23 October 2016

Hello New Zealand

So this must be the Lord of the Rings place
We have made it to New Zealand. Yay!
In looking back, the hardest part of the journey was the drive to Atlanta. The I-575/I-75/I-85 route is the most straight forward and we took it in the middle of the day outside of the morning and afternoon peak hours yet it was still very busy in parts. It can be quite confusing as the road changes from 2 to 4 to 7 then back to 3 lanes, keeping us on the ball to be in the correct lane to get to where we were going.
At one point a car in the lane beside us failed to stop in time and pushed the car in front of them into the one in front of him. A 3 car minor crash (more of a fender bender) in the middle lane when the road was 7 or 8 lanes wide. We were sorry for them but very glad we were in front of it and not delayed. I could see the traffic confusion already beginning in my rear view mirror.
Then it was time to check in and go through security and customs and more. Just follow the line and prompts, show the passports many many times within feet of the last time they were shown and eventually we get to board. Every flight was over subscribed so on board luggage space was tight.
Exactly the question we asked.
The best part? When we landed in LA we asked about our bags and where the next gate was, expecting it to be miles away across multiple terminals. "It's right there," pointed the gate attendant and smiled at our shocked faces. We came in at Gate 48A and left from Gate 48B. I am still amazed.
After boarding at 11:30pm on Friday LA time, a 13 hour flight meant we arrived in new Zealand at 8:30am Sunday morning, NZ Time. Saturday was wiped out by the International Date Line.

The end of a great return

That shouldn't be too hard a climb
To complete our trip we decided to go for another trip near Murphy North Carolina to visit the Wagonmaster Adventure Ranch. Unfortunately it was more of a ghost town than an adventure as they were closed after their Spring - Summer - Fall season. On the way back we noticed the Field of the Woods Bible Park entry. I remember looking at this in the Murphy Visitor Centre information so stopped and went back to have a look.
I was wrong - 350 steps wrong. This is the view from the top.
This is basically a bible themed area with a massive ten commandments made in stone/concrete on a very steep hill. The centre has a long series of steps leading to the top tempting visitors to have a "little" climb. So we did.
You can see the photo of children sitting in front of the open book at the top of the stairs. The staff at the gift shop later confirmed there were over 350 steps to the top. Since they were first installed I suspect the ground has shifted as very few of the stairs are the same height or level and some of the hand rails are worn and fallen away. Although this would probably not be considered "work safe" it was worth the climb to the top.
Our wobbly legs whole we wandered through the gift shop were confirmed by the health app on the iPhone saying we had climbed 16 floors.
The children provide scale to the top photo
It certainly felt like it.
Initially we were concerned we missed the Fall changing of the leaves when we saw the lovely green woods and mountains. Yet in two short weeks the whole area was transforming into brilliant yellow, orange and red. The bottom photo shows our final view from the cabin. Compare it to the first view to see the difference.
Compare this to our first view two weeks ago.
So now we begin our journey home with a detour via Auckland, New Zealand. Packing, cleaning, planning followed by rushing, waiting, sitting, queueing, waiting, sitting and more fun.
But it was all worth it.

21 October 2016

Memories of a great butcher

The Butcher in a barn
Not long after we started living in the US a butcher shop - called a Meat Market here - started a short distance away. Coming from a butcher's family we quickly started purchasing our meat from Dan, the butcher who had the time to help us with our weird Australian meat requests.
The cuts of meat are different here so it took a while of mutual discussion working out what we liked from this new selection of cuts. One big difference is we wanted our steaks cut a lot thinner than the standard US inch and thicker cuts.
We popped in to see Dan last week and purchased some meat. He remembered us from so long ago and when we ordered some steaks asked us, "You like your steaks cut thinner don't you?"
Dan and his wife posing for those Australians.
We have had a delightful selection of meats this week to share with our friends. The T Bone and other steaks, Bratwursts and Ground Beef (called Mince in Australia) were all delicious.
It is amazing how the intervening 12 years disappeared so quickly when our favourite places still exist and the people remember us.

