Sunday, November 22, 2020

Cloudland Canyon in Georgia

 More fall foliage ...

Last week, after my walk in Nashville Centennial Park, I was going to visit another park to catch more fall foliage.  Unfortunately it rained, then after a couple of blustery days, most of the leaves had blown off the trees.  My little Autumn Glory maple tree that was planted last year had colorful leaves but two days later they were all gone.

Not long ago I read an article saying that just looking at still photos of nature could lower stress levels.  A study in the Netherlands at the Vrije University Medical Center showed that by looking at images of nature for several minutes it had a calming effect on the brain.  A professor at the University of San Diego said "There are studies that show that looking at pleasant images can provide a type of mental escape for individuals during times of moderate stress."  Then I read that a small team in the Department of Psychology at Canada's University of Waterloo discovered that enjoying nature through virtual reality such as photographs "engages the parasympathetic nervous system which helps us relax, as opposed to the sympathetic nervous system - in charge of "fight or flight" responses and releasing adrenaline and cortisol."  Right now, with our stress related to the virus, politics, weather and more any calming effect is welcome.  I looked at my autumn photographs to find a pretty one.


While looking I found many photographs of Cloudland Canyon State Park that I had taken a couple of autumns ago.  As you may recall, while driving back from Atlanta to Nashville, I would stop in Trenton, a small Georgia town in the mountains where I would sell some of my books at a second-hand bookstore.  To get there I had to drive through the Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia and then drive around several switchbacks and steep ascents, pass by Cloudland Canyon State Park then descend toward Trenton.  Cloudland Canyon is located in Rising Fawn, Georgia, on the western edge of Lookout Mountain.  It was named after the child of a Cherokee Indian chieftain.  The Cherokee Nation occupied the area then and their custom was to name their child after the first thing they saw.  So at dawn, the chief saw a fawn rise from its bed and thought that he hadn't seen anything more beautiful.  He gave the name Rising Fawn to his child.  After the land grab by the white settlers the Cherokees were banished from their ancestral land and sent to reservations provided by the US Government in Oklahoma.  Their route came to be called the Trail of Tears.

The village had several names until it finally was changed to Rising Fawn to honor the Cherokees.  It is located in the northwestern part of Georgia, close to Alabama and Tennessee.  Starting in 1939 the state of Georgia purchased parcel of lands close to Rising Fawn for a state park.  The Civilian Conservation Corps then worked on connecting highways to Cloudland Canyon State Park.

That November I left early for Trenton and decided to stop at the park.  Years before, in winter, my late husband and I had stayed there for a long weekend, but I had taken few photographs.  Armed with my Nikon and cell phone, I was going to take photographs this time.  GA Highway 136 to Cloudland Canyon is narrow with sheer drops down the mountain on one side, and it's a bit scary.  On the map below I placed a green cross where the state park is located, to the right of Trenton.  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

After parking my car it was just a few steps to the spectacular panorama.  With 3,488 acres, Cloudland Canyon State Park straddles a deep gorge cut in the mountain with elevation going from 800 to 1,980 feet.  It has cascading creeks, dense woodland, wild caves, sandstone cliffs, 1000 feet deep canyons and two stunning waterfalls tumbling over layers of sandstone and shale into pools below.  The views are breathtaking.

As mentioned above my late husband and I had stayed in one of their cottages.  Now they also have yurts and offer campsites for tents, trailers and RVs, as well as backcountry and pioneer campsites.  There are picnic areas and shelters, a gift shop, 16 miles of horseback riding trails, fishing, caving, canyon climbing, and more.  Below are a cottage interior and a yurt and yurt interior.

Near the information panel I could get a glimpse at one of the waterfalls.

I walked a bit to the side to get a better view.

The other side of the canyon was also quite scenic, but I did not want to get too close to the edge.

There are 64 miles of trails.  The popular trails are the Overlook Trail, the strenuous Waterfalls Trail and the moderate West Rim Loop Trail.  I walked toward the Overlook Trail.

At first the trail was paved and smooth.  Then it became rocky and lead to some stairs.  There were too many steps for me ...

I turned around and went to sit nearby for a little rest.

I had not the time or the energy to take the heart-pumping Waterfall Trail.  You have to climb down, and back, 600 stairs to the bottom of the canyon to see the two waterfalls, Cherokee Falls and Hemlock Falls. (Photo courtesy GA State Park site and Atlanta Trails.)

If you are adventurous, there is more to do in the area.  Close by is the Lookout Mountain Flight Park.  It is the largest and most popular hang gliding and paragliding school in the United States.  They state that each year the school teaches, certifies and solos five times as many pilots as any other school.  The hang gliders launch from 1,340-foot McCarthy's Bluff.  It is as small business owned by the same family since 1980.  (Photos courtesy LMFP.)

