5 Things You Must See at Fernbank Museum

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As one of the newest employees here at Fernbank Museum, I was excited to be granted this opportunity to walk around and think about which aspects of the Museum are my favorite. Mostly, I thought it would be interesting to call out some things that are frequently overlooked. During my time here I have learned that this Museum is a truly amazing place with fascinating things to see and experience around every corner. To learn more please visit FernbankMuseum.org or check us out on Facebook or Twitter. I hope you enjoy hearing about my five favorite things at Fernbank Museum of Natural History!

FloorsThe floors: Did you know that the floors throughout the Museum are made of fossils? I was so excited to learn this, and I thought it was incredibly unique. If you look closely you can see actual fossils from squids and shells on the very floors you’re walking on!

The Star Gallery: Walking into the Fernbank Star Gallery makes me feel like I’ve been transported to another world. The gorgeous ceiling definitely manages to capture some of the magnificence of space. There are even three flat screen TVs that tell you all about our solar system.

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The IMAX Booth: If you have never seen the film behind the giant IMAX® screens, then you need to stop by the IMAX projection booth viewing window! Between film screenings, you can see behind the scenes as the projectionists prepare the next film. The sheer size of the film (and the 5-story screen) are amazing!

The Weather Center: In Sensing Nature there is a Weather Center that I find amazing. There are iPads available through which you can control the “wind tunnel,” as well as a green screen where you can try your hand at being a weatherman. It’s definitely a part of the Museum that I make sure to point out to guests!

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Nature Quest: Fernbank Nature Quest is a favorite among visitors because it offers over 100 ways children can interact within the exhibition. I think one of the most unique elements is the fish mobile. With the turn of a wheel you can control the beautiful mobiles that hang from the ceiling and simulate waves as they move beneath the lights.

 

 

Surprising Suburbs: Villa Rica

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Peal your eyes west next time you squint in the glare of Georgia’s capitol building. The gold leaf crowning that handsome dome has a new history.

Follow your view 35 miles to explore the Pine Mountain Gold Museum in Villa Rica and learn the facts about discovering gold in 1826, three years prior to the gold rush in Dahlonega.

IMG_2757Museum historians aren’t claiming the State Capitol gleam came from West Georgia, but they do raise interesting facts in an 18-minute documentary and in detailed exhibits about the early discoveries.

Then they teach techniques for finding bits of gold yourself. Worked for me, and the people on either side in a convenient stand-up trough with skimming pans and a teacher.

Larry “Pop” Arnold is his name. “Been panning for gold here for 50 years,” he says. “Keeps me outside and I just like the process.” 

He’s also a bona fide member of the Gold Prospectors Association of America. Who knew?

Maybe if my Spanish were up-to-snuff I wouldn’t have been surprised. After all, Villa Rica means village of gold. Another clue might be the Civil War company from Carroll County formally known as Georgia Company I, 19th infantry regiment, but called the Gold Diggers.

IMG_2756Fine grains, baby powder texture are the kind of gold found here and a ride on the railroad provides a sense of the land in which hopeful miners worked.

Carl Lewis is one of them, adding his authentic voice to museum tours, noting he is Villa Rica’s last commercial gold miner.

He also shares the story of the Samuel and Asa Candler families and their Coca-Cola bottling business in Villa Rica from 1903-1923.

Real-deal gold-mining history fills the woods, along with high and low huckleberry bushes, sassafras trees and wildflowers including hundreds of Pink Ladies.

Peer 50 feet into the Old Glory Hole to start understanding the process introduced in 1917 to extract the gold. Cyanide, sump tanks, ore gondolas, leaching tanks, after-effects of plate tectonics – this is a vocabulary lesson too.

Signage is clear and informative.  

IMG_2760$5.00 is the price of Museum admission, $5.00 more to ride the train (a pleasant experience relying on a four cylinder propane engine and air brakes), $5.00 to pan for gold and gemstones. Not so simple to master the right flick of the wrist so I appreciated miners more just because I tried.

Walking three miles of nature trails is free, so are the picnic grounds. Stockmar Park is the location and I’d recommend allowing time to see the farm animals and community garden.

In fact, all day could be plenty of family fun. Get a picnic to go from Evans Barbecue Company or The Southern Table.

