balance

Dirt Road and Vines

Not all dirt road lead to wineries but on this fall Saturday my dirt road headed right to one of the cool wineries in North Georgia. Cavender Creek is just about an hour or so outside of the city near the college town of Dahlonega. Home to the University of North Georgia. Turning off the main road you drive a short distance on the dusty road as you see the vines in the sunshine.

Just beyond the vines is a little rustic oasis. I went for the sole purpose of sucking on their wine slushy flavor of the day or a swirl if they had more than one flavor while enjoying the ambiance. I was in luck. Pink Starburst and Lime starburst were the flavors to swirl on the sunny weekend afternoon. Perfect presentation with the twisty straw for flair. And it tasted just as good as it looked. One must always be careful not to suck too fast or that pretty slushy will go straight to your head.

Cavender Creek is set off the road a bit. It has an inviting outdoor space for socializing by fire pits and on the lawn. Another deck outside under cover. A back room with long white drapes reflecting the appeal of a sunroom. A cozy group living room in with many special setups of chairs, couches, stools and what not to chat in big or small groups. So much thought was out into making this winery inviting. All the way down to the rocking chair front porch. Such an inviting place with so many spots to unwind and chat.

For today I was at a table for two but with food for 3 or four. Assorted cheeses and meats mixed with some crackers and giant pretzel to soak up some of the wine. A little socializing. A little snacking. Some checkers to play. And I almost forgot about bumping into some folks I hadn’t seen in years. This place has it all from good food to tasty wines to cool vibes with all of their hangout spots.

This day was not planned to include a stop at the winery. It was full of to do’s and times to get to here and there. I opted for the scenic route. A pit stop. Time to breathe the fresh air. Feel the warmth of the sun. Get a little dust on the car. Socialize a bit and of course enjoy the sweetness of the wine slushy.

In the end the cup was empty but the soul was full. The pillow on my chair may have summed it up nice with the phrase:

This

Is

The 

Life

No questions about it. A beautiful day. An amazing destination. Kinship. I felt like one of the lucky ones today. Remember the u-turns in life sometimes yield the best and most unexpected memories. Below is a quirky decoration that was sitting on the vintage table next to me. Too cute not to capture.

Jackass may be the theme in the logo of this winery which adds to its curbside appeal. If in the area you should definitely give it a try.

adventure

Rocky Top

The road trip destination was programmed for the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee on this beautiful weekend. An uneventful drive north from point A to point B. Nestled just outside of Knoxville and close to Dollywood. Another state to add to the list of 2022 RV visits. Documented of course via a sticker on the trusty RV map tucked just inside the RV door.

A big Georgia vs. Tennessee football game on Saturday was a funny coincidence making the camping resort a little bit of a rivalry zone for home fans and visitors from nearby Georgia. Friday night was set for settling into the site. Sitting by the fire. Toasting marshmallows and making big plans for the days ahead. The smell of fire in the air was so peaceful. The chatter amongst the travelers was so much fun. Everyone toasted their marshmallows just a bit differently. Some dark charcoal. Some light. Some full blown s’mores. It was a great first night for many.

We met a few new friends. Saw some cool vehicles that were in tow or for show. A vintage 1950 Chevy truck to a 2010 Stallion trike. Those were the standouts among the normal golf carts, motorcycles, sling shots, electric bikes, scooters, among others. Off to bed to rise early for a hike to Grotto Falls.

This hike was amazing from start to finish. First we had to rise early to guarantee a parking space. A hint we received from locals. Once we began the climb I first noticed the many step formations along the way. Some wood. Some rock. Some sand and leaves. Some water spots with little rocks to step across. It was a good mix with the trail.

Some of the trail was along the water’s edge. Some of the trail we just heard the water rushing in the distance. Another benefit of the early rise was the possibility of seeing the sun rise. It’s was peaking through the clouds and trees. Not enough to say we saw a fantastic sunrise but we did enjoy the chase.

