Category Archives: Lifestyle

Friday Thoughts – November Rain

Not Even Cold November Rain

Maybe it’s the weather or maybe it’s due to dwelling on the current domestic challenges but whatever it is, it has me in a bit of a funk.  Might as well write about the rain.  November ended the drought and wildfires of the past few weeks with a blaze of glory.  Heavy rains with tornadoes in some areas ended a 66 day stretch of dryness.

In a way, I almost feel like my personal life needs a tornado to blow through and kick things up.  The routine is wearing a bit thin.  Granted, I’m being extra complain-y for someone that just got to go out hiking last week. but it’s deeper than a day trip is going to fix.

I was not cut out to be a housewife (no offense to housewives, totally tongue-in-cheek self-deprecating humor here).

The Job Thing

I feel like I’ve been constantly behind the curve for the month.  We’re reaching crunch time before the year end freeze and I only have two weeks left to make some key deliverables.  It really bothers me that personal life has impacted my business life.  I’m somewhat competitive in the workplace and have not been on my A game.

I’m going to focus on spending more days in the office in December (even though I hate intentionally commuting).  Hopefully this will help break the cycle and some of the assumptions about the domestic items that I should be able to accomplish during the work day.

Yeah, sometimes working from home sucks.

Let’s Focus on the Positive

There are a few things going in the right direction. So I can’t be completely grumpy.  First of all, after the year-end freeze starts at work I’ll be able to take some time off.  Right now I’m planning at least the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

During the break, I’ve already made plans to meet up with some friends in Nashville to catch the Predators game against the Blackhawks.  It’s been a couple of years since I’ve made it to an NHL game so I’m really looking forward to it.  I’ll probably fly this one solo so I can’t get some ‘me’ time as well.

Share Granted

Today another RSU grant vested.  The tax withholding shares weren’t quite as drastic as I expected so we got a little bit more than originally anticipated.  This will give us around $4500 dollars to allocate in the following way:

  • 20% to Savings Account
  • 20% to my IRA
  • 20% to Mrs. CB3’s IRA
  • 20% to 529 plan
  • 20% to Charitable donations

We’ll be having a family meeting Sunday night with the kids to discuss which Charitable organizations that we want to support.  I really want to make sure the children are part of this process.

New Focus on Investing

Another positive from the week was a suggestion to check out Bigger Pockets to assist with my research into Real Estate Investing.  What a wealth of information!  I’ve only just started to scratch the surface.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be working on more research as well as putting together an investing (business) plan for this area.  I also need to revisit my investing plan for stocks and update that as necessary.  Most of my money is managed in that arena, but I do dabble a bit.

Focus on the Magic

The last bit that I’ll leave this week is about the magic of the holidays.  My daughter is nine this year and it occurred to me that there will probably come a time soon when a certain truth comes to light for her.  Whether it’s from her peers or because she sneaks around and makes a discovery like I did, I know the time will come.

It’s interesting to think back to before I had children.  I never thought that I wanted to participate in such a deception.  I used to think it was a silly thing to do.

Now I realize how important it is for children to be able to have that kind of magic in their lives.  I wish we as adults were able to hang onto that and still have it in ours.  It’s unfortunate that it comes to an end and we allow ourselves to be consumed by the dictum of society to conform.

We need more magic in this world.img_20161202_131017997img_20161202_131017997How will you add a little magic?



Opting Outside – Black Friday Hike to DeSoto Falls

It’s That Time of the Year

The media and my inbox light up like a Christmas Tree with a constant stream of promotions and sales ads.  It’s a time of celebration with family as well as the lure of amazing deals.  I’m very lucky in the fact that I can safely ignore most of the Mayhem and spend my time outside with the family.

I read an interesting post from Penny at that reminds me to balance any criticism I may have otherwise had regarding those that participate in Black Friday.  I do realize that I am operating from a position of privilege in being able to ignore it.

With that said, we took the opportunity to hike to DeSoto Falls in North Georgia.

