Here We Go AgainAugust 23, 2003
Two old ladies in a Volvo cruising up 985, planning a full day of fun in the mountains. First we wanted to pay our respects to an old friend who is struggling to recover from serious surgery. Stopping off at the Habersham Hospital we went to see Hubert Darnell. Hubert’s wife, Bea, took each of us in to see Hubert. Hubert was looking good, considering what he has been through. We told them we are all praying for his recovery. Bea told us that many of Hubert’s classmates had come by and they both were so grateful for the love of his friends. We all need to continue to keep them in our prayers.
While in the ICU waiting room we spied the book - Two Weak Women and Amazing Grace on the bookstand. We both were excited to see this particular book.
Flashback to summer 2001 - We went with Susan, to visit Miss Francis Fabrick at Hill Top in Tallulah Falls, her summer retreat that she loved, with the blueberries and mountain air.
She wanted us to know about two books. The first was The Prayer of Jabez that she had read and wanted us to be sure to read. The other book was Two Weak Women and Amazing Grace and she wanted a copy of this book. She told us this was a story of two incredible women who had built a Christian Retreat and she wanted us to find this book for her. Unfortunately neither Dale nor I found the book at that time. Miss Fabrick has since passed away and we regret not doing this for her.
Back in the waiting room, Dale copied the information from the book cover about the authors, publisher, and found a local address and phone number on the book. We told the story of Miss Fabrick to the people in the waiting room and they were all trying to help us find this place on Bear Gap Road. Country people are just nice that way. We were getting directions from every corner when this young nurse’s aide said, “Why don’t you just call the number on the book?” Well duh......
Dale, trusty cell phone at hand, called the number and a woman answered. Dale told her we were trying to find a copy of this book and thinking this was the publisher or bookstore, she asked if they were open. The woman said, “Honey we are always open.” The woman was Bonnie Hanson, the author of the book. She invited us to visit and following her directions; we arrived at Fellowship Valley.
We spent about two hours at Fellowship Valley with the “Two Weak Women” who turned out to be two of the strongest and most extraordinary women we had ever met. Bonnie Hanson and Alline Marshall invited us into their home and we sat and talked for about an hour. They showed us their current project and dream. This beautiful lodge.
We told them about Miss Fabrick and her admiration of their work. We both wished that Miss Fabrick could have met these two – they would have become friends – no doubt about it. Bonnie and Alline are firm believers in God’s guidance in everything. Their belief in His will is total and this faith has made Fellowship Valley possible. Alline Marshall was a microbiologist who taught college botany and was pursuing her doctorate when her life changed direction. She met Bonnie Hanson through the Christian Literature Crusade, a foreign mission located near Philadelphia. Two Weak Women and Amazing Grace is the wonderful story of how these two came together and what they have achieved. Dale, Jim, and I are all reading the book and you cannot read it without feeling the power of their faith. This faith has produced many miracles, which will astound you as you read the book. I urge everyone to get a copy. Bonnie said that the Craft Shop in the old Tallulah Falls Train Station and Isabella’s Restaurant in Tallulah Falls both have the book.
Bonnie and Alline, being kind hearted and good sports, agreed to pose for us with THE book. We were interrupting their morning but they were so gracious and treated us as honored guests. We got the impression that they believe anyone who stumbles across Fellowship Valley and appears at their door is to them – a gift from God and a vessel for His work. Bonnie told us stories of their early years when they prayed for a truck for hauling and God answered with a 1965 GMC pickup, which they named “Amazing Grace” because it was amazing that it still ran. She has us in stitches as she related a story of Alline, Amazing Grace and the day the brakes failed, going backwards down a steep dirt road, with a full load of trash. The cover of the book illustrates this story.
When they offered to show us the place, we enthusiastically accepted. Off we went on two golf carts – Alline and I and Bonnie and Dale.
Needless to say Alline and I were a little slower (heavy load).
There are several guest cabins and this one overlooks the pond and the bridge reflected in the water. Every cabin has a story of love and giving.
The dining hall is located at the end of the pond – a very beautiful spot to enjoy food and fellowship.
Here Dale, Alline and Bonnie stand on the deck of the dining hall looking out over the pond.
Our next stop was the gazebo, which was a gift from a couple that had come to Glen-Ella for a weekend and stopped by to visit. They built the gazebo for Fellowship Valley from South American hard wood that is aging beautifully.
Alline, who can do just about anything, told me the best spot for a picture of the bridge. She was right – peeking from behind the crepe myrtle. The bridge was built wide enough to accommodate the golf carts. Smart move. We left these two women with our hearts full of admiration.
Time had slipped away as we enjoyed the morning at Fellowship Valley but there was another place on Bear Gap Road that Dale had never seen. Being so close we couldn’t pass up Glen-Ella Springs Inn.
This tree spirit greets you as you enter the front walk.
The Inn is a beautiful old building but the gardens in back hold the charm for me. We wandered through the gardens, scented with herbs and flowers, while butterflies, bees, and birds fluttered around us.
The chef uses the herbs from the gardens in his cooking. If you click on this link it will take you to the Inn’s website.
The history of the Inn is very interesting. It was restored and reopened by the present owners in 1987. Friends, who have stayed here, rave about the food and lodging.
