DSC_7989CFour women, one weekend.  A couple knew each other really well; a couple didn’t know each other at all.  Some might think it’s a crazy idea to plan a weekend with people whom you don’t know!

It started with my friend Sandra from Michigan, as she and I had talked about this idea several times last summer. She reminded me so much of my friend Angela from Tampa, and I knew they would get along so I suggested we include her.  I reminded Sandra so much of her sister Tracy, and she knew we would get along so she suggested we include her.  And we were both right.

THURSDAY September 30, 2010

It took three sets of eyes and a GPS to find (in the dark) the bed and breakfast perched on the mountains at the end of a remote winding country road.  Around 10:30 p.m. we rolled into our private retreat, Lucille’s Mountain Top Inn.  When Sandra, Angela and I stepped into the main house it smelled like spa, and I was instantly relaxed. The work week, the travel day, it’s all behind us. The innkeeper, James, was very patient and accommodating with the late and staggered arrival of our party.

Tracy was delayed by weather. The rest of us were wired and tired after our travels, and stayed up till after midnight catching up and winding down.

FRIDAY October 1, 2010DSC_7908

My family would laugh at the notion of me being a morning person, but I really do enjoy a good sunrise.  I agree with Bon Jovi, I’m going to live while I’m alive and I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

I crept as quietly as I could down the flights of creaky wood stairs to enjoy the sun peeking up over the mountain, revealing layers of beauty we missed arriving in the dark last night.

As I enjoyed my coffee, the inn slowly came to life.  James started his morning routine setting up for breakfast, turning on the music, doing a quick walk-about outside.  Tipper, the neighboring cat, peeked around the corner – probably doing a morning routine, too.

Sandra and I couldn’t resist the cool morning and the sign marked “Trail” that pointed into the woods, so we took a quick walk to stretch our legs before breakfast.  When we returned, the smell of spa combined with coffee and the all the sweet smells of breakfast were delicious.

Debbie, the other innkeeper and executive chef, is a wonder in the kitchen! Included in the yummy breakfast buffet were scrambled eggs, grits, bacon, fruit.  These were no ordinary scrambled eggs and grits – seasoned with rosemary and other delights, they were a great way to start the day.

DSC_7959Travel-weary Tracy joined us mid-day and like a trooper jumped right into the day even though she had to have been severely sleep-deprived. The weather was absolutely gorgeous – 75 degrees and pure blue sky. Given our energy levels, we opted for the shorter of the two nearby waterfall hikes.  Anna Ruby Falls was a nice reward after a short (.4 miles) but steep walk in the woods. 

The outdoor table at Hans Restaurant was just what we needed post-hike: cold beer, tasty meal (including German potato salad), and live music across the street. It’s Oktoberfest in Helen! After lunch we spent some time walking around, taking in the charm of this quaint, German-inspired town.

After sunset we enjoyed the Crows Nest at the inn, the perfect place for a girls evening of wine, card games, and stimulating conversation.

SATURDAY October 2, 2010

Even without my alarm, my eyes popped open just before sunrise and I couldn’t resist the deep orange sky, so I tip-toed down over those same creaky stairs for the sunrise.DSC_8157

After another delicious breakfast and a somewhat lazy morning, we set out for a more adventurous day.  It’s another gorgeous 75-and-sunny one.  We picked up some sandwiches for lunch and hiked the 2.5 miles to Raven Cliff Falls

The trail closely follows the creek up to the falls. Along the path several additional waterfalls add to the enjoyment of the hike. We took our time and stopped frequently to enjoy the relaxing sounds and atmosphere. 

Our lunch spot was a slab of granite with a front row view of a large waterfall. This site consists of three drops, a 60-foot drop, followed by a 20-foot drop into a deep pool, followed by a cascade of 20 feet to Dodd Creek. Re-energized from lunch, we finished the approach to the Cliffs which is the highlight of the trip. A short, but steep, climb brought us to a split in the massive granite outcrop where an unusual double cascade flows through the middle.  So much of the beauty we saw this weekend can hardly be captured in pictures as it touched all of our senses.

DSC_8214When we returned to the inn, Sandra and Tracy enjoyed some spa treatments while Angela and I watched a wedding on the back lawn with a beautiful mountain backdrop.  The evening was cool, but the air was still so the rocking chairs on the porch made the perfect location for our last evening.  We stared in awe at all the stars, enjoyed wine and conversation till the wee hour of about 9:30 p.m.  The fresh air has once again done me in!

SUNDAY  October 3, 2010

Mother Nature has been very consistent with her beautiful morning show this weekend.DSC_8035

Our last morning here.  The things Debbie can do with eggs – incredible! And the sweet and succulent Almond Soufflé Crepes were heavenly. We soaked up some sun and enjoyed more porch time before packing up and heading to the airport.

We only scratched the surface during our visit to this area.  It’s turning into a mini-Napa Valley with several wineries.  If hiking isn’t your thing, there are certainly lots of other things to enjoy in the area. This was truly the restful, recalibrating weekend I was looking for, and can’t wait to see where we go next year!

What are the top things that come to mind about your weekend?

“quality time, laughter, and relaxation”

“laughter, wine and waterfalls”

“peaceful, relaxing, too short” 

“beautiful weather, beautiful mountains, beautiful women”


James and Debbie are the innkeepers, but they do so much more.  They add warmth and personality to the bed and breakfast, sharing their stories and love of the area.  They are accommodating hosts ensuring every guests need has been met, sometimes even before you knew you had the need!  Not only was breakfast delicious each day, but each evening was topped off by a decadent dessert.

James grew up in Germany. He first fell in love with this area when he vacationed here years ago, in part because it reminds him of Germany. He is an accomplished mural and faux artist and you can learn more at James Williams Mural Arts.  Along with her culinary skills, Debbie is filled with history of the area and clearly loves sharing it with their guests.

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