Christine 12. 2007 4Christine Tibbetts claimed Georgia as her home state in 1972.  She covers Georgia destinations, and the world, always offering prompts for exceptional experiences and opportunities to muse. Tibbetts earned a Bachelor of Journalism from the prestigious School of Journalism at the University of Missouri and is the recipient of numerous gold, silver and merit awards from North American Travel Journalists Association writing competitions. Follow her at www.TibbettsTravel.com.

Sunrise Grocery

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Sunrise Grocery in North Georgia is a cozy spot to browse around for fresh produce, delicious jams and jellies, mountain treasures, worms and priceless lessons in business administration.

As a partially omniscient writer, I can hear the voices of women saying, “Wow!  Bernadette and I would LOVE to visit Sunrise Grocery, but our husbands have no patience.  They’d just rush us and it wouldn’t be any fun.”

Dry your eyes, little lady.  The owner of Sunrise Grocery – Jason Clemmons – is a truly brilliant and kind businessman who has learned a trick or two in the 30 years he’s owned this treasured roadside stand.

6Jason has a Secret Weapon that can make any grumpy hubby happy to stay busy while you browse until you drop.

(No, it’s not moonshine but that’s a good guess.)

Beverly Whitt, the crackerjack lady who helps run Sunrise Grocery, told me how Jason discovered the perfect way to give shoppers time to browse.

Jason, like all good men, had a brass monkey that he didn’t know what to do with.  Doubters said, “Throw that old thing away!”  Jason said, “Nope.  I’m gonna make a game out of this here monkey.”

Mister Clemmons decided he would hide the brass monkey all around his store and give a bag of world-famous boiled or roasted peanuts (featured in Southern Living Magazine, thank you) to folks who found it.

Wise women quickly spread the word to bring their men with them to Sunrise Grocery.  As soon as they reached the parking lot and you-know-who began to get all grouchy, the ladies said, “Don’t worry, you old goat, I won’t be long.  I’d invite you in, but you’d never find the brass monkey and win a free bag of peanuts, and I hate to see you cry in public.”

2Now, if they don’t find the brass monkey, women have to drag their husbands out of Sunrise Grocery and promise to bring them back soon.  Yes, this trick works on kids too.

You won’t learn smart stuff like that at Harvard.

Some visitors are so observant they can even find Miss Beverly behind the counter!

The next time you’d like a delightful drive up Georgia’s Route 129, you have to stop at Sunrise Grocery.  It’s only a few miles south of Blairsville and just up the road a piece from Vogel State Park.

Sunrise Grocery is the perfect place to browse around when you’re looking for something special … or just looking with someone special.

1Sunrise Grocery opens at 7:30 AM Monday through Saturday and at 9 AM on Sundays.  They close at 6 PM, except on Friday and Saturday, when they stay open until 7.  Come early to watch the sunrise!

Sunrise Grocery is the perfect spot to begin – or end – any day.

 

Glossary:

Definition of Browse for Men:  Make a list of what you want.  Go to closest store.  Find everything without ever asking for help.  Pay too much.  Return home.  Make list of what you forgot and what you have to return.  Repeat.

Definition of Browse for Women:  Take a scenic drive with friends.  Talk, chat and enjoy the ride.  Choose a place to shop based exclusively on how interesting it looks from the outside.  Park.  Apply make-up.  Promise your friends you’ll only shop for a few minutes.  Enter.  Pick up every dang piece of anything not nailed down – except the clerk – and stare at it from every possible angle.  Put it back right where it was … so that your friends can do the exact same thing.  Buy something for yourself that you don’t need.  Buy something for a friend who doesn’t need anything either.  Exit.  Stop for dessert and recount everything you and your friends touched.  Make plans for your next trip.

Click Here for Sunrise Grocery’s Facebook Page

Robert SutherlandRobert Sutherland is a freelance writer enjoying life in Gainesville, GA. Robert has two adult daughters, six grandchildren, one Kawasaki and a loving girlfriend. Robert’s e-mail address is: RJS@RobertSutherland.com.

