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No Photos on Our Georgia Trip

At the beginning of February, we visited family in Georgia and we had plans of exploring some of the area surrounding Canton and the northern part of the state. Unfortunately, due to both of us getting sick with really nasty colds while there, I didn't get any drives that yielded any photos (sad face). In fact, my camera sat still, except for one attempt, through our entire visit. The good thing was that my husband was able to put his barbecuing chops to work

Photo of blossoms of flame azalea (Rhododendron calendulaceum)
Flame azalea (Rhododendron caelndulaceum) grows wild in Georgia

before he got sick. He smoked up some wonderful ribs and pork roast for all as we enjoyed the generous hospitality of our niece and her family. So, because I got skunked for photos this trip, I decided to post some of the photos from our previous, pre-pandemic trip to Georgia.

We'd visited in the springtime on the earlier trip, so everything was green and lush, and we

Photo of Amicalola Falls from a viewpoint near the bottom
A portion of the waterfall from near its bottom

got to do a little exploring -- one side trip was to Amicalola Falls, near Dawsonville in the northern part of the state. Amicalola comes

Photo of the stairs leading to the top of Amicalola Falls, Georgia, USA
Stairs to the top of Amicalola Falls

from a Cherokee word meaning "tumbling waters," and it fits this 729-foot waterfall; it's the third highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River and the highest in Georgia.

Having grown up in the West, I'm really not used to how much vegetation there is in the East. The thick hardwood forests we saw on our visits to Georgia and New York were eye-opening to this girl who grew up in "Big Sky Country" and is used to being able to see for miles in almost any direction. I'm definitely much more comfortable with a viewshed that's wide open. I do love forests, but the forests I feel most happy in have lots of evergreens interspersed

Photo of the top of Amicalola Falls in Georgia, USA
Looking down from the top of Amicalola Falls, Georgia

with meadows and open glades. The forests in Georgia with their majority of leafy deciduous trees felt constricting. I do wish I'd gotten photos from this recent trip since the shapes of the leafless, winter trees were quite fascinating and photogenic.

One of the fun interactions that kept us engrossed for nearly half an hour during the previous trip was between a common watersnake and an American toad; we saw them in a pool at the

Photo of a common watersnake (Nerodia sipedon) swimming
Common watersnake (Nerodia sipedon) in its habitat

base of the waterfall near  the park's visitor center. We watched the snake swim from the far side of the pool and work its way ever nearer to the toad on its log, coming within three feet of it. During the entire time, the toad remained frozen in place. In fact, it didn't move until the snake swam out of sight.

Photo of an American toad (Anaxyrus americanus) on a dead log in a pond
American toad (Anaxyrus americanus)

Looking up the swimming snake was educational because my first question was whether it could be a cottonmouth (also called water moccasin because they're semi-aquatic). However, this snake's eyes have round pupils, not slitted, indicating it is non-venomous. Common watersnakes are native in the eastern US, and even as far west as eastern Colorado, along the South Platte and Arkansas rivers. From my research, I found that this individual is likely young to middle-aged as they darken to nearly black as they get older. Besides hunting by scent, they're also sight-hunters, which explained why the toad remained absolutely still.

The American toad is another native to the eastern US, although in Georgia they're only found in the northern part of the state, with range maps showing their occurrences as pretty much from Augusta and north. That puts Amicalola Falls right in the middle of their Georgia range.

Photo of the back of a sweet white trillium flower (Trillium simile)
Sweet white trillium (Trillium simile) being shy

As far as flowers we saw, the sweet white trillium (also known as jeweled wakerobin), is found only in Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee, and it's relatively rare even then. The pretty white "flowers" on this plant actually behave more like leaves in that they photosynthesize. The other flowers pictured above, the flame azalea, are an additional Georgia native. When we lived in southern Oregon, I loved seeing the azaleas bloom, but they were shades of pink or white, not this gorgeous yellow and pink. And the azalea shrubs in Georgia seemed far larger than what I remembered from Oregon.

Photo of a portion of the Japanese garden at Gibbs Gardens, Georgia
Portion of the Japanese garden at Gibbs Gardens, Georgia

A separate jaunt on that springtime trip was to Gibbs Gardens near Ball Ground. We missed the daffodil season, which is apparently one of the premier times to visit; however, we didn't feel deprived because there were so many things to see. I'm not partial to highly structured gardens, but most of my photos were of the Japanese garden section. It may have appealed to a sense of calm that is often a hallmark of Japanese garden design.

Photo of a sculpture of a child and geese at Gibbs Gardens, Georgia, USA
Sculpture of child and geese, Gibbs Gardens, Georgia

We saw more than a dozen different sculptures in various areas of the garden, including a dynamically interacting heron pair. However, I was particularly drawn to this whimsical, life-sized figure of a child chasing geese and took several photographs of it.

Finally, there was this random rock I found on the Gibbs Gardens grounds that presents a beautiful and intriguing history in its concentric rings of erosion. I know far too little about the

Photo of an eroded sedimentary stone found at Gibbs Gardens, Georgia, USA
Eroded sedimentary stone, Georgia

processes and timelines involved that would create this type of pattern. I did learn that the region of Georgia that includes the town of Ball Ground is part of the Piedmont Plateau but is only just barely south of the Blue Ridge geologic region. The geology map of Georgia becomes super interesting and amazingly colorful with differing zones starting just north of Atlanta. This particular rock made me wish for about a hundred years to just study geology!

You know, for a post that started with no photos, this became more than usually long-winded. I hope it wasn't boring. Don't forget to click on any image to see it larger.

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