Cold Hike at Magnolia Mound Plantation

Magnolia Mound Plantation is a well-preserved historical landmark that harbors an eerie silence as you transcend into another century. Unlike other plantations I’ve visited, this particular adventure down history’s memory lane left me feeling low. Perhaps with everything happening in the country regarding racial division, seeing a plantation only reminded me of how far (and not so far) we’ve come. 

I love the hike across the wide-open spaces as you tour one home to another. The French architecture made the homes appear romantic ad inviting. I imagined myself opening large French doors to a gorgeous two-story house with a wrap-around porch. I am floating on cloud imagination until I gaze at the slave cabin and realize the reality behind this plantation’s beauty. The crooked, uncut wood boards used as doors struggled to operate o their hinges. There are no fancy locks. Inside was an old school locking system where a board is placed in two hooks to keep the doors from swinging open. Inside the cabin is nothing more than a studio apartment. The bed mattress looked stuffed with toilet tissue. It caved heavily in the center. I could only imagine the back issues resulting from such a bed. Iside the homeowner’s home, the mattress is high and fluffy, resting on a proper frame for support. The rooms where separated. No issues with soot and ash from a fireplace. The two buildings symbolized the inequality of races during those times. It reminds a tourist of the same economic and racial divide of today.

Don’t get me wrong, the plantation is a dream. The landscape is nicely kept, the grass a bright and healthy shade of green. The vegetable garden is filled fence post to fence post with fruits, vegetables, and herbs. The garden is my favorite. I am always fascinated by Mother Nature and watching mere seeds grow into fruitful products. The plantation provided a very decent lesson in history, but that cold, eerie silence remains. The moment your mind dives into reflection, silence takes over. The reality of what was and what is coming to light. 

I am grateful to visit these plantations. As an African-American, I think it’s essential that we visit them. In my opinion, by not visiting these historical landmarks, we turn a blind and ignorant eye to all our ancestors went through. It doesn’t matter whether the tourist is black or white. What happened at the plantation and in most of the South did happen. African-American and other slave descendants owe it to our ancestors to visit these places and gain first-hand knowledge and experience what slaves endured. Caucasian-Americans or slave owner descendants should visit to understand and be rid of ignorance. 

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Warnings at High Falls State Park

Imagine the feeling o top of the world as you tower on a boulder above a rapid river. Suddenly, your foot slips, you plunge beneath the surface as intense water pressure and gravity forces you to the bottom of the mad river. The temperature of the water is the least of your worries. The half of breath left in your lungs is all the survival you have before fluid replaces the air and you drown. Perhaps your last thoughts are the four warning signs you passed to get to that boulder. Your last feeling is regret for not heeding those warnings.

According to the 11Alive.com investigation article at High Falls State Park, there have been fourteen reported injuries since 2013, three fatalities.

When I recently visited the park, bright red warning signs were outlining the rapid river bank. Honestly, how could anyone miss them? You can barely get a decent photo of the waterfall without one of the many signs in the way. An observant hiker takes note of information boards that are usually located at the beginning of a trail. As I read the board, I notice the same-o same-o about the history of the area, the map of the trail, what committee sponsors the trail, blah, blah, blah. Management of the park posted a warning post stating that anyone climbing on the rocks has to pay a $5,000 fine and do over 100 hours of community service. It probably results in janitorial duties. Yikes.

You see the first few warning signs when you descend the steps leading to the best view of the waterfall and rapid waves. After that, it is obvious what you should and shouldn’t do while hiking the trail. Park management went so far as to create a barrier using twine to rope off the bank’s edge. Honestly, I’m not sure what else could be done to clarify the danger of the raging river. I hope that visitors be responsible and heed to the warnings so the park won’t be forced to put up large fence walls.

It’s cold.

Travel Break: Small Car, Big World Pinterest Project

The day I discovered Pinterest was the day I truly lived. In fact, on one of my Instagram accounts, I labeled myself as a “Pinterest junkie” in my bio section. Since COVID-19 has everyone self-quarantined, Pinterest has been my primary source of entertainment. Every day I’m discovering new projects to take part in. So far, I’ve done everything from spray painted mason jars, to designing watercolor bookmarks.

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In my search for something new to do, I came across a photo of a tiny vintage car sitting on a beach shore. It was clearly a photoshop project, but the photography was stunning. The artist manipulated the image to make it seem like somehow the car fits perfectly into the big world. I just had to try this. I ran to Walmart and luckily found a yellow Volkswagen Beetle. The next day I headed to Sister’s Creek and took some really great shots. The objective is to use the right camera angles to show the car somehow being a part of the bigger atmosphere. Yes, the scale will be evident, but that’s part of the fun! I spent an hour walking around and taking shots of the car on different surfaces doing different things. The results are fantastic!

