New Echota State Historic Site – Calhoun, GA

Do you remember the Trail of Tears?

Sadly, the only thing I could tell you was it had to do with Native American Indians being forced to move out West. It seems my history classes focused more on the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War than anything else.

Did you also know that the Cherokee Indians tried to get along with the white man by adopting many of their styles in clothing? They adopted a government similar to ours with three branches? They also had a written language and a weekly newspaper. In fact, the Cherokee Indians were about 90% literate.

The print shop where the weekly Cherokee Phoenix newspaper was printed.

My lack of knowledge was apparent when we visited the New Echota State Historic Park. Until then, my perception of Native American Indians was from TV Westerns. In my mind, they were savage groups of people who viciously attacked settlers moving out West. They wore warpaint, little clothing and were completely uncivilized. That may have been the case at some point, but not by the 1800’s in Georgia.

During the 17-minute film at the visitor center, I learned many new things. First of all, the area was named New Echota after the original Echota in Tennessee. New Echota was developed around 1825 and served as the capital of the Cherokee Nation until the late 1830’s when the Trail of Tears forced the tribe to Oklahoma.

The Cherokee didn’t sleep in tepees, but rather had farms in this well laid out town complete with a tavern, print shop and silversmith.

Interior of a Cherokee farmhouse

They also had three branches of government set up similar to the United States. Also on display were the recreated Council House and Supreme Court building.

The Council House

 

Inside the Council House

The Reverend Samuel Worcester resided here with his Cherokee wife and six children at the edge of the town. It is the only surviving building from the 1830’s.

The only original building belonged to Rev. Worcester

 

Dining room inside Rev. Worcester’s house

What happened to this peaceful town? Gold — or rather the discovery of gold at nearby Dahlonega caused efforts to remove the Native American Indians to quickly ramp up. Rev. Worcester sued the state of Georgia in 1831 and the case went to the Supreme Court. Although the highest court ruled in favor of the Cherokee Nation, President Andrew Jackson ignored it. Additionally, three prominent leaders  – Major Ridge, John Ridge and Elias Boudinot (owner of the newspaper) signed the Treaty of New Echota in 1835 without the consensus of Chief John Ross and the majority of the Cherokee. Because of this betrayal, the three men were later assassinated. But the damage was done, in 1838 the Cherokee were forced to move into stockades and ultimately westward.

It is a sad chapter in U.S. history, but thankfully the park was begun in 1962. Today, a volunteer explained the workings of the printing press and how much work went into getting the weekly newspaper printed. Did you know they stored all the type (individual letters to form words) in cabinet drawers. The Capital letters were in the top drawer and the rest in lower drawers. Hence the term uppercase and lowercase letters!

After spending a few days putting the type together in columns, print shop workers would ink the press, lay the paper down and press with the large lever. Then, they had to hang up the paper to allow the ink to dry before printing the other side.

Our volunteer demonstrates the printing process

The entire site was a fascinating look at history. The site was opened in the 1962 after archaeologists excavated the area in the 1950’s. Today, it is open Wednesdays through Saturdays. For more information, click here.


The Rock Garden – Calhoun, GA

 

My hairdresser told me she and her boyfriend did a weekend in Calhoun, GA. Located in the northwestern corner of Georgia, this community gets overlooked by many Atlantans. Since it’s only about an hour away, it’s too far to be a suburb, but too close to be a destination like Chattanooga.

We needed to get driving practice in for our teenagers and since it was Labor Day weekend, we were itching to get out of the city and do something different. We took Hannah’s advice and went to see the Rock Garden in Calhoun.

When I think of rock gardens, I think of front-yard landscaping in Arizona houses – brown and ugly. This is totally different. It’s more like whimsical castles and bridges made out of rock pebbles. And it’s totally free!

The gardens are located behind the Calhoun 7th Day Adventist Church, who also owns the land. The garden was started by Dewitt Boyd, aka “Old Dog” in 2007. He and other volunteers have spent years working on the different formations. The first one we came to was dedicated to one of the ministers of the church and had names of people in the rocks that contributed. As part of the building, there was a large rock wall that made a secluded outdoor living space to sit and reflect.

On of the first structures and leads to outdoor room

As we walked around more of these structures, we were amazed to see the detail work involved – arches in the windows, climbing staircases around towers, even a few mini-figures placed inside some of the rooms. But what’s even more neat is that the area is a true garden. Impatiens, hostas and ferns flank many of the rock castles. Sometimes, the turrets and walls serve as planters. A small pond is situated along the back side and there’s even a castle that drapes over the lake.

This castle built over the water serves as a planter for ferns.

It’s a relaxing place and you can walk among the buildings.  However, plenty of seating areas dot the garden for quiet reflection including a wooden gazebo.

The area has plenty of seating

The buildings aren’t always made out of pebbles. Sometime, the artists use marbles, seashells, broken glass and other items that have significance to them. One of my favorites is the replica of Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral, which uses stained glass for the windows.

The replica of Notre Dame

For more information about The Rock Garden, directions and hours of admission, click here.


Krog Street Market – Atlanta, GA

Krog Street Market

Krog Street Market recently opened in the ultra hip Old Fourth Ward/Inman Park area. It’s Atlanta’s version of Vancouver’s Granville Island, albeit on a smaller scale.

