Well I promised to give a review of our trip to Georgia, which is where we went on our honeymoon. Why did we choose that location? Well, basically my husbands job sucks and since it's his busy season at work he was limited to just the weekend until the off season comes. So a week after the wedding is when we left -- a good thing too because of Hurricane Isaac! Talk about luck right. Get married, 3.5-4 days later a hurricane hits us on the 7th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Since it's rumored that rain showers on a wedding day is good luck, I'm just going to take a Hurricane to mean extremely good luck. Then again, due to the hurricane and having to sleep with the windows open with the damp night air coming in did cause me to get the sniffles and sore throat before leaving... Anywhoo on with the trip!
So it starts off with heading to the New Orleans airport. They have a new security check machine -- well new to me anyway where it does the full body x-ray. I ended up having to get a pat down because of my rhinestone and sequin shirt. I did not realize that would actually affect anything but apparently it does. So just a heads up! I try to make things simple for the security check points such as wearing flip flops on the plane. It's just a quicker check through. Our flight was for 7pm and went smoothly up until the very end. I guess because of the stuffy/runny nose it affected my ears and caused a HUGE amount of pain until landing during the the decent to land in Atlanta, GA. Usually I do rather well.
Upon landing I found that the ATL airport seriously sucked! Sorry all my ATL fans... but it did. It's larger than the New Orleans airport yet was super congested and a bit more confusing than necessary until you get used to it. Hawaii and Chicago was more pleasant to deal with and I believe they are a bit larger. Then came time to get our car rental from Hertz.
Hertz Rental Car -- never again!
We pre-booked and PAID for our car prior to our trip. We expected to be able to go up with our info and get our car and be on our merry way. With 4 workers at the desk, they had probably a mile long line, literally, barely moving. We saw a kiosk and were going to that but it was down at the time. After waiting 45 minutes in the line we tried the kiosk again and it was up. Yay -- about time after moving only a couple steps during the 45 minute duration. Well once we go through everything the lady tells us that the car we reserved was given away and no others like that were available. What the heck?! There's a reason we reserved our car ahead of time! So we were forced into PAYING to upgrade for a car we didn't want. Going from a 33mpg car to a 22mpg and having to pay for something that was not even our fault really upset us. Why should we pay extra for a car we didn't even want when we had one on reserve that THEY gave away? Yea, terrible customer service and I wouldn't recommend using them to anyone. We have a list of issues with them, but that's for a later time. --By the way, our issues still haven't been resolved after talking to a manager at the drop off time! So we're gonna have to still deal with them as of this point. Shame on you Hertz for trying to mess over your customers!
Blue Creek Cabins -- Cheap & Beautiful!
So after dealing with that frustration we headed to Blue Creek Cabins, where we booked our stay for the weekend. They had great prices for a beautiful cabin in the mountains in the woods! We stayed at the Valley View cabin. Valley View is 2800 sq. ft. and nicely decorated, starting with the hand carved front door, a mountain theme decor, and lots of wood throughout. You'll love the huge covered back deck with a cozy outside fireplace and seasonal mountain views. In the spring you can enjoy natures own flower garden with loads of Mountain laurel and native azaleas blooming right off the deck. Set in a perfect location, Valley View is only 8 MILES from Helen and 6 MILES to the popular Edelweiss German restaurant. Pricing is based on up to 2 guests ($15 per person per night over 2 up to 6 guests).
The cabin is spacious and while you have your privacy, your neighbors aren't a million miles away either. It's simply decorated and has a much different feel than the city life, which is what we wanted. My favorite part is the large back porch which includes a fireplace and hot tub. Unfortunately you can only use the fireplace during certain times of the year, but the hot tub was awesome! You can get to the porch from either bedroom as well as the main living room.
Of course my husbands favorite part was the loft area with the pool table. The best part about the loft area other than just being awesome is that they have a wooden spiral stair case. How cool is that?