Thrill seekers can fly tandem 3000 feet over Lookout Mountain.  I'm sure the view must be gorgeous from that height.  Maybe my blogging friend and parachute jumper DJan would not think twice about hang gliding there?

But for now I'll pass, maybe later ...

Thanksgiving is coming up.  I wish you all a festive Thanksgiving with your family and/or friends, or just by yourself.  Stay safe.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Fall colors in Centennial Park, Nashville ...and more


Last week-end I drove back from Georgia to Tennessee.  After my two round-trips to Georgia to vote (1000 total miles) I was quite tired, physically and mentally.  Trying to vote was stressful and watching the results even more so.  Last Monday, November 9, 2020, it was sunny and warm in Nashville with a temperature of 83 F (28.3 C.) so I decided to take a walk in the park close to my house instead of unloading the bags I had brought back.  I had visited Centennial Park last spring and wrote about it on my post "Spring 2020...simple pleasures."  Spring photos and vintage postcards were included in that post.

Above is a photo of the Parthenon.  It is located in the center of Nashville Centennial Park and was built in late 19th century for the 1897 Centennial Exposition.  A number of elaborate but temporary structures, including the Parthenon, were built for the enjoyment of the 1.8 million visitors to the Exposition.  Historians preserved the Parthenon because it was the only perfect replica of the original in Greece.  It is not made of marble but of plaster imitating the materials used in Athens.  An 1897 calendar was published showing a different exposition building each month.  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

Lake Watauga fronts the Parthenon.  It was named in honor of the first Tennessee settlers who were known as the Watauga or Cumberland settlers.  At the bottom right of the collage above, the month of August shows a picture of a replica of Venice's Rialto Bridge.  During the celebrations, gondolas were a feature with native gondoliers from Venice, Italy.  Below is an information panel in the park and a postcard circa 1907.

The center calendar page, above, for the month of April, featured the Woman's Building at the exposition.  It was designed by Mrs. Sarah Ward-Conley.  The mission of the building was to promote higher education and to enlarge the sphere of woman's activity and influence.  The interior rooms, decorated by Tennessee women from many parts of the state, showed different time periods.  The rooms were in inviting colors, Tiffany stained glass, mural decorations, elegant furnishing, fresh flowers, silk draperies and a library made of black walnut.  There was a log cabin in the back and a modern kitchen in the front of the building to show the progression of women labor.  Feminist events were scheduled there such as a Business Women's Day, Suffrage Convocation, Women's Press Day and more to show the new roles of women in society.  Below are the Woman's Building, interior rooms and the library (courtesy Tennessee Archives.)

In May of 1914, 1915 and 1916 supporters of women's suffrage paraded from downtown Nashville to Centennial Park on foot, cars, buggies and on horseback.  Speeches were given on the steps of the Parthenon.  Participants were encouraged to wear white cotton garments.  In 1920, Tennessee was the last state of the then 48 states in the union to vote on the ratification of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote.  There was intense pro- and anti- suffrage activity in Nashville.  On August 18, 1920, there was a showdown in the Tennessee General Assembly and the 19th Amendment was ratified by a single legislator yes vote.  Young legislator Harry T. Burn changed his vote in support of the ratification to break a tie in the TN House of Representatives (he had received a note of encouragement from his mama) - just one vote.  This year, on the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the !9th Amendment, on August 18, 2020, the Tennessee Woman Suffrage Monument was unveiled in its permanent spot next to the Parthenon.  It has been sculpted by renowned Nashville artist Alan LeQuire and it features five women who were actually in Nashville during the ratification effort.  Below are Tennessee suffragettes marching in May 1916, the day of the ratification in Nashville and the new monument in Centennial Park.

As I was walking on the pathways in the park I was thinking about those women walking on those same paths a hundred years ago, anxious to have the right to vote and see changes for the better, maybe.  Now, a hundred years later in 2020 we finally have a female vice president-elect (after 48 male vice presidents...)

Of course President Trump does not want to concede, but he has lost the vote.  His spineless acolytes in his administration and the Senate enable his temper tantrums and his unfounded declaration of voter frauds.  But European leaders, such as France, the UK, Spain, Germany, Ireland, etc. have already sent congratulations to President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

So far in addition to 40 countries in Europe, leaders from 48 countries in Africa, 31 countries in Asia (including Israel) 6 in Central America, 14 countries in North America (including Canada and the Caribbean) 5 in Oceania, 11 in South America have been trying to convey their congratulations to the new incoming administration.

