Scenic route from Atlanta to Nashville

To get from Atlanta to Nashville via the interstate highway system takes about 4 hours, but if you’ve got some time to spare, you can try some of the back roads through Georgia.

Get on Georgia 52 near Ellijay and Fort Mountain State Park. There’s lots of scenic views, and Ellijay is famous for its apple barns ( and ciders, and many are open year-round. You can get to Highway 52 from Dahlonega, a picturesque small town that was once the center of the first U.S. gold rush, starting in 1829. The town supported 15,000 miners and lasted until 1848, when gold was discovered in the Sierra Nevada mountains and everyone headed west.

Just south of Chattanooga, TN, is Lookout Mountain, which is well worth the visit. You can climb the mountain via well marked trails and see seven states from its summit. There’s also Lover’s Leap, a waterfall that drops about a hundred feet. If you want to stay awhile, also see Ruby Falls, a gorgeous underground waterfall. It’s located not far from Lookout Mountain. Both can be done in a day. The southern end of Lookout Mountain hosts Cloudland Canyon State Park, which has some moderately difficult hiking but gorgeous views.

Once you get to Tennessee, you may enjoy a drive up TN 28 and US127 in the Sequatchie River Valley. Fall Creek Falls State Park (north of Dunlap, TN) is beautiful. Once you get to Nashville, enjoy some of the best live music from multiple genres.

Tickets for Lookout Mountain and Ruby Falls can be bought online here:

Northwest Georgia’s best place for fall foliage

It’s officially fall, ya’ll, and many are heading out to the Georgia state parks to do some leaf-watching.  The fall colors are spectacular and one of the best places to see them in northwest Georgia is Cloudland Canyon State Park.

(Image credit: Explore Georgia)

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the best time for fall foliage is late October-early November north of Atlanta. If you’re heading to the Rome or Cartersville areas, check out Cloudland Canyon (on the back side of Lookout Mountain, also a fun trip). 

Cloudland Canyon has 60 miles of hikes with waterfalls, biking trails, horseback riding, and fishing..  There’s even a disc golf area and geocaching. The hike is considered moderate, but it’s doable for most people. 

For the more adventurous, get a permit and head into the Cloudland Caves.  Please note that this is for experienced wild cavers only!  The caves are open April, June July through September and October.  

While in the area, check out River Remedy Brewing Company or The Foundry Growler Bar:

(Image Credit:

The Foundry has plenty of options from appetizer-type dishes in their dining room to wine tasting to packaged craft beers and a Spanish cedar humidor.

If you want to find out the best time to see fall foliage anywhere in Georgia, check out the Leaf Watch guide.

As always, happy fall and have a beautiful day!

St. Simon’s Island – a beautiful place to spend a weekend

It’s summer and everyone, it seems, is headed to the beach.

Make your reservations at Ocean Inn & Suites, where you’ll be about half a block from the beach. Pack plenty of sunscreen, a towel, and a calm attitude. You’ll also be close to the pier, the lighthouse, and all the tourist-y areas they encompass.

Massengale Park also has a nice beach.  If you do choose to climb the lighthouse, there is a combination ticket you can buy for the WWII Homefront Museum.  You can also tour Fort Frederica.  The Avenue of the Oaks makes for a beautiful photo setting.   If you don’t want to drive much (and who does, on vacation?), you can rent bikes and ride all over the island.  There’s even a trolley tour of the island. 

For meals, check out Southern Soul BBQ and Frosty’s Griddle & Shake. Also check out Barbara Jean’s. East Beach (Coast Guard station) has a concession stand.  Look for the carts from Sunset Slush when on the beach.  Brogen’s (by the pier) is also good.  Mullet Bay is a good seaford choice with plenty of outdoor seating.

(Some of the menu selections at Barbara Jean’s)

Jekyll Island is nearby with beautiful large pieces of driftwood that make for a magical photo op.

On your way back home, stop in Brunswick at Silver Bluff Brewery for beers before heading to Reid’s Apothecary for a good meal.

How to Succeed in Business

I wanted to take a moment to spotlight my friends and their Georgia-based businesses.

First, there is Andrea Green. She’s an optician with 20 years’ experience (and an opera singer!) who just opened a new eyewear boutique in Roswell, 2C Facewear.

Be sure to join her on April 29, 2023, for a trunk show featuring the latest in designer eyewear.

Second, there is entrepreneur Brianna Case, who owns Honeybee Card Shop (, which has a variety of luxury paper goods. She is responsible for my daughter’s Star Wars-inspired wedding invitations. She also thrifts and can host tea parties and other networking events locally in Buford, Georgia. Be sure to check her out on IG and FB.

