Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A little cemetery photography

I took advantage of the good weather today to go to a local cemetery and take some pics. One of the websites I use for genealogy research is
It’s a really handy website when you are looking for family connections from the before times. Some of the users request photos of headstones, and I printed out some of the requests for the cemetery nearby. 
I wandered around for an hour without finding any of the names on the list, but a lot of the graves are missing headstones. Hopefully someone somewhere has a record of where folks are buried. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Mental Health day

Today was interesting. I woke up at 7:00 but I was still really tired when I woke up. I went through the normal motions of the day but then around noon I started feeling blah. To clarify, blah is when my brain is trying to tell me I feel bad, when I really don't blah is when I want to lay on the couch and not move all day. I don't know, maybe because it has been raining here in Mobile, AL for a solid week, I felt like I had to get out of the house.

I grabbed my camera and headed to my standby place to take pics, Langan Park. It was a really good day to take pics too. Not too hot, with just enough breeze to keep it interesting. I started walking and decided I was going to do a big loop around the park, and then if I still felt up for it, I would drive over and walk around the Japanese Gardens.

There was so many seagulls making noise as well as a few families of Canadian geese. There didn't seem to be as many ducks as usual, but there were plenty of turtles hanging out by the bridge to the museum.

On the other side of the river I found some wild strawberries, some wild black berries, and some apple snail eggs. Apple snails are an invasive species that the city has been trying unsuccessfully to combat for a while now. It's interesting to me that the snails are considered a delicacy in other parts of the world, and here they are a pest.

Making my way back to the car, I decided to take a quick trip around the Charles Woods Japanese Gardens. I drove the short distance to the gardens, parked the car and noticed a commotion in the street nearby. A snapping turtle was in the turning lane between 4 lanes of traffic. I ran over to help him get across the road, nearly getting bitten in the face for my trouble, when a AT&T lineman came over to help out. I got the turtles attention and the lineman grabbed it from behind then deposited it safely on the other side of the road.

Then I went back to taking pictures in the Japanese Garden. As I walked up, I noticed a couple across the main pond from me that seemed to be ... intimate... so I avoided that walkway and just took a few pics. I was getting tired and hungry anyway, so I headed back to the car and came home.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Bangin Georgia Wine Highway Official day 2 but really day 3

