Chattahoochee River Hikes: Vickery Creek Trail in Roswell

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Right by old town Roswell, a few miles outside of Atlanta‘s “perimeter” (an interstate highway that rings the city), is the Vickery Creek Trail.  There are about 7 miles worth of trails in this pocket of nature in the middle of Roswell.  A portion of the trails are near the creek (also named Big Creek) which hits the Chattahoochee River right by the entrance to the parking lot I used to hit the trailhead.  This area is also part of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, a collection of parks along the river which crosses Atlanta from the NE to the SW (sort of!).Vickery Creek, Roswell, Georgia, Chattahoochee, river, park, Atlanta, hiking, outdoors, nature, trail, Samsung Galaxy S7, photoVickery Creek, Roswell, Georgia, Chattahoochee, river, park, Atlanta, hiking, outdoors, nature, trail, Samsung Galaxy S7, photo

The trail offers moderate hiking, with some fairly flat portions and a few climbs that I would guess are not too strenuous to the average person.  The trails are well marked (the blue square spray painted on trees) and well signed so one can make one’s way around pretty easily.  Because of the time of the year, what seemed to me to be mountain azaleas were in bloom (pinkish flowers). Vickery Creek, Roswell, Georgia, Chattahoochee, river, park, Atlanta, hiking, outdoors, nature, trail, Samsung Galaxy S7, photo Vickery Creek, Roswell, Georgia, Chattahoochee, river, park, Atlanta, hiking, outdoors, nature, trail, Samsung Galaxy S7, photoVickery Creek, Roswell, Georgia, Chattahoochee, river, park, Atlanta, hiking, outdoors, nature, trail, Samsung Galaxy S7, photoVickery Creek, Roswell, Georgia, Chattahoochee, river, park, Atlanta, hiking, outdoors, nature, trail, Samsung Galaxy S7, photoVickery Creek, Roswell, Georgia, Chattahoochee, river, park, Atlanta, hiking, outdoors, nature, trail, Samsung Galaxy S7, photoflowers, Vickery Creek, Roswell, Georgia, Chattahoochee, river, park, Atlanta, hiking, outdoors, nature, trail, Samsung Galaxy S7, photo
What is cool about this trail is seeing the two waterfalls created by a small and a large dam.  The area around the larger waterfall is not large and one has to watch one’s step but it is a pretty spot.Vickery Creek, Roswell, Georgia, Chattahoochee, river, park, Atlanta, hiking, outdoors, nature, trail, Samsung Galaxy S7, photo, waterfall Vickery Creek, Roswell, Georgia, Chattahoochee, river, park, Atlanta, hiking, outdoors, nature, trail, Samsung Galaxy S7, photo, waterfall Vickery Creek, Roswell, Georgia, Chattahoochee, river, park, Atlanta, hiking, outdoors, nature, trail, Samsung Galaxy S7, photo, waterfall Vickery Creek, Roswell, Georgia, Chattahoochee, river, park, Atlanta, hiking, outdoors, nature, trail, Samsung Galaxy S7, photo, waterfall

There are also a covered bridge and a large span bridge further down which facilitate cross the creek to other trailheads and parking areas.   Whether you are here in Atlanta to go up to the mountains or just visiting the city, this trail is one of many easy to visit and yet offering a unique hiking experience!

On the Camino de Santiago: Day 4 from Palas del Rei to Boente

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After a great dinner in Palas del Rei and a nice comfortable stay overnight, we left the town on Day 4 to head to Boente, a tiny town and our next overnight.  On this day, I would walk 21 km (about 13 miles) in around 5 hours to get to my destination.  But we would first make a stop in Mélide to try its famous “pulpo” (octopus).  Now, I am not a fan of octopus and similar ugly sea creatures but I had heard about how good the pulpo was in this part of Spain so we took off from Palas del Rei knowing lunch would be in the town of Mélide – I had to try it, I mean, I didn’t come this far to not try the local specialty!

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we had to have a mid-morning snack (even though the breakfast at the hotel in Palas del Rei was pretty darn good!).

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The pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant) along the Camino is huge!

After eating that monster (OK, I shared…), I had too much energy as my trek roommate, Emory, could attest…Camino, Santiago, Spain, trekkers, blue, travel, hiking, photo, Samsung Galaxy

As usual, the path is well marked and consists of a wide range of trail types, some more natural than others.

