Secret Places

I’ve lived in Atlanta for nearly 10 years and I still find myself discovering different nooks and crannies of the city; secret places that I wonder if others know exist.  Recently, I stumbled across an outdoor haven, just a stone’s throw from my home, that is virtually untapped.  A little piece of woodland, where the hum of the city magically disappears and it’s just you, a cool breeze, the cracking of tree limbs as they fall towards the earth and the rustling sounds of small critters prancing from one tree to the next.

Atlanta Hiking Trail

When I was in college, I had a place similar to this where I would like to go to feel small; it’s a strange concept but it always helped me put my problems into perspective.  I would sneak into Bobby Dodd Stadium at night and lie there at the 50 yard line and stare up at the stars. Somehow, all my worries drifted up to the sky to finally rest. This new place, which doesn’t require me to break laws or codes of conduct, has been that refuge for me; a place where I can ease my mind, take in all that’s around me and just breathe.

Atlanta Hiking Trail

This past weekend, as I prepared to go for a visit, I thought it was about time to reveal to my husband where I had been disappearing to.  So, I shared my secret place and his reaction didn’t let me down.  He was amazed that all of this was tucked away so close to the house, within the city.

Atlanta Hiking Trail

Maybe by now, you have figured out the location of my spot. But I ask you not to share because that’s the only way it will remain a secret.  If you do decide to see what this place is about and you happen to see someone there lying on the ground who looks half asleep; that’s just me, letting my cares drift away.

Atlanta Hiking Trail


Urban Hikers

I’ve been completely out of my normal exercise schedule recently.  This cool weather has left me hiding under my covers and snuggling up with my husband on the couch.  I’ve lost sight of the gym and forgot the joy I once received from my morning sweat session.  It’s getting a lot out of control.  So when my friend, Robin, asked if I wanted to go hiking on our day off, I jumped on it.

We started our morning with coffee from the Dancing Goats coffee bar.  I have been eyeing this place for a while and am so glad it made our agenda.  I’ve been searching for quality coffee and think I’ve found just the spot.  It was a little expensive, but the wonderful tastes more than made up for it.  My absolute favorite part was the outdoor seating area, more specifically, the swinging sofas.  I must get one.  I can picture myself  indulging in a trashy book and a glass of wine, lazily swaying on my sofa swing.  Christmas is around the corner.

Typically, if I go hiking, I’ll need to drive at least 45 minutes outside of the city.  Which is one of the few downsides of living ITP (inside of the perimeter). With the guidance of Atlanta Magazine, we set out to do a little urban hiking and test out the trails that are close by. Giving into a guilty pleasure, the two of us car-danced to Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off as we made our way to Constitutional Lakes Park.

Fall was all around us; purple leaves covered the sidewalk path which eventually opened up into a wetland.  Who would have thought that there was a marshy piece of land inside of the city?  Atlanta never fails to surprise me.

After a respectable number of photos were taken, we continued on in search of the Doll’s Head trail.  Just a few hundred feet away and we found the sign directing us to the trail’s beginning.   That alone should have been a warning that this was going to be more than just a hike.  I faintly remember Robin mentioning that this was an artsy hike but dismissed the comment out of pure incomprehension.

The sign guiding us to the beginning of Doll's Head Trail...

The sign guiding us to the beginning of Doll’s Head Trail…

Quirky pieces of what I guess we could call art were scattered alongside the trail.   It appears that trash that once disgraced the property had been transformed into something one could potentially appreciate.  As we continued on, signs of encouragement appeared, urging hikers to re-purpose any new trash into their own pieces of art.

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I was really starting to enjoy the vibe until Robin scared me.  I learned the hard way why they called it Dolls’ Head trail.

Doll's Head Trail

The vision of this creepy looking doll’s head poking out of the stump of a tree made me scream as if an ax murderer was about to end my life.  I was ready to end Robin’s in that moment.  As we moved forward even stranger doll’s heads appeared but I’m not going to lie, I was really into it.

Doll’s Head Trail at Constitutional Lakes Park was like crossing the misfit toys of Toy Story with the inspirational quotes of Oprah and hiding them in a 200 acre wetland within the city of Atlanta.  Almost hard to believe unless you witness it for yourself.  But it was real and we have the proof.  At the end of the trail, each hiker has the opportunity to leave their own personal mark.  Maybe one day, if you’re lucky, you’ll find ours.

Bye Felicia!

Vino Fun

I love fall.  It’s one of my favorite times of the year; all of the delicious seasonal foods, the cooler weather and the other half of my wardrobe.  Me, cozied up in an oversized sweater by a warm fire and a slice of sweet potato pie is my idea of a wonderful fall afternoon. Now that I’m home, I plan on taking full advantage of the season.  Fortunately for me, I haven’t missed the changing colors of the foliage.  Yes, I still have the opportunity to witness the leaves turn those beautiful shades of amber and crimson.