20 October 2016

Being a local international tourist

On special - 3 of our Cabbage Patch Kids
We have explored a little further afield over the last few days. Yesterday was to The Cabbage Patch "Hospital" in Cleveland, GA and then Helen, GA, the town that transformed itself into an Austrian Alps themed town.
The Cabbage Patch Hospital is basically a huge themed store with all employees dressed as hospital staff, nurses and doctors pretending that Cabbage Patch Dolls were real and grew from a cabbage patch. The displays were very impressive and it was worth a trip. You could purchase not only dolls, but a wide selection of clothing and accessories, most of which would suit any 18 inch doll. The girls enjoyed the visit very much.
Our next stop was Helen a little way up the road. This town decided to set themselves up as something more than just a nice town in the North Georgia Mountains and decided to upgrade to an Austrian Alpine themed town. This turned out quite successful with lots of craft, food and tourist based businesses.
The streets were well maintained with lots of flowering plants making the place quite pretty. Butterflies were fluttering about everywhere.
Pretty butterflies
We were able to watch the glass-blowers in action creating fine works of art from stems of plain glass. The Fudge and candy store tempted us in with a great scent and we could look in through the window to the small work area where they created their chocolate treats. The sign on the window said "Please don't lick the glass." I can understand the temptation - it all looked very good.
The day's treat was ice cream where we all had the chance to select one or two flavours. Then we had to finish the ice cream in the street as no store allowed food inside (quite reasonably). We also had to visit the public restrooms as Zach tested the efficiency of ice cream styled skin and face conditioner. No photo, but just imagine a brown sticky covering over his face, hands and arms.
After dessert, we went to the back of the parking lot which backed onto the river which trickles through the town and we had our lunch.
BYO Lunch on the river bank
We planned well by bringing the bread, boiled eggs, ham, tomato and lettuce and mayonnaise. It was a delightful way to relax, eating a delightful lunch watching the water trickle along the rocky river bed under the shade of mature trees on a beautiful sunny day.
Today we popped in to Murphy, North Carolina to see what there was to see. The ladies at the Murphy Visitor Centre were very helpful and passed on many pamphlets and directed us to a number of interesting places.
We noticed one interesting object on the sidewalk - A red flag disposal box. It was like a repurposed postal box but specifically designed for people who wished to dispose of their worn or damaged American flags properly. This shows a great respect for the American Flag and we were impressed at this obvious service to the organisation's patriotism. Much as we ensure objects which we venerate and which represent holy or worthy things should be disposed of appropriately, this simple mechanism allows the honourable American Flag to be disposed of in the correct manner.
Practical respect for the Flag.
Once more we can recommend any visitor to the US to visit places off the more common tourist trails, especially in the North Georgia and surrounding areas. We have always had extremely helpful and friendly encounters with locals, both in retail settings and just in public places like parks and on the street. To any of our US friends reading this you can be proud of all your fellow citizens. Thanks for the hospitality.

18 October 2016

It's called Fall for a reason

Almost there. Oh the wind blew more. Sigh.
We have timed our trip to North Georgia very well. It is Autumn, which means the leaves are rapidly changing colour. When we arrived, the trees were all green and we sadly thought we would miss the changing of the leaves.
Wrong. The season is called Fall here for a reason. Almost as we watch, the leaves are changing colour and every time a small wind blows, there is a rain of leaves slowly clattering through the branches to a leaf filled ground.
We have discussed leaves before here and here.
To make it safer for us to drive up the driveway Martin, with help from Rose and myself, swept away the bulk of the leaves. Naturally, as we clear a patch more leaves slowly drift down behind us, but the bulk are now cleared making it safer to drive in.
So what does one do with a pile of freshly swept leaves?
One could jump in the pile, throw them in the air or kick them around. But this is a photo opportunity, just like it was with Clare and Ariel when Clare was little in Georgia.
The photos here took a lot of tries. It seemed all a great idea until a few stray acorns and hickory nuts joined the nice soft leaves and bonked the children on the head and shoulders.
It's all fun until the nuts fall.
Of course we laughed.
Once the first bucket was emptied we looked at the photos and they weren't good enough.
"Again!" I declared and so we gave it a second go.
Much better.
Once we had used half the bin full of leaves I yelled out, "Dump the rest!" and the children were covered with a ton of leaves.
Fun in the Fall.
The final dump of leaves

