The Hike To Mill Shoals Trail

The trail is an easy hike with fairly manageable switchbacks and is located at the Eastern Blue Ridge to Cooper Creek Recreation Area. Expect to see forests and a stream along the way. The whole stretch takes about 2.5 miles and the trail is easy to moderate. The trail starts at the parking lot about 0.3 miles from FS 236 and is marked by orange blazes. Some spaces at the FS 236 area are also allocated for campers. Regular army training exercises are done here so it is recommended to call Camp Frank D. Merrill in Dahlonega for the schedule of activities.

Cooper Creek Trail is about half a mile from the start of the trail which connects the trails for Mill Shoals and Yellow Mountain Trail. The footpath continues to an old roadbed and moves along the north side of the Yellow Mountain. At that point, the path follows the Mill Shoals Creek which is about 1.4 mile on the hike where you will pass by two rivulets. The Mill Shoals Trail has been rerouted where the trail ends at Duncan Ridge Road (FS 39) at the Shope Gap and forms a loop at the section of the Yellow Mountain Trail. From the start of the trail, the footpath ascends through a white pine and oak forest and emerges easily to the Cooper Creek Scenic Area on its northwestern edge. Then it turns into gradual and steady switchbacks as you continue around 0.7 miles before reaching Mill Shoals Trail at the top of a spur ridge. On this junction which is 0.7 mile on the hike, a blue-blazed trail sign informs that you are already at the Cooper Creek Trail. The path continues on an old roadbed on the right as it makes an easy ascent to the junction of Yellow Mountain where the Yellow Mountain trailhead is located.

Pace straight ahead to the path to Mill Shoals as it makes a descent onto a hardwood cove. There are American chestnut stumps in the area while other trees have already taken its place. You will then emerge out from this forest about 0.9 miles on the hike and continue to make a descent to an old logging road. The footpath makes a right turn and followed by a quick downhill switch to the left off the road towards Mill Shoals Creek. Cross two streams as the path follows through lines of tall white pine trees. The path then continues to pass along an old roadbed and sets onto Duncan Ridge Road (FS 39).At this point, the view offers a magnificent scene of Cliff Ridge and the Beebait Knob from a distance. The trail then turns right and continues to FS 39 for another mile onto Shope Gap at the FS 39 and old woods road junction. Then loop back by turning right towards the woods road by following Shope Gap Trail’s green blazes.

Retro Vacationing in the Great Midwest Dustbowl Recession of 2012

With recently financial difficulties Nationwide, Many Americans (myself included), have found it difficult to go anywhere and do anything. Let’s face it, without a job, you can’t even afford the overpriced gasoline to go anywhere-much less, do anything.

I did manage to find a few gems that I would like to pass along, that may be an affordable break from the awful conditions that we are all experiencing. Chiefly, the relentless 110 degree Midwest temperatures and the lack of financial ability.

I have a family of 4; which consists of one boy (age 5), and one girl (age 12). We reside in the Greater Louisville Kentucky/Southern Indiana area; “Pert Near the middle of the Great Midwest Dustbowl”.

It has been my family’s long goal to go to Disneyland, The Smithsonian, The Grand Canyon, and well you get the idea. Our finances have gone from Bad to worse over the years, making it difficult to do anything. Employers are offering lesser salaries; while prices are still going up. I guess, I am probably preaching to the choir, so I will get on with the gist of my article.

Some folks view that vacations are a waste of money and a poor investment. I believe that vacations are an investment in a family’s memories. You should do your level best, to provide at least some form of morale boosting recreation, especially in these trying times.

I wanted to give my family a Happy July 4th this year. My larger extended Family wasn’t planning anything reunion related; which would have consisted of back-yard fireworks and burgers anyway. So, it was my chance to do something different.

I decided to take my family to Deam’s Lake for the 4th; for a day of hiking, fishing, lake swimming, watermelon and yeah the same burgers. I invited along my Dad’s family and a family friend. Park admission is $5.00 per car-load. Everything else we brought with us, except in that there was no hand-soap in the rest-rooms. I had to pay $2.50, for a small size pump that normally would have cost $1.25, but that was all.

We found a great place near the lake with shade trees and picnic tables and a grill, all for our $5.00 admission (for the whole car-load)! I had spent some time there as a boy with my family. I remember when the open grass was full of bikini clad women working on their tans, when I was about 7 or 8 yrs old in 1970 something.

My uncle, who shall remain nameless, was 5 years older than me. He used to have me chase him with a bucket of water. The goal was to miss him, and hit the young ladies with the water so, that they would jump up, and with their tops un-done for tan line issues; they would expose heavenly morsels to sunlight-or something of the sort. So, the amount and type of folks at the lake are forever burned in my memoirs.

I later spent time there as a 12 year old Boy Scout, and then again as a 1980s teenager with my Pals from High School. During my teen years, I can assure you that I noticed the young ladies that were there. Not quite as many as age 8, but it was about quality, not quantity.

