Most of the past eight years had been spent away from family and friends. Almost all aspects of our life while living aboard Corcovado, our sailboat, were enriching and challenging. But finding our way back to land required more compromises and analyzing than our plan to sail away.
Selling our house in Connecticut was the first step in our decision-making process. We loved the house but didn’t want to live in the Northeast ever again. We wanted warmth. As many retirees decide that Florida is the ideal place to spend their later years we had thought that the country’s most southern state’s waterways, beaches, and climate were perfect for us also. But, when we compared what Florida offered and what we had in the Caribbean, we felt in many ways they were the same, and when they weren’t, the Caribbean was better. So, why leave the Caribbean? I needed a change from endless beaches and leisurely living. Gluttony is not healthy. And, I wanted to go home. I wanted to be closer to our first grandchild and family. I knew we wouldn’t move to dreary Seattle or bitter cold Boston to be close to our sons because the northern states don’t work for me. Short winter days take hours from life. But, I did want to be in the same country. The divide that I felt was psychological, not physical. I could hop on a plane in any Caribbean country and be in the states in hours. But I still felt far away. That feeling made living in the United States a top priority. Alors, our dream of living on a canal boat touring Europe fell overboard. So earnestly, I wanted to go back to the states, I didn’t throw our flailing hopes a lifeline but instead boarded a plane for Atlanta.
Why Georgia? I have family in Arizona. Why not settle there? When you have lived on a boat, the desert will never do. Water is a precious commodity and cities built in the arid, thirsty land is contrary to that belief. The Midwest was out. The north was out, and Florida was out. I loved the East Coast, not the West Coast. I love the mountains. Green mountains filled with flora, fauna and great views. And again I wanted warmth. All those signs pointed to the North Georgia Mountains. The prow-front house style, which we loved, were prevalent in those hills. We were sure that the physical attributes of the location were right. Time had come to examine the rest of the puzzle pieces and see if their shapes fit retirement life.
Our life aboard Corcovado was a full-time commitment. We toured, sailed and maintained the boat. If life bored us, we moved to a different country. We didn’t want life on land to become mundane. Bill needed acres of trees and a garden. I wanted a easy to care for home. He needed occasional conversation. I wanted friends. Bill wanted to be as far away from the humbled masses as he could get. I wanted to be close to the Atlanta airport. Bill hated flying. I wanted to travel. Bill needed Home Depot and a seed catalog. I wanted boutique shops and good restaurants. How could we both be happy when long range mountain views were the only thing we agreed on.
Blue Ridge is a vacation destination for a good reason. It has something for everyone. Home developments with a quarter acre plots or developments with acres of land. Its highway system runs directly into downtown Atlanta, the airport and many of the northern suburbs. The historic downtown Blue Ridge packs nice shops next to art studios and unique restaurants. The restaurant’s bars fill with tourist as well as newly relocated retirees looking for a good time and pleasant conversation.
The community Theatre could open social opportunities for me. I could try acting, directing, or volunteer to paint, build, teach and cheer others on.
The Art Center immediately grabbed my attention with their writers conference, but they also offer classes, exhibit, and guilds, and they organizes the twice-yearly Arts in the Park.
People from around the country come to attend the John C. Campbell Folk School for classes in arts, crafts, blacksmithing, bookbinding, jewel making, cooking and much more. My dreams of being an amateur chef could be just miles away?
The agricultural departments of the county government offer Master Gardeners classes every year or so. My digging and planting has never born fruit. Maybe vases filled with fresh flowers would someday decorate my tables.
Opportunities to live, learn, and enjoy life everyday abounded there.
The Appalachian Trail Head is suggested for those who love to hike. But easier trails crisscross the counties, twist around the lakes and climb the hills. I’ve never been a hiker but I need to exercise and finding the tallest and fastest flowing waterfall in these mountains would push me to get moving.
The Georgia Wine Highway is a well-kept secret. On the highway and off, wineries and vineyards take advantage of a perfect grape growing climate. We could spend days visiting tasting rooms, listing to live music and exploring the wineries’ grounds. If we focused on a day trip every week, we wouldn’t cover them all in the spring through summer, but we would make a good start on the list.
If I wanted to golf, the valleys hide public and private courses to try. From the newly opened private facility at Old Toccoa Farm to the public Butternut Creek in Blairsville. Retirement is about trying new things. There should be a course to fit my beginner’s ability.
Trout fishing in the Toccoa River, Rock Creek, Cooper Creek or Noontootia is the best in Georgia. I could be happy watching the anglers and listening to rushing water.
When the urge to get away strikes and Bill’s hate for air travel won’t abate then excitement would be only a drive away. Nashville, TN, and its great music is 215 miles, Chattanooga and Look Out Mountain are 83 miles, Savannah with fabulous architecture and nearby beaches is 340 miles, the Gulf Coast is 400 miles. Asheville, NC, and the Biltmore estate is a two-hour ride. Atlanta, and its airport with direct flights to my granddaughter, is two hours away. If I lived in Blue Ridge, I could fill our chalice with wishes and dreams and after years of activity and fun, it would still be full. The north Georgia mountains it will be for me.