Sunsets and Karaoke

Lisa and I did not want to cook. It was a Friday evening and we still have Fridays wired in our minds as date night. So, we were trying to figure out what we wanted to eat, when we decided to ask our neighbors to go with us.  Heck, maybe they could make up our minds. This was not the first time we’ve been out with them. This was the first time we took them on a little detour. Oh it all started out innocent enough with a simple invite and going to eat at the local Mexican Restaurant. It turned out that our neighbor Nancy had just been on the local news. It wasn’t a report about tornadoes and she wasn’t comparing them to freight trains or discussing the particulars of her brother Bubba’s narrow escape from death. As a preschool teacher she had arranged the surprise reunion of one of the children in her class with his father returning from active duty over seas. She also managed to pull the wool over Grandma’s eyes too. Our local news covered the story and thus our Nancy enjoyed her small bit of celebrity.  So, the invite was accepted and the outing seemed to be turning into a normal good ole go have a nice dinner with friends and then go home occasion.

Little River Grill

Sunset View from Little River Grill

Well, it occurred to me that Bill and Nancy may have missed a local joint where we could watch the sunset across the lake and enjoy a night cap. Just a tiny little detour, no big deal right? The Little River Grill and Sports Bar is located on Lake Allatoona at Little River Landing. It has multiple decks, and inside and screen porch dinning. There are 2 separate Bars and opportunities to watch all your televised sports on multiple flat screens. We grabbed a beverage and a seat with a view  and watched the day fall into the lake.

As I said,  we already had dinner so we didn’t try the menu. However, a guy at the bar was served a dish that caught Nancy’s eye. I believe it was part of a standing rib roast. The young man offered Nancy a taste and she hesitatingly took a bite. Her eyes lit up and I knew she was pleasantly surprised at the taste. One little bite does not guarantee that the entire menu is delicious, but to get a standing rib roast to taste good indicates the rest of the menu has a lot of potential.

Mean while we noticed there was karaoke on the lawn, so we decided to mosey over. Shame on us, but we were guessing we would get a real laugh out of the various folks queued up to entreat us with their melodious voices in such an out of the way location. We were dead wrong. What we heard was person after person walking up and hitting it out of the park. In a word, those folks could sing. I mean sing well enough to raise the eyebrows and put the hands together of Bill, a known tough critic. Now with all this talent it occurred to Lisa and Nancy that there was a lack of back up vocals. So, they rectified that little over site and performed the doo whap role and did a passable job with their choreography too .

After closing down the place we took a short walk down to the docks and rescued a little duck from being bullied by a big mean looking white duck that felt he didn’t get enough of his part of the bread. Then we loaded up in The Breeze and headed for home. I love unexpected pleasant surprises. This night was full of them.

 

 

 

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Traveling on a Breeze

Lisa and I have owned everything from a Vega to a Mini-Van to move the Cash Clan from place to place. And we’ve loved and despised all of them at one time or another.

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The Cash Clan’s Super Bus! 1987 Chrysler MiniVan

1972 Vega

Our Vega was lost to a sudden rear impact, but this is how chose to remember it.

However, our latest acquisition has been if not the catalyst, at least the enabler of our Detouring. We bought a Truck. But not just any truck, we purchased a brand new Metallic Blue Chevrolet Silverado Crew Cab. I say “we” now because at the time this was simply a Neal purchase. There was not much Lisa in it until the deal was done. And now that it is done, there is a whole lot more Lisa in this truck than I thought. She has made sure our “go bag” is at the ready. She has a pair of water shoes tucked under the seat for those pop up water hazards right next to my hiking boots. I have added the obligatory flashlight, ropes and maps, she’s added the wine opener, toilet paper, trash bag, pen and who knows what else in “her” glove box. We really Love “our” Truck.

We were on our way to St. Louis to see my daughter and son-in-law and  Call Me The Breeze played and sung by Lynyrd Skynyrd came over the radio. Didn’t take three bars and a hammer hitting me on the head to name our truck, The Breeze. Some would say its not really official until I have an airbrushed license plate with The Breeze on it. Be that as it may, The Breeze is our Detour buddy that comfortably carts Lisa and I around the back roads in Southern Comfort.

2012 Chevy

The Breeze

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Chatsworth Ranch Crackers!

After our last trip, Lisa and I could not wait to try the recipe that ole fellow gave me standing in line at the Chatsworth Bi-Lo. I’ve named them Chatsworth Crackers. The fellow told me all the guys go nuts over them when he takes them to the plant. “They eat’em up!” So, I thought we’d share.