A day off, loitering around the cabin

Well that should scare the neighbours
One of the best ideas we had for this trip was hiring a cabin in the mountains. For the number of people in our group and the convenience of having a fully furnished house and kitchen, the price was great value.
We have room to lounge about, invite friends over, cook our own breakfast and dinner, freeze and refrigerate a variety of foods and go exploring and bring home what we have found.
When we had friends over to share a lovely roast beef dinner (and Tim Tam Slams for dessert) and they thoughtfully brought some large carving pumpkins and a pumpkin carving kit.
Now that is an experience we would not have been able to perform at your typical hotel!
Nice Bamboo. What are you going to do with it?
Today we are having a day at home, allowing us to recharge our batteries and just rest (and write blog posts). The boys decided to go for a wander and check out a bamboo patch they had seen on the way in. A short while later we saw them return with a couple of bamboo poles on their shoulders.
"What are you going to do with those?" I asked.
"I dunno," replied Peter, "I'll think of something."
They are out back doing that thinking (with the sounds of cutting and hacking) at the moment while I write this.
We had a home made breakfast of bacon and eggs, some had fresh made pancakes and others some cereal.
Around us the trees are changing colour almost as we watch. The children are spotting squirrels and Clare saw a Bluebird this morning.
We have mastered the art of every faucet using a different combination of twists, pulls and turns to work.
Carving Pumpkins. Try this at a hotel.
The light and power mysteries have been unravelled after the electricians appear to have pondered how to make each light and power switch with a slightly different placement and pairing. This is all part of the adventure of staying in a new place.

Punkin Chunkin Festival in Brasstown NC

The Hurlers of Pumpkins arrayed in glory
On Saturday we attended the 8th Annual Punkin Chunkin Festival in Brasstown North Carolina. We had seen a small sign near a bank in Blairsville and thought that might be fun. We figured it would be a typical festival with crafts and foods.
Imagine our delight when we realised this festival also included a variety of machines competing to throw a pumpkin as far as possible into the fields!
While perusing the craft and food stalls before the flinging began we overheard the excellent fellow on the microphone interview various visitors and demonstrators as well as promote the activities that were occurring.
At one point he announced he had a visitor from South Africa which he was sure was the visitor who had travelled the furthest. "Not so fast," we thought and wandered over to the flinging machines area to have a look, as that was where he was based.

Martin scales the inflated mountain
 As we were chatting with the various groups responsible for each of the machines specially designed for chucking pumpkins as far as possible I could sense he was edging closer to us.
"Do I detect an accent here?" he asked.
"Yes," I replied, "Australian."
"Excellent," he said as he came closer with his microphone.
"Where are y'all from?" he asked.
"We're visiting from Australia," I answered.
"You definitely get the longest travel award today! What brings you here? Have you been here before?"
"We used to work here about 12 years ago and my daughter was born here," I answered pointed at Rose, "We have been to Possum Drop before, which was fun."
He then explained to the listeners what a fine event the Possum Drop New Year's Eve event was and then turned to Rose.
"What do you think of America?"
"Well," answered Rose, "You all talk funny."
The MC stopped, about to burst out laughing but controlled himself and continued, "Well, I guess we do."
It was a fun interview.