On top of everything else they have a full sized kitchen and laundry room. The only downfall is you better bring your own soaps, shampoos, etc. since those are not provided. Also, they do not set up anything special for honeymoons or romantic vacations. That would have really topped it off, but no complaints here!
Oh yea, I'd also recommend bringing a GPS and a printed map of your cabin. Our plane arrived in the evening so it was dark and we got lost for about 2 hours. The GPS couldn't pick up the street itself we stayed on so we had to find a cross street then work our way using the printed map. During the day it was much, much easier. So if you're getting there at night, just a warning!
So on our first day out our first stop was the Habersham Winery. Habersham Winery has been producing award winning Georgia wines since 1983 and is one of Georgia's oldest and largest wineries. Located one half mile south of Alpine Helen in Nacoochee Village, the winery is open daily for complimentary tastings and self guided tours. In addition to a large selection of Georgia grown and produced wines, the tasting room also features a gift shop with gourmet foods and wine specialty gift items. Award Winning Georgia Wines Some of the finest award winning Georgia Wines have been produced at Habersham Vineyards & Winery since 1983. Over 150 medals have been awarded to Habersham Wines in both national and international competitions. The Winery was located in Baldwin, Georgia until November 1998 when construction on a new facility was completed at Nacoochee Village in Helen, Georgia. Located just one half mile from Alpine Helen, Nacoochee Village is now home to not only Habersham Winery, but many other unique shops.
With out experience, the shop looked nice both on the inside and out, but not our cup of tea. When we we entered it wasn't really that busy, but we were not greeted or even invited to take a whine tasting or tour. This was a bit disappointing. So after a quick look around we left.
Nacooche Village Antiques
Once we left the winery we walked over to the Nacooche Village Antique Shop which was right next door. This was a much more pleasant experience. It was here that we started to see how nice and friendly the people of northern Georgia are. We were greeted when we walked in the door and began browsing. Now compared to the antique shops here in New Orleans, the employees were actually helpful and didn't stare you down like a hawk. I'm so used to the whole stare down at our local antique shops that I was just waiting for it -- never happened. Believe me, it happens all the time here regardless of race and age. So that felt so nice! Definitely a nice taste of being away from home anyway!
The shop itself was kept up nice and clean with lots of antiques to choose from both upstairs and down. Most of them even had great prices -- not overly priced. While I didn't find anything I particularly was interested in on my trip in there, my husband found 2 antique banks to add to his collection that he started collecting as a kid. The lady who was helping us informed us that if we saw something that we could always put in an offer for the item and she would call the owner of the piece and make the offer. Most places don't tell people they're willing to do that At least not around here anyway. On top of that, when we made our purchase she gave a 10% discount just because! We didn't ask about it or anything. So we thought that was really nice of her. We would definitely head back to that shop again next time we go on a trip there!
After we left the antique store we headed across the street to Nora Mill. I originally saw this online and had no interest so absentmindedly left it alone. When I recognized it was across the street from where we were I decided we should stop on in just to see what it was about.
Nora Mill Granary - an authentic working grist mill that is nestled alongside the Chattahoochee River. At Nora Mill, we grind corn daily using either the original French burr stones that are water powered by the Chattahoochee River - or by our more modern "Meal Master" stone grinding system located on our second floor. Either way, all product is all natural and is stone ground.
While it was small, they did have some unique items to offer such as grains and such as well as candy and other food items. They also offered samples of their grits and jellies. I thought that was pretty neat and nice of them to do. Again, the staff and employees here were all very friendly.
We ended up buying 2 old school style cokes. The ones that come in the small glass bottles. We thought that was neat. We made our purchase and the guy even removed the caps for us with a smile on his face! I love friendly people, it's so rare and few around here that it's what I really enjoyed the most up there if it's not noticeable.
Also, you could go out on the back porch and view the "waterfall" or man-made dam that was cool enough for me. You could watch how the water powered the equipment that they use to make the grains, which I thought was pretty neat. Darn having to take an airplane rather than driving -- so much neat stuff I'd love to have brought home to try!