Bear Gap Road was a wonderful adventure for us. Fellowship Valley and Glen-Ella Springs Inn - two treasures just waiting to be discovered down this graveled mountain road.
Back on 985 and heading toward Rabun County once again, we detoured on the Old 441 Hwy through Tallulah Gorge. We wanted to see if we could take the incline down to the Tugalo power plant or at least find someone who could tell us if the public can still do this. No luck this day, the gates were locked.
At the picnic area above the power plant area we could see the lower lake through the haze.
This display shows the inclined passenger car that does down to the plant. Dale wrote down the phone number and will call Georgia Power and see if we can schedule a trip down to the plant.
We could not go by the old lookout point without stopping. We were pleasantly surprised to see that the store was fully stocked, filled to the brim with food, supplies and plenty of souvenirs. The last time we had been there it was almost bare.
We stood on the viewing deck – just where we had stood so many years ago. Some things do not change. This place always brings back memories; we never came by here without stopping when we were kids.
On the road again and finally heading toward Clayton and both starving for lunch. Passing Lakemont, I commented on the new Julia’s Restaurant location. Dale said turn around and go back because Margie Pruitt Barnes' daughter’s new shop is next door to Julia’s.
A chance to see Margie was too good to pass up so we u-turned back to the shop. Oh blessed day of great fortune. Margie was working in the shop and here was one of our best Rabun Gap friends. Dale has seen her a few years back but I had not seen her since 1958. We had a group hug with lots of laughing and joy.
I would have known Margie anywhere; she looks much the same - petite and pretty.
Her shop, "The Tree House" is beautiful and we wanted one of everything.
Dale could not resist adding to her flamingo collection.
Our visit was way too short as we tried to catch up a few of the last 45 years. She wanted to know about everybody and who married who, and who came to Homecoming, and how is LaVerne doing, and on and on. We told her how many of her classmates would so love to see her again at Homecoming. The next time you drive through Lakemont, plan a stop here and hopefully see Margie; enjoy the shop and just try to get out without buying anything.
Reluctantly leaving Margie, we FINALLY arrived in Clayton at 2:30 PM. Our itinerary had gone by the wayside hours before. Quickly eating lunch and back in the car, we just had to stop at the vegetable stand for some crowder peas, tomatoes, corn, peaches, and apples.
Loaded down with goodies, we finally caught our first glimpse of the school. We visited the Heritage Center to check on the ferns.
Dale gave them a good watering. A few of Randy’s daylilies were blooming and Charlie’s coleuses were doing well.
Dale wanted to see if the lobby in the new dorm was furnished so we barged in. The lobby was totally empty of furniture but a group of students were playing cards. Oops, the girl with the cell phone is not a student she is the housemother.
Hard to believe, isn’t it? We really are getting old. The lobby pictures are filled with the school’s history. We found this one to be very interesting.
Thurmond family photo: Made in 1927 just after they had moved to Rabun Gap.1st row: Wade sitting in Will's lap, Eloise, Bertha holding Hugh; 2nd row: Clarence, Ione, Pauline, Riley, Pledger.
Our day was winding down, it was 4 PM, our itinerary was totally shot but there was one item that we both wanted to check out. Susan had sent me pictures of Lick Log Mill on the Highlands Road. Being a nut about mills, we wanted to see it.
This old store and mill are four miles out of Highlands on the Dillard Road. The mill was built in 1874.
The store is filled with beautiful handcrafted gifts. I almost succumbed to a bowl of gourds. Thankfully they did not have any flamingos.
We had planned on visiting Carolyn, Dick and Dickens but time ran out on us. We finished the day as we usually do, at the Springridge Creamery with Jimmy, enjoying the best ice cream in the world. We headed for home as the sun was setting. Two old ladies with a Volvo hauling buttermilk, vegetables, and good memories back down from the hills.
Lunch in Lawrenceville with Banana Pudding on the Side.
August 24, 2003
Lunch at Applebee’s in Lawrenceville drew a small group of alums for some food and fellowship. Aaron and Jo Ann Perry, Gail and Harold Thurmond, Hazel and Charlie Underwood, Beverly Struble, Dale Shaffield, and Beverly and Jim Lougher. We had hoped for Patsy Cunningham but she had a prior commitment. We had a grand time eating and chatting and wishing more of you were with us.
After lunch we all carpooled over to Hazel and Charlie’s for dessert. The infamous banana pudding was a great hit.
Here Hazel puts the topping on it. Thankfully no mixer was needed for this operation. Hazel and Charlie made us welcome and the dessert bar contained banana pudding, cheesecake, cookies and éclairs. Very nice indeed.
Beverly and Hazel were comparing their photo albums. It is amazing how many pictures the 54 group took. We all have been enjoying these pictures on our site.
Aaron, Jim, and Jo Ann always find lots to talk about.
Harold has such a magnetic personality. Here he is gathering his “groupies” again. Dale must have been locked in a room somewhere. We will not mention Harold’s haircut.
We know a lot of you wanted to be with us and we hope to plan these get-togethers more often. I wouldn’t count on the banana pudding though. It was a grand two days for these two old ladies and we love sharing our adventures with you. Until our next ramble. Cheers! Beverly and Dale