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Defining My Hometown

After 21 moves is this even possible?

By VNessa ErlenePublished 3 years ago 3 min read
Defining My Hometown
Photo by Yanny Mishchuk on Unsplash

I grew up in the small, tourist town of Helen, Georgia. Helen is located at the headwaters of the Chattahoochee River in the farthest corner of North East Georgia. I grew up with the banks of this river at my back door and never learned to swim!

Chattahoochee River in the Summertime

Yep, you guessed it! This was my backyard! I was in a tube floating down the river every summer and cannot swim! When I was a kid we went to the local garage and bought a tractor tube for a dollar. Tourists pay more than that for one trip down the "Hooch" now. Man, was I a lucky kid!

I also loved to hike and climb rocks when I was a teenager. Check out the local waterfalls I had the privilege of visiting whenever I wanted.

Anna Ruby Falls, Helen, Georgia

The large waterfall on the left is Anna Ruby Falls and the smaller one on the right is York Falls. York falls were named after my grandfather's grandfather. This is a cool bit of history for me. I can remember walked the approximately 1/2 mile trail up to these falls when I was about four years old. My mom had dressed me so tightly in my snowsuit I could barely move. When I was old enough to make my own decisions I started hiking the trail barefoot. There is nothing better than the feel of cold, black mountain dirt underfoot.

Dukes Creek Falls, Just North of Helen, Georgia off Richard Russell Scenic Hwy.

When I wasn't hiking to Anna Ruby Falls I was climbing Dudes Creek Falls. Years before the state paved the trail and put in observation decks you could park about 2 miles north of Dukes Creek Falls and follow an obscure trail to the top of the falls. I would always take a picnic and eat at the top of the falls before climbing down. I am amazed back that I never fell or broke any bones!

When I was born in 1968 Helen, Georgia was a sawmill town. My great-grandfathers and my grandfather were all employed at some point at the sawmill. The year I was born a man named Pete shared his vision for our small sawmill town. The photos below are before and after. Remember this when you think your dreams are too big!

Lumber Mill 1960's

Helen, Georgia Present Day

The events that put Helen, Georgia on the map were two- fold. First and foremost was the start of OctoberFest and second was the yearly Helen to Atlantic Hotair Balloon race. As a kid growing up both were equally spectacular!

Octoberfest Annual Parade

Drinking Wine on a Balcony Overlooking the Chattahoochee

First Keg of the Season!

Balloons in Flight

These are the photos that my hometown is known for BUT the following are the photos that are precious to me. Enjoy!

The View from the top of Lynch Mountian

My Youngest Daughter playing in the Soque river one mile from where she grew up.

My Last Visit to the Original Babyland General in Cleveland, Georgia

When I was ten years old my mother went to work for Xavier Roberts at Babyland General. She painted eyes on babies! I was so excited for her to work there because of the huge discounts she would get on babies. Christmas day 1978 I adopted Vanessa my Cabbage Patch baby. She was named after me and had the same brown eyes and two brown pigtails. I still have her 42 years later!

My Grannies Front Yard

When you ask me about my hometown this is where my thoughts go. My grannie's house. My granny was my number one fan and she allowed me to have oh so many adventures. My fondest memories are digging a pit and making turtle soup in a real turtle shell I found, catching her hill on fire with one of my campfires, using the hose to shoot her rooster out of those trees.... then running as if my life depended on it, and best of all watching how paper burned in her living room floor. I did catch the floor on fire so I was banned from matches.

I moved away from my hometown when I was 42 and have discovered that my hometown is where my home is. The next photos are from my other hometowns over the last ten years.

Elfrida, Arizona 2011-13

San Pedro River, Palominas, Arizona 2013-14

Whiteriver, Arizona on the White Mountain Apache Reservation 2014-15

Free- Roaming Horse on the White Mountain Apache Reservation

Rainbow Lake in Pinetop, Arizona

Douglas, Arizona Port of Entry 2 miles from my home now

I moved to Douglas, Arizona three and a half years ago to finish my Ph.D. The laid back culture here cannot be replicated anywhere else in the United States. I stay here for the avocados, 5 for $1 !!! I am almost certain this will remain my new hometown.

Douglas' New City Park

Kids, my grandson, can still play outside in the street!

Fort Rucker in the Chiracahua Mountains

Entrance to the Chiracahua Mountains..... You have been warned!

Bears No Problem I still hike and picnic because Arizona is an open carry state!

The River in at Fort Rucker in the Chiracahua Mountains

Chiracahua National Monument

My Tortoise GT can stay outside 9 Months Out of the Year

FoodCity Groceries are the Best!

Where else can you find Pink Lady Apples at this price?!

Church of the Immaculate Conception on 10th St.

The picture of the church is one of my favorite because I walk by there on my late afternoon walks. I love this town, my new hometown, because I can walk just before/after dark when it's nice a cool with NO worries. I am two miles from the Mexican border and I feel safe to walk, go to the park and let my kids play outside. Life is Good!

travel photography

About the Creator

VNessa Erlene

A Ph.D. student and Celtic Priestess who is an explorer of knowledge, spirituality, and political incorrectness. Your voice and knowledge is your power!

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