I'd say I had a pretty good week. I worked about seven and a half hours total since Tuesday, and got to eat out, drive a rental car, sightsee, and sleep in a hotel on the company's dollar. Can't complain! Well, maybe a little. Our system did not function properly during two of the three trainings. The first snafu was not our fault, technically; our back-end provider that actually sends the calls was having issues. But the second time I think it was our fault. Either way, the customer sees it as a system failure, and I was more than a little embarrassed. I mean, there was nothing I could do, and no good excuses I could make, either. All I could do is apologize and say "It doesn't usually do that." Egg, meet my face. Face, meet the egg.
The good thing is that no one tried to blame the messenger, and the humiliation segment of the trainings occurred in the last 20-30 minutes or so. And after work each morning, the rest of the day was my own to spend as I wanted. This was my first trip to Georgia, and I didn't know what to expect. I'd heard less than complimentary opinions of the place, but I found it to be lovely. Granted, I did stay in the mountains the whole time, where it is less humid and very scenic.
I did drive through a few towns that appeared to be a little, shall we say, past their prime. But that's true of everywhere.
I would say that the highlight of my trip was Helen, GA. It is known as "Alpine Helen," as it is designed to resemble a German mountain village.
It's a charming little place with novel shops and restaurants. It is very similar in feel to Solvang, CA.
One unique attribute, though, is that the Chattahoochee River runs through Helen, and innertubing is a very popular attraction. I had dinner on the patio of a riverside tavern and watched the kids and adults on tubes lazily floating by. It seemed like a fun way to see the area.
Nearby Helen is Cleveland, GA, home of Cabbage Patch Kid Babyland. Admission was free so I swung by. I had four Cabbage Patch Kids when I was little, and actually still have them. At Babyland they have original CPK dolls on display in a variety of settings. (I say "original" because these aren't the ones you can buy in the store; these are all fabric, with bigger bodies.) You can also see the cabbage patch itself, where the babies are "born." They start out as heads only, which is a little creepy if you ask me.
Also nearby Helen is Anna Ruby Falls, located inside a state park. You walk about half a mile along a river and at the top of the trail you are rewarded with this view:
Other than these attractions (which were all on Wednesday) there wasn't much to do. Ellijay, GA is very up-and-coming, evidenced by the hotel being full with people on a land-scouting tour, and the huge brand new shopping center down the street. So I killed some time there. The most amazing find (don't laugh): towel holders at the dollar store. I cannot tell you how hard I've looked for these in the past couple years. I got a two-pack years ago, and used them in two of my dwellings. I didn't take them with me when I moved because I figured I could just buy more. How wrong I was! But then lo and behold, at the Dollar Tree in Ellijay, they sell six for a buck! I got a dozen, and let me tell you, the whole trip was worth it just for those towel holders. Yeah, yeah, you're laughing by now, go ahead. It doesn't take much to get me excited.
So if there was a recurring theme for my trip, it was "Roundabouts." There is a roundabout in Pittsboro, where my parents live. It's at the intersection of two main streets, and the old courthouse sits in the middle. I used to think, "Oh, how quaint." Well now I know that every small town in northern Georgia has one, too. And I've driven through what felt like them all.
Oh, another fun thing I did was go swimming at the hotel. I hadn't swum in years, but I had the whole (indoor) pool to myself, and had a grand time. Afterwards I sat in the spa for a while and that felt soooo good!
The Garmin did pretty well. Not flawless though. It was a little confused in Ellijay--not entirely accurate on where some small streets were located, but I sure did feel free to wander around, knowing that it could always get me back. On the way home, I was on I-85 and there was a digital sign indicating that there was congestion for the next 12 miles, so I put the Garmin's detour feature to the test. I was expecting a minor detour, but it basically recalculated the whole route. It took me off the 85 and put me on the 27 east, which passes through Albemarle (home of American Idol finalist Kellie Pickler!) It added about 20 minutes to my trip but who knows how long 12 miles of traffic would have added! Plus, this way I avoided the 40 too, which probably would have been congested as well.
No progress on the car-buying front, except I know I don't want a Corolla. That's what I got from Enterprise, and after driving it for a thousand miles I was not impressed. Hardly felt any more substantial than the Kia Rio. My car seems to do okay on short trips (less than 30 min) so maybe I can wait a few weeks before diving into the big purchase. I'd hate to feel rushed.
More pix from my trip here.