The Location
Courtesy: Google Maps

As I mentioned in my post Friday Thoughts – Pre-Holiday 2016 Edition, portions of N. Georgia, W. North Carolina, and E. Tennessee have had issues with wildfires.  We wanted to get up into the mountains but needed to pick an area that would be relatively free from the side effects of those fires.

We chose the DeSoto Falls area for a couple of reasons.  First, it’s just a little over an hour from the house.  I didn’t want the children to spend more time riding in the car than hiking.  Second, it’s a short enough hike that the children can handle it but long enough (around 2 miles round trip) that the adults will get something out of it.  Finally, it’s close to Dahlonega where we can stop in for dinner when we’re through and enjoy a little mountain town action (even if it was a little over-touristy that evening).

The Hike

It turned out to be a beautiful afternoon for getting outside and hiking.  The weather was warm enough that we really didn’t need jackets.  We started out on the quarter mile hike to the lower waterfall first.

Hiking to Lower DeSoto Falls

On the way up, I was trying to use one of those gestures to start the camera on my phone and ended up throwing it on the ground.  That’s the first time I’ve ever cracked the screen on a device and luckily it’s only a single crack along the bottom.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to see at the lower falls due to the conditions.  It was barely a trickle.

Lower DeSoto Falls
Lower DeSoto Falls – Just a Trickle

The hike to the upper took a little longer since it’s a three quarter mile trail.  The youngest started complaining about his legs being tired with less than a tenth of a mile left before we got there.  He made it OK and enjoyed being silly for some family photos.  Interestingly enough, after having a snack we didn’t hear any complaints on the way back to the car.

The Effects of Drought

The Southeast US has been very short on rainfall the past couple of months.  In our area, we hadn’t had rain in 66 days until yesterday (Thank You Nature!).  The effects of the drought were immediately obvious when we arrived at the lower falls.

When we got home, I compared photos from our last trip in May, 2014.  You can see the difference.

Lower DeSoto Falls – May, 2014

Here is a shot of the upper falls from 2014

Upper DeSoto Falls – May, 2014
A Little Bit of Peace

Despite the low water levels, we were able to get out and enjoy the day.  The area wasn’t too crowded and I was able to capture a little bit of waterfall video.  The sound of falling water is always meditative for me.  Good for the soul.




Friday Thoughts – Thanksgiving 2016

And We Were Thankful

Yesterday was Thanksgiving in the US.  Today, I’m not going to spend a lot of time writing but I wanted to take a minute to talk about some of the things for which I am thankful.  Today, we’re going to continue the tradition of not participating in Black Friday and #OptOutside.

wp-1480083509556.jpgFor Family

My brother was able to fly in from Kansas again this year to spend the extended weekend and celebrate.  After dinner yesterday, my wife took the children over to a neighbor’s house for an evening playdate and wine time.

Uncle P and I were able to resurrect and old Thanksgiving tradition and hit an evening movie.  Dr. Strange was everything I had expected.  Marvel Studios nailed it again.

I am Thankful.

 For Yhprum’s Law

Sometimes things work out better than expected.  As I mentioned previously, we have some repairs that need to be done to the house.  It’s going to be expensive (~$10k).  We decided that the best way to fund this operation was through an equity line since I will be able to pay it off in Feb.

As part of the application for the loan, an appraisal was done on the house.  Based on the increase in value, I realized that my LTV had now dropped below 80%.  I immediately called the credit union and requested a cancellation of PMI!  Seven months early!  Balance has been restored.

I am Thankful.

For the Trail

Today, we’re going to get out and go hiking.  I’m still not sure where we’ll go.  We have to take a look at the trails we like and the Air Quality Index for the area.  Even if we just end up at the local city park, it will be worth it to be outdoors for a bit.

It looks like the weather will be beautiful today.

I am Thankful.

Get Outside!

I hope everyone has a rewarding day if you have the day off.  Get out and enjoy nature if you can.  What kind of places do you enjoy?