This past weekend, David and I met up with one my dear friends, Allison, to enjoy a particularly beautiful Georgia day.  We had plans to drive up from Atlanta to the North Georgia mountains to enjoy the weather and do a little wine tasting. I’m not talking overly sweet muscadine wine that most people associate with the state.  We do in fact have some quality wine makers; a secret that I’m sharing with you.

Our first stop was at Yonah Mountain Vineyard, a bourgie boutique winery at the base of Yonah Mountain that I absolutely adore.  I discovered this place several years ago when I was planning a camping trip.  Let’s just say that as a group,we were better at drinking wine than spending the night outside. This winery has become one of our favorites, a definite stop when we head up to North Georgia .  Instead of doing the full tour, we opted to save a little time and went straight to the tasting room to enjoy the live music and take in the mountain view.

Allison and I outside of Yonah Mountain Winery.

Allison and me outside of Yonah Mountain Winery.

Allison and I normally cover a wide range of topics when we get together but this afternoon, there was lots of girl talk.  So much so, that poor David had to busy himself with our camera. Lucky for him, he found another camera obsessed husband to pass the time with. We all eventually finished the tasting and made our purchases and headed out to walk the property and take more photos.   It was such a lovely start to our afternoon and we had one more stop.

We carefully drove around the winding bends to The Cottage tasting room.  Upon arriving, we gasped in shock of the incredible view.  The sun had just begun to go down and was setting the mountainside ablaze with crazy warm colors.  We couldn’t help but take as many photos as possible.

Getting cozy with Allison at The Cottage Tasting Room

Getting cozy with Allison at The Cottage Tasting Room

The Cottage lived up to it’s name, it was a snug space with a laid back atmosphere.  This place was just fun; the staff was more than welcoming and the Viognier was delicious.  We watched the afternoon fade into night as we lounged on the couches, sipping wine and enjoying the company. The perfect ending to a great afternoon.

North Georgia sunset at The Cottage Tasting Room.

North Georgia sunset at The Cottage Tasting Room.

Sips of Happy

It’s official, both of the Finks are back in the states.  David arrived into town yesterday afternoon, bringing with him small treasures from our trip.  I can’t wait to crack open that liter of pumpkin seed oil and hand out those bottles of wine to friends.  We’re slowly adjusting to life at home. We were met with a freezer door that somehow froze over and now we can’t open it, a month’s worth of junk mail to throw away and a DVR full of our favorite shows. To be honest, it’s a bit overwhelming, there’s so much TV to get caught up on.  Do I find out what’s happening with Olivia Pope and Fitz or maybe I should check on Mindy and the gang to see how they’re doing? 

In honor of our return, we enjoyed an American classic, cheeseburgers and fries from one of our favorite burger joints.  Mine tasted just as good as I hoped it would be.   So far, I’ve had Chinese, Mexican, Thai and Burgers.  All that remains on my Foods I Must Eat list is sushi and a steak dinner.

For me, the adjustments has been filled with wonderful times and some moments that I would prefer to forget.  To start with the good stuff, I spent lots of time with my family and close friends over this past weekend.  The younger crowd enjoyed a makeshift tailgate and fantastic seats to watch our team defeat a division rival.

After, we joined the rest of the family to celebrate my grandmother’s birthday, where I got to hold my sweet baby cousin who is absolutely adorable. The baby was so sleepy and was yawning and wiggling in my arms as I held him; so precious. 

My sweet cousin cute!

My sweet cousin yawning…so cute!

I’ve managed to survive my first few days  back in the office.  Let me just say, my first day was awful.  It wasn’t bad because of a certain incident, honestly the day was practically uneventful. What made it so unpleasant was the overall feeling on the floor.  When I swiped my badge and opened the door, it was as if I was hit with a thick cloud of doom and gloom.  Dark clouds of depression hung over everyone as they sat at their desks.  Even though the sentiment has not been outright expressed, you can see the hopelessness in my coworker’s eyes.  Fortunately, each day going forward has been a bit better and I’ve managed to start every day with a  good attitude. 

Despite the ugliness that surrounds me, I commit to doing my best to maintain my Croatian state of mind.  This isn’t my forever or even close to being my everything.  I’ve got an incredible man for that.  This is a blip on my radar that will pass.  My focus will be on the good times, those moments that warm up my heart and remind me that life is still good. Or as I like to call them, sips of happy.

A sip of happy- Enjoying the changing leaves in Atlanta.

A sip of happy- Enjoying the changing leaves in Atlanta.