Friday, September 30, 2011

Suwanee Creek Greenway 9/30/2011

Took an hour long walk with my camera today, enjoying near perfect temps, in the mid 70's at 11AM. As I expected, the butterflies are pretty much gone now, and tonight's cold front will no doubt take care of the few that remain.

I did see a hummingbird and a few butterflies, along with a mama deer with her two spotted fawns following behind. It's a nice place to walk, run, or ride a bike. I parked at the Martins Farm Road lot.

I spend some time at the creek, photographing the beautiful reflections. I will be back with my camera gear in about a month when the fall colors are spectacular.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sweetwater Creek State Park

I finally managed to pull my schedule together to visit Sweetwater Creek State Park and the Manchester Manufacturing Company Mill remains, located in Lithia Springs, Georgia.

I have a passion for old historic structures, plus I love to go on nature hikes when I’ll have lots of photo ops. Sweetwater Creek is ideal for both. I arrived at 9:30 for the guided tour of the Civil War era cotton mill at 10 AM. The only way you can now go inside the walls is through the guided tour, which cost $4. It was well worth the price.

Our guide was George Giddens, a volunteer through "Friends of Sweetwater Creek State Park." His wealth of knowledge was time well spent for those of us that had the opportunity to go. He is 75 years old, and he’s been visiting the park and mill for 70 years. He remembers the days of camping inside the walls, of seeing mounds of metal from the original mill equipment, and he recalls driving down the red trail back in the 1950’s in his car. The trail is actually the original road to the mill for supplies.

The red trail is the most popular of the four.

It runs parallel to Sweetwater Creek and goes to the mill site. Along the way we passed the site of the mill store, a three story structure in its day. The bottom floor housed the store operator and family (over ten in the place,) the middle floor housed the store, which figured out early on the power of the credit card. Generous credit was offered to mill workers, and they were owned by the mill at this point because they owed their paycheck to the store. This helped keep them from moving somewhere for more money. The top floor was for the plant owner. He lived in Marietta, and it took two days for him to travel to the mill. He would stay a few days before returning, and he didn’t visit too often due to the travel time.

Shortly before reaching the mill an artesian well still pumps water. It was on a map of the area dating to the 1850’s, so it has been producing water for at least that long. During the 2007 drought, Sweetwater Creek and the adjoining lake went almost dry, but the well was unaffected by the shortage of water.

A channel was cut to divert water to the mill for producing power. Here are several photos, some showing the rock walls of the channel. The construction was done by slaves.

During the 2009 floods, the park was heavily damaged. The road we walked on was under as much as ten feet of water, and portions of the red trail (the original road) was washed away. The park closed for three weeks for the cleanup and repairs. One item that is still waiting on repairs is the old military bridge that spanned the creek and allowed access to the remainder of the yellow trail, which is on the opposite side of the water. This isn’t a typical creek, it’s more like a wide river. During the floods the bridge collapsed, and portions are still there. A replacement bridge has been funded, and it may be completed by next Spring.

When I was there the water levels allowed rock hopping. In places you can cross the expanse to the other side, and in other places all you see is water. I did go out in the middle for photos, but I didn’t venture all the way to the opposite side.

The mill is the centerpiece of the park. Burned by Union troops during the Civil War, it is in critical need of another round of extensive repairs to stop the deterioration and to make it safe for park visitors. Money has been raised by the Friends of Sweetwater Creek State Park for an engineering study to allow the state determine what should be done. In the meantime, the mill is well worth a visit, and I recommend the guided tour. Check the park’s website for information.

And beyond the history, the beauty of the place is evident. I will let the images speak for themselves.

Kayak rentals, fishing, hiking, picnics. Sweetwater Creek State Park is a great place to spend the day. In addition to the guided mill hikes, they offer a number of other guided events including river kayaking, sunset kayaking in the lake, night time hikes inside the mill by candle lantern, butterfly hikes, GeoCaching, and birding hikes. The visitor center offers many displays as well as a gift shop. Park admission as of September 2011 is $5.

I managed some rock hopping to capture an image of the mill from the creek

Monday, September 5, 2011

Letter from Junior (our adorable pug)

NOTE- This letter was found tucked away secretly under his bed, and he has gone into hiding since its discovery. No details of the letter have been confirmed, and as always, consider the source of your information………

A dog’s life, grrrrrr. Bout time somebody starts listenin’ to me for a change. Hey lady, who do you think sees everything that goes on around this place? I mean, I sit at the door, when I’m not resting, and I see everything. I run off the postman, the power guy, and anybody else that tries to mark our territory. Does anybody thank me? All I get is a hard time. I keep your new Japanese maples watered, and you complain. You want well water? Do it yourself. Go ahead, unwrap the hose and do it yourself. I could be doing a thousand other things, like sleeping, and instead I help with the yardwork. Another thing- no more wisecracks about my butt dragging the ground. If you were this short, you wouldn’t do any better. And another thing, if you saw what I see from down here, your eyes would bug out too. Enough already.

Here’s the deal. No more cardboard dog “biscuits.” Beef jerky, and I mean the real stuff, and Slim Jims. It’s gotta be something that used to breathe or I don’t want it. And no locking me outside when I have company. I mean, if they don’t want me jumping on them, they would stay at home, don’t ya think? And another thing- the sofa is all mine. You leave, it’s mine. You leave the room, same thing. You don’t like it, move. I have already marked the yard anyway, so guess whose place it is? As long as somebody leaves me some food and water out, I don’t need you anyway.

Oh yeah- the heater. Keep your legs out of the way. You say I need my beauty sleep, so give me some space. Lots of space. Like leave the room and don’t come back ‘til you can be sweet. After all, who else could bring you this much happiness? The good times? Honestly, sometimes I think you forget who’s the pet.

I almost forgot. If I want to pee in the garage, so be it. Let it dry baby, you won’t even know it was there. Come rain or shine, the garage is mine. What’s with you people? You always want me in the yard. I guess you want me to get fleas, huh? And no more baths. If I want to get wet, I know where the creek is. You put that stuff on me that makes me itch. Go away, bad dream. I’m ready for some changes, and I’m not to sure you’re part of them. Now get me some fresh water. Please……..