Unfortunately, the current administration has been blocking these good wishes to reach the President-elect.  It is typical of the vindictiveness of the White House and was to be expected.  Mr. Trump needs to accept his loss with grace and dignity.

With many family members and friends in other countries I like to read the foreign press, in English and French.  I find that they are up to date, are not hindered with right-wing and left-wing lobbyists and are usually neutral and accurate with no vested interest.  For example I read in the Indian press that the Dalai Lama wrote to President-elect Joe Biden "I hope you will be able to contribute to shaping a more peaceful world in which people suffering poverty and injustice find relief.  The need to address these issues, as well as climate change, is indeed pressing."

In a Dutch newspaper I saw that Prime Minister Mark Rutte had issued his congratulation on November 7th - "On behalf of the Dutch cabinet I would like to congratulate Joe Biden and Kamala Harris with their election victory after a close race.  I am looking forward to continue the strong bond between our countries, and hope to speak with them about these matters soon."  The Netherlands usually does not make much comment on US politics so I was surprised to read Trade Minister Sigrid Kaag's remarks: "At long last.  Values matter, integrity matters.  Leadership matters.  The country can start its healing process into its future."

Switzerland, another country that usually is neutral and does not comment much on the US, had the Editor of the Neue Zurcher Zeitung saying: "The win shows that the majority of Americans are fed up with the lies and chaos in the White House."  She added that it will take years to clean up the heap of rubble caused by Donald Trump, and address the damage he has done to the reputation of the US with his authoritarianism and demagoguery.  In another Swiss newspaper, Le Temps, Valerie de Graffenried wrote that by seeking to discredit the electoral process, the outgoing president once again demonstrated his contempt for democratic institutions.

The people of the world were reacting as if the US had overthrown a dictator, and that America's reputation had been saved and democracy was back.  Here in the US, large city streets saw people dancing with enthusiasm (photos below courtesy the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)  Donald Trump had insulted allies like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling him "very dishonest," French President Emmanuel Macron as "foolish," saying after a call with then-Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull "it was the worst call by far" and calling Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen "nasty" when she rejected his idea of buying Greenland.  These leaders are not going to forget these affronts soon, I bet and now they can in turn say what they think.

Walking in scenic Centennial Park in autumn over sweet-musky and earthy smelling leaves was soothing after the election results brouhaha.  It was quite warm and some people were on the grass catching the sun.

Turtles were relaxing in the sun, as well.

As I was leaving a small wedding party was coming toward me on the pathway with two little girl attendants behind.

The park was not crowded and I had found empty benches and chairs to rest and even a swing.  When the virus has been contained I'll have to return and visit the interior museum in the Parthenon.  I resumed my stroll toward the car.  I had enjoyed the tranquility and peace in this park oasis.

Giving a last glimpse toward the Parthenon I wished I had been there a hundred years ago, rallying with the suffragettes on it steps and listening to their ardent speeches against misogyny and for justice and equality.  (However, the fight is not over yet - Saudi Arabian women still don't have the right to vote.)  Below, a picture of my grandmother with her suffragette group in Paris, France (she is in the second row, center, with a feather on her hat.)

The Parthenon steps are silent now but here are some of the suffragette's words to enjoy -

"Someone struggled for your right to vote. Use it."    and   "I always distrust people who know so much about what God wants them to do to their fellows."   - Susan B. Anthony, 1820-1906, American activist and pioneer crusader for women's suffrage movement.

"The best protection any woman can have ... courage." - Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 1840-1887, American author, lecturer and leader in the woman's right movement.



Saturday, October 31, 2020

Late October in Nashville and Atlanta

 When I returned to Tennessee in mid October I was disappointed that my absentee ballot had not been in my P.O. Box in Georgia.  Back in Nashville it was sunny and warm.  I was surprised when I moved my big garbage bin to find some bright flowers behind it.  I was not sure what type they were but after some research found out they are called Spider Lily.  I had never seen them before against the wall behind the bin.  They were not in a nice area, I wonder if I could move them and when?

From my kitchen window I looked toward the backyard to see if there were more flowers, but no, just flowering weeds.  But as I looked I saw a strange bird at a distance.  It was medium in size but seemed different somehow.  I kept watching it and it flew to my neighbor's tree.  Then it landed and climbed up the tree - it was a squirrel.  I had heard of flying squirrels but never seen one before.  I found out that they are called Southern Flying Squirrels (Glaucomy volans) and are common in Tennessee.  They do not have wings but "patagium."  The patagium is an extended fold of skin from the wrist to the ankle that enables them to glide rather than fly.  They are usually nocturnal.  Another visitor to the backyard is an albino or white squirrel.  Kenton, a small city in Tennessee west of Nashville toward Kentucky, is home to a large population of albino or white squirrels, and so much so that they have a yearly White Squirrel Festival in July.  There is also a winery in the area that adopted the white squirrel name.

