As I'm sure you've heard, unless you've been living under a rock, Winter Storm Leon shut down the city of Atlanta...and most points north, south, east, and west of the city.
Traffic on all of our mayor roadways ground to a stop as the storm rolled in around 1:00PM yesterday...and stayed that way.
And is STILL that way in many places.
Here, have some pictures...
Six lanes of parking lot.
And here's a view from overnight.
No flights moving in or out of Hartsfield-Jackson International.
Now for the one or two of my readers who do not live in this area, let me explain WHY 2.6 inches of snow brought a major metropolitan area to a chaotic halt.
This is the south, the Deep South to be exact. We get weather like this...well...let's just say that in my lifetime I can count the total number of times I've seen what we would call 'serious snow' on one hand. It just doesn't happen here that often.
Yes, we usually get one 'snow day' a year but the difference is that in the south our 'snow' is actually more 'ice' than fluffy white stuff.
And ice, boys and girls, causes all the problems and makes all the difference. Because snow is inconvenient, but ice can kill you.
Yes, we have snowplows and gravel/sand to spread on the roads. And yes, the DOT is working to get things cleared up as best they can. But resources of this nature are limited here because of how rarely we see this type of weather event.
So we deal with it as best we can...confident that the sun will come out the next day and melt it all off by lunchtime.
Because after all, this is the part of the country where you can get frostbite and a sunburn in the same week.
On a more serious note, I would just like to take a moment and give a huge shout out to all the businesses and individuals in and around Atlanta who opened their doors and homes to stranded motorists last night. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for taking it upon yourselves to selflessly help your fellow man in a moment of real crisis.
Hello boys and girls! Sorry for the delay in posting but I was off on another adventure and have been trying to catch up on a few 'real life' things before getting back to Blissfully. Now if I just get off my duff and get my new pictures uploaded...
So, where was I? Oh yeah, my long weekend in Helen.
As we were visiting the mountains during the holiday season, my aunt was eager to get some pictures of the town covered in Christmas lights. So after dinner on Monday evening we headed into downtown, and you guys? There was nobody else around.
I mean seriously...there were a total of three people in town and we were them.
100% empty streets.
So we totally took advantage of it and ran all over the place!
My lovely relatives in front of the "Santa" tree.
And speaking of Santa...there's a big pavilion in downtown where local musicians perform during the summer and which serves as the hangout for Santa and Mrs. Claus during the Christmas season.
Now, the Santas weren't around...
But their chairs were...
The conversation went something like this...
Me: Hey look! Santa's chair!
Aunt: Yeah, so?
Me: I'm gonna go sit in it! And so should you!
Aunt: We can't just sit in Santa's chair!
Me: You wanna bet?
Now, I'm pretty sure that qualifies us for the 'naughty' list...but still: totally worth it.
I feel that the lesson to take away from this one is that opportunity doesn't always knock - sometimes it leans on the bell.
Also, I am easily amused.
Make of that what you will.
My uncle made some new friends.
They're really tall...but rather flat in terms of personality.
Yes, I climbed inside a gigantic Christmas wreath to get this picture.
I'm a wee bit shameless.
There is a tiny little hill top park right on the edge of the downtown area which is something that, though I've visited Helen many times, I never realized. Its a beautiful area, full of mountain views and crowded with picnic tables.
And there's a waterfall...which they light up for the holidays.
There is a mini-golf course outside of the town and the owner went impressively overboard with the decorations, which we loved. So we circled their parking lot to get better pictures.
And I may or may not have gotten out of the car, run across the parking lot, jumped a small fence, and climbed into the middle of that clump of pre-lit trees and hugged a light up reindeer because OF COURSE I DID.
My aunt is somewhere in this picture...see if you can spot her.
One of the more unique tourist spots in Helen is an alpine model railroad museum called Charlemagne's Kingdom.
This is a fifty foot long, handmade, HO scale model railroad that is designed to depict the various terrain and architecture of Germany...from the shores of the North Sea to the 22 foot tall replica of the "Matterhorn."
Model trains are the life long hobby of the owner who, along with his very supportive and understanding (and no doubt long-suffering) wife, constructed this replica of his homeland in the purpose built exhibit hall.
"The model, complete with bridges, autobahn with moving vehicles, and authentic German rural, industrial and urban architecture, is fully peopled. The computer-operated railway system with intriguing train track layouts, terminals, tunnels and trestles is circled by miniature Hot-Air Balloons." - quote from website linked above
Apparently, my aunt and uncle have been gagging to see this place for years. Who knew??
And you guys...tickets are only like $5, so why not go?
I have to admit...this place was kind of amazing.
There was just so much to look at.
Lights flickering, trains and trolley cars rattling past, hot air balloons circling overhead.
