Skip to main content


Showing posts from October, 2018

US East Coast 2018: Deep Calls to Deep

The Chattahoochee National Forest near Helen, Georgia, is home to some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the region. Think leisurely hikes in low 20 degree celcius weather. Think summery colours that are just about to give way to the fall hues. Think a symphony of fresh running water that invigorates the senses. Think interesting creatures and plants of all different types and species.  During our short 3-day stay in Helen, we were able to cover two lovely waterfall trails, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time there; with one boy racing ahead and bounding from one path to the next, and the other stopping to examine every moss and spider he could find. So naturally I ended up sprinting ahead with the older boy, while Sue took her time with the younger, as they stopped to investigate every creepy crawly creature they spotted. Duke's Creek Falls, located just north of Helen, was an easy 2-mile (3.2 kilometre) trek to and from the waterfalls. It was a fairly peaceful trek along a rat

US East Coast 2018: A German Experience

The fascinating alpine town of Helen was the base of our operations for three days. Wandering downtown, one can almost forget that you are in America. Instead, the quaint cobblestone paths and half-timbered buildings transport you to Bavarian Germany, and  you could almost be wishing everyone you meet a Guten Morgen . The visit  was particularly memorable for us, as we first celebrated our honeymoon in Germany 10 years ago; and we could almost imagine we were in one of the classic German cities in southern Bavaria! Before the 1960s, Helen was like any other small town in America. It was a logging town in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and its population was in decline. But in 1969,  the town underwent mandatory design zoning, which transformed it from a declining logging town to the third most visited city in Georgia!  It was Oktoberfest when we arrived, and a sentiment of merrymaking was in the air.  Helen is the place to go if you want to take it slow and take in th

US East Coast 2018: The Little White House

It was April 12 1945. The end of the war in Europe was in sight. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was recuperating in his "Little White House", in Warm Springs, Georgia. It was the healing waters here that he had first visited more than 20 years before, to seek relief for his immobile lower limbs. This was FDR's Little White House in Warm Springs, away from the public eye; and it was here that Roosevelt found solace. On that day, just before lunch, the 32nd President of the United States was in the midst of editing his Jefferson Day Address, which was to be delivered the next day. With him was Elizabeth Shoumatoff, an artist, who was painting a portrait of the US leader. FDR suddenly complained of a headache and collapsed. He was carried away into his bedroom, and within minutes he was dead from a brain haemorrhage; Vice President Harry S. Truman was then sworn in as the 33rd President of the United States. We visited FDR's Little White House en route from Thomasville in S

US East Coast 2018: Good 'Ol Fashion Southern Hospitality

When Hurricane Florence made landfall in South Carolina, we were forced to take the inland route to get from Florida to North Carolina. We therefore looked at Google Maps, and randomly picked a town to stop for a day. Thomasville was this town, given its location and historicity.  We also chose an Airbnb location for our accommodation, and chanced upon this charming place - Popes Store Museum. (Check out the listing here .) We realised that it is actually the oldest folk art museum in the country, and dedicated to Laura Pope Forester, a folk artist from the 1900s who built more than 200 sculptures to honour great men and women such as World War Two heroes Eisenhower and MacArthur, the first woman senator Mrs W. H. Felton, Revolutionary War heroine Nancy Hart, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and many others. The place has an interesting history, and many of the sculptures were destroyed by a previous owner, who in a drunken fury, felt that the sculptures had outlived their usefuln

US East Coast 2018: Of Chili Dogs & a Game of Darts

Hurricane Florence flung a spanner in the works and we were forced to deviate from our planned route. We were originally scheduled to view a pirates museum in Florida's historic St Augustine, to spend a night at the romantic Moon River in Savannah, Georgia, to watch the nursing of sea turtles at the South Carolina Aquarium, and ultimately to enjoy the beautiful coastlines along the sun-kissed Surfside Beach. (Read about how the hurricane affected our travel plans here .) Alas all these plans were shelved and we found ourselves in southern Georgia, in a small town called Thomasville. Described by USA Today in 2016 as the 2nd Best Historic Small Town in America, Thomasville is beautiful as it is charming. We enjoyed a lovely lunch at the  historic Billiards Academy, which was a traditional gentleman's joint when it first opened in 1949. The place is known for its  chili dogs, said to be the best in the world. I concur with this assessment - we were served with succulent s

US East Coast 2018: The Wind Blew Us - Hurricane Florence & Its Impact

Travelling is an art as much as it is a science. You may be scientific about planning the places to go, sites to visit, accommodations to stay etc. But sometimes unforeseen circumstances take place, and it becomes an art to manage the uncertainty. When we planned our trip to the East Coast of the US, we did not expect that the specific region would be hit by a hurricane. Naturally, when we first heard about Florence we were very alarmed. The headlines were grim:  "Hurricane Florence Targets Carolinas, Appalachians With Potentially Catastrophic Flooding, Destructive Winds; Hurricane Warning Issued" "Hurricane Florence grows larger as it bears down on Carolinas with ‘life-threatening’ fury" What was unnerving was that Hurricane Florence was predicted to travel almost exactly along the route of our travels! The path of Hurricane Florence. The coastal towns of Wilmington and Myrtle Beach were the hardest hit. Myrtle Beach is located just 8.5 miles (13.6km)

US East Coast 2018: Beauty in Nature - The Florida State Parks

America is a land of spectacular natural beauty; and on this trip we have learnt that the National Parks Service manages and maintains site of significant national importance. Besides the National Parks, there are also State Parks, and these are managed by the governments of the 51 states in America. This post will be about the various State Parks and Preserve areas in Florida State.  Honeymoon Island State Park Honeymoon Island State Park has been named "America's 3rd Most Extraordinary State Parks". Located just off the Gulf of Mexico, the park boasts of lovely unspoiled beaches as far as the eye can see. We got to enjoy a lovely day at the park, spending most of our time swimming and shelling, which is the local practice of finding, observing and collecting the sea shells left behind after sea creatures moult. And despite an imminent storm, we went on a hunt for the various local wildlife here - the ospreys, the great horned owl and the bald eagle. We