Camino, Santiago, Spain, trekking, hiking, Olympus, photo, trails Camino, Santiago, Spain, trekking, hiking, Olympus, photo, trails Camino, Santiago, Spain, trekking, hiking, Olympus, photo, trails Camino, Santiago, Spain, trekking, hiking, Olympus, photo, trailsCamino, Santiago, Spain, trekking, hiking, Olympus, photo, trails It is always amazing how there is a symbiosis between the age-old trails and the farms or villages the trails go through.  Sometimes you feel bad you are walking right by people’s homes but, it is likely that the trail was there first…

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The scenery can be quite charming!

One of my favorite parts of the walk is running into the old churches in the small towns along the way.  I am not sure how active these churches are (I am sure they don’t all have their own priest) but they serve as witnesses to the needs of the pilgrims back when the Camino was truly a journey of faith, not just a modern-day trek.

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One of several churches we passed this day

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Another church on our way

One of the good things about the Camino is the availability of clean, safe water to drink so you don’t have to be buying bottled water or treating water.  I filled my bottles at the places I stayed but you can also do refills along the way in any of the public fountains available to the trekkers.

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Water fountain along the trail

Now before I get to the “pulpo”, I have to say I enjoyed the chorizo small plate more than the pulpo.  The place we ate at was across a small church along the main street in Mélide.  It had long picnic-like tables and a nice mix of locals and pilgrims!

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Chorizo al vino in Mélide

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The guy at the “kitchen” (right by the front door) preparing the pulpo!

Oh, and I have not told you about one of my favorite discoveries along the Camino:  the delicious tarta de Santiago (a dense almond cake, sort of)!!  Yum.  #period

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Tarta de Santiago

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Leaving Mélide after a nice lunch of chorizo, pulpo, bread – and some wine…

The walk that day was long and, as we approached Boente, we could not wait to arrive at our “albergue”.  You could say this was the day we stayed at the “least” of our accommodations (not being a hotel or house) but it was perfect.  We had reserved two private rooms to share across the 8 of us and it was perfect as we did not have to fight with individual trekkers to get a bunk bed, etc.  The albergue was more than adequate and clean, and the dinner they served was delicious.  At this point in my life, I don’t want to do a trek where I have to wonder if I will find a spot to sleep on a given town, or whether the one I will find will be not right by the toilet so booking ahead is the way I trek.

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The awesome Albergue Boente!

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The Igrexa Santiago de Boente (right across the albergue)

After a stroll around town and dinner, it was time to end Day 4 and rest for Day 5!

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Read more about my Camino:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Running to Explore Washington, D.C.

I write this post in March 2011 when I started a project in D.C.  We are near the end of 2012 and I am still on the project in D.C.  It is neat to re-read what I wrote about when I first “landed” in D.C.!

I am lucky to find myself working in another great location.  This is one much closer to home the last:  Santiago, Chile.  By about 8 hrs by plane.  I am now in Washington, D.C., the U.S. capital and one of the most important cities in the world.  The simplified and shortened commute is making for a happier me and a less tired body.  Arriving at work after flying in is different than after the 9.5 hr red eye to Santiago!

I love D.C. because I feel the cosmopolitan nature of the city with embassies and international organizations everywhere.  I feel the energy of probably many events happening here – without being aware of them – that can impact more than a few.  Of course, one can also take the view that perhaps a lot of nothing happens here but I will leave that for other blogs and keep my opinions to myself though I will say there is truth to both views 🙂  Again, I love this city.

Lots to Explore in Washington, D.C.

I am very fortunate that my work location is just 2 blocks from the White House and I get to stay generally within a 2 mile radius of that location which makes for nice walks to and from work and exploring different side streets and some of what I considerable highly desirable residential areas of DC.  Longer walks can take me to Chinatown with the many good eateries and more touristy sites like the Spy Museum and others.  A cab or rail ride away are other neighborhoods with very distinct personalities.  one that I have recently been introduced to is Capitol Hills.  Many eateries and a charming area with my favorite eatery being Belga Cafe where the mussels dishes are phenomenal.

Since I am here during the week for the most part, I have not explored the tourist sites.  Having been here many times before, I probably have covered a good number of them.  However, some I last saw in 1983 and others more recently but still a decade ago.  So I will spend a few weekends here this year catching up on known ones and exploring the new ones.  Of the places I have seen, the Holocaust Museum ranks up there as do the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials and the other memorials that have sprung in that area like the Vietnam Memorial.  Of the places I haven’t seen, I hope to finally do a tour of the White House, perhaps see a session of Congress and maybe even a Supreme Court session.  Of the museums, I would like to re visit the Smithsonian ones for sure.  But I know there are smaller ones that are worth exploring.

