Georgia on my Mind, Part Two: Helen, GA and Vogel State Park

With every switch back, the trail immerses you in the sounds of the surrounding forest; however, at the midpoint of each switchback you can briefly hear the falls before being enveloped by the quietness of the forest again.

After we checked out of Amicalola State Park (see Part One), we meandered along the base of the mountains as we drove through the foothills on our way to Helen, Georgia. Our primary objective in Helen was to mine for gems. Gem mining was a perfect, short, and reasonably cost effective activity to keep the mini occupied in between destinations. If you are ever in the Helen area, Outpost Gold and Gem Panning is fun stop.

Not the best picture quality, but you get the gist.

Helen is a super cute town that looks like a Bavarian village… plopped in the North Georgia mountains. The town was SUPER crowded and since we were mid-pandemic; we kept driving through after we mined our gems. Our next stop was Vogel State Park.

To get to Vogel State Park, we had to cross over a mountain and of course; it started to downpour as we drove. Russell Scenic Highway is a beautiful highway to drive on a sunny day, but in a storm- well, it is still beautiful, but also terrifying. As soon as I saw the words “scenic highway,” I knew we were screwed. We were driving over the mountain.  Up we went… and up… and up. Amid the stormy fog and mist, I knew we were on the edge of some crazy vistas- I could feel it in my bones. After what seemed like FOREVER, we drove over the mountain and out of the storm.

The view on a clear day from Russell Scenic Highway.

We were now a short distance from Vogel State Park. With my adrenaline pumping from the ride, I knew that I needed to stop and get ice to refill our cooler. We stopped at Sunrise Grocery which turned out to be such a good find, we stopped there again the next day on our way out. Looking like what you think a little mountainside grocery store would look like, it was full of unique artisan goods. I found my all-time favorite  soap at this place. Not only does it smell heavenly, but it is gorgeously crafted. I was super happy when I did my research and found that I can purchase the soap from the maker’s Etsy shop!

We hopped back in the car and continued our jaunt down the road to Vogel State Park. Located at the base of Blood Mountain, this State Park had a huge campground, a lake, and a creek. The highest peak on the Appalachian Trail, Blood Mountain, is the sixth-tallest mountain in Georgia at 4,458 feet tall. While we didn’t do any hiking here; we enjoyed the beauty of the State Park. The mini did a little swimming, and we had a nice campfire classic of hot dogs and smores. One thing I like about camping at Vogel was that the Bear Pole that held your trash was much further away from your tent pad. While this helped me feel *a little* better, I still could not sleep very well. Since there was no internet signal to be found, I laid in bed and formulated a plan…

The next morning we woke up early and packed our campsite up. At this point, most of our cooler was water (note to self, invest in better cooler) so we had to dump a little of our food since food poisoning and the great outdoors are not agreeable partners. We stopped at the camp store so I could quickly hop on their signal and complete the rest of my last-minute plan. Then we were off. It was a beautiful day, and we drove back over the Russell Scenic Highway. This time we made a couple of stops for pictures.

Our first stop was Hogpen Gap, from which the summits of several mountains are visible, including Brasstown Bald, the tallest Mountain in Georgia. This overlook was not crowded and offered beautiful views.

Our next stop was Dukes Creek Falls in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest. This 1.9 mile moderate level trail descends more than 400 feet into the gorge below. With beautiful mountain views from the top of the trail, the bottom of the trail offers a whole different atmosphere with the crashing water of the falls converging into the creek. With every switch back, the trail immerses you in the sounds of the surrounding forest; however, at the midpoint of each switchback you can briefly hear the falls before being enveloped by the quietness of the forest again. It was well worth the hour hike to the bottom.

Then it was onward to our surprise final destination…

Stay tuned for Part Three!

Halloween Make-up Tutorial: Ventriloquist Dummy

We love Halloween in this household- I may or may not have been making Halloween decorations in July. I also LOVE plotting and planning my Halloween costume for the year. Last year, I was the Queen of Hearts and, well, I went a little overboard at the trunk-or-treat.

