Friday, April 20, 2018

Tallulah Falls Gorge and Helen, Georgia

I spent Thanksgiving week in Georgia, as always. I flew in Friday night, and on Saturday we drove up to Tallulah Falls Gorge. It was one of their water-release weekends, so dozens of kayakers were braving the rapids created by the water flowing 500 cubic feet per second through the gorge. We walked down to the observation area to watch the kayaks - it was really cool. We took Harley with us, and he was a champ, even though he's blind. He wasn't thrilled with the stairs, but seemed to enjoy the adventure the rest of the time. 
Dad, Ben, and I also walked down the many steps to the suspension bridge across the gorge. The walk down wasn't bad, but it wasn't so fun having to climb all those steps back to the top! But I love bridges, and the view from the bridge was lovely. 
The temperature kept dropping as the afternoon went on, and so we left the gorge and headed to the quaint little alpine village of Helen, GA. I love this town - it reminds me so much of Germany, and at Christmas it is decorated so beautifully. And who should we meet right after we arrived in town but Santa Claus himself! He really was a great Santa, even though he was an Auburn fan. We wandered around town, visited the Christmas shoppe, warmed up with the richest white hot chocolate I've ever tasted, and took family pics in front of the Christmas tree.  
We all had a really fun day - even Harley! It was a great way to enjoy the crisp autumn weather and falling leaves and ring in the Christmas season at the same time.

24 Hours in Washington D.C.

When I found out the Cambridge college trip would involve flying through Dulles, I checked whether my BFF Stephanie would be home that weekend, and asked Louie if I could have an extra day in DC. Steph was available, Louie was willing, and I got to spend 24 hours in DC. Stephanie picked me up at the airport after I sent the rest of the college trip crew through security, and we headed off to National Harbour, an area that I had never visited but that has been well-developed in recent years with shops, restaurants, hotels, and the Capital Wheel ferris wheel. We enjoyed a late lunch and then got in line for the wheel with our Groupon in hand. The line wasn't very long, and we got a capsule to ourselves as we quickly rose up above the harbour. The monuments were far enough away that we couldn't see much other than the National Monument, but the views were lovely nonetheless, especially as the sun started setting.
After our ride, we walked around the harbour for a while, enjoying the setting sun, then did a little shopping. We came out of one store, and the sky was nearly dark but off to our left I could see hints of pink behind the buildings. I hurried down to the water's edge to find the sky on fire in an incredible sunset!
From there we decided to drive downtown to see the monuments by night. Stephanie and I have both lived in the DC area and both love taking photos of the sights, no matter how many times we visit. We walked around quite a few of the monuments that night, seeing as much as possible in our few hours together.   
Lincoln Memorial 
Capital and Washington Monument from Lincoln
The Vietnam War Memorial & Washington Monument
World War 2 Memorial

With my favorite state
Stephanie with her favorite state
With my adopted state
Lincoln from WW2 Memorial
The haunting Korean War memorial
Jefferson Memorial
Stephanie travels a great deal with her job and earns a lot of free hotel stays, so she got us a free room at a nice hotel in Georgetown, where we ordered room service and enjoyed catching up that night. One thing I really wanted to do while I was in town was visit our home church, Parkwood Baptist, so the next morning we got dressed and headed down memory lane. So many things about the church were different - it has undergone some renovation since I was there last - but so many other things were exactly the same, including several family friends who were there that morning. 
After lunch, we decided to head downtown again for a short while. The Marine Corps Marathon took place that morning and a lot of roads were still shut down, so we took the Metro to the Smithsonian stop, and walked around the Washington Monument and WW2 Memorial in the daylight before we had to go to the airport for my flight home.
The first of several pics with the Washington Monument
sticking out of Steph's head like a unicorn. :)
Ah, that's better!
Oh say, can you see...
It was a beautiful autumn day in our nation's capital.
It was a quick, whirlwind visit, but I enjoy any time I get to spend with Stephanie, and we both love exploring cities, even ones we've visited many times before, so it was the perfect way to spend 24 hours. I am already looking forward to the next time we get together. Wonder where we'll go next?