Saturday, October 17, 2020

A Georgia post office and a new park


At the end of the second week of September I drove back to my house in Georgia, where I had not been for a while.  I needed to keep cleaning and clearing it out and I also had to pay the yearly fee for my Post Office Box at the Marietta post office.  The house is in West Cobb County, equal distance from the towns of Marietta, Kennesaw and Acworth, but I decided on the central post office in Marietta for my PO Box because the post office was larger there.  I went there on a Tuesday, mid morning, thinking it would not take long ... was I mistaken.  Usually there would be seven to eight postal employees working, but that day only one in the front and one in the back were working.  It took about one hour of waiting in line to pay for my box.  While waiting I talked with the woman behind me.  She was from the UK, had come for a family occasion months ago and had been stuck here.  She told me she used to enjoy a visit to "the States" but no more.  She couldn't wait to return to the UK, adding that people had to come here and stay to understand how bad it was - violence, crime, bigotry, homelessness, starving people waiting in line for hand-outs, no health coverage, a bully, rude and incompetent president who was hurting and killing the people, horrid constant political ads on TV, what a pity... She had a long list.  I did not know what to tell her to change her mind.

Then I drove to the Cobb County Voter Registration Office to have my absentee ballot sent to Nashville.  After waiting a while the employee told me that the absentee ballots were being sent that week, September 18, 2020, and if I changed my address now I may not get the ballot in time.  So I kept the Marietta PO Box address for it.  To obtain this ballot I drove back to Georgia from Nashville again two weeks later.  On October 6th I returned to my PO Box, but no ballot was in it.  At the Voting Office I was told that my ballot had been sent but that it could take up to 5 weeks to receive as the mail had slowed down!  A letter to Japan does not take that long.  But the strange thing is that my Georgia neighbors, who are Republicans, received their absentee ballots back in mid September.  Checking some more I found out that the Republicans around had received their ballots, but just a few of the Independents and none of the Democrats.  So now I have to make another trip to Georgia at the end of the month to see if my ballot has arrived in my box.  The Voter Registration Office is only 5 miles from my house in Georgia.  It is a new building with a large parking lot.  In the Spring of 2016 I took pictures there, with my late husband, of the trees in bloom.

Last Monday, October 12, 2020, thousands of people took part in early voting in Georgia.  Some showed up at the Cobb County Voting Office above as early as 8 o'clock, and were not able to vote until that evening, waiting 12 hours or more.  I remember the UK woman telling me that people can't be free if they can't vote easily.  As she said "The States now is like a 3rd world country, with the same type of government."  Years ago the US used to send election observers to countries where there was voter intimidation or suppression - I think these observers should come to Georgia now!  Since many Georgians had to stand in line up to 12 hours to vote, I should not complain that I will have had to drive two 5 hour round-trips to come to Marietta to get my ballot (if I am lucky) and vote.  From Nashville my house in Georgia it's about 250 miles one way.  To be able to cast a ballot this time will take a total of 1000 miles or 1610 km.  Below is the Marietta Voting office (shown above) the day of early voting, from morning to night. (Courtesy AJC.)

Even though thousands came early to vote and more will vote in Georgia, I am a bit doubtful about the results.  Georgia has a reputation for, to say it nicely, "voting issues" (or voter suppression.)  I read in the Atlanta Journal Constitution that Steve Davidson, who is Black, said the late U.S Rep. John Lewis had fought too long and hard to secure his place at the polls for him to get tired and leave.  "They've been fighting for decades.  If I've got to wait six or seven hours, that's my duty to do that.  I'll do it happily."  Davidson said.  So, if I have to drive 1000 miles to vote, then let it be.

In a way I don't mind driving to Georgia.  In Nashville, I have been alone now with my cat since March, apart from driving to grocery stores.  So getting on the road, driving through the Tennessee Hills and North Georgia Mountains is lovely.  About two hours or so after I leave Nashville I usually stop at a small traveler rest area.  I have shown pictures of it several times.  Watching the lake, listening to the birds and breathing the air, while having a snack with a cup of coffee is so invigorating.  I never tire of looking at the water.

Everything was still green.  When I next return to Georgia in late October fall colors should start to appear.  Still I was a bit down to have driven so far and not been able to get my absentee ballot.  I decided to stay in Georgia until Sunday October 11, so I could go back to the post office one more time (I did and still no ballot.)  Tuesday October 8th was the second year anniversary of my husband's death.  Looking at the map I found a park, just about 3 miles from my house that I have never visited.  I thought going there on the 8th would bring more peace than staying and clearing the house, so I drove there. I wish I had known of this park when Jim was still alive - he would have loved it, and so close to the house.  It turns out that it was donated to Cobb County in 2001.  Formerly and old family farm the park was named after Leone Hall Price who lived there until her death in 2001.  Ms. Price had stipulated that the land should become a "passive park" to remain in a natural state.