Official Day 2
Sunday dawned and the overcast weather from Friday had come back, threatening to rain out our final day of the Bangin Georgia Wine Highway 2015 woooooooooo. Check out at the NotellMotell we  were staying at was 10:00 so we had to be up and at 'em pretty early. Especially after spending a night eating cheap pizza and playing Cards Against Humanity. We are truly horrible people. The way that we play is you pick 10 cards and play the cards in your hand before you draw anymore cards. We like to break it up into rounds like that, and it keeps us from holding on to cards that suck. Eventually we play cards just because we want to hear someone else say the awful things on them. And they do. And it is awesome… but I digress.
Check out was at 10 am and we were up and out early. We broke our fasts at the nearby Huddle House and tried to decide what we were going to do until 12pm. The vineyards couldn’t start serving until 12 on Sunday so we had traditionally knocked around the Antique store next door to Habersham, got some stone ground grits at the grist mill across the street, or had some coffee at the little local coffee shop. This year, R_ and B_ were kind of tired of the status quo, so we went off syllabus a little bit and drove into Helen, Ga to look for another coffee place that they liked… but it was closed too. So we drove a little further into Helen to look for something to do to kill the time until we could taste wine.
Now, the thing you need to know about Helen, Georgia is this. Long, long ago in the before times, Helen was a farming town, a gold rush town, and then a logging town. Sometime around 1969ish, some business minded folks realized that  the logging industry that was sustaining the town wasn’t going to last much longer. Trees needing time to regrow and all that. They needed something to get folks to stop on their way up the mountains. So, they decided to become german-esque. The entire town rebranded itself as an alpine village. Seriously. Every building in the town is alpine inspired, from the Circle K, to the Huddle House, to the McD’s. It’s cute, kitschy, and it works. Helen is now a tourist stop in its own right.
Just as we got inside Helen, we spotted a miniature golf course, Alpine Golf. 18 holes of putt putt sounded like just the thing to do while we waited for the wine tasting, so we pulled in and got ready to putt. Luckily the rain had decided to hold off, mostly. We got in a full game of mini-golf and by then it was time head off to Habersham Winery.
The difference between the way we were treated at Yonah Mountain Vineyards the day before and they way we were treated at Habersham was striking. Where the previous day at Yonah we were ushered out a side door like poor country cousins come to visit while important company was at the big house, at Habersham we were greeted at the door, the greeter let us know that a special tasting had been set up for the wine highway patrons, and we were invited to take part in a complimentary tasting while we waited for the group ahead of us to finish. We wandered around the gift shop/tasting room as we waited. The wait wasn’t very long, and we were soon invited back into the winery. Habersham has always done something special for the wine highway each year we have visited and this year was exceptional.
The tasting flight was of three different applications of the chambourcin grape. We started off with the Cherokee Rose’, a 10% chambourcin blend. It had a nice crisp bite to it. The second wine in the tasting was the Georgia Scarlett which was a 58% chambourcin grape blend, with merlot, touriga, and vidal grapes making up the remaining 42%. It was a very tasty blend, more to the sweet side, which I liked. Our final wine, was the Chambourcin Dessert wine. 100% chambourcin grape this was the sweetest of the three we tried. For the highway, they had one of their library wines for us to taste. It was delicious. Habersham does really lovely work with their wines, and it shows.
Tasting at Habersham done, B_ pointed out that we missed one of the new wineries yesterday. As it was close by, we set out to track it down and see what they had to offer. Before we left the Habersham parking lot, we broke out the google maps to find this new vineyard. We drove up to CeNita just as the morning rain was getting started. We went inside the huge barn that the owner had built and went to our first tasting. It was refreshing to have pourers who were passionate about their product. We tried their Vidal Blanc, the Sauvis, the Chambourcin and their Red Red Wine blend and one of the pourers mentioned that they had a Cabernet Franc, but it was still pretty young and the owner wasn’t sure if they should have it out. B_ loves a cab franc so we had to try it. OMG was this a good wine. A good wine that will be even better in a year. B_ found the owner and talked shop for a bit then we headed off to our next winery.
Three Sisters is hands down my favorite vineyard. They aren’t a part of the Georgia Wine Growers Association, so we had to buy a separate tasting, but it is so worth it. These are folks that love what they are doing and they do it well. This year they had their champagne ready. Well… not champagne, because the naughty French people only want their champagne to be called champagne. So… Three Sisters has to call their champagne sparkling wine… semantics. Two years ago was the first time we heard about the sparkling wine that they were producing. Last year, we were very excited to try it, only to learn that the bottling machine was somewhere between Spain and the U.S. This year we got to try it and oh my gosh it was worth the wait. It is a delicious wine made using the traditional method of allowing fermentation within the bottle to produce the carbon dioxide, as opposed to the injection of carbon dioxide that most of the mass market sparkling wines use. You can definitely tell the difference and I can’t wait to ring in 2016 with our bottle.
After Three Sister, we headed to our final vineyard, Cavender Creek Vineyards. Cavender Creek is another favorite, as much for their wine dog and donkeys as for their wines. The folks at Cavender Creek make some delicious wines and this year was no exception. To be honest, the wines were so good that I forgot to take notes. But trust me… they were good.
After the tasting at Cavender Creek, B_ and R_ were talking shop with the owner. They had just gotten started on cutting back the vines for spring and there was a row of  fresh Norton cuttings that were waiting to be collected… so the he offered B_ and R_ as many as they could carry. Needless to say the jeep was loaded down with vines before we headed back to B_ and R_’s place for the night.
We got back to B_ and R_’s, unloaded the jeep, ordered some take out (from a local italian place omg so good all the food in mah belly) had some wine, played some board games then crashed. The next day we were up and headed back to Mobile.

Putt Putt golf



3 Sisters

Cavender Creek

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

sorry for the delay

I've been trying to write about day 3 of the Bangin Georgia Wine Highway for a while now. I've also been trying to pull myself out of a pretty bad round of depression.

Depression sucks.
Depression is a lying liar that lies.

I know it will get better.
Hopefully soon, because day 3 of the wine highway was probably the best in the 4 years we have done this.