Sauntee Nacoochie Shops
Next up on the agenda we just took a quick stop to see what the little shops in Sauntee Nacoochie had to offer. They really had nothing too much to catch our eye worth stopping, but the buildings looked pretty cool since they are log cabin style. One shop I thought had neat items was the Shapiro's Art Gallery which were items made by various people around the US. If we were driving I would have probably gotten the stone candles. Literally they were stones or rocks, whatever you want to call them, with a wick placed on them and being used as candles. I have never seen such a thing and thought it was super cool. It was actually reasonably priced as well!
Elfmade Wooden Toys
Next up we passed the Village of Sautee which had some shops. One shop we stopped at was called Elfmade Wooden Toys which was pretty awesome and I would definitely recommend bringing your kids! Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures myself and I really wish I would have. When we entered the store we were greeted by an older woman who began talking to us immediately. She told us the story behind the company and how the toys are made, etc. It's a small town business that prides itself on being Green. All their toys are made using wood that would normally be thrown away. So rather than chopping down new trees and such, they use recycled wood. Her and her husband are the ones who own and run the business. Her husband hand-makes all the toys himself and draws up his own plans. They pride themselves in making their own work and not copying others!
Their wooden items are very cheap and reasonably priced. I do not see how they can offer such low prices, but wow! All pieces are unfinished wood, but the best part is you can paint the items yourself while at the store. They just charge a $2 supply fee to paint them -- which is fair considering how expensive supplies are and the low price of the toys.
My husband was most interested in the wooden rubber band guns. We generally see such things going for at least $10 depending where you shop. He bough TWO different ones, regular sized ones, for $5! What?! Also, I'm not familiar with Zelda and Animee and all that, but of course the husband is. He noticed that they had a wooden sword and shield which would appeal to anyone who loves the character named Link. Don't ask me. But the cost of that was $32, which is a super awesome deal. Again, it's unfinished, but you make it totally unique or make your own replica. Just a few ideas.
I didn't walk away empty handed from that store either though. I purchased a "family tree" which is a wooden tree that comes with 6 apples and I also added on a wooden heart for just $8. When I get the chance I'm going to paint it and customize it for our family. So if you're in the area please check them out. They're a small town store, very friendly, great prices, and the children will love it! Anybody of any age can paint, not just the kids. So go have some fun! Maybe mention I sent you too!
By the way, no money? No problem! They welcome bartering as well! How awesome is that?!?
Cabbage Patch Babyland General Hospital
Continuing on our journey we headed to the Babyland General Hospital. Beautifully situated on 650 acres in the North Georgia Mountains, this Southern Style home filled with Cabbage Patch Kids will capture the imagination of your entire family. ADMISSION IS FREE.
The number one reason we went here other than it being pretty neat is that Sophia keeps talking about how she wants a baby brother and sister. She was going back and forth between one and now she wants two! Well since you can't just go to Walmart and buy a cute little baby and that stuff takes some time, we decided to surprise her with an authentic baby from the cabbage patch baby hospital in Cleaveland, GA!
When you enter the "hospital" they have a check in counter where you can sign in. This is optional. It's just a guestbook and where you are from type of thing. They then have an encased area showcasing some of their popular cabbage patch dolls that started off at a $40 value and are now valued at $15,000! Wow! They also feature a large cabbage shaped chair that you can sit in -- cute idea for a picture!
As you move along you can view all the "babies" in the nursery. They're all in cribs or shelves. One particular area actually has a "nurse" on staff holding a baby and taking care of it. As you move along you enter the large store area. They have "babies" and "kids" all over the place. They have an area of babies actually sitting inside cabbages that you can choose from. They babies do run $49.99 each, but one day they will be worth some good money! They have a variety of dolls are well from various eye colors and having hair and no hair.
