Corn Festival at Hardman Farm State Historic Site – White County, GA

Mount Yonah serves as the backdrop for the Hardman Farm and gazebo-topped Indian Mound

Located at the intersection of Hwy 75 (Helen Highway) and Hwy 17 in North Georgia, lies the 162-acre Hardman Farm State Historic Site. It is one of the newer additions to the Georgia State Park system. The farm was built by Colonel James Nichols in 1870 and originally called West End. After discovering the Indian Mounds, he built the red-roofed gazebo on top of it. As a side note, the nearby Anna Ruby Falls was named after his Nichols’ daughter.

The farm was sold in 1893 to Calvin Hunnicutt who used it as a summer home for ten years. Then, Lamartine Hardman bought it and it became a working farm and dairy. Later, Hardman served as the governor of Georgia from 1927-1931 and his family donated the property to the state in 1999. The historic site is only open Thursdays – Sundays.

Who knew there were so many varieties of corn?

On this day in late July, they were having the corn festival. You could go out into the one acre and pick your own corn for the bargain price of 25 cents per cob.

Among the rows and rows of five-foot tall corn stalks were four varieties: Peaches & Cream, Ambrosia, Temptation and Providence. The volunteer explained that the first two are often the varieties found at local grocery stores. Temptation is a smaller corn and is the first to harvest. Because it was a bit after the picking time for Temptation, they told us the corn cobs would be a bit smaller than the rest.

We also learned that you look at the tendrils at the top of the stalk to determine whether it is ripe enough to pick. Once you find a ripe corn, grab it with one hand, pull down with other hand and gently twist. It readily comes off the stalk. After we spend a few minutes picking from the Ambrosia and Peaches and Cream area, we headed back to the visitor center for popcorn, music and corn tastings.

Outside the visitor center, volunteers served popcorn, refreshments and corn tastings

After trying several different types of corn, we decided that Providence was our favorite. It was amazingly fresh and crisp! We went back into the fields and picked a few more from the Providence section. I also saw small red flowers on some of the stalks. I had no idea corn stalks produced flowers.

Inside, we talked to the rangers about the farmhouse. Tours are given every hour on the hour from 10 to 3 pm. Each tour takes about an hour and encompasses many outbuildings as well. When we have more time, I plan to come back for a longer visit. Directly across the street is the Sautee Nacoochee Indian Mounds. Currently, you can’t walk on this site, but you can see the gazebo that has topped the mound since 1890.

For more information about the Hardman Farm State Historic Site, visit here.

Europe Itinerary – 14 Days and 8 Countries

It was a very ambitious itinerary and I’m happy to say we did it all! The cruise encompassed days 4-11. Detailed posts and pictures soon to follow!


14 Days in Europe 


Day 1: Arrive in Klagenfurt, Austria

Flight into Venice via Amsterdam, rental car to Klagenfurt, Austria


Day 2: Day Trip to Slovenia

Lake Bled, Slovenia

Poertschach au Worthersee, Austria

Lake Bled, Slovenia

Dinner Klagenfurt


Day 3: Drive to Venice

Explore Klagenfurt

Gorizia, Italy

Arrive Venice

Grand Canal Tour

St. Mark’s Square


Day 4: Venice and Cruise Embarkation

Frari Church

Embark on Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas


Day 5: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Walk the City Walls

Private Tour of Old Town


Day 6: Kotor, Montenegro


Hike to St. John’s Fortress

Tour of Old Town Kotor


Day 7: Day at Sea



Day 8: Mykonos, Greece

Platis Giolos Beach

Mykonos Town


Day 9: Katakolon, Greece

Ancient Olympia

Kremasti Monastery


Day 10: Day at Sea



Day 11: Cruise Debarkation in Venice, Drive to Tuscanny, Cinque-Terre & Genoa

Lucca, Tuscanny, Italy

St. Martin’s Cathedral, Bell Tower and museum

Bike the city walls

Riomaggiore, Cinque-Terre, Italy

Manarola, Cinque-Terre, Italy

Genoa, Italy

Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy

Day 12: Day Trip to Cinque Terre, Italy

Explore Genoa Old Port area near hotel

Park in Levanto for all-day train pass to Cinque Terre

lunch in Corniglia

Hike to Vernazza from Corniglia

Train ride to Monterrosso al Mer

Dinner in Portofino, Italy


Eze, France

Day 13 – Day Trip to French Rivera

Eze, France – Old City, lunch and Exotic Gardens

Drive through Monaco

St. Jean Cap-Ferrat – promenade walk

Nice, France – promenade des Anglais, Old town

Genoa, Italy – late (10 pm) dinner


Day 14 – Lake Como, Italy

Verenna, Lake Como, Italy – lunch

Ferry to Belagio, Lake Como, Italy

Mestre (mainland Venice) – dinner and hotel



Day 15 – Flight Home






Boston/Maine Itinerary

This is the trip that started it all for our family. My spouse and I had enjoyed travelling, but with the birth of our children we did a lot of trips to visit family and an annual trip to the beach. We decided it was time for the 4 of us to go on a true vacation.

There are many styles of travel. In my family (and maybe because I grew up in a city of about 150,000) we tended to take city trips – New York, San Francisco, Vancouver, Montreal. On these vacations, I wasn’t allowed to do things I could do at home – like see a movie. We pounded the pavement to see everything there was to see – museums, walking around, eating local cuisines — definitely no sleeping in or hanging out.