The park has a total of 243 acres of undeveloped land.  It includes a pavilion with picnic area, bathrooms, a small parking lot, and many benches and picnic tables throughout the park.  Located 3 miles from my house, the park has an Acworth, GA, address.  Being a passive park, its primary use is hiking and walking in unmarked and undeveloped trails.  It is very secluded.  There were no other cars in the parking lot on October 8th in early afternoon.  I started walking, not really sure where I was going, but it was a sunny and warm day (80 F/26.6C.)  I went down a hill then up a hill and could see a meadow ahead.  The path was covered with grass which meant that not many people walked on it.  Reaching a bench I was pleased to take a rest.

In the spring there must be loads of berries there.  Now the meadows were covered with yellow wild flowers.  I read later in the newspaper that a hiker had spotted a bear with a cub in this park in early spring. (Photo of the bear below from spring article in the AJC.)

No bear sounds around me, just the birds.  I started on the mowed wide path again walking by a Bluebird nesting box.  But then the path was branching on the right and the left.  I took the left path and kept walking towards the woods.

Reaching the woods I could see a number of big old trees.  I could smell the scent of the pine trees but also the scent of apples.  There must have been an orchard there once as spoiled fruits were on the ground.  Another picnic table was under a large tree but then the path was divided again going to the right and the left.  I walked toward the left side.  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

I was uncertain about exploring some more.  Where did this trail lead to?  Would I get lost?  There were no signs and no one around to ask.  But then I could hear the sound of water, so I walked in that direction.  I did right because I reached an enchanting little stream (later I found out it is called Allatoona Creek.)  There even was a bench there.  I took some photos. The water was clear but with the reflection from the sun, it was difficult to show it in my photo.  I walked along the stream for a while.

By then I was turned around and did not know how to return to my car.  So I took a small path and soon enough I recognized a large tree with a picnic table underneath, kept going and there was the meadow...time to get back to the world.


DJan said...

I do hope you will update me when you get your ballot and can mail it. So distressing to hear of these problems, but Stacey Abrams made it clear that there is truly horrendous voter suppression in Georgia. I love the pretty park you discovered. Thank you for all the lovely pictures.

Elephant's Child said...

I am so very sorry (and horrified) to learn of your problems in voting.
And grateful for the beauty you found and shared.

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

It is sad that you and so many people are not receiving their voting ballots. There's no excuse for such a mess. I've heard of the opposite with Republicans not receiving ballots. I guess it depends on the district, individuals taking their time with priorities. The state voter commisions have no good excuse for delays, and long lines at the polls. Funny you post about a woman from the UK wanting to go home.
This morning I was reading about UK visa requirements. As beautiful as Vermont is, walking trails are not near every doorstep.
Please Stay well and Safe.
Your blog is a treasure to read.

rhymeswithplague said...

Now that early voting has started, I’m wondering why, when you drive all the way back to Cobb County again, you don’t just vote in person instead of continuing to check your P.O. Box? You are not disqualified from voting in person just because you applied for an absentee ballot.. It’s only fraudulent if you vote in person AND return an absentee ballot. Also, the nearer to Election Day you mail in your filled-out absentee ballot, the greater the possibility that it might not be received in the Elections Office by the deadline. If you come back to Marietta before the period ends, I suggest that you consider voting in person.. After the rush of the first few days, the long lines have diminished somewhat. It can’t be any worse than waiting in another long line at the Post Office.

Kay said...

Gosh! We've heard about the voter suppression in Georgia, especially in the minority areas. This is so darn WRONG! It makes me so angry just thinking about it. They said an unusual number of voters in Hawaii have already turned in their ballots. We must get this horrible man out of the White House.

Cloudia said...

PLEASE report these issues!!

Cloudia said...


Report your issue here, just what you told us about who did and didn't get ballots

Hels said...

That bear is very impressive. How close were you, when you took the photo?

Ginnie said...

Don't get me started on what's happening in America these days, Vagabonde!!! Seeing it from afar, here in the Netherlands, and watching how the Europeans react to it, gives me so much grief. I paid €26 to have my absentee ballot sent back to Georgia via DHL (GA is a mail-back only state). I'm so glad to say it was delivered on Oct. 13th and registered as Received that same day on My Voter Page. In the meantime, bless you for your own perseverance...and for catching the beauty around you all along the way! May God have mercy on us all during and after this Election!

Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder said...

