We had made the decision to jog south to Atlanta after our time in the Great Smoky Mountains based on two main draws. First, we have several friends from our Navy days who live in the greater Atlanta’s area and, second, the busy airport makes a commute for Flight fairly reasonable. After deciding we’d be in Atlanta, we took a look at all we could do there and our schedules were immediately packed.
Because Flight had a work trip starting only two days after we arrived and the weather threatened thunderstorms (and wicked heat) the rest of our visit time, our first day at the Holiday Harbor RV Park in Acworth, GA, centered on being on Lake Allatoona. Flight rented a pontoon boat, suitable for towing our gaggle about on a tube, and beached it right at our campsite so we could load our gear before getting out on the water in earnest.
Surprisingly, although maybe it wouldn’t have been so had I spent any time looking at a map, Lake Allatoona is relatively enormous. We spent the first stretch of our boat rental period checking out the nearby nooks and inlets of this expansive waterway. And then the kids got serious about tubing.
Not at all surprisingly, Keeper and WoodSprite were the first to volunteer to get on The Big Shot tube. Firebolt wanted no part of it. After watching her brother and sister have so much fun, they convinced her to give it a shot. Her counteroffer was she’d get in the tube and make the call to actually tube from there. Flight, unaware of Firebolt’s ongoing negotiation tactics thought she was all in and let the tube drift behind the boat to resume tubing operations. Firebolt panicked and, despite her siblings’ gracious attempts to assuage her concerns, rallied to near hysterics.
Flight pulled the tube back in so Firebolt could frantically disembark. I gathered a shaken and tear-stained Firebolt onto my lap and immediately did some Chinese Medicine triage. Suspecting there was an energetic block between Firebolt’s kidney and pericardium systems (you can learn more about what that means in my Acupuncture 101 summary here), which tends to manifest as excessive fear, I helped her clear this block with a short breathing exercise and within two minutes she was calm and willing to entertain going tubing for real. Meanwhile, Keeper and WoodSprite got another turn.
All three kids rode together for a stretch.
Then the girls went without Keeper, because he wanted to do some boat yoga.
Impressed by his subconscious gentle bow, I asked Keeper what he was doing and he said, “I don’t really know.”
We anchored and enjoyed a swim call and some snacks before we got back to the serious business of tubing.
And for the final event, Firebolt went all by herself.
A few things struck me about our day on the water. First, I was delighted to see that Firebolt totally rallied. For a child as stubborn as her parents, she was able to accept some direction and move through her fear to take advantage of a great time. Second, I was most impressed by the behavior of Keeper and WoodSprite. Clearly, they had no issues getting into a small, round, plastic, bottomed donut and being slingshot about Allatoona Lake. In fact, they thought it was great fun. What was particularly heartwarming was their compassion for their sister as her initial trepidation ramped up to near debilitating. They were both kind and empathetic, telling Firebolt how much fun they had tubing and how much more they’d enjoy it if she came along. Never did our kids express any heckling, ribbing, or mockery (I’m not sure how they’re the offspring of two naval aviators who eat, sleep, and breathe accompanied by such antics…). Instead, they gently and lovingly encouraged their sister to participate in some good fun. Our lovely afternoon on the water came to a close and Flight made some of his famous Sausage and Kale Pasta. All in all, it was a glorious day.
After an exciting (simulated) day of laundry and homeschool tasks, we got ready to head to our former squadron mate and friends’ house. We hadn’t seen them in ages and were stoked to carve out some visit time. The kids disappeared to a local park shortly after we arrived and we were able to catch up with Inigo and his lovely bride uninterrupted by children. One of the things both Flight and I observed was that in the years since we last saw Inigo and his crew, we have grown to walk paths very similar to theirs. Sadly, we were too busy catching up that we neglected to take a picture, but vowed we wouldn’t let another 18 years lapse before our next get together.
