5 Things You Must See at Fernbank Museum


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.



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!


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


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


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.



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.

Favorite Food Finds in Atlanta

As I quickly learned upon my relocation to Atlanta, the food scene in Atlanta is outstanding. There is no shortage of restaurants to try at all price points. Before, during and after my recent move, the one thing I kept asking for was restaurant recommendations. I shouldn’t have been surprised that so many people were willing to share their favorites!

As with every list of this nature, it’s all subjective. Here are a few that have become instant favorites.



Billed as a restaurant, market, deli and community haven, it’s a perfect description. There’s a deli vibe with community tables downstairs and upstairs is a cool lofty place. The prices are reasonable and Parish offers two outside patio areas to enjoy the Atlanta weather with your meal.

Photo_Fat Matt's

Fat Matt’s

Seating is first come, first served so be prepared to wait a few minutes if you arrive at a peak time. The space is small but the taste is big. I highly recommend the pulled pork sandwich. Make sure to leave room for a side of Rum baked beans or macaroni salad.


Antico Pizza Napoletana

When people say you are sitting in the kitchen, they aren’t kidding. Seating is communal, at benches and it can get packed, so be prepared for people to eye your table while you are eating. Antico allows you to bring your own alcohol making the price of a “beer and pizza” night relatively inexpensive.

lorisusslebonanniLori Sussle Bonanni spent her career in New York City and relocated to Atlanta in December 2013. Lori loves immersing herself in local culture and going off the beaten path. She is excited to explore all that Atlanta and Georgia have to offer. Lori earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a Specialization in Advertising and Public Relations from Rowan University. Say hi to Lori @smplythreecents on Twitter or visit her blog, simplythreecents.com.


Geocaching in Georgia

Seminole State Park

What is Geocaching?

Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game. Geocachers use a GPS (or a smartphone) to navigate to a set of GPS coordinates in an attempt to find the Geocache (container) that is hidden at the location. After you find the geocache, you sign the log and replace it exactly how you found it so the next person can find it. Many “caches” are hidden in locations that are important to people, have historical significance or are just plain cool! With more than 2 million Geocaches hidden all over the world, there is always something to explore!

 Why go Geocaching?

LizYou can’t find a geocache while sitting on your couch, so it gives you a reason to get up and get active! It’s a great way to get the little ones away from the TV and encourage them to explore nature. In fact, Georgia’s State Parks have an awesome Geo-Tour. Geocacher can pick up a free passport and search out the special cache at each State Park that contains a stamp. Fill up your passport with stamps for the chance to earn prizes.

There is also a historic site series where geocachers can solve puzzles to unlock the cache and collect cards for each. This is a clever way to combine a history lesson with fun!

Geocaching is a great hobby that gets you outside to explore and it is a wonderful way to spend quality time with family and friends.

Geocaching also provides a way to entertain the adventurous spirit in all of us because you never know where it will take you or what you will find! Some caches are cleverly disguised, while others will require you to find clues or solve puzzles. Be sure to put on your thinking cap, because it’s not only exercising your body, but your mind as well. In fact, a 14-month study called GEAR (Geocaching for Exercise Activity Research) by Texas A & M proved that geocaching can improve mental health as well as physical health.

Geocaching is also a great way to meet other people. From families who go caching with their kids, to retirees who travel the country, we have met some amazing people during our Geocaching adventures. One of our most motivational friends is Jim, a 74-year old retiree that has turned to Geocaching as an exercise tool, as well as a form of entertainment. Even after two hip replacements, he is out there hunting down caches daily. One of the first things he ever said to us was, “I could die sitting in front of the TV or I could die doing what I love.”

Whether you are a history buff, outdoor enthusiast, old, young, single, or with a family, there is something for everyone to enjoy about Geocaching. So get out there, enjoy the beautiful weather and find your own adventure through Geocaching.

JoshLizJosh & Liz from Peanuts or Pretzels are married travel bloggers who absolutely love to travel around the world, and getting to know the culture and the people who live there.  Our goal is to inform, inspire, and entertain.  We enjoy sharing our travel experiences and helpful travel tips with others through our travel blog.  The two of us are always up for laughter, a good adventure, and a bit of geocaching too!