About Elaine-iaK's Travels

As a graduate of Recreation Administration, from San Diego State University, I have made recreation and travels my career and life’s passion. After graduation, I traveled solo for one year throughout the South Pacific, doing travel photography in a wide variety of settings. Upon my return, many of my photographs became the subjects of my newly created line of handcrafted photographic greeting cards, "Exquisite! By, Elaine", a business I have had since 1986. Check them out at: http://ExquisiteCards.fototime.com . In 1983, I began teaming up with my mom, Goldie, teaching arts & crafts to cruise ship passengers, aboard Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean. In addition, I lectured on travel photography, as well as Australia and New Zealand history, aboard Princess Cruises. In 2004, I formed a new teaching team with my recently retired husband, Bruce, who serves as my "humble assistant" until 2010 when the cruise lines shifted the arts and crafts program to mostly being taught by their own staff. Currently, our favorite mode of travel is by river boat. Along the way, we enjoy poking around small European towns, meeting the people, seeking out interesting photo subjects, and always stopping at every chocolatier to make a purchase. Adding to my chocolate label and wrapper collection is a bonus! And, as a U.S. Masters swimmer, if I can find a pool to get in a swim with the locals, all the better! Cheers! Elaine-iaK ~ Believing in your dreams can be far more rewarding than living by your limitations~ -Karla Peterson


Last week, Bruce and I took a break from the routine to head up to North Georgia.  Over the years, we had always passed through the northern part of our state on our way to other destinations.  This time, we rented a log cabin on Cherry Lake Mountain, halfway between Ellijay and Blue Ridge.

Bruce found us a cute cabin through Morning Breeze Cabin Rentals that had a beautiful view of Cherry Lake below.  We purposely booked it for a week before the crowds would descend on the area for the Ellijay Apple Festival and expected fall foliage color change.  The last thing we wanted to deal with were crowds right before our hectic holiday craft show season!

Our cabin (top floor, with hot tub and another deck below)
The view from the screened in porch of Cherry Lake was lovely!
This bear-themed cabin had black bears EVERYWHERE!
Bruce kickin’ back at the edge of the lake
Cherry Lake, located just below the cabin
This is a pond near our cabin that I discovered on one of my Cherry Log Mountain Hikes. Bruce and I returned with his fishing pole; however, the fish weren’t biting.
Another discovery on my mountain hike, just beyond the pond.

If we had written a wish list for the perfect week in North Georgia, it couldn’t have been any better than what we actually got:  Sunny and dry with daily high temperatures in the upper 70’s to low 80’s every day until we left.  Better yet, there were no crowds!  On our back-country drives, we often had the road all to ourselves—perfect for the loop from our cabin to the apple orchards in Ellijay, and then to Amicalola Falls, followed by Dahlonega, and then finally back to Blue Ridge via the curvy (and fun!) GA-60.  What an awesome day!

These were the highlights of our week:

Amicalola Falls State Park.  Don’t go to North Georgia and miss seeing these gorgeous waterfalls!  Located eight miles from the Appalachian Trail, the park is within the Chattahoochee National Forest, between Ellijay and Dahlonega, in Dawsonville.  At 729 feet, Amicalola Falls is the third-highest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River.

Although there are longer hiking trails leading from the lodge to the falls, we opted to park at the Reflection Pool and hike in on the Appalachian Approach Trail to the observation platform.  It’s a short hike that parallels the creek running from the falls, and the sound of the water was so mesmerizing.  The first observation platform is at the base of the falls, and the views were spectacular!  The higher observation platform was just 175 steps up.  For those needing rest, there were small rest arears along the climb up.  The views were breathtaking!

Blue Ridge.  Located 90 miles north of Atlanta via I-575, Blue Ridge is located on the Georgia-Tennessee-North Carolina line.  A hiker’s and trout fisherman’s paradise, Blue Ridge was ranked by Southern Living Magazine as one of the 2020 South’s Best Mountain Towns.

