Reflections: My First “Real” Trip

What was your first real trip? Why would you call it your first real trip?

My first real trip was in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina with my mother. I consider that trip my first real trip because it was the first time I got to experience a different world outside of beaches and bridges in Florida. Seeing mountains made my spirit soar. Experiencing elevation, rigorous hiking trails, and exploring hidden waterfalls opened my eyes. 

Mom and I.

What were the best and worst parts of the trip?

The best part was the grandeur of the scenery. The mountains commanded beauty. Also, how the people lived in the mountains. They lived a slower and more peaceful lifestyle than what I’ve lived my entire life in Jacksonville, Florida. The worst was the steep hiking trails. I swear nothing reminds you of how out of shape you are unless you are hiking up the side of a mountain. 

I can’t handle the cold. LOL.

What was the life lesson you gained? 

The Blue Ridge Mountains taught me that everyone should get the chance to know the world outside their doors. It’s a big world out there, and we can’t continue to let it pass us over. The internet is a powerful tool, and Google opened our eyes to everything. Any country or culture you wish to learn about on the face of the planet is a simple internet search. The best part is, you can share those experiences with the help of social media. Joining groups and chats about places worldwide helps you become more in touch with people you’ll probably never meet a day in your life. It’s essential to care about what happens outside your world. Traveling through mountains and observing the lifestyle taught me those fundamental lessons. 

Loved the view.

How did this trip lead to wanting to travel?

Honestly, my curiosity got the better of me. I was curious to see how people lived in other parts of the country and eventually worldwide. When I became a truck driver, I was fortunate to see how people lived in small towns versus big cities. Trust me, the difference is astounding. 

I can’t wait to go back…

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.