Monday, January 26, 2015

A Circle Completed: Toccoa Falls

My last time here, I shared our family experience of going to Toccoa, Georgia, following the footsteps of the Band of Brothers to the place where they began their journey of becoming the famous paratroopers portrayed in the fabulous miniseries. I did, however, have a more personal reason for visiting this area.

As I spoke of in the first installment of my long winded tale (6 Parts!) about our earlier vacation trip to Atlanta, Georgia, I have had a link with Atlanta and Georgia that went back to before I was even born seeing that Atlanta was where my parents went on their honeymoon and then returned on their tenth anniversary dragging along two little boys with them. On their return trip from their honeymoon, they made one additional stop, one of which I'd heard my mom speak of many times as well as of her regret of not having made that stop again with her two sons when we went back home after our trip to Atlanta. Therefore, I had no intention of being in the area and not making the stop myself to see Toccoa Falls on the campus of Toccoa Falls College.

Initially, the institution founded in 1911 was called Toccoa Falls Institute, focusing on theological studies as well as adding secondary courses. In 1937, it was chartered as a four-year college,  becoming Toccoa Falls College, allowing it to grant a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical Education. But the campus also has a tourist attraction, a 186-foot high waterfall called Toccoa Falls, thus the name of the college.

The falls are the tallest free falling waterfalls in the Eastern United States and are a magnificent sight. Though Lynndee had seen one waterfall when she lived in the Philippines, it was not as high as Toccoa Falls.

Fittingly, Toccoa is the Cherokee word for beautiful.

As beautiful as they are, they do have a dark story in their history. On November 6, 1977, the Kelly Barnes Dam, used for electrical power since the early days of the Toccoa Falls Institute, collapsed, creating a flash flood that drowned the lower part of the campus, destroying and damaging many structures but even worse, killing 39. A marker stands on-site today giving tribute to the community's support after the disaster.

But discovering that history did not take away from the joy of our visit on a beautiful spring day. As you can see by the photos, it was a stunning visual experience. I so wish I had taken the time to download some of the photos mom took while there so I could have shared them. In them you would see the stark difference between that time and now. Those old black-and-white photos were taken with one of those Brownie box cameras, what I guess was state of the art 60-some years ago. But from them, came her memories of that day in her life that she shared with me so many times.

And on our day there, I experienced a certain sense of closure, making come true what mom had always wished she had done back in the day, taking me and my brother to see the falls. And in a sense, I truly did feel that a circle was completed. Mom and dad came here on their honeymoon, and seeing that Lynndee and I did not have the opportunity to take a real honeymoon, I've considered all the road trips we taken to be mini honeymoons.

I couldn't help but feel that this one was a continuation and closing of the legacy left to me by mom and dad. Words cannot describe what I felt while standing there, knowing that mom and dad had done the same and saw the same sight we were looking upon. The thing is, on this, our day at the falls, we created our own special memories, documenting them with our state of the art photos, and life can get no better than that.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Mushroom Brown Rice Pilaf

I am a big rice eater. Coming from a country where rice is the staple food, I think there's no wonder about that. But surprisingly, I had never eaten rice pilaf until when we had our New Year's Day dinner at Cracker Barrel. I'd been wanting to try it though, but just didn't get around to do it.

A couple of days ago, things went as planned, especially since I didn't forget to put the ingredients on the grocery list. So, I finally was able to prepare my much-desired pilaf here at home. I got a recipe online, but chose to tweak it a bit.

Here it is.

Mushroom Brown Rice Pilaf


1 can (16 oz) chicken broth
3/4 cup uncooked brown rice
4 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion
9 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
1/2 cup baby carrots (sliced)
2-1/2 cups fresh mushrooms (sliced)
3 large eggs (beaten)
salt and pepper to taste


1) Bring 1 can chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add in rice and cook.
2) Heat butter in a skillet.
3) Saute onions for 5 minutes.
4) Add in garlic and sliced carrots.
5) Add in sliced mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are slightly browned.
6) Add in eggs and stir constantly until cooked.
7) Add the cooked rice and toss.
8) Season with salt and pepper.

The fact that I love mushrooms added to my enjoyment of this recipe. I was also glad that both my husband and son liked it. I was such a happy camper! (",)