I noticed something unusual, about our 2012 July 4th. First off, there were no sun-bathers at all. The open grass was a dessert wasteland. The type of folks there was different as well. The amount of Hispanics was overwhelming. I minored in Spanish in college, and like the culture, Food and Sangria very much. While there were a few Senoritas there that were strikingly attractive; I couldn’t help but wonder if Arizona had lost, it’s border battle.

All kidding aside, the Caucasian population doesn’t go outdoors anymore. And when they do, they shouldn’t be wearing Bikinis. It appeared that my red bandana and I had time travelled back-all alone.

My kids had an absolute blast. My 5 year old led us on an adventure hike. My daughter caught a fish. We all swam in the lake, and no one drowned. We ate watermelon and had a very “Retro” July 4th that will be emblazoned in the minds for eternity.

I strongly suggest getting your family to the lake, or “A Lake” in the near future. The physical activity will do your family well in the waistline, and the close knit morale that comes from being a “Shope” or a “Thomas” or a Whatever you are, will be priceless.

Another Retro alternative for “The Great Midwest Dustbowl of 2012” was a personal favorite of mine… King’s Island.

The park opened in 1970. That’s me with my Mother in about 1973 or 1974, I am guessing 5 years old. Yes, I am sporting “Herb Tarlic” pants and a Bowl-cut, Mom was as beautiful as ever, may she rest in piece (Don’t Smoke).

At any rate, I remember the park had the most wonderful shops, with Family Crests and knick-knacks that you couldn’t find anywhere else. I remember that the flowers were always beautiful and thick everywhere impatiens galore. You used to be able to play in the fountains at the front entrance.

I expected the park to me more packed than it was, especially with the closing of 6 Flags over Kentucky Kingdom, just 90 minutes away. There was a decent turn out, however there was a break in the heat from 105 degree temperatures down to a more comfortable 88 degrees on the day that we went.

The flowers aren’t quite as impressive as they used to be, and the fountain is now fenced off; but they have added a new water park in 1989 now called Soak City. I haven’t been to it since 1993 or so, and it hasn’t changed much, except for some of the names. Soak City is triple the fountain fun and is included with park admission for free. You can even ride the train to it.

The park has dozens of roller coasters, and the old Hannah Barbara land is now “Planet Snoopy”. Since, I’m another “Joe Cool”, I’m good with most of the changes, except for the antique cars; which are now a tombstone in the graveyard of dead rides-literally they have a graveyard! My Antique cars are now a smoking park, where you can apparently walk your smoker (again-Don’t Smoke).

My family and I decided to go, and try not to spend a dime in the park. Except for admission (we got free media passes). General park admission costs $36.99 per person.

We brought in a bottle of water each, with generic propel fitness packet for electrolytes and a granola bar-non chocolate “Retro” type. We got to the park at opening 10am. The kids were wide-eyed. They were intimidated by many rides, but soon began having a blast.

Most of the rides are included with park admission, and free. We did not purchase fast line cutting passes, and avoided all shops and pay games.

We had a blast in Planet Snoopy. We shot Zombies in the Haunted Hill, and did not pay $8.99 for our picture. We also, did not pay $8.99 for an Icee/Slurpy frozen drink. We ate our granola bar and drank our fitness water, and spent nothing. We had a small backpack to put our drinks, granola bars and camera in. This is necessary for some rides, that ask-do you have any fluids with you.

We got our hand stamped, and ate lunch in the car. We had packet a cooler with sandwich fixins, Veggi sticks and drinks waiting for us. We did not spend $29.99 for 1 pizza.

After lunch, we carried in a second water, packet, and granola bar for another pit stop snack for later in the day. We did not spend $6.00 for popcorn, and $5.00 for a coke.

We did attend a free concert, called of all things, The Retro 1970’s. They played that Funky music White-Boy! Did the Disco Duck, and Freaked-Out to “Freak-Out”. We all thoroughly enjoyed it, and after walking 20 miles through the park, it was a welcome change to sit for 30 minutes in the shade.

The disco ball dancing was in tune with my 1970s expenses. I spent $12.00 to park, and $15.00 for a large locker at soak city, to hold 4 pair of shoes and a bag. I let the kids play 1 game to try to win a 4′ tall red dragon; they spent $1 each-and basically threw those dollar bills away. (stay away from all shops and pay games).

Basically, we spent $29.00 for a family of 4, for a full day of activity, rides, water park fun and even got in a show. Of course the park admission would have cost us $147.69 had I not received my Eagle Eye Productions Freelance Media passes.

We also got drive through on the way home, with a 90+ minute car ride from Ohio at 9pm, it was the only real option. The moral of the story, for under $200.00 you can have a Disney style day trip on a recession budget, and beat the Dustbowl Heat at the same time.