Queen of Hearts
Down the rabbit hole!

The mini can never make up his mind about his costume. He normally lists twenty costume choices before finally choosing the craziest option at Target. Two years ago, that option would be a purple hippopotamus. Last year, it was a slightly more common choice: a shark.

This year, we are continuing with the normal October indecisiveness. Enter the weekend morning Halloween makeover. The mini saw snippets of the Goosebumps movie and he thought the ventriloquist dummy character, Slappy, was the creepiest thing ever (he is not wrong).

I used my Savvy mineral make-up to create this look. I love this make-up from Young Living because it is all-natural and has the best coverage! The main thing I used for this look was my black multi-tasker. Check out the finished look in this video along with the products and steps to recreate it at home!

Slappy in the making.

Young Living Savvy Mineral products used:

  • Veil Diamond Dust
  • Liquid Foundation in Ivory
  • Matte Primer
  • Powder Foundation in Warm 2
  • Black Multi-tasker
  • Brown Multi-tasker
  • Blush in “I Do Believe You’re Blushing”
  • Volumizing Mascara

Steps for recreating the look:

  • Apply primer to entire face and lids.
  • Use the foundarions on entire face to provide a good foundation for the make-up.
  • Using a small wet angled brush, use the Veil to create a half-circle under the eye to create the illusion of a bigger rounder eye.
  • Using the black Multi-tasker and a wet angled brush, draw an outline around the half-circle.
  • Next, use the black Multi-tasker and a wet angled brush to draw eyelashes and lines that angle down from the lips to the chin on either side of the mouth.
  • Darken the eyebrows with the brown Multi-tasker and add a slight angle to make the brows look more menacing.
  • Apply Veil to upper eyelid
  • Add two coats of mascara.
  • Use the blush mixed with a little brown Multi-tasker to contour a U shape under the cheekbones.
  • Use brown Multi-tasker and a wet angled brush to add freckles.
  • Add red lipstick.
  • Contour along the slides of the nose with brown Multi-tasker and a dry brush. Blend.

Interested in Young Living Savvy Minerals? Contact me for more details!

The Strong-Willed Child

The sass has been strong with this one as soon as he was old enough to talk. Here is a collection from the mini’s second year on Earth.

Georgia on my Mind, Part One: Amicalola Falls State Park

Yes. There was so much that I needed… a guide on hand-to-hand combat with a bear so I was prepared when it meandered into our tent because it was looking for a human snack to cope with the frustration of the bear-proof trash cans… a hotel room. However, I just smiled and thanked her and said we were all good.

This summer we loaded up the Honda Civic (I understand the humor in that), and headed north to the Georgia Mountains for a much needed escape into nature. We hopped between two Georgia State Parks and then I surprised the boys with an extra special stay on the last night of the vacation.

Very professional route map.

Our first destination was Amicalola Falls State Park. The campground at Amicalola can be found on top of a mountain. One thing about this lady is that I do not do heights. Or crazy mountain roads. However, this is 2020, and I figured it was either the absolute best time to take risks or the worst. So, up the 25% grade, two lane (barely), twisty mountain road we went. Guess what, you all- we survived! My bravery was rewarded with a panic attack and magnificent views. Once I could feel my hands again, we set up our site, and we went to the tip-top of the mountain to visit the lodge to get some ice and some firewood. 

Enjoying the view from the Amicalola Lodge Patio with our mini.

The view from the lodge was breathtaking, with gentle rolling mountains stretching out as far as the eyes can see. The Lodge at Amicalola is unique in that all of their rooms have a mountain view. While that means that the lodge does not have as many rooms as most resorts, their rooms are often larger and can house entire families.

Check out the Lodge at Amicalola here.

The view from Amicalola Falls State Park.