Tiny villages and farms, vegetables growing in neat rows, cows and sheep out standing in fields.
City centers, parks, streetlights and tiny little VWs.
Tiny little flowers growing in tiny little window boxes.
A dragon attacking a castle!
There were two 'crashed' space ships in there too, but I forgot to take a picture.
Little train stations, hospitals, churches, and fountains.
There was even miniature scaffolding on one of the buildings and tiny construction workers standing around on a smoke break.
See the bridge on the right? Tiny bungee jumper!
Tiny little people shopping, walking dogs, delivering mail, having coffee at a sidewalk café.
Also, traffic was at a standstill on the Autobahn because a jack-knifed semi.
Rescue vehicles and a crane truck were on the scene...but the cops weren't.
The walled city of Rothenburg, which is where my uncle's family is from.
Wow...that dragon is really determined.
And, because no miniature Germany worth it's salt would be complete without it...
In December my favorite aunt and uncle decided that they needed another week of vacation...so they booked themselves into a resort in the tiny little mountain town of Helen, Georgia.
And then...they invited me to use up the last of my vacations days by spending a lovely long weekend with them.
And since I'm all about getting away...I totally took them up on it. Because duh, free vacation.
So I headed up to the resort after work on Friday night (in the INSANE driving rain), because this one was so close to home it was practically a 'stay-cation' but again, free weekend away so no complaints!
Saturday was beautiful and clear and mild. My uncle and I wandered all over the resort, and spent some quality time looking at the river, which was running high and fast because of all the rain the night before. We ambled back to our 'chalet' to pick up my aunt and we went - brace yourself for some SERIOUS fun now - grocery shopping.
Mid afternoon my cousin, TiaDiva, materialized for an afternoon of wandering, shopping, and eating funnel cake. So as my aunt and uncle headed home for the night (they had tickets to a production of the Nutcracker and didn't want to miss church the next morning) TiaDiva and I headed into downtown Helen.
We wandered and shopped, hitting our favorite places (i.e. Hansel and Gretel Candy Kitchen), found a 'fabulous' new Christmas decoration that I knew we just had to have, and stopped in at a cute little coffee shop. TiaDiva had a hot cocoa, and I had a spiced pumpkin cider which was divine.
And then TiaDiva spilled a cup of water all over the table...and me.
We then went in search of funnel cake, a perennial favorite with TiaDiva. Having found one we plopped down for some people watching while we stuffed our faces with empty powered sugar coated calories.
Helen was impressively busy for a winter Saturday.
Having gotten her fill of funnel cake and chocolate coated potato chips, TiaDiva headed home for the evening, leaving me all by my lonesome in the mountains.
Taking advantage of quite solitude, I found a very pleasant jazz/Christmas music channel on the television, build a fire in the fireplace, and curled up on the couch with a book.
I made fire!!
It was a little slice of heaven, right there in the mountains of north Georgia.
The week of my vacation in North Myrtle Beach was right in the middle of November, a month that is usually on the chilly side even here in the deep south. So I was pretty happy when the weatherman said that SC would be having a mild weather week.
Never mind that Wednesday was freezing cold with gale force winds that were actually lifting people off the sidewalks. My credit card was stolen by someone in Maine that same day...but that's a different story.
But Saturday, our last day in Myrtle Beach, was beautiful. The high was in the upper 60s, the sun was out in full force and even though we were just two weeks from Thanksgiving I was determined that I was going to be barefoot in the ocean for a least a few minutes...because what is the point of a trip to the beach if you don't get into the ocean for at least a few minutes?
This is my favorite picture of the entire trip. Just ocean and sky and you can't really tell where one stops and the other one begins. I could have stood there and looked at that view for the rest of my life and been absolutely content.
The tide was just starting to come in and the waves were getting bigger.
The sun going down on the Grand Strand.
We had spectacular sunsets the entire week, each one more beautiful than the last.
Toes in the sand...just before the wave crashed over my feet.
I love the way the light starts to fade out of the sky...like the sun is drinking back in all the light its given the world during the day.
Crystal blue giving way to pale yellow.
Love the reflection of the setting sun on the ocean.
The pinks and purples of twilight seem to just ooze up out of the ocean.
Our resort. We were in a room on the 5th floor way over on the front left side of the building...so if you leaned out over balcony railing and looked to your extreme left you could see the ocean from our room...which was the only disappointment of the trip.
I waded into the ocean up to my knees to get this picture (I rolled my jeans up).
Love the orange and deep purple on the horizon.
Sadly, it's impossible to see in this picture, but there is a gigantic ferris wheel down at the far end of the grand strand and the setting sun was lined up perfectly inside the rim of the wheel. We could also see pelicans and gulls outlined as black silhouettes against the sky.