Ingredients

1 Sleeve or Soda Crackers

1/4 Cup Oil

1 Package of Ranch Seasoning

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1 Gallon Plastic Baggie

Mix your Oil and Seasoning in a bowl. Then place in the baggie. Add the soda crackers and gently mix.

Mix gentlySpread over a cookie sheet and then let stand over night. (And that was a tip given with a twinkle in his eye).

Ready to Set
Eat’em! They are good!

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Fort Mountain Dinner and a Sunset

I’m not sure how we ended up watching the sunset from Fort Mountain State Park while eating Little Rome’s lasagne and sipping from a bottle of Ruffino’s Chianti, It all started with a lot of indecision and conflict. We could not justify leaving the house in the mess it was in after me being out of town on business for a week and before that in Florida! We literally threw out every bit of our own sound advice like, work before pleasure, stitch in time saves nine and we “Headed North”. Heading North is our default move. We tried to do an errand and dropped off dry cleaning, but our hearts weren’t in it. We took along some clothes to take back to the store, we never made it. We had ramblin in our shoes and needed to put some gravel in our travel. So we pointed the Breeze north and lit out. Oh, the Breeze? Well, that’s our truck that we detour in. It’s another story.

We love the North Georgia Mountains and if all else fails we figure we can grab a bag of boiled peanuts and come home. And it looked like we were going to do just that. We did find some for sale on the side of the road from a women that owned two kittens named Ms Kitty and Yellow. They were strays rescued, by her husband and she let us know right quick, had she brought them home, there would have been heck to pay. Funny how husbands get a pass when they show a little sensitivity. She was proud of her boiled peanuts and said they’d been cooking for over 24 hours. I believe her, because they were hot through and through and plenty salty.

As we pulled into Elijay we drove through and followed some signs to a yard sale that turned into a porch sale on one of Elijay’s back roads with not much to offer except two Hawaiian Hampsters, a cage and 20 lbs of food for $30 bucks, no thank you. So we buzzed over to the Log Home sales center and inquired and toured and dreamed and left. We were all but on our way back toward the house and then we decided to take the long way home…

We headed to Little Rome, a family owned restaurant that serves up the best Italian food in Chatsworth. Made a carry out order for a lasagne dinner and two salads. They were so friendly there and when we told them our sunset plans, they helped us pack every thing up and insisted on extra mints for any after dinner sparkin (aka kissing). We ran over to the Bi-Lo, grabbed a bottle of vino, where they let me be short 6 cents and I got a recipe for crackers, oil and ranch seasoning from a guy standing in line ahead of me. Then we raced to the top of Fort Mt. I don’t know anyone from Chatsworth, Georgia, but the few folks I met are good people.

Sunset Fort Mt Dinner Sunset Fort Mt Lisa

The sun was pacing us and we worried because we knew there was a bit of a walk to the overlook. We pull up to the gate and pulled out an envelope to pay the $5 pass and there was not 1, but 2 walking sticks. I don’t mean the wood kind. There were two insects that looked like little sticks just hanging out at the gate. Kind of your park greeters, because the guard shack was abandoned.

We loaded up our Bi-Lo bag, seconding as a picnic basket, grabbed my flashlight and wine opener and made it to the top in pretty short order. I suggest to anyone doing this to get to the overlook trail head about 45 minutes before sunset. There was a group there complete with an old park ranger named Bob. He was telling his stories in a loud deep voice. So, Lisa and I held back from the main deck and ate our dinner using the rails as our table. We watched, took pictures and enjoyed. The Sunset was awesome as it teased us between clouds and shone like a orange ball before giving way to the horizon to light up the sky in pink. The crowd and ranger left and we stayed, and drank our wine from the bottle like two kids and sparked a little too.

Now I’m not one to admit to being scared in the woods, but it was dark inside that mountain forest. Me knowing the history of the abandon fort there and being secretly hopeful big foots, moth men, black panthers and the like do exist in North Georgia, did not help my constitution in those dark woods. However, I’m sure the shared liquid courage likely saved me from any embarrassing high pitched screams at odd shadows of twisted tree limbs. We made it out unharmed.