Visitors can dine at the many eclectic restaurants in this upscale food court located in a new (but made to look old) warehouse. Offerings include ice cream from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream to Chinese fare at Gu’s Dumplings. Water – sparkling, chilled and un-chilled – is self-serve near the community tables. Other restaurants including The Luminary and Superica offer a full-scale restaurant. Along the way, you can shop retails establishments such as XOCOLATL Small Batch Chocolate and French Market Flowers.

Once you get your food, find a table and people watch. It’s fun to see people of all ages come together. From families with strollers to singles grabbing a cup of coffee before a jog, you’ll see a bit of everything here.

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Yalla and Fred’s are owned by chef Todd Ginsberg.

I’d heard that lines for the restaurants could be long with limited seating. This past weekend, we got there at 11:30 – about the time most dining establishments opened. Although I still had a bit of a line, I tried Yalla, the Middle Eastern place owned by chef Todd Ginsberg. He also owns Fred’s Meat and Bread next door. Although I haven’t tried Fred’s, they offer a bar to sit at (reminiscent of airport dining). I spotted a large pimento cheese sandwich from there that looked worthy of trying for my next visit.

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Retail shops at Krog Street Market

Back to Yalla, you order at the counter, but don’t pay until your name is called when your food is ready. It seemed to create an unnecessary queue, but the wait was only about 5 minutes so it wasn’t a big deal. I ordered the Shawarma Pita for $8. It’s a pita stuffed with chicken shawarma, hummus, baba ganoush, fried eggplant, Israeli salad and pickles and a few other things. It was delicious!

I was expecting a pita with just the shawarma and the other stuff on the side. Instead, it’s all stuffed into the pita (think Chipotle burritos), but the flavors worked together. The pickles are spicy, but are cooled by the tahini and hummus. The portion was big and plenty for me. However, you could get all their entrees in a pita, laffa (flatbread wrap) or a bowl depending on your appetite.

DH went to Grand Champions BBQ. He didn’t have a line and got the brisket sandwich which was surrounded by thick slices of white bread. The potato salad he ordered was as close to my favorite (Hickory Stick BBQ in Shreveport, La) as I’ve ever had. Afterwards we were in the mood for something sweet. At the Little Tart Bakeshop, people in front of us were ordering brunch items. We looked in the glass cases at the large pastry selection and decided on a mocha butter cookie. It was delectable and packed a lot of richness in just a few bites. The perfect ending to the meal.

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For more information, visit the website at Krog Street Market. Here, you will find links to all the establishments mentioned with menus and news. Check back often as a few more places will be opening soon over the next few months.


New Ice Rink Inside the Perimeter – Center Ice Arena, Sandy Springs, GA

“We’re going to be sore tomorrow!” my husband announced as we left Center Ice Arena this afternoon with our two children.

He is right, but the adventure was well worth it.

Seeing that this weekend’s weather was going to be cold, rainy and gray, we decided to try out the new ice skating rink that opened ITP – Inside the Perimeter (Atlanta speak for inside the I-285 loop). The facility opened just in time for the winter holidays.

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My husband, who played hockey as a kid, was looking forward to skating on a “real” skating rink. In the past, we’ve skated at Centennial Olympic Park and Park Tavern, which offer smaller scale, temporary rinks during the holiday season. Not only was this a permanent, regulation size rink, but they offered a choice between regular skates and hockey skates.

The website shows the calendar for the public skate times. For a two hour session, the cost is $8 to skate and an additional $4 for skate rental.

Arriving for the 1:30 public slot, we entered a big room with large windows showing the rink. To the left was the line to purchase tickets and get armbands. On the other side of the food counter was the booth stocked by two attendants to get skates. In the middle of the room were three hexagon shaped tables and plenty of benches to change into the skates.

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What I particularly liked was that there were benches in front of the glass windows where parents could sit and watch their children skate, without getting themselves on the ice. (We’re almost there as parents, but need a bit more practice before our offspring are ready to spread their wings that wide.)

To the right of the front door is a room that will soon house lockers to place valuables. Since the facility just opened, the lockers haven’t been installed yet. However, the manager let me put my purse behind the ticket counter.

Several entrances onto the rink help allay back-up jams. We went to the left of the plate glass windows through the two sets of glass double doors, down the ramp almost to the midway part of the rink to get on. Above us, bleachers (accessed by the staircase next to the locker rental area) gave spectators a better view.

The ice was smooth. But the reverie was soon broken by sounds of thud, bump and “waaah,” from kids learning to skate for the first time.

It took me a few laps to get my ice skating groove and then I could help with our kids. Even they improved and got more confident after a few minutes. On the other side of the rink, there were benches just off the rink on both sides of the penalty box – with additional exits off of the rink and back to the large room. A large set of speakers with a digital clock hung from the middle of the room.

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“Just glide,” I heard a father tell his young son.

Another father was consoling his daughter, “Everybody hates to fall, but it happens.”

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After about an hour, we noticed most of the young kids wore out and went home. More adults and older kids came out onto the rink. We stopped to grab some refreshments – hot dogs, Powerade and pocorn – which were reasonably priced.

Another 30 minutes back on the rink and we were tired.

Center Ice Arena is located on Roswell Road just north of the Prado shopping center. They offer lessons for learning how to ice skate and how to play hockey. For more information, visit their website at www.centericearena.org.