On both occasions, I got to feel like a good parent for taking care of my kids, as best I could, and did not spend a fortune. Their spirits were renewed somewhat, in the midst of “Dust-Bowl fever”.

How to Think Differently in Business

To hit gold in business, you have to think gold. What is your business all about? How do you intend to maximize profits? Here are tips on how to think different in business:

Think back to the future

Don’t wait till the harsh business storm hits your business; rather, always think of what to do better or next. For example, what are the things you need to put in place to ensure business growth? What stage is your business on the business chart, that is, in areas of development, growth or decline? Is your business vision realistic? What is your current profit margin? What is your intended profit margin? How do you intend to speed up your productivity? Evaluating your business, keeps you prepared for the future.

Believe your ideas are valuable

Always think your glass is half full. Think about possibilities not only about likely constraints. As a business owner, you have to nurture a positive mental attitude; believe things will work out fine. If there are possible risks, device means to avoid or manage them. Risks are unforeseen, but you can plan ahead to avoid or mitigate them. Being positive in business enables you take a chance on yourself, be bold to take calculated risks, and believe you are adding value, even when the numbers say otherwise. That is a way of thinking differently in business. Dig beyond your current offerings

Do not just view things on the surface. Think intensively and carry out research on other ways your business can benefit your target market. Reflect on the true realities of where your business stands at the moment. What are your business challenges? Classify them and analyse them to see how you can make a difference. Outline your business SWOT analysis (Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). Go beyond the surface; be realistic.

Your competitors are watching

Understand your business environment; be familiar with your competitors’ strategies – if you are not, you can bet that your competitors are doing their homework. What resources do they have that surpasses yours? How can you leverage to collaborate and partner to get the necessary resources? What’s the best way to build more goodwill? Do a survey on your business, and be cautious of the events happening in your business environment. It’s business, so be prepared for the competition. Business is about profit making and goodwill, be focused on these objectives.

Create a war-room

Now that you know who your competitors are and understand your type of business. Identify the threats and evaluate them. Compare your business to your closest competitor. Be battle-ready. Draft a graph of your sales and profits. Can your business survive in business storm or in an unstable economy? Figure out what you can do better? What is not working? Are your key employees performing as expected? Carry out a performance appraisal. Take action: pave the way for more business improvements, do some advertisements, up your business game. Remember it is a game of profit, and that should be your aim. Thump your chest

What makes you outstanding makes you great. Build on your business competence and promote it. Every product or service must have its own uniqueness, that thing that makes it different from others. Device means to make your business goals and objectives unique. Distinctive competence is that special attribute that shows how your business is similar to your competitors, but different in aspects of branding, concept and product offerings.

Business is nothing without profits. A business seed can only grow if the business soil is fertile, and the fertility starts from your business thoughts. Be better by thinking differently.

Latest Technology Gadgets of 2008 – Arghh! I Know ’em

Curtains for 2008 are coming down in few days from now and if you see the developments the years witnessed, for instance the latest technology gadgets of 2008, it had been all complex devices that could perform intensive and incredible tasks. These latest gadgets 2008 are indeed with simple designs and several of them even user friendly, iPhone is one for sure. Most of the so-called latest technology gadgets are uni device multiple task performers. In fact the advent of nanotechnology enabled to device smaller gadgets that perform several functions while being nano in size. So said, it should be admitted that most of the latest electronic gadgets are designed for comfort, safety and weekend entertainment area. Iphone has revolutionized the communication and in fact changed its face and the latest technology gadgets of 2008 has given us the Apple 3G which is the world’s first multi-touch screen gizmondo. Other high-end gadgets include the tablet PCs, electronic medical equipment, Bluetooth calls, mobile entertainment devices, voice commands and visual/audible traffic rerouting as well as complex car systems with GPRSs.

And did I mention about the accelerometer sensor used in the iPhone technology and other high-end handsets? The technology enables a phone to rotate its image automatically when it is turned sideways. Another technological advancement is the ambient light sensor that detects changes in the light conditions and adjusts the display brightness automatically and the proximity sensor senses things that are larger than fingers when they come close and turns off the display in order to save power and accidental key presses.

In the healthcare industry, one of the major developers of latest gadgets in technology in 2008 had been Philips. Cliniscape is used to keep updates of each patient’s health condition by providing uses information of blood containers, medication and others. It is from the Philips and is used as a mobile point of care device in order to access medical applications such as iSite PACS medical image, clinical information Portfolio and information management system. And the latest computer gadgets in the field of education is the XO laptop which can be used at anytime and any place. Another innovation is the TI graphing calculators that can be used to solve complex math-related calculations. These calculators have large 3.5-inch display and more familiar mouse-like controls and spreadsheet capabilities, etc. The MacBook Air is the world’s thinnest laptop is another innovative product and a run away hit during 2008. The laptop is again by the iPhone manufacturers, Apple. The latest auto gadgets include car GPS, Bluetooth car starter, ozone air purifier, Driv-e-mocion and LED rims, etc.