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My friend, Maddy, also made great use of her time indoors. She’s taken an interest in building things from scratch using whatever wood boards she could find. Her recent project includes a bookshelf, a new dog bowl holder, and shelves for her succulent plants.

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My other friend Jheanel, has taken up with painting and colored pencil drawings during her quarantine life!

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It is the amazing things that come from boredom. Commercials of people all over the world, creating ways to stay connected, show our infinite creative abilities. Hopefully, when this virus finally goes away, we can continue to be just as innovative. I know I will. Pinterest is in my blood and isn’t going anywhere!

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Search “small car photography” on Pinterest to see more cool small car photography.

Morning on Red Mountain

My trip to Atlanta about two months ago was all about adventure and wilderness. The very sight of the mountains makes me feel like I am soaring. Every day on my 4-day trip, I would wake up before dawn, gas up my car and fight Atlanta’s God awful morning traffic to get onto the roads I needed to reach the mountains in North Georgia.

 

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Day 3 Hiking

Usually, the night before I would research nearby State Parks with impressive views. I fell upon Red Mountain State Park one night. I glanced over the specs of the park, including things to do and see. After surveying the stunning photography, I was sold and couldn’t wait to put my Nikon to work.

The drive up wasn’t so bad (besides more traffic.) I knew I was getting close as the highway began to take a dip and the sides elevated upward. You literally had to lean forward against your windshield to see the top. I don’t have these kinds of wonders in flat-land Florida so you can imagine the look on my face seeing trees ascend upward toward the heavens.

Besides the GPS barking at me at where to go, I could tell I was close to Red Mountain by the constant winding road upward. About five miles before my actual destination, the scenic view of the Red Top Mountain Fishing Jetty forced me to pull over.

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I couldn’t have arrived at a more perfect time. The sun made its way above the mountain top and illuminated the entire Allatoona Creek and the Bethany Bridge. Sunrise is my favorite time of day because of the idea of a new day and new adventure. Sunrise in Red Mountain definitely provided me with the feel of a new adventure and the thrill of exploration.

After the view, I carried on into the mountain and discovered why it was called Red Mountain. Literally no matter where you looked, there were hues of reds and browns everywhere. The bark of the trees and the trillions of red fall leaves painted that entire mountain red. It was shocking and stunning at the same time.

I finally parked and was ready to get my hiking on. Unfortunately, nearly every hiking path was flooded from the previous month’s heavy rainfall. I was forced to leave and venture off to another State Park. At least the memory of the sun shining like pure gold over the mountain would forever remain with me.

 

Off the Shore of Fort Clinch

When I first visited Fort Clinch, it was mesmerizing to me. It was an actual Fort, not one of those fake amusement forts you go to for fun. Fort Clinch was the real deal. They had corridors, alleys, hallways, and tiny paths to follow throughout the Fort so that you could get a feel of what it was like to live like a soldier trying to protect your precious country. Once you have toured through the buildings, checking out the beds, the jail cell, and the Captain’s office, you are led out of the Fort and onto the beach.

As a Floridian, a beach is my crack. No matter how many times I’ve seen a beach when I stand before one I am amazed and filled with wonder about everything that goes on beneath all that water. I often hoped for the day I could see tons of shark fins coasting through the water. The Fort’s beach doesn’t have much activity because, without your own boat, you’d either have to pay to get into the Fort or you would have to walk all the way from the adjacent beach.

There were only a small group of people on the beach that day that I went. Everyone played with the dense foam created by the waves. We all climbed over the massive boulders lining the shore. I am sure they were put there as another defense mechanism for the fort. Kids ran around in search for the perfect seashell. I marveled at how the Fort looked from the beach.  Somehow it appeared bigger and taller. The Fort gave this dangerous illusion. It was as if it was saying, “Give it your best shot, but we will never fall!” The canon at the top pointed out at sea were ready to fire.

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I snapped my beach photos but always came back to that view of the Fort and the threat it imposed. The Fort itself might be old, but it was bold, powerful, and still ready to take down anything threatening its shores.

 

A Moment in the Woods

Today was one of those, “screw it, let’s go somewhere,” kind of days. I had a half of a tank of gas, I was off work and couldn’t do my writing at the library because it was a federal holiday. I downloaded an app called AllTrails where you can discover, record and share hiking trails. I found one that was on a preserve. I soon realized that because of the federal holdiday, it would also be closed. Crap. I took what gas I had and decided to just take a back road drive that I’ve taken several times.