Blue Tongued Cotton Candy girls
We tried Cotton Candy (which we call fairy floss), bought a really tasty home made Pumpkin roll cake and perused the craft stalls until the time came for the Punkin Chunkin to begin.
Many of these machines of pumpkin destruction have been built, maintained and upgraded over many years. There are even national championships held too!
After the first round of firing we left to prepare for friends to visit at our cabin. This was a great day.

Of interest is sun strength. The day was excellent with some patchy clouds and temperatures of 80+F (27C) and the sun shining strongly. We were concerned we would go bright red with sunburn as we would have on a similar day at home. But all we had was a slight red shade and no sun burn. In Australia everyone is encouraged to wear a hat. All school children have to wear a hat when they play outside and sunscreen is close to a necessity during Summer. At an event like the festival we would have seen 80% to 90% of participants wearing hats with brims with the rest either caps or rarely no head covering at all.
At the festival here maybe 10% to 20% had a cap or similar with the majority wearing no head covering at all.
It was an interesting comparison.

Been there. Got the T-shirt.

How to do a Tim Tam Slam

Look! They're in the US.
A special treat we have been sharing with our American friends are the Australian biscuit (cookie) Tim Tam. This is a milk chocolate covered cream filled malt cookie sandwich. It is great on its own but its special qualities of real milk chocolate and meltiness make it perfect for a special activity.
The Tim Tam Slam.
The basic steps are to have a delightful hot drink of coffee, hot chocolate or tea in front of you. Then take a small bite out of opposite corners of the Tim Tam. Then, using the Tim Tam as a straw, suck up your drink through the Tim Tam "straw".
A gooey, sticky, chocolatey mess. Yum!
This process quickly melts the chocolatey cream filling as well as the chocolate on the outside.  Quickly, before the biscuit (cookie) falls apart, you shove the slowly disintegrating taste sensation into your mouth.
And a little messy as you lick your fingers so as not to waste any of the chocolate.

Now normally this would be a rare treat in the US as Tim Tams are uniquely Australian. You can imagine the excitement when we discovered that Tim Tams are now available in Walmart Supercenters!
Drink the coffee through the Tim Tam Straw

Father and Son teams are OK too.
We transported across the planet a special cooler bag with eight packets of Tim Tams to share with our friends. These were carefully carried through customs and scanning at each airport and stored in safe places on the airplanes. These 8 packets of goodness were unveiled with ceremony as we shared them with our friends.

Next time we'll just get them from Walmart.
Go to Aisle A.19. Don't walk.

16 October 2016

There's something for everyone - Part 2

A store and a hunting museum
A contrast to the American Girls store was Cabela's. This is an extremely large hunting, fishing, camping, outdoors store which is famous for their range and their store displays of a wide range of stuffed animals. This store even had a huge aquarium filled with a variety of local fish.
We all enjoyed quite a long time at this store with Peter getting "snake" boots for his walking trips, Clare found some engraved cowgirl boots on special and the others found various other items they "needed".
The staff were very helpful and interested to hear our accents, once more revealing our lack of local-ness.

A mountain of stuffed animals

A deer fighting attacking wolves

I like this hat

There's something for everyone - Part 1

Two very excited girls
We braved driving in the outskirts of Atlanta a couple of days ago primarily for some Australian Bread and goodies, but also for some special shops. Clare has been making very good clothes for her 18 inch dolls for some time and was very excited we were going to the home of the American Girl dolls and stores.
I had no choice but to visit the American Girl store in Northpoint Mall, a huge mall/shopping mega complex. Clare and Rose have been saving their money from working in our store for some time so they could purchase all the special clothes and accessories for their dolls. While the girls all had a good look around the store, Peter, Zach and I went for a wander and browsed in the other stores in the mall.
By the time we returned the girls had a rather large bag full of goodies waiting for me to do my job - paying for it. I would transfer the money from their accounts in due course but now I had to get the store to accept my cards which were failing because they were Australian. Finally one of my cards worked and the girls were happily looking through their prizes.
Two less than excited boys

