Saturday, October 27, 2007

Autumn Leaves . . . and a Fireplace Too!

Last Saturday I headed up to the mountains for my annual fall trip. The traffic jams caused by lane closings and a bad wreck on I-75 made it one of the longest trips ever, but it was worth it. You know, I-75 in south Georgia has been under perpetual construction since I was a kid in the 1970s. I wonder when they plan to finish . . . .

This December will mark four years since God gave me my log cabin in Blairsville, Georgia. I can't believe how time flies. I always enjoy the cabin in the winter, spring, and summer, but fall is my favorite time to go. The crisp air and fall foliage in a mountain setting can't be beat. The autumn leaves this year, though not the spectacular display of 2006, were amazing as usual. The first morning when I awoke the temperature had plummeted to 38 degrees. After the much-needed rain moved in, the lows hovered in the 60s.

On Sunday I mowed the chest-high (in places) grass on the back slope. It was a chore, but it looked so nice when I was done.

On Monday I drove down to Ellijay to enjoy a day of FAVORITES. My first stop was at the library in Blue Ridge to check my email. (When I get my second generation iPhone I won't have to do that anymore.) Upon arrival in Ellijay I ate lunch at Las Palmas, my FAVORITE Mexican buffet. Only $5.99, and it includes an unlimited supply of my FAVORITE white nacho cheese. I bought some shirts at Goodys, where there's always a sale, and then enjoyed taking my time roaming the aisles at my FAVORITE Wal-Mart Supercenter. I stopped by Starbucks on the way home for a hot Caramel Apple Spice, my new FAVORITE drink, and sipped it as I listened to A Light From Heaven, the final book in the Mitford series (another FAVORITE), on my drive back to the cabin. I stopped at the Mercier Orchards store in Blue Ridge and picked up some Rome apples for my friend Mary, so she can make her famous apple cake (yet another (FAVORITE). Yum! I learned at Mercier that only the early apple crops were damaged by the late spring freeze and that the late apples were fine. I also stopped at Ingles and picked up several pounds of Nantahala sausage (my FAVORITE) for Mary and Mama & Daddy. I'm hoping Mary will make her Velveeta, sausage, and salsa dip, one of my all-time FAVORITES.

Although it was raining when I got home, I went out to the wood stacks at the edge of the trees in the back yard to dig around for some dry firewood. This was the wood from the double-trunk pine tree that fell across my yard, narrowly missing the cabin when the hurricanes went through in 2004. My brother-in-law Todd chainsawed and split the wood while Carla, Sherry, Nathan, and I stacked the wood and gathered and burned the pine boughs. The following series of photos were taken by Sherry's husband, Josh Cole, during our 2004 fall vacation . . . well, not so sure Todd thought it was a vacation.

Thanks, Toddy!

At least Todd and I were working!

My redheaded 3-year old toolman.

As many of you know, I have never been able to use my fireplace at the cabin because the chimney was actually roofed over. The contractor who built the cabin never finished the job, and when I looked up the flue I could see the bottom of the metal roof. Last year I contacted the seller to see if he would have it repaired. He said he would, but after a year nothing had been done. I didn't want to go another fall and winter without a fireplace, so I decided to take care of it myself. A few weeks ago my handyman, Larry Bauer, took his helper and their wives up to the cabin to complete the job and construct the chimney. When the job was completed I sent the seller Larry's bill, not really expecting to hear back. But to my surprise his wife called and said she was putting a check in the mail. She added that they had both been ill and had never been able to find the right person to do the job, and they were glad that I had taken care of it. Later that week I received a check for the full amount. Praise God!

It was nice to build my first fire in the fireplace. It was a small fire and really only burned for a few minutes before I let it die out. It wasn't even cold outside, but I had waited long enough to use that fireplace. Even though my first fire was short-lived, the smoky fragrance lingered for days, making my cabin smell like a real log cabin should.

On Tuesday I drove down to eat lunch at the Amicalola Falls State Park Lodge. There was no meatloaf (my FAVORITE menu item) this time, and the view was thick with fog or clouds, whatever you want to call it. Oh well, it was still fun. I drove on down to the outlet mall in Dawsonville, then took the scenic route of 19/129 back to Blairsville. The winding mountain roads take you through beautiful country, but they can make you dizzy and give you a headache if you don't take your time.

A pumpkin farm near Amicalola Falls State Park.

Meeks Park in Blairsville.

Along Hwy 515 between Blairsville and my cabin. Doesn't this remind you of the opening credits of The Color Purple?

Love this blurry shot of Taylor!

Country roads take me home . . . .

I decided to end my trip early in order to save my personal days for another trip. Although this year's fall vacation was shorter than usual, it was still very sweet. I drove back to Plant City on Wednesday. It was rainy the whole day, but my only traffic delay was the morning rush hour north of Atlanta. I arrived safely, grateful for my mountain home away from home and for traveling mercies once again.