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.



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