Friday Thoughts – Election Week 2016

What a Week

Well this has definitely been a draining week for a lot of reasons.  I’m currently sitting in a coffee shop sipping a $6 coffee and trying to compose my thoughts.  Yeah, I went there.  Spent the money and it feels good.  I just had to get out of the house today and break the routine.  Work from home productivity hit a low this week and it was time to shake things up.

wp-1478877835533.jpgHere’s where we are…

The Election

Honestly, this didn’t go the way I expected in the front of my brain, but in a way the back of my head knew it would.  Let me explain.  My current life is that of a tech worker for a silicon valley company.  It’s a very intellectual world and influences the way I view the world.  I’ve read lot of posts about echo chambers and confirmation bias and I can say I think it’s true.  I’m guilty.

This hasn’t always been my life though.  I grew up (junior high/high school) in rural East Tennessee.  I still know some of the people there even though I don’t see them often.  I’ve heard how the financial crisis impacted them.  I know why they’re angry and I get it.  It sucks.

The real challenge that has caused the most emotion is the negative fallout from this election (and it’s on both sides).  A lot of very negative things were said during the process and my fear is that there are groups of people that now feel validated and empowered because of this rhetoric.  We live in the South.  I know it’s been hiding in the woodwork and now I’m afraid it won’t hide but maybe getting it out in the open will help us heal it.

We have to listen.  We must ask how we can help make things better.  My wife’s first reaction was to say we needed to move out of the country.  That’s something that we’ve talked about doing anyway for a while, but I don’t want to do it for this reason.  Running away doesn’t help anyone.

The Market

I watched the futures quotes the night of the election.  I’m not going to lie, that was scary too.  The S&P hit it’s limit down for after hours trading.  The next day everything was sunshine and lollipops.  I can’t predict the future but I can stick to my plan.  My timeframe is not this week or next.  I’m in this game for years.  While it’s also true that I dabble in trading as well as investing, 99.5% of my assets are in my investing accounts.  One of these days I’ll post about that too, but let’s just say I’ve managed the risk by limiting what I play with personally.

I know it can be scary to see large down days or stretches of decline, but remember the best lesson you can learn is to plan your investments and then invest according to your plan.  The market will reward that over the long time and will punish the emotional response.

Going Forward

Like Pop said in Luke Cage, ‘Always forward, never back’.  Let’s work on that together.  I’m going to be looking for ways I can help.  It’s time to be more involved in the community and it starts with me.

For now, let’s all breathe and listen.



Friday Thoughts – Dinner with a Friend

Catching Up

The other night (last Thursday to be precise), I took the opportunity to catch up with an old friend for dinner.  This was out of the ordinary for me for a couple of reasons.  I’m not usually one to take time away from family operations on a week night, but I needed it and when it was all said and done I’m glad I did.  It was also a good opportunity to hit one of my favorite brewpubs down in the city that I rarely make time to visit.

She was in town for a business conference.  In the sixteen years since we were in college together, we lost touch for the majority and have managed to catch up a handful of times in the past couple of years.  Her husband and I were friends through the campus theater and we all spent a lot of time hanging out together outside of class.  I was always closer to her on a personal level, so it was easy to catch back up on everything that’s been happening in our lives.

We covered a variety of topics over the course of the evening.  Marriage, kids, jobs, personal finance, politics, and social issues were all present.  There may have even been a tangent about beer in there somewhere.  When dinner was over, I drove home and kept thinking about some of the things we discussed.  Here are a few of the things that are lingering in my thoughts:


This was an interesting discussion.  While my friend and her husband are a couple of years younger than I am, they have a son that is a senior in high school.  My oldest is nine and the youngest is five.  It feels like I’m ages away from experiencing the things that thet currently have happening in the child department.

She has had to manage college searches and high school dating drama.  My biggest challenge is getting the oldest to eat and actually do her homework for more than five minutes.