14 October 2016

Meeks Park is a treasure

And that means you!
Meeks Park is the main recreation park maintained and developed by Union County. It has sports fields (mainly baseball), playgrounds, walks, bridges and more.
The park is a credit to Union County. We enjoyed a picnic lunch there today, followed by a walk along the creek, listening to the leaves dropping and caught sight of a squirrel sprinting from tree to tree. We have already tested out the playground a number of times and met some old friends there who normally aren't there at that time of day. Our meeting was obviously meant to be.
The sign on the baseball field fence was interesting.
Does this mean that the Union County Recreation Department staff actively look for anyone who may be tolerant and tells them in no uncertain terms, "Stop being tolerant!"? Perhaps I'm reading the sign wrong?

Enjoying the cool walk by the creek.
The Sorghum Festival was held in the large open area of Meeks Park and will be replayed again this weekend. This park is a great resource we have truly appreciated.

Treasure Trove of historic games

"Wow! These are so old."
The children have discovered a box of old Super Nintendo games in our cabin which belong to the Super Nintendo system connected to an old small TV.
"Look at these Dad! They're so old!"
I remember these when I was a child so I suppose it does make it old-ish, but I wish they did not place so much emphasis on the "old" part.
So as part of a lazy start to the day the children were enjoying some classic (now that sounds better than old) games including:

  • Super Mario World
  • Super Punch Out
  • F-Zero
  • Kawasaki Super Bike
  • Chuck Rock
  • and quite a few others.

Their vote for the best one? Super Mario World.

13 October 2016

How to get a taste of Australia in Georgia

Yum. Vegemite served correctly.
It hasn't even been a week yet but we have realised one important thing. While there has been little change in Blairsville, one major change is the quality of the takeaway food.
We have tested a number of outlets with which we had eaten in the past and we will no longer go there again for food. Tiny buns, contents of unknown origin and quality, lackluster presentation are a sad state of affairs.
Today we remedied some of that by travelling to Marietta in the northern outskirts of Atlanta to the Australian Bakery Cafe. They were in business when we lived here 12 years ago and the owner remembered us when we visited today. We pre-arranged for eight loaves of Australian bread and while we were there we bought 16 meat pies and a selection of great cakes to share with friends.
Once everyone had settled in and gone to bed, we sliced some bread, toasted it to the right level of brown so it was crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle.
Real Australian bread, pies and cakes
Then we used real butter to spread on the toast, melting in the process.
Lastly we spread a very thin scraping of Vegemite on the toast.
MMM-mmm. That hits the spot.
(The Australian Bakery Cafe also sells Vegemite and other Australian lollies and chocolates.)

12 October 2016

It's the little things ...

"Captain! We may have taken a wrong turn ..."
It's the little things that sometimes confuse the children.

  1. Light switches flip UP to turn on (in Australia it is down)
  2. The water level in the toilet bowl is quite high and there is only one button to replace the lot. We have seen some two stage buttons but there are still high water levels.
  3. The toilet seat is lower. In public toilets the gap at the bottom of partitions is higher. Very odd.
  4. Power points are always ON resulting in them looking like shocked faces. In Australia every power pint has a corresponding ON/OFF switch.
  5. Squirrels are cool. Just saying.
  6. Paths near oak trees have lots of acorns and other seeds on the ground looking just like animal droppings. That ensures we walk quite carefully.
We're still enjoying our daily discoveries.

Already in the news...

We win the "Travelled furthest to attend" award.
While we were waiting for the parade to start I was standing there with my SLR camera in my hands and I saw another fellow with his camera. We nodded to each other with that professional camaraderie type of nod and he asked me, "Taking photos today?"
I replied, "We're taking photos for friends back home."
I don't know how, but just saying this was enough for him to somehow guess we weren't from around here. :-)
He then asked if we wanted to be in the paper and we said, "Sure."
So we had a little interview and he took a photo. Sure enough, there we were mentioned in the paper but our photo missed out. Pretty funny though.
We have been visiting lots of different stores and other outlets as well as church and people are starting to recognise us and compare notes. One of our friends posted some photos of us and one of her friends commented that he saw us on the Sorghum Festival shuttle bus. It seems our accent and five children make us stand out for some reason.