So many picture opportunities along the way. The rock wall formations of varying colors. The large rocks in the water. The falls and everything in between. After we got our fitness in we headed to the town of Gatlinburg to enjoy being tourists.

As we tackled the city a trend arose. We liked to sample things. Alcohol tasting seemed like the midday activity. We tasted flights of local wines. We sampled local moonshine. We even taste tested the local ciders. All was so good. None of us were big drinkers per se but we all purchased our favorites from the samplings. This led to our second fitness journey. Hiking back to the car with gift boxes full of cider, wine and moonshine by the box. Three bottles in each hand was the equivalent of a small kettle bell in each hand for miles. Functional fitness I suppose.

Back to the site we go to chill by the fire again but this time during the prime football games. First up was the big rivalry of Georgia vs Tennessee. That was fun to spectate. The Rocky Flop Tennesee chant was all the buzz by the end of that game. Then we shifted to Alabama vss LSU game. The sole LSU fan was dancing and cheering for her home team. This was amazing in itself. While others not so interested in football gazed at the stars. I learned about a cool app called starwalk where you can use your phone to see what’s lurking up above. Another fun treat by the campsite to mix in with football and marshmallows.

Time to sign off to mingle and eat marshmallows. A solo trip in the books for this RV girl. 

challenges, mental health

Hungry

It’s 5am on the weekend. I’m hungry. I haven’t been to the grocery store so options are limited. I’ve eaten out too much already this week. I need to go to the gym thus I can’t eat too much.

I am still hungry.

I dozed off. I woke up and my tummy is gurgling. In its own way my stomach is reminding me to eat. I hear it. I feel it. Somehow I decide it’s better to stay snuggled under the covers. 

I am still ever so hungry.

A deep sigh didn’t take the hunger away. My mind is contemplating the chill in the air vs. the hunger in my belly. My mind is also telling my inner brain that 5 more minutes  of sleep is needed over nourishment. I doze off again.

I am hungry.

I can now daydream about my breakfast at my favorite restaurant. It’s helpful but doesn’t satisfy my appetite. I can be rational and think of the protein shake and to-go power bar, but again that isn’t satisfying or remotely motivating to get me out of bed.

The hunger rumbles in my belly as a constant reminder. As I sit hungry. I will imagine my butler service. The service I don’t have making me an omelette of my choosing. Fresh, bedside. Some fresh guacamole on the side ready for some warm toast. A nice hot cup of local coffee to sip on for comfort. It’s then I would rise from bed. I’d remove the covers to take on the day.

I’m still hungry. 

It was all just a dream. I woke up hungry and I don’t have a butler. My brain definitely played a trick on me today:

Time to feed this old belly of mine. For real this time.

challenges

The Review

The research was done. 4 stars with almost 800 reviews. Great written reviews at quick glance. The research revealed this restaurant as a viable option compared to the other area options. Everyone was hungry. The drive was 24 miles from the hotel, but 4 stars seemed worth it considering other options that hovered around 2.5 stars.

We took the drive. It wasn’t bad. We arrived to a decent wait of 35 minutes or so. No rush on our end, thus we waited. Observing the wait time grow due to low staff levels. Employees were strategizing at the hostess stand on how to cover the evening with such a limited staff. 

Many large groups left when the wait time reached 1.5 hours. The lobby began to dwindle. Those coming out seemed full and had leftovers. All of which leads me to think they all enjoyed their meal. The text came that the table was ready. Once inside we noticed the establishment was barely at capacity. Such a sad sight given the number of customers that left without buying or even sitting down. Then again the bar was buzzing with those who did wait which I suppose helps with the day’s profits.

The waitress was prompt and kind upon arrival to the table. The waitress offered suggestions as we were just visiting this area. Again all action led me to think we were in for a great experience. All three meals were ordered off the waitress suggestions. This is normally a smart choice. Unfortunately, today was not my day at this hot spot of a restaurant. There were a few red flags.

