our sons end up fighting in the Civil War a few years down the road? What would our story have been? 

See, I told you. History nerd.

After a long time exploring, we headed home, thankful for cars and air conditioning and dresses that didn't require corsets and layers of petticoats. Overall, a fun trip back in time.

Are you in West Georgia and interested in seeing the 1850s come alive? Check out Westville online or visit it yourself at 9294 Singer Pond Road in Lumpkin, GA.