Dairy Queen said we should "Try them all".

"Try them all," they said ...
Dairy Queen is famous for their desserts and as a Fast Food restaurant they are great for Desserts.
Their "Blizzard" dessert is what McDonalds tried to emulate with their MacFlurry. They are not even close.
The Blizzard is claimed to be very solid so all staff are trained to announce the flavour of the Blizzard being served and then tip it upside down to show it is as solid as promised.
But how does one know which flavour suits your tastes?
We came in and said, "Gedday. We need to get a small serve of each of your Blizzards - except for the peanut butter one."
The girl serving us smiled with an unsure smile and paused, so I continued, listing each of the flavours. She still didn't proceed and suggested her manager take the order.

So we did.
The manager remembered us from yesterday when she laughed at our orders - it must have been the accent or something and our unusual questions as to what some of the items were.
We told her we would like one of everything and she said, "Sure!" and we entered each flavour in.
The first girl's jaw dropped and she said, "I thought they were joking!"
"Nope," I said, "Your sign says we had to try them all so I am just doing what was asked."

The winning flavours?
Banana Split was winner with its fresh strawberries and bananas mixed in with the ice cream. Yum.
Runners-up were Apple Pie and Cookie Dough with honourable mentions going to Pumpkin Pie, Salted Caramel, Chocolate Extreme and Royal New York Cheesecake.

We will have to go back a time or two just to check if they are just as nice next time.

Days 2 Discoveries

Everything is an iThing here.

Everyone enjoyed shooting
We have been going over some more memories of our Sorghum Festival day and posting a few more photos. Peter was amazed when discussing guns with one of our friends that he could get one for only $20. Sure, it wouldn't have been a great gun, but it would have worked and been fine.
In Australia guns are neither overly feared nor desired but largely ignored in every day life. The bulk of Australians are "city folk" for whom guns have little interest as we do not have a high level of gun based crimes. A gun based robbery, or murder still makes the news because it is unusual and not just background noise as it seems to be in many parts of the US.
The festival presented the opportunity for the children to fire some BB guns and we were very grateful for the opportunity. The rough summary of the experience by the children was "Awesome".

Summary of our discoveries on day two:

Clare: Padded kneelers and seats. The church to which we were very warmly welcomed back has cushioned kneelers and chairs. This is in sharp contrast to the typical plain wooden seats and kneelers at home. I reckon you could easily pray and remain in adoration for much longer here!
Peter: Flags everywhere. Australians are very patriotic but much more laid back about it. It is great to see so many people loving their country and letting everyone know about it.
Rose: Very warm welcome at Mass. Lots of smiles and hugs once people recognised us from so long ago. Part of the beginning of Mass involves having all visitors stand so they can be recognised and after Mass are greeted. It is a good idea to ensure that newcomers are greeted and not forgotten. As an extra, Father at the end of Mass announced to the church, "Welcome back to the Bruggies who have returned to us from Australia."
Peter was pretty accurate

This shot woke everyone up!
Zach: It's fun.
Martin: Made new friends. Rose, Martin and Zach played with one of the children from Mass and had a great time climbing all over the playground at Church.
Lana: Blairsville is bigger than our village, but everyone knows everyone else. A 12 year gap disappears quickly. We are finding that once we start with "Hello" somehow we are recognised as "Not from 'round here", a great smile breaks out and conversations begin. My voice is already starting to get a little rough from our frequent conversations.

