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July 4th Weekend...Happy Independence Day, America!

Over the weekend of July 4th, we spent the weekend in the North GA mountains...specifically in Helen, GA to go tubing down the Chattahoochee River. Scott first took me to the mountains right after I moved to GA in 2001...the drive up there is about 2 hours from where we live, but the closer we get to the mountains, the more it reminds me of my IN home with all the farms, gardens, and rolling hills. I love to visit the area for a home away from home experience.

We've been tubing almost every year since we met. One year it was too dry to even attempt to go. We've taken both the boys since they were little tykes...Alex was only around 8 months old when he went tubing for the first time. He fell asleep on my shoulder about halfway down the river and was the talk of the town as we floated through Helen. That next summer was the year we missed Tim was just over a year when he went down for the first time. Ever since then we've been taking an annual trip to Helen for tubing and going to Hansel & Gretel's candy kitchen. They make peanut brittle that tastes just like ours that we used to make in Grandma's kitchen. It's so good! Everything I've ever had there is good...and I'm not a fudge person but even their fudge is better than most...epecially their Pumpkin Pie fudge they make in the fall.

That's enough of an introduction...on to our weekend. We spent Friday doing some errands and eating lunch at Fat Matt's Rib Shack in's second only to Cafe Pig for their bbq and brunswick stew, if you ask me. Didn't even think about eating anything the rest of the day. We made it to Helen (after many hours if you ask the boys) and went for a hike after checking into our hotel. We have camped before...we've rented cabins before...but the hotel was within walking distance of what we were going to be doing most of Saturday so we went with that this time around. The cabin rental is the best way to experience Helen, really. Unicoi State Park is a nice place to camp, though, too.

Hiking goal: making it to the waterfall on Raven Cliffs trail. Didn't quite make it but we were ever so close. After 2 and 1/4 miles in we had to turn around or suffer the consequences of overtired boys. That last 1/4 mile would have been too just gives us a goal for next time, whenever that happens to be. There are alot of waterfalls along the way, so we enjoyed what we saw and experienced on our hike. The boys were so good...and especially happy to turn around and head back for the truck. :)

Hiking done, we took the boys to the hotel's pool before grabbing some Mexican for dinner. Scott's the only one who ate...I was still stuffed from lunch and the boys had pb&j before we left the room. We turned in kind of early due to the next day's adventures on the Hooch and at the waterpark.

We were on the river by about 9:20 or so...first ones on the bus to pick up our tubes. We knew the river would be busy later and so we headed out early, and busy doesn't even really describe how busy the river was later! It was so fun floating down the river with the boys. I have alot of fun watching the other people going down around us...I can usually pick out those who've never been tubing before just by the way they are handling themselves and the whole tubing experience. We had a blast as usual...and even went down again for the short route later on in the afternoon after some time at the waterpark.

The waterpark has 4 waterslides -2 curvy tunnels and two straight open slides - and a lazy river. Alex and I got our money's worth out of the park, let me assure you. He just couldn't get enough of the whole experience...and I enjoyed every minute right along with him. They offer an all day pass for both tubing and we could come and go as we wanted. It made it very convenient so we could go to the hotel across the street and eat or rest or whatever and then go for more fun. There were what we called double decker tubes where two people could ride together. Alex and I did the tunnels together several times and then floated on the river together too. He liked being in the front seat of the double decker tube. All in all it was a great time in the water (don't tell my doctor that I went swimming with my ears not healed yet..I did my best at keeping my head out of the water, though).

On Sunday we left the hotel early and made our way up Trey Mountain Road which literally takes you up a mountain. Ear popping, hairpin turns, hundreds of feet drop offs to your right kind of road. It is so neat! The magnolia trees were in full bloom and just beautiful on the mountain. Lots of wildflowers and wild blackberry bushes, too, along the way. Going up the mountain there was no rain, but once we started back down the other side one could tell it had rained on that side. The boys want to go and camp at one of the campsites established on little clearings along the roadside sometime. It would be fun to do it someday. There are a couple of waterfalls along Trey Mountain road that are neat to see...and then once you get onto Indian Gap Road a creek crosses over the road and you have to drive through it to continue on your journey. The water was about 8 inches at the deepest part in the road. We had no problem crossing it in the truck. The boys and Scott got out and walked around in it and played with the rocks and such. Too cold for me!
From there we went on to Hiawassee, GA. The views were spectacular along the way. My favorite pic is this one with the field below the mountains. So much to take in with the mountains, rivers, lakes...absolutely spectacular to see. Kind of makes me long for Alaska even more. We ate at this mom and pop restaurant in Hiawassee for lunch. It was delicious food for an incredible low price. After lunch, we found a park with a beach that was located in the middle of the mountains. Beautiful views from anywhere in the playground or on the beach. We all had fun playing around there and the boys went swimming again. After drying them off one last time, we loaded up and headed south for home. It was a good weekend to say the least.

A good time was had by all.


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