The quaint downtown is the starting point for the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway; however, we opted not to ride the train to the Georgia-Tennessee border and just stay in Blue Ridge. There were a lot of nice shops, galleries, and restaurants in a quaint, but not too touristy-looking atmosphere.  Thankfully, it wasn’t ruined by tacky Ripley’s “attractions” like Gatlinburg, Tennessee was.  (We later drove on our own to McCaysville, GA / Copper Hill, TN; however, the journey was more enjoyable than the destination.)

For us, the highlight of Blue Ridge was visiting The Art Center, home to the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association.  Located in the former Fannin County Courthouse, exhibits are on display throughout the building.  Our favorite was the Contemporary Southern Folk Art exhibit (ending soon!) on display in the former court where trials formerly took place.  The association did an outstanding job turning the courthouse into a spacious and beautiful gallery!  Check out their website for upcoming exhibits and make sure to stop by to check them out.  We visited mid-week and had the entire place to ourselves!  There is no charge, but please drop a donation into the glass bowl as it is a non-profit arts association.

Whenever I research a travel destination, I always search the Trip Advisor website for recommendations.  Since the top-rated restaurant was a casual, locally-owned favorite with outdoor dining, it was a must for us.  We will definitely return to The Rum Cake Lady Cuban Food Café in downtown Blue Ridge when we visit the area again!  The food was delicious, and the restaurant offered vegan and vegetarian options.

This very fierce looking dog guarded The Rum Cake Lady Cuban Food Cafe.
If it’s fried, I ain’t eatin’ it! We passed on this restaurant…
This pig greeted us at Hillcrest Orchards.

Further south in Ellijay, the highlight was hitting the apple orchard trail.  Although Mercier Orchards back up in Blue Ridge has the most Trip Advisor reviews, our favorite orchard of the five we visited was Panorama Orchards, located three miles south of the center of Ellijay.  Both orchards are rated 4-1/2 stars on Trip Advisor; however, we enjoyed shopping for goodies at Panorama Orchards’ market much more than at Mercier.  The apples are priced the same at both markets; however, Panorama has an incredible selection of food items at better prices, including their homemade preserves, jams, apple breads (delicious!) and other bakery items. 

In the back of the market, there is a large window where you can watch them making fudge and other candies—all priced better than at any of the other orchards we visited.  The fudge (made with fresh cream and butter) is heavenly, so pick some up to bring home.

Panorama Orchards was also the only one that made their own ice cream, and it was priced better than any of the ice cream shops we checked out in Northern Georgia.  The Blueberry Cheesecake ice cream was delicious!

We picked up a ½ peck of Honeycrisp apples to munch on in the cabin, and then stopped by on the way home for another ½ peck to bring home with us.  They were the best apples I have ever had!

Here are a few more snap shots from our trip. (I still haven’t replaced my broken favorite camera, so all of the shots in this post were with my cheap, sub-par Fuji underwater swimming video camera.)

This not-so-humble 4-story abode (complete with boat house) was located across from Lake Blue Ridge Marina.
I roped Bruce into straddling the state line for the ultimate cheesy picture. SAY CHEEEEZE!
Hmmm, drugs and guns. What could possibly go wrong? This is so typically North Georgia…
I pondered over this shot debating with myself whether I should include this or not. There is just SO MUCH I could say about this that it could take up an entire blog post. Suffice it to say that I would never last a day as this guy’s neighbor. After all, McCaysville Drug & Gun was located just up the street, and I’m sure the owner of this banner is their best customer! I’d be a goner.


Badass superwomen continue to grace our Sun City Peachtree bench.  Meet Marvel Comics’ Invisible Woman, aka Sue Storm Richards.  She is a formidable heroine with the ability to render herself and others invisible (or partially invisible) at will, affecting up to 40,000 cubic feet of volume.  To achieve these feats, she mentally blends all wavelengths of light in the vicinity around herself, or the target in question, without causing any visible distortion effects. 