Other people like to go to one place – maybe for an entire week. These trips are meant for relaxation, but after a while I tend to get bored. It was time to do the type of vacation I had grown up doing and to show our children the world. It was fun, exhilarating and now we’ve tried to incorporate at least one trip like this per year. This was our itinerary from June 2011.


Fly into Boston Logan airport, stayed at Omni Parker House

Lunch at Ye Olde Union Oyster House in Faneuil Hall

Boston Common, Boston Children’s Museum

Boston Children’s Museum


Toured the Old State House, took Old Town Trolley Tours seeing the Boston Library, the USS Constitution, the North Church and afternoon cruise.

Lunch at Durgin Park in Faneuil Hall

The Boston Public Library


Boston Waterfront


Toured Harvard and Harvard Museum of Natural History, lunch at Au Bon Pain across from Harvard

Dinner at Legal Seafood near Boston Common with friends

Harvard – now you know why its called Ivy League!


Drive to Maine

Breakfast Becky’s Diner – Portland

Stopped at L L Bean

Lunch in Wiscasset at Red’s

Pemoquid Lighthouse

Camden – stayed at Camden Riverhouse Hotel

Camden at night


Windjammer cruise

Drive to Mount Battie in Camden Hills State Park

Penobscot Observation Tower

Bar Harbor – stayed at Bar Harbor Motel

Dinner – West Street Cafe

Camden from the windjammer


View of Camden from Mount Battie


Penobscot Narrows Bridge


Acadia National Park – Thunder Hole, Cadillac, swimming Echo Lake Beach, Jordan Pond House, Cadillac Mountain

Dinner – Cafe This Way

Thunder Hole at Acadia National Park


Cadillac Mountain


Jordan Pond House


Shopping downtown Bar Harbor – it was cold and bought sweatshirts!

drove through Portland, ate lunch

Prouts Neck to see Black Pointe Inn

Kennebunkport – stayed at Rhumb Line Resort

Ate dinner at Federal Jack’s

Hung out at Kennebunk Beach and drove by the Bush compound

Foggy morning in Bar Harbor



Hung out at Kennebunk Beach

Drove to Boston

Ate at Boston Logan airport – Legal Seafoods

Flight Home

Kennebunk Beach

Garden Lights, Holiday Nights at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Christmas lights are a BIG deal in Louisiana and Texas. It was part of our holiday routine to go drive around neighborhoods and look at the lights. And it was free! One year in the early 1990s, Al Copeland, founder of Popeye’s Chicken, donated his trillions of lights to the city of Baton Rouge. They decided to light up the state capitol – all 34 floors of it! The town of Natchitoches, La’s annual holiday lights were featured on the movie, “Steel Magnolias.”

When I first moved to Atlanta, I was surprised that more people didn’t put up Christmas lights. Even though both Lake Lanier and Callaway Gardens offered light shows, they each entailed planning a long drive and paying admission. However, about 6 years ago, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens began Garden Lights – Holiday Nights. After hearing positive reviews, I wanted to go but was resistant to paying the steep fees.

So I held off. But I had heard good things and always wanted to go. Finally we did this year – the night before Thanksgiving. It didn’t disappoint.


Walking on the garden path, bright stars hung high in the trees focusing our gaze upward. When the path crests to the Chihuly fountain, a plethora of lights awaits with the Atlanta skyline serving as the backdrop. At the far end, a large lighted Christmas tree beckons. Along the brick path, the smell of roasting marshmallows attracts our attention. A bar is set up offering hot chocolate and s’mores kits. At the two fire pits, parents are helping kids hold their rods with marshmallows over the flames.


Now at the lighted green Christmas tree, families pose for pictures, people don 3-D glasses (which come with the premium ticket at $10 more). It seemingly can’t get any better than this.


But it does.

Looking towards the rainforest building (what my daughters affectionately called “The Jungle” when they were little), are huge (people sized) old-fashioned Christmas lights gracing the wide open lawn. All of a sudden, Christmas music plays and the lights change colors to the beat of the music. Even though I can’t stand the song playing (Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime”), the lights intrigue and draw me in. When Aaron Neville’s “Louisiana Christmas Day” blasts from the speakers, the lights really perk up and the crowd gets a swing in their step.


In the rainforest, everything is completely dark – except for the holiday lights placed along the paths. Without the sound of music, our ears awaken to the croaks of frogs and hum of crickets. Soon, white lights dangling from the ceiling usher us into the Fuqua Orchid Center where a large poinsettia tree greets visitors. Another hot spot for photo taking.img_3204

Inside the orchid exhibit lies a large topiary. Back outside, we take the Bug Path where lit up dragonflies and other bugs take us through the edible garden. Lit up rows of corn planted among the real corn take us to the Mistletoe Tree where couples kiss before continuing through the display. Looping back by the Chihuly fountain, we head towards the newer section of the garden – the tree canopy walk.


From the heights, we see trees lit in different lights passing the gold stairstep fountain. A group of carolers sing to us as we get closer to the bottom of the canopy walk. Purple lighted trees (my favorite) dot the landscape and upon closer examination, they have tiny floral shaped lights on the ends. Soon we get to the main water fountain where blue toned lights flow among the hair of the statue. Lastly, we walk through a red tunnel of lights and we’re back to the entrance.




The admission price is $26 on peak nights/$23 on non-peak nights for adults – which with teenage children means we spent around $100. Pretty steep if you ask me but I can honestly say it was worth it. Why? Because you’re out walking around among other people. Sure you have to dodge strollers and hear a few meltdowns by overtired kids, but you also glimpse smiles of wonder and feel part of a bigger connection to those around you. For more information see Atlanta Botanical Gardens.