10 October 2016

Day 1 discoveries

In front of the old town hall.
Here are the things everyone learned from yesterday's adventures:
Peter: Parades are great things. They are much less common in Australia and they certainly don’t throw out unregulated lollies to the crowd at random. The marching band was good to see in person after seeing that type of thing only in movies before.
Martin: It was good to meet new friends and play at their house and the parade was fun- especially getting the lollies.
Zach: People speak different and Mum is on the wrong side of the car and we drive on the wrong side of the road.
Rose: The people’s different wording is a little confusing. For example,  Lemonade is actually lemon drink so we have to ask for clear fizzy or Sprite. They also say “Y’all” a lot. And we are not used to so much ice in drinks.
Clare: The translation is sometimes difficult to work with. We were playing games wth our friends and they called a game one thing which we called another. For example, the game we call “Spit” they call “Snap”, while our “Snap” game is quite different.
Lana: I had to re-learn the right way to ask for things. We had it all down to a fine art, but that was 12 years ago.

9 October 2016

Good Morning Blairvsille

What a glorious morning view
We are up and getting ready for Mass. This is the view from our cabin balcony looking across the forest of trees slowly changing colour to the not so distant mountains.
It was great sleeping in real beds where the night was quiet and dark - just like home.
Once each head lay on an appropriate pillow sleep struck instantly.
Now for another day's adventures.

Of Parades and free candy

This was the highlight of the parade
Today we picked up our vehicle and we braved Georgia driving on the wrong (right) side of the road. "Keep Right. Keep Right. Keep Right" is a mantra that works well. It's just a pity the windscreen wipers keep going on every time I indicate/use the blinkers!
Our first port of call was dropping in to our cabin (which is marvellous - more later) and then the Blairsville Sorghum Festival Parade. This festival has been going for over 40 years and the crowds eagerly gathered along the route well before hand. The children got to the front and waited with buckets or bags.
We had made friends with the owner of one of the local restaurants and she kindly explained to the children how to get the most candy once the distribution began. The parade was led by the Sheriff who, like every other vehicle in the parade, distributed candy by throwing it out to the crowd. Not surprisingly this went over extremely well.
Everyone was involved including Sheriff and Fire and Rescue
All the local politicians joined in
Initially Zach was reserved and stayed back. Then he noticed what the other children were doing and worked out the system and turned into a seagull: "Mine! Mine! Mine!" he said as he gathered stray candy and placed it in our shared bag. This collected loot provided a great source for our special lolly/candy tasting session where we would test each lolly to score a family approval rating. Quite a few lollies get the seal of approval from all of the children!
After the parade passed many spectators walked across to the nearest point the parade would pass again hoping to get a second chance for more candy. We popped across to the restaurant and then the local cell phone store to get some SIM cards for our phones. Yay! We are reconnected back to the wider world. Most importantly, our GPS and mapping are working and we can find our way around much easier.
And we can catch some Pokemons. :-)
Then we went to the actual Sorghum Festival. When we were last here it was held in an old fort but the festival has outgrown the fort and it now takes place in the county park. The park is a great place for playing and exploring with playgrounds, walks, a creek and more.
Today it was filled with stalls displaying a wide variety of impressive local arts , crafts and produce as well as exhibits and entertainment.
There was a beautifully decorated bridge across to the old grits mill which is still operating.
Across the bridge lay the Grits Mill
Grits are fine ground corn and from our experience are tasteless until one adds either salty or sweet additives such as butter or syrup or cheese. There are also many recipes and preparation methods handed down across the generations making grits a base for many a meal, typically breakfast.
The Sorghum processing plant was also operating. As Sorghum contains sugar it has been used as a sweetener for many years. Sorghum Syrup is very tasty and we purchased a few bottles to bring home to remind us of the unique sweet-ish, sort of malty flavour different to the Golden Syrup we are used to.
We had quite a busy day again, pushing through the lurking jet lag to have a full day. The children fell asleep pretty quickly once we returned home to the cabin. We are setting up a special daily review with the children each morning to tell us what they learned about the USA.
The Wheel Of Grits. Bom bom bom. (dramatic music)