I'll finish up that review soon.
In the meantime, here is some pictures of a family of ducks I took at one of the parks here in Mobile, AL.
Ducks at Langan Park

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Bangin Georgia Wine Highway 2015 Official Day 1

Saturday 21 March 2015

Day two of the Georgia Wine Highway started bright and early. We had seven wineries to visit and we knew it was going to be a busy hectic day. We decided to break our fast at Huddle House. Sooo much good food. I am always surprised at how much B_ can put away when he tucks in to grub. The Huddle House was on Ga Hwy 76, which was the road we needed to get to our next cluster of vineyards in the Hiawassee/Cleveland area. With bellies full of food, we headed out to our first winery.

We jumped on Hwy 76 and headed north toward Crane Creek Vineyards in Young Harris, Ga. When we were outside Young Harris, R_ noticed that the jeep needed gas. Since it looked like we were going to be extremely (at least an hour) early we decided to find a gas station. B_ remembered there being a gas station on the road to Crane Creek, so when we got to Young Harris, Ga we turned onto Hwy 66. The gas station was there, but it looked like it had been closed for a while. Since we still had time, we decided to just keep going. We followed 66 north into North Carolina and found another gas station just across the border. When we pulled in we noticed  the pumps handles were covered with plastic bags.  B_ hopped out of the jeep to ask about gas. He came out of the store laughing, the attendant at the store had asked him how far he had to go for gas. Turns out they didn’t have any gas but were “expecting some any day now”. Luckily, a gas station with gas to sell was just a little further north. So, we headed out towards what we hoped was an open gas station.

We pulled into Big D’s gas station, stifling a giggle at the name, and B_ went in to pay for gas. This place was an old school, no pay at the pump station. It looked like one of the sketchy gas stations you see at the beginning of a horror movie. You know, the one with the attendant with the creepy warning that everyone ignores. B_ took care of gas and got back in the jeep. He told us that was the most cheerful time he had been threatened in his life. He had asked the attendant if she wanted his license to hold while he filled up. She told him that if he tried to drive off, he would be shot before he made it out of the parking lot. Yup. Totally not a horror movie script.
Gas tank full, we headed back to Georgia to get the wine highway underway. Even with the side trips and detours, we still made it to Crane Creek Vineyards ten minutes early. We all got out, stretched our legs, and I took some pictures. As soon as it was 11:00, we headed in to get started tasting. We started out with the Zusa. Zusa is a crisp, dry blend of the gruner veltliner, riesling, and traminette grapes. The second tasting was the Mountain Harvest white. The third tasting was the Villard Noir, a crisp rose’.  Our final wine to taste was the Hellbender Red. The Hellbender is a dark red, made from the norton grape and Crane Creek really knows how to make a norton sing. Knowing that I am not a dry red wine fan, the Crane Creek Hellbender Red is a fantastic wine and a great way to finish off a tasting.
From Crane Creek Vineyards, we left Young Harris and headed to Hiawassee, Ga. to visit Hightower Creek Vineyards. Our first wine at Hightower was their Epiphany. The Epiphany is a blend of seyval, vidal, pinot gris and vignole grapes that is a light, crisp white. Our next wine was the 2011 Red Clay Rose’. The Hightower Red Clay Rose’ is a crisp, semi sweet rose’. The third wine in our tasting was the Deliverance. The Deliverance is a big bold blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc grapes. The final tasting from Hightower Creek was the Chatuga Red. The Chatuga Red is a sweeter version of the Deliverance, a great way to show how different processes with the same grapes can achieve different results.

After finishing our tasting at Hightower Creek, we headed to Rabun Gap, Ga to visit 12 Spies Vineyards and Farm. I really love 12 Spies. Not just because they make good wine, but also because the owner is a University of Alabama fan. Being an Auburn University fan, I naturally had to wear one of my Auburn T-shirts. After some good natured rivalry talk, and mutual commiseration at how disappointing last season’s football was for both our teams, we got down to tasting wine. The first tasting in the flight was their Chardonnay. The second tasting was the Temptation Traminette. The traminette grape is a graft of gewurztraminer and seyval blanc grapes and it makes a tasty white wine. The third tasting in the flight was Samson’s Signature Rose’.  The rose’ is a blend of mouvedre and merlot grapes. This one was so tasty. The final tasting on the flight was the Sinful Syrah. All of 12 Spies wines are delicious and I can’t wait until next year to see them again.
Our next stop on the wine highway was Stonewall Creek Vineyards in Tiger, Georgia. The four of us were really excited to visit Stonewall Creek. This was their first official year on the highway. Stonewall Creek has put out some excellent wines in the past. We were very glad to see that they were officially part of the wine highway this year. We started off with the 2013 Boriana, made from their petit manseng grapes. Its a really well made dry white, nice and crisp with a good flavor. The second tasting in the flight was the 2013 Glassy Red. The Glassy Red is made from cabernet franc grapes and stainless steel aged. The third tasting in our flight was the 2013 Three Eagles, a dry blend of malbec, petit verdot and tannat grapes. And the final wine for our tasting was the NV Buck Red. The Buck Red is a non-vintage red blend from 2011 and 2012 cabernet sauvignon and norton grapes. The Buck Red would go well with a nice steak.

