Squirrels and Scorpions

My husband and I spent a week in Jasper— the beautiful mountains in northern Georgia. The trip from North Carolina was spectacular, driving through the Great Smoky Mountains, enabling us to see the lush countryside in Spring. We stopped on the way through the mountains at Natanhala Outdoor Center and enjoyed the fast-flowing river that swept past. 

Our accommodation in Jasper was amazing. We stayed with friends who own a beautiful property in the mountains, and it’s literally in the woods. We were given our own luxury apartment which had an enclosed verandah surrounded by the thick scrub, and we spent a lot of time sitting in the quiet, listening to the birds and animals. Each morning I was greeted by a tiny squirrel who lived in an elm tree close to the verandah, and he would climb up that tree lightning fast, stopping every so often to take a peek at me with his cheeky little face. I loved seeing him, and he didn’t seem to mind being watched as he went about his business. 

Coming from Australia I’d only ever seen a squirrel bouncing across the fences in Alaska on my last trip there, and I fell in love with their dynamic energy which I sadly lack. I became so enamoured with the little squirrel that I couldn’t wait to see him each day. He wasn’t the only squirrel we saw; each day I would see them running across tree branches, or nibbling at the side of the road.

I was so relaxed on my little vacation. It was warm and I was able to walk around the house barefooted, which I really enjoy. However, one morning as I was sitting drinking my coffee my husband loudly ordered that I sit still and not move off my chair. I was going to laugh and remind him that if there was a spider, the Australian in the house would be best equipped to deal with it, but before I had a chance, I heard the loud thud of his shoe, and the word, “scorpion.”

“What do you mean scorpion?” I asked incredulously, “We are in Georgia, not Mexico!” Yeah, well about that; Jasper, Georgia has scorpions, and quite a few of them at that. What I did know is that scorpions hurt. A lot. I am used to spotting spiders on the walls and ceiling, but not scorpions crawling on the floor at night when I need to use the bathroom. I told our beautiful hostess that there was a scorpion on the floor which Jim had killed, and she said she was pleased it wasn’t in our bed! That was not the reply I was hoping for.

The thing about snakes, spiders and scorpions, is that once you’ve seen them in your house or yard, you can’t unsee them. They are constantly on your mind. I was raised in Australia so I will probably never stop checking my shoes for spiders, or taking kitchen tongs to the letter-box in summer, but scorpions? That adds another level of hyper-vigilance to my list of things to avoid (behind crazed gun-men in Walmart and ridiculous medical insurance prices).

Squirrels and scorpions aside, Jasper is a beautiful place, reputed to be the first mountain town in Georgia. With quaint stores and breathtaking views we had a fantastic time exploring. We ate the best cinnamon rolls imagineable at the Carriage House Coffee Shoppe, while sitting on the back deck with brightly coloured umbrellas and pots of flowers. And to make it even more wonderful we stopped in at the Community Thrift Store (CTS) and picked up the bargains of a lifetime. I love thrifting and as CTS is run by volunteers, everything is incredibly cheap. I picked up a brand new Williams Sonoma French Coffee Press set with two matching glass mugs for $5.00. The retail price is about $80. That place is the ultimate in retail therapy and I had some serious work done on my mental health while I was there! On the trip back home we had gorgeous prints and glassware shoved into every available space in our car.

The drive back through the mountains was probably even more spectacular as we had more time to enjoy it, and we were able to stop and take more photos. I couldn’t stop taking photos of the road in front of us in the Great Smoky Mountains as it was so green and lush. It was simply breathtaking and I don’t know how Jim managed to drive through there safely with me wanting to stop and gawk every few minutes. 

I’m pretty happy I managed to visit Georgia even if I only saw a small part of it — but I like the fact that I saw a part of the state that many others probably wouldn’t think to visit. Places like Savannah and Atlanta attract the most tourists, but I love that small mountain town with fantastic people and beautiful scenery. 

The general store at Natanhala Outdoor Center
The Carriage House Coffee Shoppe
Coca Cola originated in Georgia and this was a cute mural I liked
Driving through the Great Smoky Mountains
The lookout at Sharp Mountain near the place we stayed
Me posing for a photo at a mountain stop besides the white water rafting river

Published by My Average Travels

I'm Annelise; an Australian writer living in the USA, who loves experiencing new places and things. I'm perpetually on a budget, but despite this I manage to find myself in some incredible places. I'm not about glamour or luxury, but about real life, real experiences, and making real memories. Most of my travel experiences have resulted from plan B's. I write about average moments that have brought me great joy in the midst of the every day.

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