As a bonus, her husband Elijah Case, is a terrific DJ. (Check him out as DJ Honeybeats on FB and IG).

Third, there is Audrey Hunter Stine, who bakes delicious cakes for a variety of occasions. Her cake page is on FB as Audrey’s Cake Page []. This is a recent creation of hers, for a graduation party:

There are a lot of great small businesses to support in Georgia, including farmer’s markets. The Flowery Branch farmer’s market is open on Thursdays from 10 am to 6:30 pm in downtown Flowery Branch, which is undergoing some renovations, so use caution.

Ein Prosit! Your Guide to Oktoberfest

(Image credit: @floridadonny)

Oktoberfest is an annual festival in Munich, Germany, held over a 2-week period in September and ending on the first Sunday in October. 

The festival’s origins can be traced back to October 12, 1810, in celebration of a marriage between the Crown Prince of Bavaria (who became King Louis I) to Princes Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.  Royal weddings have always been over the top, and this festival concluded with a horse race.  In 1811, the horse race was combined with a state agricultural fair.  In 1818, booths serving food and drinks were introduced.

By the late 20th century, the food and drink booths had morphed into large beer halls complete with balconies and bandstands.  Each brewery in Munich erects a temporary structure, which can seat up to 6,000.  The festival in 2022 starts on September 17 and runs through October 1 in Munich. 

In Georgia, Helen’s Oktoberfest (one of the oldest in the nation) starts September 29th and runs through October 30th.  These celebrations, which feature beer and German food, try to reproduce the Bavarian sense of gemutlichkeit (cordiality).

The celebration is open to all ages.  Admission is $8 during the week and $10 on Saturdays (free admission on Sundays!).  Doors open at 6 pm throughout the week, and 1 pm on weekends.

You can plan to stay in Helen at The Heidi Motel or, if you’re planning on going with a group of friends or family, rent a cabin at nearby Unicoi State Park and work a short hike into your itinerary.

Start your food adventure with Hofer’s of Helen for Reuben sandwiches, made by Germans who immigrated to the town in the 1950s.  The Heidelberg German Restaurant and Hofbrauhaus are other options.  Please drink responsibly, and have a designated driver in your group.

There are other options for Oktoberfest in Georgia, including Oktoberfest Atlanta on September 30th as well as Gainesville’s first annual Oktoberfest at Smithgall Arts Center on October 1st.

How to Have a Peachy Summer

Where to find fresh Georgia peaches.

(Jaemor Farms)

From May to September, Georgia’s farming community sells peaches by the crate. Restaurants also feature this fruit on their menus.   Here’s where to get fresh peaches in and around their namesake state:

Jaemor Farms in Alto, GA, has been planting and harvesting peaches since 1912.  They also have a grocery, and fresh flowers for the picking during summer including sunflowers.  While it’s not a typical u-pick farm, they do hold special u-pick events during the year.

Dickey Farms in Musella, GA, has been in operation since 1897.  They have peach salsa and delicious peach BBQ sauce on sale.

Southern Belle Farm in McDonough grows 10 varieties of peaches and offers u-pick options seven days a week.  Like other farms, you can also grab some jams or jellies while you’re here or try peach cobbler.

If you’d like to enjoy Georgia’s most famous fruit, head to Decatur’s Revolution Donuts for their peach options (which have developed a cult-like following). 

(Revolution Donuts)


Or try peach French toast at Mama’s Boy in Athens. The Varsity in Atlanta has fried peach pie.  Recipes are also available on Pinterest.

Check Amazon for deals on fresh fruit as well:

Explore Georgia’s vineyards and wineries

A friend of mine recently had a lovely wedding at Yonah Mountain vineyards, and I wanted to share some other wine-tasting options as well as romantic weekend getaways for the summer.

(Yonah Mountain Vineyards)

Tiger Mountain vineyards is located in Rabun County at an elevation of 2,000 feet and has barrel tasting options as well as chocolate and wine tasting.

Crane Creek vineyards is located in Habersham County near Brasstown Bald, the state’s highest peak. You can arrange a private vintner’s tour with a staff winemaker.

I’ve written about Helen, Georgia, before; the Alpine-themed town is only about a half-mile away from Habersham Vineyards which specializes in Merlot, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Wolf Mountain Vineyards in Dahlonega, Georgia, offers a Sunday brunch buffet, with a different theme each month.

