Coffee, Congaree, and Congregations

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Watching the sun rise (even though that's not really an actual thing) is one of my favorite things to do but to do that being an early riser is a must!  We decided to venture out of the city and drive to where we could actual watch the sun rise, say good morning to all the wildlife, and appreciate the peacefulness of nature (no city noises).  We decided that 4:30 a.m. was a good time to start this adventure which as always began with cups of coffee from Dunkin' Donuts (we have started a tradition of stopping to get Dunkin' Donut coffee (just coffee) before each adventure we take...this family definitely runs on Dunkin'!  With coffee in hand we made our way to the only national park in South Carolina, Congaree National Park.  As a side note:  a plus to being up so early we got to see Mars.  We had been "Mars hunting" Friday night but because of clouds we weren't able to see it.  But have no fear, we were able to see it early Saturday morning and it was so cool!!!!  Did y'all see Mars Friday night/Saturday morning?  Okay, back to Congaree National Park.  This national park is a dream.  There are many trails to hike and a boardwalk that makes a loop from the visitor center to Weston Lake and back to the visitor's so nice!  We arrived at Congaree National Park a little after 6 a.m., put on our packs, hooked up Katie, the adventure dog and hit the boardwalk.  The quietness and peacefulness that takes over when communing with nature is a feeling I am very grateful for and hope to have many more opportunities to experience that feeling.

We made it to Weston Lake just in time to hear a Blue Heron in the distance then to see that beautiful creature fly out of the fog and right in our view over the lake.  There were places for us to sit on the boardwalk at  Weston Lake so we spent a little bit of time just taking it all in and while it was too foggy to actually see the sun rise, we enjoyed coming out of the darkness of night/early morning and seeing the light of day bring nature out of its sleep. 

Back at the visitor center, we talked to one of the park rangers and by this time, visitors to the park were beginning to appear.  Congaree National Park is a great place to visit and explore so go ahead & get out there.
On the drive out of the park, I saw my very first fox squirrel, chillin' beside the road eating breakfast.  The fox squirrel was completely black with the exception of a couple of white spots on his face.  While I definitely thought he was much bigger than the gray squirrels hanging out behind my apartment, I was informed that this was actually a small fox squirrel.  So now of course I want to see a large fox squirrel in the wild.  My love for wildlife runs true and deep...with the exception of snakes, I just cannot deal with snakes.

Since we were in the Hopkins area, I had come across some information on a historic church in the Hopkins/Gadsden area that I wanted to visit so we went off to find it.  Our journey took us through Minervaville.
After passing through Minervaville, we located Richland Presbyterian Church.  The church was built in 1884 and had 11 charter members.  The church merged with Congaree Presbyterian Church and moved to Eastover in 1922.  The church building pictured below is closed.

 Charter Members.

 The original gate.

 This was the perfect way to start the day!

Happy travels,

Exploring Macon, GA: Part 2

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Our second day in Macon, GA took us to the Hay House.  The Hay House, also known as the Johnston-Felton-Hay House, was built in the 1850s.  The architectural style of this house is the Italian Renaissance Revival which was outside the norm given the time period as many home during the antebellum period were built in the Greek Revival style.  While I adore a Greek Revival antebellum home, I was drawn to the Hay House because it was so different for it's time period...don't you agree?
 This 18,000 square foot mansion is a dreamboat!
 Our tour started in the lower level of the house.  The gift shop and ticket purchase is in the lower level along with rooms to tour with reader panels and artifacts.  Now off to the main level of the house!

 I love pocket doors!  I like how pocket doors have a special hiding place (being pushed into the walls) for when the rooms are being used but then can be closed (as seen above) to show their beauty.

 The Hay House was lived in (as a family residence) from the 1860 to the 1960s.  The house was given to the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation in 1977.
 The stained glass window (that opens) is the four seasons.
Closer view.
 The entryway!

 Always look up when you tour a historic home!

 Our tour guide pointed out that something unusual about this room is that the chandelier hangs from the sky light.
Ready for the next level?  The third level has partly been restored.  However, we were able to tour all of the third level.  It was really interesting to see the process of restoring such a grand mansion and also getting to see the completed works.

 Steps leading to the Nanny Suite.
 LOVE this bed!

 This room is awaiting restoration.
Room currently being restored.
Our tour ended where it began in the lower level of the house with our tour guide showing us the family's speaker-tube system.
In addition to the speaker-tube system (seen above) the Hay House had running water (hot/cold), central heat, a pretty extensive ventilation system, gas lighting, and an in-house kitchen.  One of these things alone would have made this house impressive for its time period but to have all these great features made the Hay House one of a kind.
 Side view of this beautiful 'Palace of the South'

After leaving this beautiful place, we travelled to Juliette, GA to eat at The Whistle Stop Café.  I grew up watching the film Fried Green Tomatoes.  My Daddy and I still quote different lines from this film often so it was a given that being this close to Juliette we would definitely stop by for some fried green tomatoes.
 This little 'town' consist of 1 road which when we were there was lined with cars and motorcycles.  The wait time for us to get a table on the café was about 30 minutes so we decided that instead of going through the little shops that lined the street that we would walk around and take in the scenery.  Half way into our walk, it started raining.  We finished our wait time sitting on the porch of the café listening to live music, smelling the rain, and seeing the train pass through Whistle Stop.

 Two trains came through when we were walking around the 'town'.

 I love going to a restaurant and beverages being served out of mason jars!

The best fried green tomatoes I have ever eaten.

Macon, GA is a great place to explore.  I'm looking forward to exploring more of Georgia in the near future.  Any recommendations for places to visit/explore in Georgia?

Happy Travels,