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After about two and half hours of just back road, I stopped at a bird-watching station for the Osceola National Forest. I’m not into bird watching but there was a hiking path I could walk so I could admire the view. The narrow path was barely visible because of the tall grass that overshadowed its direction. The most fun there is to being in one of these forests are how the trees look. Its a much different view than the cluster of trees in my neighborhood “forest.” Here, the trees are all alike and grow in perfect lines. You can actually see in the distance beyond the trees. At home, you couldn’t see one foot in front of you because of the hundreds of invasive plants and vines that cover the trees. It’s nothing more than a mass of vegetation. Here, I feel like I could run forever between these perfect trees and never get lost.

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Though I was literally only there for five minutes, I had more fun in those moments than I knew I would have staying at home with nothing to do. I took photos, played with my selfie stick, walked around a bit, admired the wild weeds attacking my legs and allowed the EDM music blasting through my headphones create the soundtrack of moment.

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my travel mascot Comey

I realized after my trip was over how much I missed my short adventures. Trying to build a travel blogging career, I seem to have lost my way into thinking bigger and more elaborate traveling. I forgot that just a moment in the woods is just as much worth a travel than any travel to the Grand Canyon or the Blue Ridge Mountains. Five minutes in the Osceola National Forest did more for me this week, than any music, meditation or hangouts with friends could have ever done. I suppose I pass that piece of advice on to anyone. Go find random adventure somewhere, you’d be surprised what it would do for you.

 

The Fog of Fort George

I’ve visited Fort George plenty of times throughout the year because I’ve become obsessed with the scenery and how lively it is with jet ski flying through the water, fishermen and their families lining the bridge in hope to catch the next big fish, and children wading in the waters at low tide. Today, however, a dense fog took the scenery hostage and created a very different atmosphere that brought every photographer out to catch the mysterious landscape of the inlet.

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The fog’s blanketing the area caused the scenery to look like something out of an HD music video. On my way to my favorite hotspot, I spotted photographer jumping out of their cars on the side of the road to catch the view of the ghostly waterways.

When I arrived at my favorite spot, I too whipped out my camera to snap what I could. With each passing moment, the fog became denser and started to swallow up the landscape so time was of the essence and I needed to take photos on both sides of the bridge. My travel mascot, Comey, had a blast with the view.

At the other end of the bridge, I feel the scenery is better because there is a wider viewing area to enjoy the entirety of the inlet. Because the fog and the colder weather brought all the usual activity to a halt, it was nice to be able to just take in all Fort George had to offer.

For once, I wasn’t distracted by the sound of people and boats. Instead, I was able to allow my every sense (besides taste) to absorb the atmosphere. The only sound was the echo of cars as the zoomed past on the highway. Without the boats, the low tide was nothing more than a stream with little current. The smell of wet, uncut grass took over as the sixty-three-degree wind swept across the dead field. There wasn’t much visibility for me to gaze out across the water, but I was able to see the Naval base which was lit with hundreds of lights for their ships. The orange lights created a creepy glow in the fog. The only true survivors of the winter we’ve had so far are the few weeds that continue to bloom bright despite the browning grass surrounding them.

After a few more selfies, more landscape photographs, and a slow walk around the field to gaze at every inch of the disappearing landscape, I finally gave in to the wind and heavy fog and returned home. I haven’t been to Fort George in a couple of months and my instinct sang today forcing me to ignore the weather and visit. I am glad that I did because who knows when I’ll get to see such a scene again. Today, Fort George was not the typical play area I’ve been used to all year, it was a day for those looking for something peaceful, mysterious and calming.

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Comey and I chilling on the rocks

Mother at Hillsboro Lighthouse

Recently, my mother and I went Boca Raton, FL for a vacation/business venture. I had a presentation to go to about cleaning up the oceans for future generations. My mother went to visit some church members who lived there. Boca Raton was beautiful in every way with the yachts that sat on the river docks.

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My favorite part was the Hillsboro Lighthouse. I suppose this adds to the obsession I’ve had surrounding lighthouse. I drove between Georgia and Florida just to be able to climb these historical magnificent beauties. I have a long way to go before I have visited them all, but I’m off to a good start.

The Hillsboro Lighthouse sits on private property, so visitors aren’t allowed to get close to it. You have to go to a park that sits next door to get a good enough view. If you have a boat, you can get the very best view by riding out of the marina, under the drawbridge and out into the sea. If only I had a million bucks, right?

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At night, the dark ocean swallows up and surrounding light so seeing the lighthouse at night can be difficult. The lens and spinning light is enough to make up for it though.

My mother loved it though. She finally got to feel the same feeling I got whenever I visit a lighthouse. These simple towers have such an influence on the imagination. Its presence alone strikes imagination curiosity about the days of the lighthouse and their important role in controlling the traffic of the sea.

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