This week I am staying in Rosslyn for a change.  Normally I like to stay in downtown D.C. proper, like at the Mayflower Hotel.  Tonight I wanted to go for a run and thought I’d run by the river, something I’ve wanted to do since I arrived here.  I ran a couple of weeks ago from the hotel past the White House to the Washington Monument down The Mall to the Capitol.  What a neat run!  On the return leg, as we passed the White House, the Presidential motorcade was making its way back to the White House.  That was a real treat.  No matter what stripes you wear, the office of the President of the U.S. is awe-inspiring in spite of the occupants.  Seeing the motorcade made me proud.

My Running Route

So today I ran across the Key Bridge down past the “new” waterfront in Georgetown towards Watergate and the Kennedy Center and across the Memorial Bridge to the trail on the Virginia side of the Potomac.  I decided to bring my small digital camera with me and think I got some neat shots as the sun was lower in the sky and provided nice light. Some of the sights during my run:

Looking towards Watergate from the Key Bridge above the Potomac

Looking towards Watergate from the Key Bridge

View of the Georgetown Canal

View of the Georgetown Canal

Rowers in the Potomac at sunset along Memorial Bridge

Rowers in the Potomac

Lincoln and Washington Memorials and Memorial Bridge in the foreground

Lincoln and Washington Memorials

It was cold and especially when crossing the Memorial Bridge as it was windier.  But the run was excellent and I even got to go by the famous cherry trees currently blossoming.  Normally, I get bored running on my own but I have a feeling that will not be the case in this city!  I am beginning to think running tourism should be a new travel category – I am looking forward to looking for new routes and exploring the area via my running, killing two birds with a stone.

What other unique ways can you think to explore new places?

Who Says Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire?

The Carter Shields Home at Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

I went to Gatlinburg to spend a week with family touring the area.  By far, it is the Great Smoky Mountain National Park (GSMNP) that has been my favorite part of the trip. The towns around here are geared to tourists, which makes sense, but they seem to cater more to the tourist shoppers or folks attracted to wax museums, believe it or not museums, etc.  Not necessarily bad things but, having seen some of those in the past, that is no longer what I seek to experience when seeing a new area.  I could come to this part simply to enjoy nature and skip the towns happily.

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park – Human Stories

The GSMNP, however, is exactly what I seek to experience. As in my trip to Tasmania, discovering “new” types of nature is something I enjoy, even if on this trip I am not able to go on longer hikes than 30 minutes would fit. As my parents are with us, they can only do fairly flat hikes and nothing that takes more than 45 mins round trip (or so). Fortunately, the GSMNP can be enjoyed by everyone as there are many types of stops, short hikes, scenery along the road, and even great history.

As a lover of history, getting exposed to that along with great scenery is a fantastic combination and use of my time (if I focus on efficiency for a sec!). The Cades Cove area and the Roaring Forks area show great examples (real, not built for the purpose) of how people lived 80-150 yrs ago in this wilderness.

The Bales farm, the John Oliver cabin, the Cable Mill, the various churches in Cades Cove, etc. are all great examples of the type of life that took place here in times long gone. Life here was hard though one can over-romanticize it in these times of concrete cities, 100mph lifestyles, etc. Everything seems very peaceful – yet these folks had to work day and night to survive. I especially enjoyed looking at how the structures were constructed following methods no longer in use, even in wooden frame houses. These structures still stand today as witnesses to a not-too-distant past that seems ages ago…

The Carter Shields Home at Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Cades Cove – The Carter Shields Cabin

Detail of the construction in a cabin in the Smoky Mountains National Park

Detail of the construction

Bales Farm in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Bales farm

Missionary Baptist Church in Cades Cover in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Cades Cove – Missionary Baptist Church

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park – Nature

Besides seeing these testaments to a life long gone by, the area is loaded with trails, picnic areas, streams, and places in nature to explore.  A good map from the National Park staff will do you a lot of good, trust me!

Woods around Ogle farm in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Woods around Ogle farm

Bear crossing road in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Yes, we even saw a bear along our route in the park!

Trail in the Ogle farm - a great nature walk - in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Trail in the Ogle farm

From the house we rented on a mountaintop overlooking Gatlinburg, we can see the GSMNP and it is amazing how at every time of the day, we get a different view as the sun moves across the sky and hits the mountains at different angles. It is simply breathtaking.

Morning view of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Morning view from our cabin

Afternoon view near sunset at the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Afternoon view from our cabin

And if you look carefully around the deck of the house, you may even get to see a rabbit… or a black bear.

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