For luxury, visit Braselton’s Chateau Elan Winery. There are dinner options along with wine tasting, golf, and a spa.

The healing power of trees

The Lorax famously spoke for the trees, and I wanted to share some information from a fascinating book I’m reading entitled “Forest Bathing: The Japanese Art and Science of Shinrin-Yoku” by Dr. Qing Li.

For centuries people have found restfulness and a sense of oneness with the universe from being in nature.  Poems and songs have been written, and the entire foundation of some companies like REI is to encourage people to get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. 

Stress inhibits immune function and, because of this, we tend to fall ill frequently if we cannot get away from our stressors (work, school, other people, etc.) One of the ways the health of the immune system is tested is by looking at the activity of natural killer (NK) cells.  They are a type of white blood cell (WBC) that can attack and kill unwanted cells, which they do with the assistance of some proteins such as perforin, granulysin, and granzymes.  People with higher NK activity show lower incidence rates of cancer and other diseases.

Dr. Li discovered that after only three days and two nights in a forest, NK cell activity improved from 17.3% to 26.5%; NK cell numbers went up from 440 to 661 (a 50% increase!).  Dr. Li also writes that “the results showed that natural killer activity and the number of natural killer cells were significantly increased after forest bathing and that this effect lasted not just for seven days but for as long as thirty days.”

I’ve posted on this blog about hikes in and around Georgia, and I wanted to also share areas for forest bathing in and around the metro Atlanta area:

  • Check out the trails off Clifton Road at Emory University and Lullwater Preserve when studying for finals or just needing some time away from the office.  
  • There’s also Hundred Acre Farm in Madison, GA as well as multiple state parks including those near lakes or waterfalls.  
  • Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest has miles of trails and wooded areas to explore and enjoy.

Renewal by Nature can set up a private or group walk for you and your friends and family.

Look at all these nerds

Dragon Con in Atlanta

I had never attended any kind of anime, science fiction, or comic convention before, and when presented with the chance to go to Dragon Con over Labor Day weekend in 2016, I jumped. And I loved every minute of it. I met a few actors whom I loved (Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff from Mystery Science Theater 3000 (currently touring and writing as The Mads (, as well as enjoying the incredible cosplay from nearly everyone, and doing some shopping.

Dragon Con is held in Atlanta every Labor Day weekend for four days and it’s a nerd paradise. There are multiple venues from which to buy t-shirts, journals, sketch books, comics, fanzines, or accessories. There are celebrity panels and photo ops, and discussion tracks for nearly everyone. One of my favorites from 2019 was a panel which included a nuclear scientist discussing HBO’s magnificent Chernobyl miniseries.

Information regarding tickets, hotels, and guests can be found here: I’m finishing this post with a metric ton of pics that I took in 2016 and 2019. Hope to see you there in 2022!

(I was cosplaying as Donna Noble from Doctor Who, 2019)
Awesome “Witches” cosplay, 2019
(Found K-9 among many other Doctor Who cosplayers!)
Pyramid head, 2019
Even the Batmobile gets stuck on the Downtown Connector, 2019
We all float down here, 2019
Say his name three times…
I hear he’s got a new Book out…

Shop locally this summer

From May through October, you’ll typically find a lot of local farmer’s markets open. Watch Anthony Bourdain. The first thing he does in any country he finds himself is to visit the always thriving farmers market. If it is real farmers who run the place, it is your best choice for fresh, local, variety and inexpensive food.

Tomatoes, peppers, and corn – summer staples

I’ve written here before about Flowery Branch, which has its own farmer’s market on Thursdays at the City Hall lawn area (

As with anything, there are pros and cons to shopping at farmer’s markets. Some of the cons include the fact that they may only be open for limited hours (Flowery Branch’s, for example, is only open on Thursdays) and they’re also not open year-round. Any outdoor market will be affected by inclement weather. Like other food venues, not all produce available is organic. Be sure to ask the growers before buying.

The pros of farmer’s markets include really fresh food, and produce that’s been harvested a day or so before it’s sold. You can also find rare varieties of food such as heirloom tomatoes that you might not find at a grocery store. One of the biggest pros is that most of the money you spend at a farmer’s market stays in the local economy and directly helps farmers and small business owners. The social aspect of the farmer’s market is one of my favorite things about them; got questions? Ask a vendor.

If you’re in Georgia, be sure to check out Northeast Georgia Locally Grown, a market in Gainesville near Brenau University; Jaemor Farms in Alto, Brookhaven Farmers Market in metro Atlanta, as well as The Cumming Harvest in Cumming, Georgia.