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.

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…

Downtown Gainesville

Gainesville, Georgia, is the county seat of Hall County in northeastern Georgia.  As of 2019, it had a population of about 43,000 people.  It earned the nickname “Poultry Capital of the World” due to its many industrial farms (Fieldale Farms is one) and poultry processing factories.

Originally named Mule Camp Springs in the early 1800s by settlers.  It retained that name until 1821, three years after the organization of Hall County in 1818.  Its namesake is Edmund Gaines, a hero of the War of 1812 as well as a road builder and military surveyor.

Gainesville, like many towns in the US, has a Main Street, which in this case occupies a square section of the downtown area with shops and restaurants surrounding a small park.

Inman Perk Coffee is a great local business, with delicious blends of coffee, served hot or cold.  They also have a good selection of breakfast pastries including cinnamon rolls.  Lunch or dinner can come from Sliced, a New York-style pizzeria, with mouthwatering garlic knots and a tasty Greek salad.  Trying to eat healthy?  Check out Barkin’ Brews, an organic smoothie and coffee shop that’s dog-friendly.

Gainesville is about an hour north of metro Atlanta, and an hour south of Unicoi State Park, Anna Ruby Falls, and the town of Alpine Helen.  Accessibility to Lake Lanier is provided through many small parks (some of which are no more than boat ramps) such as Van Pugh North Park.

Hiking Chicopee Woods on a perfect autumn day

Ever taken a walk in the woods where the only sounds were your breathing and the crunching of leaves underneath your feet?  That describes Sunday, when I took my trusty husky, Emma, out for a walk at Chicopee Woods in Flowery Branch, right off Atlanta Highway.

View from the Dodd Trail, Chicopee Woods Trail System

The sun was high and fall was barely in the air, with only a few trees showing gold and red colors.  All trails are marked, and there are three: the easiest is the paved Geiger Trail, which leads directly from the Nature Center.  It’s perfect for parents, as there are signs with illustrations from a children’s book along the trail.

The trail we took is the Dodd Loop, which is 0.64 miles and marked red on the trail map system.  It winds through Walnut Creek Valley and there are a couple of places with stones steps that take you to the water’s edge.  

The longest trail is the Bridge Loop, which is nearly 3 miles and marked green.  It’s a moderately hard trail that’s accessed from the Elachee Visitor Center parking lot and travels through Piedmont forest.  There are five bridged stream crossings on the trail, including a 140-foot-long suspension bridge.  

Walnut Creek, Chicopee Woods Trail System

You can download and use the Avenza Maps app to see your location on the trails by using their GeoPDF map on your device.  You can also use US Topo Maps (get the app here:

If you’re interesting in learning more about Georgia hikes, pick up this guidebook ( by Tim Homan.

Java Cats Cafe

Located near Grant Park on Memorial Drive in Atlanta, you’ll find this gem of a coffee shop which features hot (or iced) coffee, pastries, and adoptable cats.  It’s called Java Cats Cafe, and it’s definitely worth a look.  Admission is $12, and that gets you a cup of coffee and a chance to play with some adorable felines.  One side of the cafe is the restaurant portion, and the other side (pictured above) is the cats’ home with shelving and lots of places to climb and explore.

On their website, you can make reservations–which are now required due to COVID-19, or sign up for their “mewsletter” for upcoming specials and discounts.