This would make an interesting road trip but with the virus around us I usually only drive to the grocery store.  On October 22, 2020, I did drive to the grocery store.  I noticed that as my road dead ends into Belmont Boulevard the street was closed toward the university, a couple of blocks away.  I parked the car and walked there to have a look.  This was the day of the presidential debates.  There were already some Trump and Biden supporters along the streets.  The shops and restaurants facing the side of the university were closed for security reasons.  A long wire wall had been erected all along a side of the street and policemen on bicycles kept riding back and forth along it. (Click on collage to enlarge.)

Belmont University is about 1/2 mile from my house.  Actually my house is equidistant between Belmont and Vanderbilt Universities.  I read that Belmont U had applied to host the debates back in 2018.  It was chosen out of six finalists that included the University of Michigan and University of Notre Dame.  The Belmont mansion was built in 1853.  It later became Belmont University.  I had planned to visit the mansion on Belmont but now will have to wait.  When I can go back there I'll take more pictures and have a post on its history.  Belmont Mansion is shown on top left below.

Several days later it was time to drive back to Georgia to see if my ballot had arrived.  I left Nashville early last Wednesday October 28th.  It was raining during the whole trip.  Around the mountains the fog was so thick and rain so heavy that I could hardly see where I was driving.  I decided to follow a slow moving large fuel truck as it had numerous bright red tail lights; at time though I could hardly see them.  I followed it for at least a good hour, hoping it would not get off an exit to a small Tennessee hill town as I would have followed it there.  By the time I reached my usual traveler rest stop the fog had subsided somewhat.  I ate my lunch snack in the car as it was still raining. Behind the trees the lake looked sombre.

Reaching my house in Greater Atlanta by 3:00 pm I hurriedly unpacked the car so I could hasten to the post office.  Unfortunately my absentee ballot was not in my P. O. Box, still.  It had been mailed on September 18 and here we were October 28 or almost 6 weeks later, and it had not been delivered yet.  I drove then to the Voter Registration Office.  I had to fill an affidavit that I had not received my absentee ballot, and had to fill another authorization form to obtain an early voting ballot.  Then I could join the about 100 people waiting in line to vote.  Luckily in Georgia if you are an elder you can go to the front of the line ... so I did.  Finally I was able to vote after driving twice to Georgia, or 1000 miles.  I went home happy and ready to relax (not knowing that I would not ...)  The top photo is an earlier one from days ago when voters had to stand for hours, even in the parking lot. The bottom photo shows the way it was last Wednesday.

Wednesday evening I was looking forward to go and relax in bed with a good British mystery, which I did until midnight.  Then at about 4:00 am I was suddenly awaken by a loud noise.  I guess heavy branches were falling on the roof.  Debris was constantly hurled against the windows and walls.  The house was creaking and almost shaking.  But the worse was the wind.  It was not a wind but a violent storm unlike one I had ever heard.  It was howling as heard in some action films, with everything flying around. It lasted a good two hours, and it was frightful, indeed.  The next morning I had no television, no Wi-Fi or internet.  They came back on at 8:00 pm that evening.  Later I found out that Hurricane Zeta now a Post-tropical cyclone had crossed through Georgia with wind gusts up to 75 miles per hour for more than two hours along with sustained winds of 40 mph for five hours straight.  Below is a view of the weather program I never saw because I had no TV access.

Millions were without power.  Habersham County, north of us, had 498 down trees, 249 of them were on the roadways and the other 249 were embedded within power lines.  Marietta City had advised people not to drive, but since I had no television or internet I was unaware of this and did drive to Toyota to get my car serviced.  First I had to move large branches out of the driveway.  I was surprised to see few motorists.  The traffic lights were not working and the roads and sidewalks looked like they had been mulched with pine straw and leaves.  My Toyota associate told me that he had lost 8 large pine tres in his backyard.  His little street in his subdivision had lost 27 trees.  He was from Kansas and told me he had lived through many tornadoes there but never heard a wind as violent as this sub-tropical cyclone.  Three miles away, in Acworth, a man had been killed.  It seems I find myself often in Georgia when there is inclement and dangerous weather condition.

By the time my car was ready it was still a bit windy but the weather had improved considerably and the sunset was lovely.

It is still sunny and a bit cooler today but safer for kids to go trick or treating tonight.  It will not be a usual Halloween though with the coronavirus hovering over us.

This Halloween night will be lighted by a full moon, and a rare blue moon at that.  There has not been a full moon on Halloween night since 1944!

Now for the sake of cultural diversity, I offer below various spooky skeleton specimen from all walks of life.

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