I did listen intently and file away a lot of her experience for later.  I’m sure at least some bit of it will come in handy.  It’s still strange to talk to someone that is younger and know that they are farther along in some aspect of life.  They’re going to be empty nesters next year.  I’ve got over a decade bfore that happens!


We didn’t discuss numbers, but it felt good to be able to go into a discussion about finance with a person that I view as ‘having it together’.  She and her husband both make good salaries in Tech and the only debt they’ve ever carried has been the mortgage and occasional car payment.  They invest and are building for the future.  Three years ago I wouldn’t have been able to even broach the topic.

Now the thing that struck me the most is that I’ve been doing this on a single income.  My wife left work six years ago for mental health reasons (being a teacher and having a family takes a lot out of you).  I supported her in that move and also in her eventual choice of career change from educator to part-time naturalist.

The thing is, though, I can’t help but imagine what life would be like if we were bother contributing to the FIRE goal.  On a not so positive note, I’m reminded that I’m the only one working toward my goal and this is due both to necessity and my own choice.

Marriage / Relationships

This is a really tough topic for me to write about regarding my thoughts.  Things have not been going well lately.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s no hostility or negativity but we’re just not working together as partners anymore.  I’m basically in a situation where I have more of a roommate that is in the business of raising two children with me.  However, when it comes to life outside the children, we’re basically heading down separate paths.

I don’t want you guys to think that this is something new or that it’s something I take likely.  Over the course of our ten year marriage, we’ve had our share of struggles as well as good times.   We’ve both worked very hard at times to keep it together and continue to build.  Unfortunately, when one half of the partnership has been down for so long it starts to take a toll.

Being able to talk to my friend about some of what’s been happening was extremely helpful and provided a much needed outside perspective on the situation.  Hearing what it’s like to have a more balanced partnership instead of one where one half is always sacrificing to care for the other was a conflicted wake up call.  It made me realize that is what I want.  I could, maybe, someday have that.  Maybe I don’t have to keep sacrificing my needs for the greater good.

Like I said, it’s a tough topic.  I don’t have any answers right now and I’m not sure I will for a while.  I struggle with it most days.  Honestly, it’s why I haven’t been writing as much.  It’s hard to be inspired when this is the relevant topic at hand, but this is my current truth and that’s part of what this blog is supposed to be about.

The Past / The Future

We also took some time to reminisce about the days back in college.  It seems like so long ago in some ways.  I look at the person I was then and realize what I long way I have some.  Going from student to summer camp counselor to IT professional it seems like I’ve lived three different lives.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

img_20160729_112513104Where I head from here is the open question.  Which path will lead to the best outcome for everyone involved?  Can I still consider a plan to early retirement with the challenges ahead?  I’m not sure.  I do know that for now, I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing and attempt to improve every day.

That’s all we can ever really do, is it not?



Friday Thoughts

A Quiet Rainy Morning

I’m in a somewhat reflective mood this morning, so I wanted to take a few minutes to jot down a few of the things going through my head.

After the kids were off to school, the dogs were fed, and the house quieted down I sat down at the computer to review the August financials.  Next Tuesday I will have a post up with the latest updates.

To be completely honest, I sorta got distracted from that when my phone popped up a notification from Google photos with suggestions to go back and look at last year.  I ended up in the gallery from our AT backpacking trip this summer (which wasn’t last year… again, distracted) and though about how I still want to get a post up about that trip.  I may have to break it down into a series.


The other thing I’m working on this morning is learning about Bullet Journals.  I saw a friend mention this in a FB post the other day and I decided to check it out.  I’m not always the most organized person (please don’t look at my desk) so if I can develop some new habits it can only be positive.

The West coast will be coming online soon and I will need to dive into my day job.  I realized that I haven’t meditated since sometime in June.  I need to get back to that.  Having some minutes of quiet reflective time during the day is extremely helpful considering the current frenetic pace of life.

