Sweetwater Creek, My Paradise

I finally made it back to Atlanta. O, how I miss this motherland. All I could think about were the mountains and the rushing rivers. I couldn’t wait to be a part of Georgia’s natural beauty. I prematurely researched the parks I planned to visit and studied the photos with anticipation. I just couldn’t wait to get there.

The best part about the hotel that I stay at is the fact that the gorgeous Sweetwater Creek State Park is literally around the corner. I figured for a $5 entrance fee, I’d treat it like I do the parks back home. If I want to just spend an afternoon sunbathing before a great lake, I’d just hop in the car and go around the corner. If I’m up for a little strenuous hike, I’d pay to get into the other part of the park and take a stroll through the hidden hills of Georgia.

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Growing up in Florida, I’m used to flatlands, bridges, and streams. When I visit Georgia and see a hill, I jump around like a dog who knows they are headed to the park. What is it about elevated landscapes that seem to have me on such a high? What is it about the sight of a mountain that makes me feel like I’m flying? What is it about rushing rivers that create a surge of energy in me?

Sweetwater Creek is my getaway; my paradise. As I continue to explore other parks and their wonders, I will always come back to Sweetwater Creek because it is a treasure like no other. Well, at least until I really get to traveling around and see the beauty of my planet.

Curing Depression One Travel at a Time

Depression is not a sub emotion of “sadness,” cured with happy thoughts, it is a ticking time bomb on your heart and mind that’s just waiting for the perfect moment to go off.

 

Throughout my childhood and grade school, I was the happiest person in the world. I had the best siblings anyone could ever have. We escaped a few dark moments in our past but we remained the happiest. Depression was the farthest thing from our wild spirits. In fact, my sister and I use to laugh at people who “claimed” they suffered from it. We were ignorant and thought it was just people being sad for attention, like emo kids. More than once we teased it was a “white” thing because living in a predominantly black neighbor hood and attending a mostly black school, we never really saw people suffering from any sort of depression. Everyone was happy, or so I thought.

In high school, I had the highest self-esteem. I loved who I was. I was an honor roll student. I was what people called a “red bone,” basically a light-skinned black girl. Boys went crazy over girls like this. I got more than my fair share of attention. Everything felt amazing in my life, I was cute, smart and ambitious. I couldn’t wait to graduate because I’d move into the next phase of my life just as cute, smart and ambitious, but more independent and grown up. What teen didn’t want that? It wasn’t until I got into college and for the first time I truly experienced the world, and adult situations that sent me into an endless spiral.

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Senior year of high school – 2008
In my freshman year of college, things started out great, but soon everything crashed at the same time. I struggled with my grades and eventually had to drop my dream of becoming a Physical Oceanographer. I then found out my first official boyfriend had cheated on me. The cherry on top came when I found out I had unknowingly contracted a STD (curable) from an ex boyfriend.

At first, I figured it was just a sadness over everything that had happened. My self-esteem was shot, I started to eat like a pig. Still I thought it was just some things I needed to get over with because I wasn’t one to get depressed, that was for other people. What I thought started out as sadness soon escalated to something else. I started to feel different, darker. I tried everything to get back to who I was. I missed her, the cute, smart, and ambitious girl I once was. I questioned why couldn’t I get over whatever was weighing on me. I felt too embarrassed to talk about it. I didn’t want to be a burden and I sure as hell didn’t want my family thinking I was suffering from a “white person” disease. I was changing in a way I couldn’t understand and soon realized I was dealing with the early signs of some form of depression.

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Throughout the next three years of my life, I decided to distance myself from everything I once wanted. I didn’t want to date anymore. I turned down every guy before he could ask for my number. I started going everywhere alone, movies, restaurant, shopping malls. I stopped wearing skirts because of my weight gain which now made me look like Shamu in a dress. There was no point in make up because I could still see the girl my own ex boyfriend didn’t want to be with. Learning about the STD made me feel gross and  disgusting. I felt like I wasn’t good enough to be with anyone, so I created my own cage and lived in it.

Living in that cage set me on a self-destructing path. I felt useless in the world. I wasn’t smart enough to achieve my dream, and I wasn’t attractive enough to keep a guy around. It wasn’t until I started contemplating ways “out” when I realized that if I didn’t find a way to help myself, I’d end up making a very big mistake.

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I’ve always loved the outdoors, but thought nothing of it. I was an adventurer at heart. I loved creeping through the woods and exploring rivers, ditches, and abandoned buildings. One day, I visited a regular park that had a large nature trail. Walking through the trail alone brought a small ember of peace. It felt nice and I wanted more of it. I started researching nature trails all over the city and the state. With each hike came adventure, with each adventure brought more happiness and peace. A peace like I’ve never known.

I upgraded my hiking trails to visiting Florida and Georgia State Parks. Exploring the great outdoors was just what the doctor ordered. It gave me time to think about what I wanted out of my life, so I begin repairing myself, and it was the best decision I could ever make.

Today, I work two career paths as a travel blogger and scriptwriter.

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Every now and then I can feel the weight of those three years tearing into my new found happiness. When the weight of the world becomes too much, I plan a trip, whether it’s an overnight stay out of town or for a few hours away just for the day, I go. Returning to the hell I was in isn’t an option. I am happy again. It’s a slow crawl back to the cute, smart, ambitious girl I once was, but I see more and more pieces of her appear every time I look in the mirror.