10 Reasons To Visit the Center for Civil and Human Rights

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On Monday, June 23rd, U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, U.S. Congressman John Lewis, Mayor Kasim Reed, The Honorable Shirley Franklin, and The Center’s supporters will join together at Pemberton Place Plaza for the opening celebration of the Center for Civil and Human Rights.  If you don’t know much about The Center or are still unsure if this is the place for you, here are 10 great reasons why you should visit!

10) There is something for everyone.  The Center makes ensures everyone can find something for himself or herself when entering our doors.  We are dedicated to creating experiences that inspire visitors and empower them to take positive action around the protection of everyone’s human rights.

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9) A 14-year-old who visits The Center on a class trip, will find herself bathed in the stained glass images of 14-year-old Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, and 11-year-old Denise McNair.  Having lost their lives during the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL, in September 1963, these four little girls are remembered at The Center in breathtaking portraits – these original works were created by artists Priscilla and Tom Malone.

 8) The Center is the perfect destination for a cross-generational family reunion.  A grandmother may be able to point to the exact spot where she stood at the March on Washington while (later) her grandson can guide her through an interactive tablet in the Human Rights Gallery; Cross-generational dialogues may cover everything from segregation in the United States to protests for equal rights and more in Egypt, Syria, and China.

7) We are passionate about innovation!  The Center is committed to creating experiences that are engaging, unexpected and fun.  Whether you are interested in art, science, social justice or something in-between, you will find a connection here.

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6) The Center features the Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection in the Voice to the Voiceless: The Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection Gallery.  The collection, which includes personal papers and items of Dr. King will rotate throughout the year.  We are offering year-long memberships for those who wish to visit multiple times and see every exhibit rotation.

5) The Center is inspiring.  At a recent talk, CEO, Doug Shipman explained that The Center aims to inspire the next Gandhi and the next King.  This is what The Center is about. You hear stories of courage and triumph, stories of brave individuals who fought for freedom and you too will be inspired do something.

4) We are located in downtown Atlanta between the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola at Pemberton Place.  Follow your time at The Center with a visit to our neighbors!

3) You can buy a tile, add a personalized message to it, and see it permanently displayed in the lobby of The Center this fall!

2) We are hands on!  At The Center, we encourage visitors to interact with the exhibit components!

1) It’s cool!  It really is.  There is so much to see, hear, and experience.  If you know people who are not easily impressed, we’re willing to bet you’ll be surprised to see how highly engaged they are while at The Center!

To learn more about The Center and to buy a ticket online, visit www.civilandhumanrights.org.  Also, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (@Ctr4CHR) for more exciting news and posts!

Six Family-Friendly Activities for Father’s Day

Dads like to have fun too!  Check out these family-friendly events for Father’s Day weekend.

DSC_0094 (3)Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Atlanta. Isn’t dad your Superhero?  Come dressed as your favorite character on Superhero Day and enjoy activities, games and cartoon screenings. June 14, 12N- 4pm.

 

 

Sweetwater Creek State Park, Lithia Springs. Try stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, geocaching and more during “Get Outside Georgia Day.” June 14, 10 am to 3 pm.

Old Fort Jackson, Savannah. Experience the lives of soldiers stationed here during the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War at this Father’s Day program. June 14-15, includes the daily cannon firings at 11 am and 2 pm.

gorilla_ozzie_ZA_smallZoo Atlanta, Atlanta. Free admission to Dad on Father’s Day with purchase of any full-price child’s (ages 3 to 11) or adult’s general admission ticket. Celebrate Ozzie the gorilla’s birthday at 10:30 am. June 15.

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Braves Country 5K, Atlanta. Includes a One Mile Fun Run (7 & older, open to adults) and Kilometer Kids Dash (6 & younger). 5K ends inside Turner Field. Each 5K registration includes a ticket to that evenings match-up against the Los Angeles Angels and a limited edition baseball tee. Advanced registration required.  June 14, 7:30 am.

Cloudland Canyon State Park, Rising Fawn. Full Moon Hike on the darkened West Rim Trail. Watch the sun set on the west side the canyon, hike to the east side, then watch the moon rise. Ages 10 and up, advanced reservations required. June 13, 8 pm to 11 pm. 

 

Katherine writer_18Katherine Mikkelson is a freelance writer and blogger. She enjoys travel and food and writes about both on her blog StateEats.com, highlighting iconic food from our 50 states.