With that in mind, I’ll leave you with about 20 seconds of peacefulness.  This is from one of the watering spots on the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina.  I have fond memories of the cool clean water that comes out of the mountains.



Spring Has Sprung

One of my Favorite Times

wp-1458852483425.jpgThis time of year, as the leaf bids begin to pop on the trees and the early flowers are blooming is very enjoyable to me.  After the slightly negative tone of my last post, I wanted to focus on the positive and share a bit of what brings me joy and piece.

There’s a certain feeling that comes with the signs of new growth, longer days, and warmer air.  It’s nourishing to my soul and reassuring that life continues.  There’s the buzz in the air of the early pollinators beginning to go about their business.

wp-1458852499788.jpgI take solace in an early morning walk around the garden with a cup of coffee.  The warmth of the cup is a perfect balance to the cool but not cold air.  As I browse through my meager bonsai collection and garden beds, I look for the changes from one day to the next.  Things start to move quickly and I don’t want to miss any of it.

The Comfort of Routine

wp-1458852464306.jpgDuring the morning tour, I mentally take note of the chores that need to be done.  Most days I will need to water after I finish my coffee.  Sometimes my attention is caught by a pest taking up resident and I will need to come back around and spray during the evening.

The bonsai also require that I keep up with fertilizer and make sure that I’m rotating out the organic packets on schedule for optimal health.  I will also need to inspect the wiring on a regular basis to make sure that it’s doing its job and not beginning to cut into the bark of the tree as the branches swell from growth.

wp-1458852491814.jpgI’ve been told that this routine looks a bit ridiculous to the casual observer.  Mrs C’s friends have gotten a kick out of it.  That doesn’t bother me in the least.  The simple mechanical nature of it is almost meditative for me.  You see, plants are very easy going if you treat them right.  There’s not a whole lot of stress here.  It’s the diametric opposite of what I do for my day job.

Growing for the Future

One of the other key aspects that I enjoy about the bonsai hobby is being able to think generationally.  Some of the great masterpieces in Japan have been cultivated for decades and even centuries.  These trees are often cared for by multiple descendants of the same family.

wp-1458852458659.jpgEach year for the past few years, I have been starting seedlings with the intent to cultivate them as bonsai over their entire life.  It’s very humbling to know that this may even exceed my own lifespan.  With some species that I grow, I may never see them as mature bonsai.

Tying it Together

As I got close to finishing this post, it occurred to me that this type of cultivation is very similar to the work we do with personal finance.  We’re not always growing it for right now.  Sometimes, we’re not even growing it for us but for the next generation.

Today, I am focusing on appreciating life.  Despite the clouds of yellow death pollen.



We’re Addicted to Convenience

I’m not proud of some of the items in this post. It’s not very frugal and slightly counter-productive but if I can’t be honest about it, how can I make progress?

1180slIt’s an Easy Trap

I’ve had this theory for the past couple of years that occasionally comes up in conversation with my wife or friends.  This theory is probably not an original idea that I had, but I can’t for the life of me remember a source to credit.

This is the idea that there are times when we chose to abstain from responsibility and have someone else do things for us whether it’s necessary or not.  We do it purely out of want.  I like to call it convenience addiction.

What Exactly is the Trap?

The trap is a little different for everyone, however I believe that it’s 100 percent mental. We convince ourselves that we should spend money to have someone else provide a good or service that we are entirely capable of providing for ourselves.

For us, the most common traps are food related. We dine out too often. We order pizza.

Sometimes it’s not food related.  I’m perfectly able-bodied and can take care of the lawn and yard work. That didn’t stop me from hiring a lawn crew to maintain the front yard.

Housekeeping is the other big one for us. It really doesn’t take a huge amount of time and effort to keep things clean. Yet here we are with a bi-monthly housekeeper to come in and do the deep cleaning.

How Do We Fall Into It?

Most of the time we let ourselves believe that the day has just been too much. We’re too tired to cook or clean. We’re stressed and just need to get out of the house for a change of scenery. We got caught up in weekend activities and didn’t get the meal planning and grocery shopping done. You get the picture.

