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Jul 21, 2016
It's 5 a.m., still dark out, and I've just dropped my youngest at the airport.
I can't let these early-morning hours go to waste, I'm thinking to myself as I head back into the city. I walk in the door and fire up the coffee maker. I grab my Nikon with the 24-85mm lens and check to make sure the wide-angle is in my backpack.
I've been itching to explore Sweetwater Creek State Park, and today's the perfect day.
Soon I'm inhaling the rich aroma of my custom brew as tendrils of steam rise from the mug. I love the smell and taste of coffee with a little bit of cream, but need very little caffeine to get myself moving in the morning, thus my mix of 3:1 decaf-caf. The park doesn't open until 7, and it should take a little less than a half-hour to get there, so I can relax for a few minutes.
I've been going a million miles an hour for a while now, and I have to remind myself to slow down. Bauer snuggles into my lap, and I meditate for a few minutes, thanking God for my many blessings amidst the chaos of the last couple of years.
It hasn't been easy.
Nevertheless, I recognize the gifts and realize how much I've grown through the hardships.
Adversity is a powerful tool for growth, but that doesn't always stop me from fantasizing about easy. Easy would be nice every once in a while. But, hard makes me appreciative, and I feel good about how many obstacles I've overcome.
My coffee finished, I walk into my bedroom, peeling off garments as I go. I rummage in my dresser and come up with some workout clothes. July in Georgia.
I'll be sweating anyway, may as well make it a good workout.
Bauer sees the clothes and goes into his daily pre-walk frenzy, jumping up on my bed, back down again and then right back up (my bed is on risers with a 4-inch mattress topper - he has to jump over 3 feet to get up there).
I tell him to calm down, which is also a daily ritual.
A few minutes later, we're in the car.
We arrive exactly at 7.
After paying for parking ($5 - be sure and have cash or check if you go), I take a look at the map and decide on the long way to the creek and ruins.
Bauer and I keep up a good pace together and finally find ourselves at our destination - The ruins are of an old textile mill, the New Manchester Manufacturing Company, that was burned down during the Civil War.
If you saw the Mockingjay installment of The Hunger Games, the area should look familiar. It's quite picturesque, with the exception of the fence that runs the perimeter to keep everyone out - well, almost everyone.
I had a blast this morning taking photos. It was a little cumbersome watching out for Bauer. He loves to be off leash, but I don't dare. He's too crazy when he sees another dog, though we saw only a few people out this morning.
At one point, I put Bauer's leash around a small tree in the shade so I could explore and take pix without him.
He seemed content to take a rest break. He was a trooper. We got out into the middle of the creek by jumping from stone to stone. He fell into the water a couple of times, but he didn't seem to mind much. I was glad I wore my hiking boots. I can't afford to slip with my camera equipment.
Several hours later, Bauer and I were a mess - streaked with sweat and dirt and wet from the creek. But, such a good day we'd had already, and it was only 10 am.
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