At one point during the trip we noticed they do put on a show of a baby coming to life. This is geared toward children and for their entertainment. It is also entertaining for adults as well. You will also notice along the floor the employees are all dressed wearing nurse costumes. If your child picks out a baby you can bring it to the nurse for a health check. They bring it into a little doctors office where you can watch from a window while the nurse cares for the baby and tells you if you have a healthy baby. So cute!
After you check out you receive a paper to fill out. You go into a small room and can get your photo taken with your newly adopted baby or child. They fill out the birth certificate for you. For the young children they take a pledge to promise to be good mommies/daddies and take care of the baby. This is definitely a must see if you're near by! I hope to bring Sophia to see if for herself one day!
P.S. - She cried and threw a fit when we came back with her baby doll because she wanted a REAL baby, not a doll! So after calming her down we told her she had to take care of her doll first before she could take care of her baby. Lordy, Lordy, Lordy!
Black Forest Bear Park
Once we finished up there we started driving and came to Black Forest Bear Park. It's $5 per adult person to get in t view 16 adult bear exhibits. While I do love animals and it was fun feeding them (an additional $1 per plate) I did hate seeing the bears in such small habitats. They had small enclosures containing 2 bears each. They each had a small pool, large enough for them to climb into to rinse off, and 2 or 3 logs placed together for them to hold onto to get food as people toss it to them.
The staff of course was very friendly and it was definitely a nice experience to feed the bears. I would have just rather seen them in a nicer environment rather than a small cage like their in "bear jail" or something. On a better note, the facilities were kept clean and it did not smell. So they are kept in clean conditions.
After visiting the bears we went downstairs and checked out the gift shops. Lots of neat items having to do with bears. Very appropriate. It's definitely an attraction the kids would love and a unique experience. If they could consider expanding like I said for a bigger home for the bears then I'd totally love it! Please keep that in mind Black Forest! :)
PETA Removes 17 Bears From Miserable Concrete Pits
Gold n Gem Grubbin
Once finished at the Bear Park we headed to do some gemstone/gold mining at Gold n Gem Grubbin. We got there just barely after 4pm and they close for 5pm. They did allow use to still do it, but told us at 5pm we would have to leave since that's when they close. While it was nice that we had a chance to participate for a few minutes and even take home the rest of what we didn't get to finish, it would have been nice to get a discounted price or not rushed out at 5pm on the dot. The staff did have a friendly attitude, but being we told them it was our first time, nobody sat by or assisted with anything. While it is rather simple, it would have been nice to have someone show you what to look for. I did the gemstone mining while my husband did the gold. I knew a lot of what I was looking for, but not everything. On the other hand, my husband got help from another CUSTOMER on how to pan for the gold rather than the assistance of the staff. Nice for an experience, relaxing on the lake, but as far as customer service wise, not too thrilled. So maybe a 2 or 3 out of 5 stars on this stop.
After the mining we ate dinner at a place called Western Sizzlin in Cleaveland, GA. Although the cost for dinner was $9-$10 per adult, the food was DELICIOUS! It was buffet style with a super friendly staff. All the food was hot and fresh each time -- we ate there twice on our trip! The cookies and pies were fresh too! Not like the stale junk we tend to find at the buffets here in New Orleans! Not to mention the staff was prompt to bring out new plates, refill drinks and bring the check. Highly impressed and definitely recommend!
By the way, best peach cobbler I have ever had was there!! YUMMY!
Pirate's Cove Adventure Golf
After we got our rest for the night we started the next day by going to Pirate's Cove Adventure Golf. Pirate's Cove, "the Original Adventure Golf," offers an unequaled miniature golf experience! The adventures and legends of infamous pirates come to life in our award-winning theme park settings. Putt your way through caves, over footbridges, and under cascading waterfalls, all amidst a fun-filled atmosphere of natural wonders, extraordinary landscaping, and enchanting pirate lore.
This was definitely a fun little outdoor break from it all. Since it was a Sunday not too much was open so we decided to try out some mini golf since that seems to be a rare option around us locally.
