. . .of sorts, though I’m not sure the nice folks at Crane Creek Winery in Young Harris, Georgia, would appreciate being mentioned in the same breath as a soft drink. Let me make amends by saying that after the wine tasting, we packed the trunk of our car with an assortment of their fine wines. The North Georgia Mountains are crammed with such surprises, and I absorbed as much as I could of this free course in Appalachian life.

Wending one’s way up, down, and around mountains renews amazement at what our forefathers (and mothers) were able to accomplish without electricity, indoor plumbing and running water. Not to mention telephones, computers, Walmart, Walgreen’s, McDonald’s, Home Depot, and all their dopplegangers. The next time I complain about housecleaning here in Florida, I’ll remember I’m doing it under air conditioning, with a host of modern appliances, and it’s the exercise I need after hours at the computer.

If your GPS is working, follow the mountain roads to the Foxfire Museum and Heritage Center in Mountain City. Here you can immerse yourself in the many facets of Appalachian life preserved and presented by the dedicated Community Board and volunteers.

One of our accidental finds was the farm and the legacy of Byron Herbert Reece, farmer and poet from the Blairsville area. A five-time winner of the Georgia Writers Association’s Literary Achievement Award, by 1952 he was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in poetry.

Whether you head on out to hoof it on the Appalachian Trail, climb Anna Ruby Falls, catch the view from Brasstown Bald (Georgia’s tallest peak at 4,784 feet), or wrap yourself up in the Great Smoky Mountains, do it as a writer. Bring your voice recorder, notebooks, and the best instruments of all: your five senses. Smell the forest air, taste fresh berries at a farm stand, feel the textures in nature, listen to the Blue jays squall over territory, see the sunset reflected in the clouds over Lake Chatuge. Snap a photo and make it your desktop image. We did.

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