 

How Film Inspires Travel

The film has always had a way of educating its audiences on how the world moves. It has the ability to inspire not only life lessons on the human condition but creates an inspiration on travel destinations.
Think about it, have you ever watched a film and paid attention to the wide span scenes where the film shows the landscape of the location rather than a single focus and thought, “I’d like to go there?”

This has happened to me plenty of times. One primary example would be one of my most fave films, Leap Year, which was filmed in different parts of Ireland. Throughout the film, the camera would show Ireland’s unique beauty of ocean cliffs, green pastures and fields, stone walls and cute cottages. To throw the cherry on top, they let the main character Anna (played by Amy Adams) get swept into an Irish pub, wedding, and village. It’s almost as if the entire film was designed to suck the audience in inspiring Ireland as a new travel destination.

Another great example would be Pixar’s Ratatouille about a mouse who dreamt of being a great chef. The scene comes when Remy climbs out of the underground sewage onto a rooftop where he discovers he had been living in France the entire time. The scenery is beautiful with the infamous Eiffel Tower dominant over the rest of the city. It didn’t take long after watching this scene to begin researching prices on trips to France.

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Ratatouille 2007 Pixar Animation Studios

There are countless films, TV shows and even commercials that can inspire travel destinations. A little secret… that’s the point. Mother use to tell me the old phrase, “one hand washing the other.” For the young ones, it means that one person helps another to benefit oneself. Perfect example, Momma Mia shows you some stunning imagery of the small islands of Greece, in the audience, you are amazed and want to go there. You plan your trip, and you go there and have the time of your life. BOOM! Case in point. Greece lets the production company film in their country. The production company shows the beauty of the country in their film knowing there will be millions of viewers to see it. So Greece ends up making money on the tourist attracted to the country through the film, and the production company makes their money on the film. One hand washing the other. Neat huh?

Next time you watch a film, TV show or commercial, pay close attention to the scenery they film. Car commercials are notorious for this. They choose a rugged mountain fort trucks, a small town with brick roads for luxury cars, traffic heavy downtowns for agile compact cars and empty winding road highways for two-seaters and sports cars.

Amazing how advertisement works.

Beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains

 

You drive through a winding and twisting road as you ascend elevation. Hundreds of depths of gorgeous green trees that seem to be endless off the edge of the guardrails. You climb to the top of whatever giant hill you escalate and then you get to the top to a lookout. For thousands of miles, as far as the eye can see, are massive mountains colored in many shades of blue, lighter with distance. You take in the scenery of one of nature’s most beautiful creations, the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The Blue Ridge Mountains is the eastern section of the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina. It gets its name from the blue haze that sweeps over the mountaintops. On a lookout, you can see that the closest mountains, depending on where you’re located, are a darker shade of blue. With distance, the shades become lighter and lighter until it fades into the horizon.

To see this incredible beauty, it would be best to take the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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The Blue Ridge Parkway is approximately 469 miles long and is considered America’s longest linear park. My mother and I traveled maybe ten miles of it when we went on vacation a year ago. There are many lookouts where you can pull over and experience the many sides of the mountain’s beauty. On some, you may even be lucky enough to see a few waterfalls falling many feet down to an unforeseen river or gorge.

When traveling through, we came across a calm and silent kind of lifestyle that the people live. Homes were mostly spread a part by nearly a half a mile until we ran into small towns and villages. The lifestyle there is very traditional and what would seem very old school to anyone born in the last decade or so. In fact, it was my first time seeing a covered bridge. I thought they only existed in Turner Movie Classic films. I would guess that because it probably takes a whole day to get to town, homes that are not used for farming, have their own little gardens and crop areas for their own uses.

The best time to visit the Blue Ridge Mountains and the parkway would be in late October. By this time, most of the leaves will have changed to their autumn colors and you get to see the mountains coated in bright and beautiful reds, oranges, yellows, and browns.

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Grandfather Mountain

For anyone who wishes to make the Blue Ridge Mountains a destination for vacation, I would highly advise it. There is nothing like quite like the scenery a mountainous region could offer. I’ve not visited every mountain in the world and I’m sure the popular phrase, “if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all,” would be completely useless to use because it is certainly untrue. The Blue Ridge Mountains is known for it’s amazing resort locations and its scenery. No matter what time of year you go, you won’t be disappointed.

If that doesn’t convince you, perhaps the image below will. The image was taken inside of my mother’s truck as we road on the parkway toward the top of the mountain. As you got closer to the top, the trees became more and more saturated with snow, making it look like a winter wonderland.

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TRASH: The New Landscape

 Have you ever visited a beautiful place with the best scenery you’ve ever seen? A place where you feel you could live there forever if you could? Now imagine everywhere you looked, there was garbage and trash everywhere left behind to simply rot on the ground. Quite an eyesore, right?

My favorite hangout spot in my city is the Fort George Inlet. I’ve described it’s beauty numerous times on my social media pages and in my very blog. This popular fishing and Jet Ski area has some of the best scenery on the northside of Jacksonville. The clear water, the crashing waves, the massive white pillars holding up the Heckscher Dr. highway above you, and the scenic view of massive cargo ships coming into port is enough to make you want to go nomad and live there for the rest of your life.

There’s just one problem… trash. The beer bottles, cigarettes, old fishing lines, torn nets, even shoes are scattered about the beautiful area making the place looking nothing short of a landfill.

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Not only does trash destroy the environment, it destroys the beauty of a location. I decided to be the bigger man and help out by taking a trash bag to this location and clean up this trash because others deserve to see this place for the beauty that it is, not another spot for irresponsible adults to leave their garbage everywhere.