We paid $7.50 for each of us to get in which includes an 18 hole game. It was peaceful and the course was nice. Going through the mountain and around water spots was pretty cool. I would definitely visit again, just not during lunch hours when the sun is out. Although it wasn't as bad as the heat here in New Orleans, it was still pretty hot out with little areas of shade to rest. So keep this in mind. Definitely a good family spot to stop though!
The Magic Shop
Also, right around the corner from the mini golf course is a magic shop. Now we don't have these locally and my husband loves to do magic tricks. So we actually stopped in here a couple times that day. The man on duty was friendly and funny! He was doing magic tricks for the guests and all tricks that were done were available for purchase. If you purchased the trick, he showed you how to do it. If you already know the basics, he gave tips on how to make the trick even better!
I also noticed how he would recommend appropriate tricks for the appropriate age group. So he wasn't just about making money. He was about having fun and sharing the magic! Love the shop and would definitely love to visit again! Great for everyone of all ages!
Consolidated Gold Mining Company
Once we finished up there we headed to the Consolidated Gold Mining Company. Once again we arrived at 3:45pm to catch the final tour which started at 4pm. They close at 5pm. We went on an underground mining tour with a great tour guide who showed us the way and told the story behind the mine, what tools were used, how they were used, etc. The tour itself took 30-45 minutes to complete.
When we finished our tour we got to go back up and pan for gold for free which came with the tour which cost us only $14! There's also an option to gem mine instead of the gold but that didn't come with the tour.
One thing I liked about this experience was we were not rushed. Once we got in the gold mining room someone came to each area and showed us how to pan for the gold the right way. They also assisted at the end to get the gold out the pan and put it in the tube to take home.
The staff was very friendly and very helpful, especially to anyone who was completely lost at what to do!
|Those white chunks you see in the rocks are actually the remaining teeth of a miner whos face got slammed into the wall at one point. In person you can see the facial outline, eyes, face, etc. Scary!|
The gift shop was totally awesome and I could have spent all day in there with all the cool jewelry and knick knacks!
This is definitely a stop I would recommend. While I don't think it would be as enjoyable for very young children, it was a unique experience for adults and older children would probably think the gem mining is cool. Definitely an A+ in my books! Wish we would have discovered this location much sooner than last minute!
On our last day, the day we were leaving, we decided to spend the day in Atlanta. We just wanted to be near the airport to ensure we arrived on time and such. We were going to tour the Coca Cola Factory until we realized they had some sort of Comic Con convention or some sort near by which made parking a pain. So we skipped that. We decided to head to the Underground Shopping area despite the horrible reviews and check it out. I had been to ATL years ago as a child and remembered thinking the underground was pretty cool. Well it's no longer cool. It's just as horrible as the reviews stated. I thought our French Quarter here in New Orleans was unsafe, but geez,, the Underground made the French Quarter seem like a luxurious place to be! We saw drug dealers all over. One even tried to get us to buy pills when we walked out the restroom! The "Dollar Store" had nothing for a $1! Everything was over priced and cheap junk. It smelt horrible. We couldn't get out of there quick enough. What sucks is paying to park to go see that junk! From there we headed straight to the airport and spent the last few hours hanging out there til it was time to go.
Overall we loved our experience in Georgia. Particularly around the Helen area. We noticed it was in those areas people were extremely friendly. Even with lines of traffic it seemed like everyone would stop to let people in. Nobody was left sitting and waiting forever. I loved that! People were more than happy to help out when they could. They would talk to you, give directions and recommend places. While it's not a big tourism spot, it was nice and peaceful. Everything does seem to close early, around 4pm-5pm on a regular basis, which I am not used to considering living in a big city. I hated that it was hard to find somewhere open to go eat dinner at the time we're used to, let alone to give us a variety of new places to try. But the places we did find were great and definitely had that southern hospitality! I would visit again and definitely intend to make it a family trip including Sophia next time!