Now we're just waiting to get the date and time for the swearing-in ceremony. I have no idea yet of when that will be, but so far, this process has moved along fairly quickly. He may even be able to participate in the presidential election, this November! (On the other hand, it may take a while. I think it depends on how many people apply and are accepted in your state of residence-- or maybe even districts within your state-- and Alabama doesn't have a huge population to begin with, so...)
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Early January isn't an ideal time for a mountain vacation (at least, not the type we're likely to take), but we did drive up early enough that we could "climb" Stone Mountain (right next door to Atlanta). It was the first time either of us had been there (that I can recall). It's pretty amazing to think that the whole thing is just one solid chunk of stone...
Maybe it's because it's been a while since I've been on a mountain hike, but it was fairly intimidating in spots. Easier coming down than going up, of course, but going up... I might possibly have been ever so slightly almost jokingly concerned that my out-of-shape heart couldn't take it. But then I saw people who at least looked much more out of shape than I do, charging ahead, so I tried to be marginally more optimistic.
But seriously. Look at those patches of gray between the trees. That's where you will soon be walking, from this spot. Photos flatten it out, but it's a little scary in person.
There's one section where there are handrails. I guess it's the steepest part of the trail...
On our way down this part, we saw a couple carrying very small children in one arm, holding on to the rail with the free hand. Crazy. I don't think I'd want to do that trail with little kids-- especially not any small enough that they'd have to be held on the steep parts. Just think if the child slipped out of your grasp and fell on the stone... *quease*
When we stopped at some of the steeper spots, the horizon was dizzyingly off kilter. (It's mostly been straightened out in post-processing. On the mountain, it felt like the whole world had wobbled slightly askew.)
The view from the top was beautiful. (Better than our photos can attest, sadly, but all we brought on the trip was our little camera. I probably wouldn't have wanted to hike up with a nice camera, anyway.)
There was this one hippy-ish, long-haired, middle-aged man skimming along quickly and easily in bare feet. Yes, bare feet on a stone path in early January. Well, admittedly it was mild for early January, but it was still a little nippy at the top of the mountain. Not bare feet weather. Personally, I save my barefoot mountain hiking for May at the earliest. (Sorry, no photo of the barefooted hippie hiker.)
At the top, there's this contraption that they use for hauling up and sending down (enclosed) carts, for those who can't (or don't wish to) walk up or down the mountain. That side of the mountain is a sheer drop-off that makes me feel dizzy to think about, so no thanks to that ride. I'd rather walk. Is it just me, or does that thing look disturbingly like part of a roller coaster's track? *more quease*
There's a large carving on that sheer face of the mountain:
But personally, I think the names and dates "regular" people have carved into the stone were even more interesting. Of course, how do you know if the years are accurate? Someone could easily have carved "1879" just a few years ago. (Ok, they probably wouldn't have that nice, smooth, aged look if they were carved just a few years ago, but still...)
All in all, an interesting hike-- especially considering the close proximity to Atlanta, where you wouldn't expect to find much of that sort of thing.