Sunset Fort Mt Sign

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Island Time

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One of our first big detours was a bit more planned than most, but you must forgive us as it was our first trip to Cumberland Island National Seashore. We really didn’t know much about the island other than it was suppose to be a Georgia treasure and it was. So we did have to make camping reservations in advance and that was literally months in advance in 1988 and has become 6 months in advance now, because that’s as far in advance as they will take them. We also had to book our passage aboard the Cumberland Queen. Lisa and I stayed at Sea Camp. It was not designated as Wilderness because you could walk a mile to some out door, cold water showers and there was fresh water there as well. This was a trip with no children, lots of wildlife and a good amount of relaxation. Lisa claimed to never have truly seen a falling star until Cumberland. We were standing on a boardwalk over the dunes watching the night sky and that’s when it happened. Not just a simple streak but one of those that skids across the sky leaving a wide bright mark.  She literally shouted in joy and it sealed her love for the Island.   You see Lisa is not a big fan of Snakes or things that go bump in the night, like a gang of raccoons rustling up some goodies. And you can bet we saw both along with bugs and wild boar all rolled into a steamy no bath zone of just plain hot! The thing is all that was wrapped in beautiful live oaks that cradled you every night in a light ocean breeze as you fell asleep to chirping of crickets. Those nasty critters lived along with sublime sunrises and empty beaches sprinkled with horses. These sights over paid for the trouble. In the movie Jeremiah Johnson, Will Geer as Bear Claw asked Jeremiah, “Were it worth the trouble?” Jeremiah thoughtfully answered, “What trouble?”

We just didn’t notice the trouble.

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The next year we went back to Cumberland and we brought with us 3 of our couple friends. Whoops, just remembered something……..  I’ve lied to you. I implied no rules on these little adventures of ours. We (the guys) did make some rules on this trip. They went something like this… Look, lets not get all weird on this trip. If you want to go do something with another couple, do it. If you and your wife want to have some alone time, do it. You don’t have to check in with anybody. Lets not get hurt feelings and lets not hurt anyone’s. Just do and don’t worry. We even took different cars in case some one had to go home in an emergency so as not to impact the other’s trip. Maybe a little overboard, but the spirit of it was to enjoy YOUR visit to Cumberland as a couple and have friends along.

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I believe there is something magical about Cumberland Island for each person that visits. For me it was a sense of history, as you could search for fossilized shark teeth in the dredge rubble or walk among the ruined castles of men. To me there is always something reassuring about nature taking back what it once had. And with the Carnigie’s Dungeness in ruins it gives me pause to contemplate the folly of humans, the power of nature and other subjects I normally leave alone for lack of time or energy. Camping on Cumberland, you have both. Lisa connected with nature with a childlike wonder and took every chance she could to be near the ocean. I don’t know what she was thinking as we strolled along the beach, unless she volunteered a tidbit, but sometimes it’s nice to silently share the act of thinking. Cumberland had that effect, it was like going to a charming old chapel. You were obliged to be quiet, but you couldn’t keep from turning your head side to side to see what was in every nook. I was looking at a picture of us on the ferry headed for the mainland at the end of our trip and we had looks on our faces that ran the gambit from grins to grimaces. I don’t know if some of us were sad, in deep thought, filled with dread at reentering the regular world or just plain tired.  I do know Lisa and I had an experience that we bring up occasionally like someone would a favorite book, to re-live, re-read and remember good times and good friends.

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Endings and Beginnings

Lisa and I have been avoiding pot holes for a long time. For the last 30 plus years we’ve tried hard to stay between the ditches while riding on our own little family freeway. With our three kids, any amount of navigational leeway seemed to end up with more mess, more whining and frankly more trouble than it was worth.  That is not to say we shielded our kids from road trips. We took them on lots of traveling adventures, but most of the time they were well orchestrated field trips with timely beginnings and endings. Snacks were packed, stops planned and routes, complete with ETAs, were closely and lovingly adhered to. It was the only way to go with family in tow.

Well this is not about nice and neat little tours. There are no timelines, no maps, no routes and no rules. This story is about detouring. It is about seeing a road and taking it, turning around at a dead end, it’s about retracing roads and just going in a general direction. And if we get lost, we just pull over somewhere and ask directions! Its little adventures and roadside risk taking. It is what Lisa and I call, De-touring.

This is the end of us raising and being responsible for kids and the beginning of Lisa and I experiencing some freedom. I’ve told my kids we did not stay together for all these years for you, we’ve stayed together in spite of you! They don’t really see the humor in my joke. Nevertheless, we want to invite each of you to come along with us as we run the roads and look for a little fun and adventure on these roads less traveled…. by us anyway.

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