Thursday, May 14, 2015

Springtime in Athens

The courthouse was sporting a nice look for springtime (circa late March), and the woods were sporting an even nicer look, complete with morels.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Woooo Spring Break!!!!

We had a plan for spring break this year: drive down with a bunch of graduate students to St. Catherine's Island and hang out on the beach. It was rock solid and on the calendar... so naturally it didn't happen. Turns out the island is more or less privately owned, and our friend who lives and researches there got word that the owners would be vacationing there during the break and wouldn't be pleased with a bunch of vagrants camping out on the beach.

So there went that plan. Evan and I came up with a brilliant backup plan: visiting Unicoi State Park near Helen, and camping out in a Squirrels Nest. A Squirrels Nest is one of 16 roofed platforms that are all connected and sit on the side of a very steep hill. They're actually cheaper than a camping spot, and apparently they had just reopened for the season a few days before we got there.
It was cold and rainy, and the "comfort stations" (restrooms) by the Squirrels Nests had not actually been unlocked yet. We also forgot to bring a flashlight, but there was a giant fire ring by the Nests that provided a little background illumination. In nicer weather a multi-mile hike to Helen and back would probably be in order. Overall, I can recommend a stay in a Squirrels Nest, but it's probably best to time a visit when there's not, say, a troop of boy scouts visiting, as you can easily hear everything that's going on nearby.

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Merry Athens Christmas... in May

Athens puts a giant Christmas tree up in front of the courthouse each year, and it looked pretty festive. Another nice touch is that the downtown is lit up during winter nights with white lights.. didn't get a picture of it, but it looks like a little fairy land or something.
And this was my makeshift tree made from a tomato cage, flipped upside down, and wrapped in lights. It's more of a Charlie Brown kind of tree, but it did the trick in keeping guard over the presents.

Friday, May 8, 2015

I Could Never Swim that Far

In October I went to Chattanooga to participate in my third "Swim the Suck" race. It's a 10-mile swim down the Tennessee River, but no, I was not swimming it. I've been a volunteer kayaker for it, which means I paddle alongside an impressive athlete who's actually swimming it, keep their unofficial time, feed them snacks every 30 minutes of so, and make sure they don't get run over by a motorboat.

This year's weather forecast was absolutely dismal. We were all prepared with rain gear and extra sets of clothes, and we knew what the emergency plan was in case of lightning. When I woke up at 6am the day of the race, it was raining steadily, and I thought about how miserable I was going to be sitting in a kayak for potentially up to 6 hours.
To everyone's credit, nobody chickened out on account of the weather. We showed up, and we were ready to go. And as luck would have it, we were all starting to mill about the starting ramp about 30 minutes before race time, when the sun came out.
And stayed out pretty much all day. It turned out to be an exquisite day to be on the river, as the sky gods rewarded us for our bravery. My swimmer made excellent time, and we were off the river in about 4 hours, with tasty food and libations awaiting us. A few swimmers dropped out due to hypothermia, and some powered through nearly-hypothermic, which was rough to see. But for the most part, it was a great day for a race.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Game Days (Go Dawgs!)

I actually went into the football stadium this year, and this was the sight that awaited me at the UGA vs. UTK game:
On the tailgating side of things, check out this ridiculous remote-controlled recliner that can raise itself so high it dumps you out of it:

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Asheville: the {insert nickname here} city

Seriously, what is Asheville's nickname? Here's my exploration of potentials.

Wildflower City: It has a nice botanical garden, with cool rocks and lovely plants like jewelweed, ironweed, and some sort of phlox.


Culture City: It has a cool sculpture walking tour you can take around downtown.

Foodie City: It has some good restaurants and breweries, even a bar that makes their own sake.

Future-site-of-a-water-war City: Apparently it's in one of the driest areas of North Carolina situated immediately next to one of the wettest.

Surely one of these must be close!
... Okay, I just looked it up, and apparently Asheville's nickname is "Land of Sky." Yeah, I guess it has some sky. Case closed.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Let Your Heart Be Not Troubled

In August my dear aunt Linda died after 5 years dealing with breast cancer. She was an amazing artist, and my room is decorated with several paintings she made for me (as well as some she encouraged/forced me to do). I'm fortunate to have such beautiful reminders of her, even if I miss her every time I look at them.

There was a lovely memorial service at her church in September that she helped put together before she died. (She knew her own family too well to let any of them speak at the service.) Her siblings and friends had made table displays showcasing some of her different hobbies and art collections, and this is one of her drawings that I really liked:
I had a conference to attend just a few days after the service, so my journey began with a heavy heart but was surprisingly lightened by the service. I took a minute to enjoy the gorgeous weather and views in Chattanooga, and then had to continue on my way.