After we finished out our tasting flight at Stonewall Creek, and let B_ talk shop with the owners, we headed off to B_’s favorite stop. B_ loves big, bold, dry red wines. If there is one thing that Tiger Mountain Vineyards does very well, it’s red wine. I can appreciate the craftsmanship, but dry wines just are not my favorite. That being said, I love the dry reds from Tiger. For our tasting we had their Burton Blanc, their Viognier a dry white, their Rabun Red a blend of 5 grapes, and their Norton. All the wines on the tasting were good, but Tiger does exceptional things with their Norton. Every year it is a temptation to buy a bottle.
We finished up our wine highway tasting and since B_ is a Tiger Taster, he got his tasting and purchased his case for the year. While B_ was tasting, the husband and I walked up the hill to the Red Barn to lay out the lunch R_ had packed for us. Cheese, R_made hummus, crackers, tasty salami and tons of those little seedless oranges that are so good this time of year. When B_ was finished, we all sat and enjoyed the beautiful view of the Georgia Mountains, snacked on good food.
Bellies full, we were ready for our next venue. Sautee Nacoochee Vineyards was always one of our favorite places to visit. Not so much for their wines, but because they have always had
a really fun atmosphere. Every year we have gone, they have had live music and wine slushies. This year though, they brought out their library wines for the wine highway. Boy were we impressed. I think they made B_ look at them in a totally different light. I started off my tasting with their 2006 Cabernet, a delicious red wine. The second wine I tried was the
2007 Nacoochee Red, a 50/50 blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot. The third wine was their 2008 Merlot. If you are a merlot lover then this wine is for you. The final wine of the tasting was the 2009 Celebration, a tasty chambourcin wine. Library wines are always a treat. If you are ever offered a library wine tasting, do it.

After our tasting at Sautee Nacoochee, we sat in their amphitheater and listened to the jazz trio, enjoyed some more nibbles and then headed out to our last tasting of the day.

We were really looking forward to Yonah Mountain Vineyards this year. Last year they moved into their new tasting room at their vineyard and it was beautiful. This year the beauty was marred by poor decision making on the part of the event staff. As soon as we walked into the tasting room, we were brusquely pointed to a side door as a server yelled that the wine highway was out that door. Walking out the side door, we found a tiny pop up tent with a make shift bar underneath it. The bar was crowded with other patrons and it was hard to hear the pourer describe the wines she was pouring for us. Taken altogether, it felt like we were being treated like poor country cousins come to visit. The Georgia wine highway is a big deal for my husband and I. We drive 500 miles to visit your winery, your vineyards and you are going to throw us out a side door like you are ashamed of us. I was so mad that I couldn’t even taste the wine. We didn’t finish our tasting. R_ went inside and asked one of the servers in the main bar if there was a rationale behind shoving the Wine Highway patrons outside. The server told R_ that with the new tasting room, they were hosting wine tours and that there were “different tastings for tours and the wine highway and didn’t want the pourers to be confused.” It’s such a shame to end a glorious day being treated like trash, but that is the way we felt.
Disappointed with the last winery, we headed to Cleveland, Georgia to spend the night and get ready for Day 3 of the Bangin Georgia Wine Highway 2015. On the way, we spotted a creamery that had ice cream... Ice cream makes everything better.

After ice cream, we got a super cheap hotel in Cleveland and we spent the night eating cheap pizza and playing Cards Against Humanity. I can’t remember who won that game, but we are all awful awful people. 

Crane Creek Vineyards

Hightower Creek Vineyards

12 Spies


Tiger Mountain

Sautee Nacoochee

no photos.