Long-distance — even that which is coverable in a day’s drive — has proved to be one of the most challenging aspects of my continued relationship with Madison. Prior to a week ago, we’d not made additional plans to see each other again (not out of lack of desire — more just uncertainty and lack of time): but I decided that I would forgo the annual ATAC Long Course Invitational Swim meet which I usually coach, to head up to Georgia and spend an extended 4-day “vacation” with my lovely girlfriend.

I arrived Thursday evening, later than I’d anticipated; I’d spent the morning bustling and hurrying — packing, and having my phone repaired after I’d dropped it from my DJI drone controller the evening prior. I swam at the indoor olympic pool while Madison coached.

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Looking south-west over Cedar Hill Road during golden hour, with Holley Pond on the left, and Carr Lake on the right.

Friday, I’d hoped to be able to trek across the northern half of the state to visit Tallulah Gorge State Park to hike, but after a rainy day Thursday, and Madison having to coach Friday morning, I wasn’t confident we’d be able to make it to the park in time to acquire a gorge floor permit (necessary for the “coolest” and most challenging hikes in the park) — if permits were issued at all due to slipping hazards on the rocky trails.

Instead, we visited a state park much closer to Madison: Sweetwater Creek. There, we hiked around five miles, including one of the park’s more challenging trails — a steep 800–1000′ climb and descent.

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An HDR image of a flight of wooden stairs on the trail, just after (or before, depending on how one hikes the trail) the peak of one of the tallest Sweetwater Creek State Park hills.
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A color frame of the dappled light beaming through the trees; I also took a couple frames of this same scene on Ilford Pan F 50 ASA film — we’ll see how those turn out when I get the film developed towards the end of the summer.
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It was hot. We were both sweaty and gross.
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Is this how paper beats rock?
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The second segment of our hike was cut short, meaning we (I…) didn’t have time to venture too far down or into the class IV rapids in the park, but we did poke around a little…
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It was a warm day and families and heckin’ good doggos abounded on and off the trail next to the rapids.
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The second segment of our hike was cut short, meaning we (I…) didn’t have time to venture too far down or into the class IV rapids in the park, but we did poke around a little…
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Madison was VERY eager to take a self-timer photo with her phone, and the first time we tried (here) — she jumped me! (Also, feat my great sweat stain that looks like I peed myself…)

Saturday, Madison coached again in the morning; while she worked, I worked out — finishing a 100 minute bike/run brick workout. That afternoon, we went into downtown Atlanta to visit the Georgia Aquarium; Madison hadn’t been in years, and I’d never had the opportunity. After a few hours there, we spent the remainder of the daylight evening hours in downtown Marietta, perusing the local shops and eating dinner/dessert.

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The first tank of the day — some sort of tiny (BABY!) jellyfish in a wonderfully-lit enclosure: the brainless creatures turned out beautifully.
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We JUST (by like 5–10 minutes) missed the piranha feeding…but they were still milling about semi-agitated when we passed the tank; I realized how glittery their scales were, and sat for several minutes waiting for the flashiest fish to swim by, and ended up with this, which I feel is reminiscent of a mid-century mafia boss from New York City — in fish form…
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This little crab was in an un-labeled tank in an alcove off the beaten path on the second floor of the aquarium.
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I really loved the colors in this image, and was quite proud of my composition.
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So happy.
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Bemused.

Sunday was a laid-back but productive day, with the both of us completing a variety of tedious but necessary “homework” and chores. I arrived back in Tallahassee this morning (Monday), ever-appreciative of the time I get to spend with my intelligent, beautiful girlfriend — a woman truly out to improve the well-being of others, and the world.

I haven’t been engaged on the blog recently, and I’ve posted very few photos; while I know “many” (what few readers/visitors I have) of you won’t be too interested in the back story for the above adventures, I thought that some might be intrigued by the photos — for those that are, thank you.

-Colin

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