A Few Stops Along the Way

On Friday the wild child and I set off on an adventure. We were heading south to the Puppetry Museum in Atlanta to see the Labyrinth & Dark Crystal exhibits. But we didn’t want to just drive straight down and back. So the first thing we did was decide to go by way of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Friday morning we set our GPS for Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. All I can say is “WOW!!” This place is incredible! Every few yards it was – look at that, Wow! Can you believe it! What is that?! On and on, and just so unbelievable. You really have to experience it. Las Vegas without all the casinos – lights, castles, but also sharks and bears as doorways, the Titanic, and an upside-down building!

Someday we will go just to visit Pigeon Forge, but on this day we had a different goal. So we headed out of town by way of the Gatlinburg Bypass. Just as we entered the Park we noticed we were getting low on gas. I saw a sign that said “Downtown” with an arrow, so figured that would lead is to a gas station. It did, but OMG!

I remember telling the youngest to take the hill down to the ferry a few months back. That was quite a hillside to go down. This time it was a mountainside!!! Check out this map, and it really doesn’t do justice as to how steep it was. These twists and turns are almost vertical. The driveways were extremely steep to just get to the houses. Sadly there are still many burned out from the fires. But they are rebuilding. It is just unbelievable that they are, on such steep  hillsides, but they are. I am sorry to say that we were so involved it the tight switch-back turns we didn’t even think to take any pictures! But I did take this one after we got back on the bypass.

We headed through the beautiful Great Smoky Mountain National Park. What a beautiful country this is.

Slideshow of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

We arrived at our hotel in Kennesaw, Georgia. Not too thrilled with the first room they gave us. The toilet seat was broken, and it just didn’t look well cleaned. But they gave us another room, and it was just fine. The next morning we drove into Atlanta to the museum.

Slideshow of the Puppetry Museum, Atlanta Georgia

The wild child was just enthralled with the place. Watching her face as she saw the characters she had seen so many times watching the movies was just such a heartwarming thing.

We then headed over to the Centennial Olympic Park. We had lunch at a wonderful restaurant and walked over to the wheel – SkyView Atlanta. What a site to see, but not so much for the wild child. We have finally found something she isn’t too thrilled about – big Ferris wheels.

Slideshow of downtown Atlanta

The next morning we headed back north. But we weren’t finished there. We decided to go by way of Chattanooga, Tennessee. We picked the Incline Railway to Lookout Mountain as the place to have our final adventure for this trip. Another WOW! Unfortunately the wild child had forgotten her water bottle in the car, so we only had mine. By the time we realized this, mine was half gone, and we were down at the museum in the park at the top of Lookout Mountain! Fortunately we were smart and took our time, stayed in the shade, and went straight to purchase water as soon as we left the park. What fantastic views, and just incredible that people build in such high places.

Slideshow of the Incline Railroad to Lookout Mountain

We made it home by 11pm; tired but very happy. All-in-all we had the best adventure ever!

The Last Kinship Family Fair

On August 12, 2017 the youngest and I had the privilege of again photographing the Kinship Family Fair; the 10th Annual one. I have been involved with the Kinship program here pretty much from the beginning. I was hired at the Center for Healthy Communities (CHC) not long after the Director of the program was. I have seen all the wonderful work they have done over the last 14 years. When I left CHC, I still kept in touch. I built the website for the Ohio Grandparent/Kinship Coalition, and host and maintain it to this day.

Presenters gave the caregivers much needed help, advice and inspiration.

While I was working at CHC I was often asked to photograph events. When I left I realized how much I missed being a part of these special times. I contacted the Kinship Program Director and offered to continue doing the Fair. So for the last 4 years (the last 2 the youngest as well) I have been at the Fair, with my camera, capturing wonderful moments. We set up a family photo session for all the Kinship families. For many of them this was the only way they would ever have a family portrait taken. They looked forward to seeing me each year to get an updated photo.

Unfortunately just prior to this years event it was announced that the local program has lost its funding. The Director had to announce it to the kinship caregivers at the fair. Needless to say, they were all devastated. A number of caregivers approached us with so much thanks for what we have been able to do for them in the past. They were so lost! Asking how / where / who? We had no answers; only hugs . . .

Shoes 4 the Shoeless provided free shoes

Photo by the youngest

This year the kids received free jackets as well.

The Grandparent/Kinship programs around the country are so very important. They support, sustain, and encourage, so many people. Not just the caregivers, and children, but the parents who are not able to care for their kids. So often we think of situations of parents who are gone – in jail, rehab, or dead. But one grandmother came up to me with her own personal story and thanks.

This particular grandmother’s daughter is a single parent, in the Navy, and deployed. She is caring for her grandkids while her daughter is away. She was able to send her the family photo we took last year, and it made such a difference to both the grandmother being able to send it, and the mother being able to look at it every day.

Again this year free backpacks stocked with school supplies were provided [photo by youngest]

The funding for the Kinship Caregiver program should never have been pulled. This is such a vital program in helping the caregivers raise these children, giving them the opportunity to reach their best potential. My wish and hope is that someone will step up and help, and make these families a priority.

You can read about the past Fairs we photographed at the links below:

The end of a special program – photos by the youngest

 

Even Bees Like Their Privacy

It is really the first day of August, wow! I know it is nothing new to say this summer’s weather has just been a manic-depressive thing. It is no wonder the youngest and I haven’t managed to get in any rambles with our cameras. Recently, I have been watching photography videos to try and get some inspiration. Not long ago Hubby bought me a 100mm Macro lens. I have been playing with it a little bit (took the teacup pictures in the last post with it), and today I took it outside. The lighting was really not there, and the bugs were in full bite mode, so I didn’t stay out long. But I did manage to grab a couple of shots before the bug bites got too much.

I follow the National Geographic “Your Shot” site. They do regular assignments where you can enter your photographs and someone on the staff picks the best shots. The assignment this week is “Epic”. They describe it as “Something epic takes your breath away.” So I mentally think about what photograph have I taken that does that? Well turning the corner at the glaciers in Iceland did that. I guess I have some digging to do through many fun times 😊