Dearest Vagabond,
So, you went back to Marietta.
We always go to Costco at Cobb Galleria Mall so I do know the area.
Past weekend we stayed at the Hyatt Regency Suites for taking a ride on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad. It was not really raining but in comparison to Bryson, City in N.C.'s Great Smoky Mountains Railroad ride it was mediocre. Both of us were shocked to learn about the extreme poverty right outside of Copperhill, TN where they do volunteer gardening for delivering veggies to the needy...
Marietta I've always liked, more than Atlanta, guess the difference is their mayor.
But we had absolutely no problem early voting on the 13th in person!
That loud mouthed woman from the UK is not entitled to have an opinion about our nation, after having been 'stuck' here for a couple of months! What does she know?
Hope you arrived safely back home in Nashville, TN!

David said...

Vagabonde, Very interesting re: the ballot issues. Since the ballots are non-partisan, someone would have to compare your primary voter registration to your ballot request to know your political preference. That would be a time consuming project indeed...but it would also have to mean that those same ballot mailing folks would have to set aside those ballots they didn't want to go out on a timely basis. FYI, Our Scottish relatives have said over and over again that Boris Johnson isn't much better than Trump... In any case, I do believe that Biden will win this election...and that even more divisive conspiracy theories will arise from the radical right. America is definitely in a crisis mode! Stay Safe with your drives...and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Jeanie said...

I hope everything goes well with getting your ballot on time and returned on time. I worry about this election tremendously. We need ever vote we can get!

Roderick Robinson said...

Your experiences are hideously salutary. Some time ago the Ineffable Trump said that the only way the Democrats could win was by "stealing" the election. And here is direct evidence of what he was up to when he reduced the financial allocation for the US Post Office and put his crony in charge.

As to the woman "from the UK" you should have cast away your role of blushing violet. Here ministerial incompetence has replaced the outright criminality of your administration but the results are the same. If we are not turned into physical wrecks and/or blotted out completely by The Plague we will succumb to economic annihilation. I was so ashamed of my own country I felt I had to get away from it for a fortnight. This was spent in France - without breaking any of the regulations - and we managed to minimise our risks of infection by renting a villa and staying away from concentrations of population. In any case the French at that time were - uncharacteristically - obeying the rules more stringently than the Brits.

We are in the hands of a slightly more childish version of your Orange Monster. The top jobs in government have gone to those whose only qualification is to have supported his crazy Brexit scheme - they know nothing. Two weeks after returning home your tactless complainant will probably start filling naturalisation papers for the Cape Verde Islands.

Joared said...

Sounds like a delightful walk ini the woods but glad you didn't get lost. Lovely photos. Incredible there isn't some effective timely means to prevent the voting suppression you describe and as exists in other states.

dritanje said...

I've so enjoyed reading your post vagabonde. A little horrified by the voter registration problems, for you and it seems, many others. I wish you and all your compatriots the best of luck in your elections.

Divers and Sundry said...

I voted early in person and had only a few people in front of me. Quick and easy, though I've seen some local photos of long lines. Voting ought not to be hard or that time-consuming.

That sounds like a lovely drive, and what a nice park space. You got some wonderful photos!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Really interesting read! We were able to vote by mail a few weeks ago. Our ballots were slightly delayed, but by no more than a week. And where we live mail delivery has been inconsistent for years and years for everything, so late is normal for us. Lovely pictures! Northern Georgia and all of Tennessee are so pretty and scenic.

Mae Travels said...

Georgia is very well known for voter suppression this year and in the past. Consider the most recent governor election. It’s sad that you are a victim of this malpractice on the part of the illegitimate government of the state, but unfortunately not surprising. I hope you will in fact find your ballot when you return there one more time.

The parks and open areas you picture are really beautiful!

stay safe... mae at maefood.blogspot.ocm

Glenda Beall said...

Being a native of Georgia, I am disappointed to hear of your voting difficulties. I live in NC now and it took a long time for me to receive my ballot after requesting it in person. But, finally my ballot was hand delivered and I am so relieved to have my vote in. You are brave to take a walk alone in this beautiful park, and lucky to find your way back to your car. I spend much time now in Roswell, GA with family and must send your blog to my BIL as he likes to walk and this park sounds like a great place. Thanks for sharing your hike with us, and hope the voting goes well. I always enjoy your blog posts. Be safe.

Nadezda said...

Dear Vagabonde,
what problems with ballots! I know that Vasily (Illinois) had got his one 2 week ago and had voted. I think the woman you spoke is right. It's pity she can't go back to UK.
I love your picture of the place for rest between Tennessee and Georgia. Very picturesque photos!

Kay said...

The voter suppression is certainly 3rd world. It's embarrassing to know that it's still happening in the U.S. It's shameful! 12 hours? Oh my gosh!

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