Sometimes we, as partners, try to smooth things over for the other having a rough patch or down day.  Oh, I’ll just order a pizza since she’s not feeling well and I’ve had to work all day (I admit, I’m borderline Enabler in this regard).

These are just a few of the ways that we justify falling into the trap. I think on some level that our society conditions us to allow these rationales. What’s worse is knowing full well that we’re getting trapped and still allowing it to happen.

Why do we do it? I think the biggest reason is because it’s comforting. Having someone take care of us feels good. We do live in a very compressed stressed out society. Having one less chore feels like a win. Here’s the kicker, and the dangerous bit, for us… We can technically afford it.

Dodging the Pit

Here’s the tricky part.  How the hell do we keep this from happening?  Honestly, I’m not so sure I’ve got it figured out but I’ve got a few ideas.

  1.  Stop making excuses – Plain and simple.  We just need to quit excusing ourselves and allowing for poor behavior.  This part will take work since it involves breaking bad habits.
  2.  Establish and stick to a routine – We need to establish exactly when we’re going to do things like grocery planning and shopping and always do it then (with the exception of holidays and vacations, of course)
  3.  Have a fall-back plan for the routine – If for some reason the primary person responsible for a task can’t accomplish it, then we need a backup already planned out.  Coming up with an alternative on the fly allows for wiggle room and slippage.
  4.  Hold each other accountable – This is an area where I think we have some imbalance.  I tend to be more on the lenient/accommodating side (that’s a whole other story) and I think that puts me in a position where I take on more responsibility than I can handle which leads to more stress which leads to more convenience acceptance.

Really and truly, I know this isn’t something that gets fixed overnight.  It will take effort and I’m sure it will be one of those two steps forward one step back deals.  Regardless, right now it’s costing us money and potentially delaying our escape from the corporate rat-race.  This past week has seriously highlighted that fact and I almost dread doing the month-end analysis.  I think we can do better.

What do you guys think?  Who else has been trapped by convenience addiction?



A Bittersweet Week

Happy Valentine’s Day

That is, if you’re into the whole V-Day thing.  We stopped celebrating it several years ago after recognizing it for the marketing event that it truly is.  Besides, with the events of the week, that holiday was the farthest things from our minds.

The Bitter

This past Sunday, my wife had a terrible time sleeping.  Her dog, a Jack Russell that has been with her for 14 years, was up pacing around the bedroom for most of the night.  Mrs. C is a very light sleeper and this kept her up most of the night as well.  By morning, she felt that something wasn’t right and took the dog into the vet.

12716354_10208672590393606_5005754585304639466_oThe dog, we’ll call her K, has had flare ups of pancreatitis in the past and was on a special low-fat diet.  All of the symptoms pointed to another flare up and the diagnostic show an enlarged gall bladder.  The vet was very confident that with a medication and a few days of care that we would be back to normal.

By Wednesday, it was clear that the pain was getting worse instead of better.  The vet tried some additional pain meds but K just didn’t respond.  Based on some additional observation, he concluded that it was most likely cancer.  It was a very difficult decision, but it was time to say goodbye.

The rest of the week has been a very emotional time for my wife as she has gone through an intense grieving process.  This was, in almost every sense, her first child.  They had a very strong bond.

The Sweet

In other news, we had two financial events that I’m very pleased with.  First, I was able to sell my ESPP shares for ~$7900 and a 12.95% profit despite very difficult market conditions.  It would have been a bit higher if I had been able to sell the day they were released, but unfortunately life got in the way and I had to wait an extra day.  That makes for an annualized rate of return of 27.58% on the investment.  I will, of course, have to pay taxes on the ~$900 gain.

