This summer was oddly busy. We had our family visit from India, we were starting a new massive renovation of our house, and there was a lot going on at work. As such, we never got out for our big family vacation. However that didn’t stop us from having fun.
My parent’s celebrated their anniversary this year by taking an overnight trip to Callaway Gardens, which is a private park about 90 minutes south of Atlanta. Mira, Sonali, and I joined them for the day.
The main attraction for us is the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center. Mira loves butterflies. She has them on her clothes, she gets them painted on her face, and one entire wall of her room is covered in them.
Sonali and Mira at the entrance of the butterfly center
The trip started off on a high note even before we entered the butterfly room. There was a young lady offering face painting in the entrance which was a must for this special day.
There are two givens about the butterflies in the center. The first is that they are very pretty.
One of the many species of butterfly
The other is that they are very friendly. These butterflies are used to humans and more than willing to land on your finger or, in Mira’s case, your leg.
Butterfly Landing on Mira\'s Leg
One of the nice parts of being a kid is they have yet to develop irrational fears of things like bugs. Mira was fascinated by the butterfly that landed on her and was sad when it departed.
But it wasn’t only the little kids that got all the attention. One brave butterfly landed on Sonali’s foot.
Butterfly on Sonali's Toe
Mira found this very exciting
Once we left the Butterfly Center we strolled through some of the trails. We saw a log cabin that a family our size would live in during the 1700’s (we are used to a lot more space now) and a few of the specialty gardens.
Before leaving Pine Mountain, GA, we had dinner at Fox’s Pizza Den. They made us a great vegetarian pizza that was served by a friendly and talkative staff. We ended up learning a good amount about the small town pizza business! Like any good pizza joint, they had a few arcade games including Cruis’n USA. The game was fun, but it came with a touch of sadness. For the first time in her life, Mira started to understand that her dreams of driving once she turned 4 will not come to pass, due to the practical issue of not being able to reach the pedals.
The Georgia Renaissance Festival
Every city I’ve ever lived in has had a renaissance festival, yet in the past 34 years, I’ve never been to one. Going to this year’s was a fun opportunity to do something new with Mira.
Having never been to one, we were blown away by the sheer size of the event. It’s held over 8 weekends on a 32 acre park and attended by over 200,000 people. There was a sizable traffic jam on the small country road leading to the venue.
Mira with one of the many costumed characters
The shows were a little hit or miss with the three year old. Some of the ones we wanted to see weren’t captivating enough for her, but the two juggling shows we saw had universal appeal.
Mira doing the strongman pose with one of the stunt artists
While eating lunch we had two fun coincidences. The first was at our lunch table there was another little girl that was also named Mira. It took both sets of parents a few seconds to realize that we were both talking to our own kids and not each other’s.
The second was that Mira’s classmate Maya was just a few tables away. I’m still amazed that this little girl, who is only three and a half, can spot her friend a crowded field away.
Mira on the dragon pendulum ride
After lunch it was time for the rides. Every ride was period appropriate and powered by humans. The Dragon pendulum was pushed by an ex marine. The carousel was rotated by a female in costume. Certainly hard work on a hot summer day.
Obligatory head in signs. It was a nice touch to have one at kid height
Labor Day Hike: Helton Creek Falls
We wanted to cap off the final day of the summer season with a hike. Hiking in north Georgia was one of our favorite activities before Mira was born and now that she can walk 1.5 - 2 miles, it’s back on the agenda. Last year we went to Kennesaw Mountain which was fun but very crowded. We didn’t want a large crowd again so we set to work to find an easy-ish trail off a service road. Helton Creek Falls seemed like the ideal candidate.
When we got there, we realized that ours was hardly an original idea. The trail was packed and there was a sizable crowd in the falls.
Sonali and Mira at the viewing platform in Helton Creek Falls
We had one extremely traumatic incident while exploring the base of the falls. We had to move rock to rock in order to get near the falls without falling into the stream. Mira got the hang of it pretty quick, but Ajax made a move without paying enough attention. All four of his paws were submerged in about 1 inch of water! The shock on his face was something else, but sadly we were too busy laughing to take a picture.
Ajax and I after his traumatic incident. He just wants to go home now
Meanwhile, the toddler had no such issues and was more than happy to pose for pictures.
Sonali and Mira at the falls. Out of frame is Ajax who is pulling me in the direction of the car
Mira and I on a rock. Out of frame is Ajax who is pulling Sonali in the direction of the car