  • The first problem was a giggle and shriek. The shrimp pasta dish had one long hair interwoven in the fettuccine. Upon further inspection, there was a smaller kinky curled hair. So disgusting. The other person with the same dish couldn’t enjoy their meal thanks to this encounter.
  • Across the table from where the giggle was sat another person who might have indulged in the misfortune of her table mate. That was short lived. Her shrimp and grits dish came to the table with a very strong smell of garlic and onion. Just one bite. One small bite and it was over. It was as if she bit into a very strong onion. Upon further review it seemed there was minced/chopped garlic and onion instead of grits. Not sure who thought that was funny but the foul taste is still in her mouth hours later.

Our small group paid the check and left hungry. It was just one of those moments you shake your head at and move on. Then my text chirps asking me to fill out a survey and how five stars would help a small business. I ordinarily would jump at a chance to help a small business. Today, however, I couldn’t do that in clear conscience.

I decided to blog about this incident for a few reasons. Brushing of the teeth, tongue and using mouthwash still has not removed the onion flavor from her mouth even after several hours. The five star rating one asked for was definitely not worthy based on my experience. I also had some spare time in my hotel and felt a rant was warranted.

Have you ever had hair in your food at a restaurant? I know this restaurant was a big box design instead of a mom and pop place. I guess when you grow big, you may be willing to compromise quality. No business names are listed in this post intentionally. However, I would never return to this inferior establishment. A first impression is a lasting one in my mind.

adventure

RV Life Episode 3

Take me to the land of chocolate.

Oh, Hershey, PA we are here for an extended weekend. Just happened to be Father’s Day weekend. What dad doesn’t like roller coaster fun on their special day?

We hit the road early on a Friday. Travel was smooth as it can be in an RV until we hit some unexpected crosswinds in Virginia. I didn’t even know my car had an alarm for crosswinds. Guess you learn something new everyday. The crosswind experience is one I won’t forget and a great reminder of how important it is to always be alert on the road to avoid tragedies.

Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and eventually Pennsylvania were all states we cruised through on this one Friday. Lucky number seven I suppose. Unloaded in epic time to catch the cool night air at the one and only Hershey Park, PA. An older theme park with the Super Dooper Looper. A blast from my past in the 80’s. 

Our destination was nestled in the trees not far from the park. Resort benefits included complimentary shuttle to the park which worked out great. Spots are tucked in nice but I hope many leave before I do as it’s a tight space to work your way out! 

The people watching is always amazing when camping. Everything from lounge clothes to pjs mid-day to laundry hanging from ropes on trees to bike riding and scooters going by all while fires are burning and marshmallows are toasting. The sounds of giggles and chatting amongst many different people is always soul refreshing. It’s also nice to see folks cozied up to a fire with blankets first thing in the morning sipping on coffee.

Every stop is always different in the RV. This one had families with little ones, clusters of friends side by side, retirees and so on. We are in and out but always observing. Never staying long enough to get super friendly but just enough to savor the experience.

This site had great shade but not a specific waterfront view like our stops in the past. This destination lacked the views but made up for it in the sweetness. I do mean chocolate life. And for the record I am a dark chocolate type of girl. Thank you Hershey for a unique camping experience.

The photo above is a glimpse of an RV breakfast. Bacon next to a toasted bagel with avocado spread with a hard boiled egg grated over it. Topped with pepper or everything but the bagel seasoning. A good balance for life on the road but super easy to make with a little pre-planning. I do enjoy controlling my menus on the road vs being forced to eat whatever roadside option pops up. I also can’t complain about eating my breakfast in a reclining chair with fresh cool air flowing that requires a blanket when I left a heat wave in Georgia!

Off we go to chase the sunrise on our ride home. Some of the best rides are the ones watching the sun rise in a new place as you head home from your journey away. Sometimes the early am brings a fog then the sun and the colors are always amazing but each rise is ever so unique.