We also got the expected bonus for the second half of 2015.  The company calls it a bonus, but it’s been a regular part of my compensation since starting and is only slightly adjusted by the company making or missing its goals.  I do tend to think of it as deferred compensation and not a bonus per se.  After taxes, we got around $10k some of which went to ESPP and some to 401k (Deducted pre-tax).  That left us with an additional $7500 in the checking account this pay period.

Both of those events allowed me to hit a new milestone.  The money from the bonus went to paying off the last balance on the rollover credit card.  That leaves us with a balance of ~$7000 on an unsecured bank loan that was used for debt consolidation in 2014.

CC_Payment While I haven’t quite eliminated all of my pre-2015 consumer debt just yet, I no longer have an outstanding balance on a card!  The only card in use now is the reward card that we use for budgeted purchases and pay down each pay period.  So far, that card has never accrued any interest.

The ESPP money will go towards the unexpected vet bills for the month, the beach trip that we reserved last month, the living room renovation project, and what’s left will go back into investments.

Moving Forward

While the additional expenses were unplanned, it doesn’t look like we’ll have a setback.  My debt reduction projection still show that i’m on track for the year.  Luckily, I had not included all of my variable income in the projection so there was a little wiggle room.

I also know that I haven’t been writing as often as I would like.  Things should settle back down and get into a routine that makes it a little easier to make time for the blog.

I hope everyone is doing well.  Hug your loved ones, even your pets.  A loss sure puts things in perspective.


Sunday Fun Day – Smithgall Woods


Last Hurrah of the Holidays

It seems like the holidays had come and gone in a blur.  Hard to believe I’ve been away from work for almost two weeks.  We had plenty to keep us busy with family visits, dinners with friends, and hosting a small New Year’s Eve with neighbors.

The one thing we were missing was a little outdoors time.  We’ve had a ton of rain around here for the past couple of weeks and have been pretty much indoors the whole time.  Luckily, the weather cooperated and cleared up for the last day of the break.

With the Christmas decorations packed away with scary efficiency, we set our sights on a hike and looked for a destination.

Where to?

When we look for a day trip destination, there are two resources that we like to use for our area.  I’ll paste links for those here:

50 Hikes in the North Georgia Mountains

This is a great resource for those looking to get away from the city and head up into the mountains.  The trail descriptions are great and the difficulty assessment is very handy for us since we have younger children.

[amazon asin=1581571453&template=iframe image2]

60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Atlanta

Another great resource that we use when we’re looking for something a little close.  There are a lot of local parks and great trails listed.  There is an entire series of these written detailing a lot of areas in the US.

[amazon asin=0897327098&template=iframe image2]

Outward Bound

We settled on entry number 32 in the 50 Hikes in the North Georgia Mountains book.  It’s listed as the “Martin’s Mine Meander at Smithgall Woods”, but there are several other loop trails off of the main trail.


The entrance listed in the guidebook (and in Google Maps) is no longer the main entrance to the park.  We had to double back and follow the state park signs on the highway to get there.  It looks like they closed to old entrance and converted the road into the main trail through the property.

Since we had the children with us and also had to get back home in time for dinner with another friend, we opted to only hike the main trail as far as the covered bridge.  The first hill from the visitor center was a little strenuous, but the rest of the hike was pleasant.

We arrived at the covered bridge with mostly no complaints and the children enjoyed playing down on the bank of the trout stream for a bit.  Our daughter looked for rocks and found a couple of pieces of micah.  The boy decided to dig a hole.


All in all, it was a really good day for a hike.  It was a little cool at first, but as we got moving it felt good.  It was nice to be out of the city and back into nature if only for a couple of hours.  The kids were champs and we completed 3.09 miles round trip.  Total hike time was 1 hour 47 minutes.

To top it all off, we got to come home to the pulled pork that I had smoked the day before (maybe a future post on that).  It was delicious!


I’ll leave you guys with about 30 seconds of river Zen.




I’ve used a couple of affiliate links in this post because these are products that I really enjoy and want to share.  The only time you’ll see me use affiliate links is when I have something to share that I’ve used and have first-hand experience.