The next day was more of the same with homeschool activities and torrential downpours, but I took advantage of Flight’s being in town and made the opportunity to meet up with another dear friend whom I have known for more years than I’d prefer to count. To give you an idea on our friendship’s vintage, we first bonded in French class at the Naval Academy and have been fast friends ever since. A remarkable woman, she was first a Surface Warfare Officer upon graduation and commissioning and has since completed a joint program at Emery where she earned both her Law Degree and a Master of Divinity in only five years. No slouch, that one…
In addition to practicing law, she has recently become an Episcopal Priest and is very active in her church’s outreach to those impacted by the current administration’s take on immigration law, especially those affected through no choice of their own. Although we had only a short visit sandwiched in between work and parenting obligations, it was incredibly uplifting and I remain hopeful that our professional paths may converge in the future. I returned to our family refreshed, my soul nourished, and the Subaru full of goods hailing from Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. And Flight welcomed me back with a new InstantPot creation of pork ragout – he totally rocks.
We dropped Flight off at the airport the following morning and focused our studies on a day heavy on Human and Civil Rights. You can read more about that awesome and powerful outing here.
We had a weekend without Flight and I looked to the weather forecast to help us decide how we would schedule our remaining time in Hotlanta. High on my list of priorities was to see nearby Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield. As I explained to our kids, on our travels thus far we’ve had a great opportunity to learn about the colonization of our country by various nations that ultimately led to our declaring our independence from England and establishing our own identity. We had also learned a considerable amount about the Civil War, evaluating the significance of places like Fort Pickens and Fort Sumter in that conflict, yet we hadn’t seen any of the National Battlefields. Before we made our way west again, I thought it important for us to see a couple of these sites to better understand the nitty-gritty details of life in the trenches of that particular war.
Nearby to the Holiday Harbor RV Park is the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield. Sunday threatened more reasonable weather, so we took Saturday to chill after the previous day’s heavy topics. After lunch on Sunday, we trundled into the Subaru and headed for Kennesaw Mountain.
Just as we arrived, we learned there was a firing demonstration getting underway outside. As we zipped through the Visitor Center, we slowed momentarily to collect Junior Ranger Books for WoodSprite and Firebolt before vectoring outside to get a good seat. A lone Confederate Soldier (he assured us he switched to wearing Blue on alternating days) walked us through standard riffle drill for that time period. He then demonstrated firing, reloading, and firing again. Holy cow did that take an inordinately long time – I can’t imagine having to rely on that painstaking ritual to separate me from an untimely death.
After heading watching the demonstration, which I hope Keeper will blog about as he got some great footage, we headed into the Museum and learned what it was like to be a soldier on both sides, some fibbing about their ages and enlisting as young as 8 to be drummers (11 was the recommended age). I couldn’t imagine sending Keeper off to war and belatedly realized that such a practice has been done as long as humans have been in conflict, which is pretty much since we starting walking upright. But I digress…
After the Museum, our Junior Ranger hopefuls needed to accomplish one of the local hikes and make some observations along their trek before they could hand in there booklets. We picked the least lengthy hike because we would turn into pumpkins in short order. The Visitor Center was closing at 5 pm, which meant we had 49 minutes or less to complete the hike. The girls took their tasking seriously and stopped along the way only to write answers to their questions.
I took this picture for our niece who develops a reaction to Poison Oak if she walks by and sees it. Yikes.
She wasn’t terribly appreciative…
After reading about the battle raging through in these woods, it was easy to envision young men hunkering down amidst the haphazard boulders, courage outpacing fear, as they exchanged volleys in the brutal heat. While I was escorting the girls through the museum, Keeper had been tasked with watching the NPS film. He rejoined us to report what he had learned. It had been so hot in late June and early July of 1864 that both the Union and Confederate Forces agreed to hit pause on the war fighting and take time out to bury their respective dead as the stench of decomposing bodies was too overpowering. Gross. But good on them for making warfare less offensive (?!).
When the Junior Rangers were sworn in, the Rangers really surprised us.
We had let them know we were dashing out to do a hike and would be back with completed booklets just shy of 5 pm. They went over the top and, after swearing in the girls, gave them each a swag bag of NPS goodies to include a stuffed bison, pencils, tattoos, and, of course, their new badges. They’re running a great outfit there – totally over the top!
Equally over the top was our family’s very own reenactment, titled “Fire in the HOLE!”
Flight joined us late that night (gotta love Uber!) and we made preparations to get underway, bound for the Land Between the Lakes, which is a little peninsula spanning Southeastern Kentucky and Tennessee between, you guessed it, two lakes. Never heard of it? Me neither – can’t wait to check it out…