Bits and Pieces

Lisa and I are wrapping up our time here in Georgia with just a little more than one week left of her assignment in Riverdale.  We will leave here on Saturday March 1st and go home (unless our next assignment takes us elsewhere).  Here are some odds and ends to share – thanks for reading!

It don’t come easy.  It is the most exciting and stressful part of traveling with Lisa’s job – the end of one assignment and the anticipation of the next.  As of today (2/20/14) we do not know when or where that next job will take us, but we are both excited for this one to end.  It has not been an easy one and we are glad winter is winding down and we can move on.  We have both concluded that living in an RV during winter weather is just not good.  These things are just not made for cold weather – I don’t care what they say.  We have battled the freezing temperatures and two freakish Georgia snow storms and are officially ready for it all to end.  Realizing many across the country had much worse weather than we experienced here in Georgia makes it almost embarrassing to complain about the two relatively mild snow storms we endured.  But Atlanta and the south in general is just not capable of handling snow and ice and so it shut down everything.  And the daily monitoring of our water lines, propane, road conditions and food supply has grown very old – very fast.  I will take the desert over these conditions any day.

Admiration.  During the winter storms here in Georgia the mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed, and the Governor of Georgia, Nathan Deal, shared most of the spotlight and most of the blame for the poor handling of the situation.  I have come to admire both of these men due to the fact that they never made excuses for their mistakes and continued to be visible for the people to take their shots.  In the end, the second storm was handled tremendously and they did just what they said – learned from their mistakes the first time.  Isn’t that about all one can ask of our officials?  Too bad some in Washington have not learned that lesson.

Hiking Stone Mountain.  It is impossible to drive through Stone Mountain Park and not see people jogging, biking or hiking the miles and miles of paths and roadways found here.  For the serious bikers – I recommend coming here for a weekend and try out the many roadways found here in the park.  The steep hills and curves may demand more skillful riding than some may be ready for – but if you are up for the challenge I recommend loading up your bikes and booking a room at the “Marriot Evergreen”.  The hills also can present quite a challenge for joggers and walkers and the scenery is magnificent.

This past week I journeyed out on foot toward the main tourist area of the park and found myself at the base of the walking trail up the mountain.  I had not anticipated taking the one mile trek to the top of the granite mountain – but could not pass up the opportunity.  The trek is not bad as far as footing but it is a one mile steep incline to the top that required me to take a few stops along the way to catch my breath.  People young and old were on the journey with me and I was glad that most of the trip was in heavy shaded areas.  Finally – after a stop for lunch – I began the final two hundred yard ascent which was the steepest and most strenuous of the trip.  Rails are provided to actually hold onto during the final climb and I took full advantage of them as I paused and looked back at the Atlanta skyline miles and miles below.  It was breathtaking in more ways than one.  Finally I made it to the top and decided to forego the return climb down opting instead to pay the five dollars to ride the sky tram back.  It was an exhausting trip but a good one.  I now stand here at the campground and look up at that bald rock and say – “I climbed that”.  I mean I know it isn’t Everest – but still, I did it.

Blacksmithing.  Not too far from our campground is an area of Stone Mountain called “Stone Mountain Village”.  There you will find a number of little shops and diners that make for a nice morning or afternoon activity.  During one of our visits to the area, Lisa and I walked into an art store called, “Ironhawk Forge”.  While looking around we met the owner and resident artist, Michael Labbe-Webb.  During our conversation he mentioned that he offered classes in blacksmithing and I told him I would be interested.  With Lisa’s encouragement – I signed up for a one on one class for the next week.  The one hundred-dollar fee for a two-hour session would provide me all the basic information to do blacksmithing at home.  Okay – maybe I will become a blacksmith.

The class began with some safety instructions and I thought I may be in trouble when Michael explained what I should do if I get burned and how to use a fire extinguisher.  “Hey Lisa! Keep the truck running!”  Next it was an overview of all the different tools and their names including the many uses of an anvil.  I now want an anvil for Christmas – how weird is that?  Michael also showed me how to make a homemade forge using nothing more than a stainless steel pot and a propane torch.  Very cool (or hot – I should say).

Finally I was allowed to place some steel in the forge and start hammering.  I never would have thought that hammering on hot steel required a certain touch and advanced skill – but, trust me, it does.  I was just not very good at it.  The skill comes in not only how you move the steel around the anvil while you hammer – but how you hammer.  Michael could see that I was wearing myself out and explained that the hammer should bounce off the anvil and that I should work on just using my hand and not my entire arm.  “Hey Lisa!  Get the Icy-Hot Ready!”

By the end of the class, I had managed to hammer a round rod into a flat rod and create a heart-shaped Valentine gift that could be used as a paper weight.  I felt like a grade school kid showing mom what I made in shop when I presented my creations to Lisa.  “You did such a good job, Steve!  Your wife is so proud.  How about some ice cream?”

Yep! I’m a blacksmith now.

See you soon and very soon!  Steve and Lisa


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