Sunday, October 25, 2015


Stephanie Ballendine, our longtime friend from British Columbia, has been visiting with us for a little over a week and we have so enjoyed having her. We've had a lot of fun finding things for her to do and see and showing her some good old Southern hospitality.  For years, Larry has talked about hiking the Appalachian Trail.  He wants to do the entire thing, from Maine to Georgia at some point, so we thought we'd give it a trial (trail!) run and go up to Amicalola Falls State Park this weekend, where the AT actually begins, and hike up there some.  I knew I'd never, ever be able to hike the 11 1/2 miles with my bum ankle and Stephanie is an experienced hiker, having hiked all over the world, so it was perfect that they would go together!  So while they did that, Banjo and I hiked leisurely, taking pictures and sniffing folks.  There were lots of folks there yesterday to sniff!

Amicalola Falls is the tallest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi.  It is 729 feet high!  The word "amicalola" is Cherokee Indian for "tumbling waters" and boy, do they tumble!

We got there later than we planned because we ran smack dab into the middle of Moonshine Festival traffic in Dawsonville!  But once we got there, we got down to the business at hand.  We walked a little while together, the four of us, and then Banjo and I hung back and Larry and Stephanie walked on.


This was the last time I saw them until they got back around 7:30.

Banjo and I walked a little more and then we decided we'd just drive up to the top.  I highly recommend driving! :)

Here are a few of the things we saw!

And then the view from the very tip top!

Banjo and I hung out at the top the rest of the day, visiting with picnickers and walking some 300 steps down and then back up to get different views of the falls.  Banjo was super scared because the steps are metal and you can see the ground through them.  Bless his heart.  I carried him most of the way until he got used to it and then he started going down the steps himself!  I was so proud of him.  Brave boy!  I can imagine how scary that must have been but he trusted me and followed me.  That's my Baby Banjo!

We went back to the car, shared a grilled chicken wrap and a bottle of water, listened to the rushing waterfall and took a nap!  :)  It was such a beautiful cool day.  

Larry picked up a few things for me on the trail.  He's a keeper.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Fair time!

For the first time in a very long time, I have gone to the fair twice in one week!  Larry and I went Thursday night, our first time together at the fair, ever (and I cried a little bit!) to see Grand Funk Railroad!!  We had so much fun!!  They were Larry's favorite band and he last saw them in 1970 at the Byron Pop Festival.  I was there, too, but, since I was three years old, I sure don't
remember seeing Grand Funk!  :)  They were amazing!!  Two of the guys are original members and along with their three newer members, they sounded just like my CD I listen to in my car. They did new stuff I'd never heard, a cover and then Locomotion, Some Kind of Wonderful, I'm Your Captain and We're An American Band.  Been there, done that and Larry got a t-shirt.  :)  We walked around after the show, got a giant pretzel and watched the fireworks.  You can tell by this picture and all the smoke that the fireworks were RIGHT OVER OUR HEADS.  I have never been that close to fireworks before.  They were breathtaking!  I just put my phone up and lived that moment.  They looked close enough to reach up and touch.  Beautiful, vivid, bright and loud!!  
Yesterday afternoon, we went back to see Alabama!  We got there early so we could enjoy the fair, get some of that good fair food and walk around and see everything.  Larry got a buffalo chicken calzone and I got a chicken and cheese flatbread with homemade chips.  I wanted something I'd never had before and since this is the 25th year of the Georgia National Fair, I've pretty much had every single thing out there.  I used to love the catfish sandwiches but those folks haven't been back in years.  The Italian sausages with peppers and onions are always good and the turkey legs ($12 this year OMGGGGG!) and roasted corn are delicious.  The corn dogs are even good.  Thursday night, Larry got a barbecue plate and I got chicken-on-a-stick with ranch dressing and we shared an order of jumbo onion rings.  That's one reason you go to the fair.  To eat bad stuff.  Ha!  I got me a Dole Pineapple Whip, too.  Love those things!  We got fried Oreos yesterday, too!



I had never seen this flatbread place with the huge Braves baseball on top!  Cheesy grilled chicken, onions and peppers on toasted bread with homemade potato chips.  Yummmm!

This is what you do after you eat fair food.  Mooooooo!  Larry found the whole fair experience very mooooooving.  Okay, I'll stop. 

The last time I'd seen Alabama was there at the fair, in 2003, for their Farewell Tour.  I sat there crying when it was over, thinking I'd never see them again and I'd certainly missed my chance to see them with Larry.  I really, really wanted to share that part of my life with him.  But Alabama was retiring.  My Alabama, who I have loved since I first saw them do Tennessee River on a TV show called Pop Goes The Country in 1980, my Alabama, who I stalked chased after for years, getting that hug, getting that autograph, running them down at their homes, at their farms and businesses, at their fan club, in concert here and there to see them with friends that I've reconnected with on Facebook and then for years after that (groupies, band-aids, whatever you want to call us, we wouldn't change a minute of it!), my Alabama was now retiring.  I should have known better.  A lifetime of watching soap operas has taught me that nobody really dies so nobody really retires and goes away, right?  And so they came back!  But due to some legal issues, they've come back without Mark Herndon, their drummer, who also happened to be my "favorite" once upon a time, if you can have a "favorite" when you love every single thing about all four of them.  So that night in 2003 was the last time I'd see them, together, the Alabama that I had loved for so long.  

I was crying before we even walked through the ticket turnstile.  And when they came out, Lord, somebody straight turned on the waterworks!  I cried nearly the whole time.  Could not stop.  They sang mostly old stuff (which made me very happy!  I don't much care for their new Southern Drawl song.  It may grow on me after time but it just feels too rappy, too "new country" to me.  I don't like it.  I don't like new country.  I hope I'm wrong but it sounds to me like they felt they had to record something like that to grab the interest of the Luke Bryan/Jason Aldean and the like crowd.  NOT necessary!  There will never be another Alabama.  Never.  There will never be a group of guys (or even one entertainer, for that matter) who will love their fans so much that they let them love them back, in the way that we did.  Alabama was so easily accessible to us crazy fans and they loved every minute of it.  There are plenty of us old folks who still love the old stuff.  Old Alabama.  That's me.  :)  Anyway, that's my thoughts on that.) and a few songs from their new album and Will The Circle Be Unbroken, one of my favorite gospel songs.  They did one encore and came back and did Mountain Music for us.  Randy, Jeff and Teddy took me back to a happy and exciting part of my life and I absolutely loved it, loved them.  And I loved being able to share that with Larry, finally.  He made five videos of me acting the fool and maybe I'll post one sometime.  Right now, I'm keeping them close to my heart.


I didn't take many pictures because, again, I wanted to live in that moment.  All I had was my iPhone anyway but I like the ones we did get!

They did Wasn't Through Loving You Yet from their new album.  You can listen to it through this link if you haven't already heard it.  Randy said it reached Billboard's number two.  I like this one.  Especially the line, "I'm not gonna breathe without you in the air."  Beautiful!  

I thought October 2003 would be the last time I'd see them, the end of the line for my obsession with Alabama.  They were retiring and that meant no more albums, no more concerts, just me and my memories and some old Alabama.  

Nope.  I wasn't through loving them yet.