After we finished exploring the lodge, we journeyed back down the mountain a bit to our campsite. I had already chopped up all the ingredients for dinner, so all I had to do was empty the ingredients into my aluminum baking pan and put it on the campfire grill grate to cook. I found a recipe for campfire queso and it was delicious and so easy to do. I highly recommend doing the prep work so that all you have to do on-site is dump it in a pan. The boys went exploring and while they were gone, the campsite host stopped by our site to greet me. If you are not familiar with camping, the campsite host stays for long durations at the campsite and is the resident expert and is helpful with tasks such as locating ice and firewood.

This particular campsite host immediately pointed out that we had the best site in the whole campground for bear activity. She matter-of-factly said that they just come parading down that hill over yonder on their way to that bear-proof trash can that is 25 yards from your tent. Mind you, she pointed to the hill that the mini and the husband were currently climbing. Then she asked me if I needed anything.

Yes. There was so much that I needed… a guide on hand-to-hand combat with a bear so I was prepared when it meandered into our tent because it was looking for a human snack to cope with the frustration of the bear-proof trash cans… a hotel room. However, I just smiled and thanked her and said we were all good. While the queso was melting, I broke the camping rule and busted out the Android so I could Google everything about black bears in Appalachia… which is why I went to sleep with a hammer under my pillow that night.

I joke, not about the hammer, but about the sleeping part. I was wide awake until about 12:00 p.m. I could hear branches snapping and I swore I heard bears breathing. I mean, I have never really been up close to hear a bear expel and intake oxygen; however, I was convinced their hot furious breath was feet away from the tent. So much so, that at around 12:15 a.m. I grabbed the keys to our car and used the key fob to beep the horn. Take that bears… and neighbors.

Lulled into a fall sense of security that our car horn had showed those bears a lesson, I somehow actually fell asleep. It felt like I had been a sleeping for all of two seconds; however, the time was closer to 3 a.m. and Steve and I both sat up with a start as we hear the loud metal of the bear-proof trash can handle being tugged up and down. Seeing that this trash can was right at the end of the driveway to our campsite, I think I had an out-of-body experience for a moment. I honked the car horn again- don’t worry, at this point, I realized that several people had followed my strategy and were doing it throughout the night as Yogi and his friends searched for midnight snacks. Steve saw the shapes of bears as he looked out the tent screen at another point in the night. I woke up for good around 4:30 a.m., but remained in my tent until about 6:00 a.m. until it started getting light outside.

They tried to warn us…

When the boys woke up a couple hours later, I had made a light breakfast of cinnamon rolls and orange juice. I had already talked to a couple of the surrounding neighbors and they had heard the bears too. However, most everyone at this campsite was sleeping in the comfort of their Airstream or large recreational vehicle. We were only among a few other tent campers. After breakfast we packed up the site and went to see the falls. I dropped Steve off a the top of the falls and he took the stairs down to the bottom so he could take pictures. The mini and I drove down the mountain (after the first time, I knew what was coming and it didn’t bother me as much) to meet him. The bottom of the falls had a huge stocked trout pond and we had fun watching people catch fish until Steve met up with us.

The view from the bottom of the falls.

All in all, I actually REALLY did enjoy this state park. The facilities were super clean and the campsite was really small (which I was actually grateful for due to the bear situation). While it does seem to have a slight bear problem, I realize that we were the ones invading on their turf and that since we did not bother them, they did not bother us… much. I would love to come back and stay in the lodge, just to have a another experience, but I would definitely camp here again.

Twenty-five Things About Me

1. I grew up in Augusta, near Kalamazoo, Michigan (yes, there really is a Kalamazoo- you can even get a t-shirt).

2. I graduated with a B.A. in Secondary Education with a major in English and a minor in Communications from Western Michigan University. Go Broncos!

3. I received an Master’s Degree from Saint Leo University in Educational Leadership.

4. I am a karaoke fanatic.

5. I have two Chihuahuas, a Deerhead named Mia, and an Applehead named Bella.

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