“Stormy Sue” also has extended vision allowing her to see invisible people and objects.  She can detect anything made invisible by means outside her powers, and can restore those targets to a visible state at will. 

Invisible Woman can project and manipulate near-indestructible invisible force fields, making her a more effective combatant.  She can also shape invisible fields into constructs, turning them into offensive weapons as small as a marble or as large as 100 feet in diameter.

I’ve only scratched the surface of her vast powers, but you get the idea.  In my opinion, her greatest power is that she’s an excellent swimmer!

Rogue, formerly known as Anna Marie, is another Marvel comic badass superwoman.  She briefly visited the other day, and then magically disappeared shortly thereafter.  I never got to see her, but the artist sent this to me:

Without the capacity to control her mutant ability to absorb memories and powers, Rogue was once on a dark path.  She has successfully redeemed herself as a heroine, though, joining the X-Men and the Avengers to fight for good.

Rogue’s mutant ability requires skin-to-skin contact to absorb memories, powers, personality traits, physical talents, and strength.  For most of her heroic career, she was unable to control her power, and anyone she touched would almost immediately fall unconscious.  This inability to regulate her power was largely psychological in nature, but she eventually overcame it with the help of Charles Xavier.

Just like Invisible Woman, Rogue has a much more complex history and set of powers in Marvel Universe, so I’ll leave it to you explore their world in the comics while I wait to see who stops by the bench next!


First it was Catwoman, and then Wonder Woman; and, now Supergirl has arrived!  It’s Superman’s cousin here to save the world!

Supergirl (aka Kara Zor-El) was born and raised in the Kryptonian population of Argo City.  Kara Zor-El was sent by her parents to Earth to save her life and meet her cousin Kal-El.  As a teenager and an immigrant, Kara has to learn to adapt to a completely different culture while she copes with their family’s loss.

A kind-hearted soul, Supergirl becomes optimistic and independent as she matures, but she felt quite lonely and alienated during her first years on Earth.  Thanks to her cousin and foster parents, though, she eventually came to love her new planet.

There’s another side to Supergirl, though; the badass side.  Having little patience for bullies, she can become short-tempered, aggressive, and snarky.  When that badass side of Supergirl comes out, watch out!  She’s one powerful gal—incredibly strong, fast, and quite the adept flyer.  Her eyes can emit bursts of heat, while her vision ranges from the microscopic to the telescopic.  She can even see x-trays and radio waves!

Supergirl’s hearing is also extraordinary!  She can hear the faintest of sounds amongst a bustle of noises just by concentrating. 

In addition to all of those superpowers, the mighty heroine can also inhale and exhale large amounts of air to either blow away or freeze her target.

The superhero was created by writer Otto Binder and designed by artist Al Plastino in 1959, and she first appeared in Action Comics #252.  She became so popular that she has lived on in all sorts of media.  You go girl!


Two badass women come to the rescue!  First, Catwoman arrived early one morning, but somebody snagged the rock by the time the artist looped around our pod and revisited the bench.  Darn it! 

This photo is from the artist:

Catwoman is Batman’s lady superwoman friend.  A jewel thief from Gotham City, she steals jewels in order to survive.  (At least she does it in style!)  She learned martial arts and trained extensively to perfect her skills in cat burglary.  Her criminal activities are often tempered by a reluctant altruism, so she is an occasional ally to superhero Batman.  She regularly eludes capture by the Dark Knight and maintains a complicated, adversarial relationship with Batman that frequently turns flirtatious and occasionally, legitimately romantic.

Selina Kyle was the original and most widely known Catwoman and first appeared in Batman #1, in 1940.  Back then, she was known as “The Cat” and was an adversary of Batman.  She carried a whip during her high-stake thefts.  Modern writers have attributed her activities and costumed identity as a response to a history of abuse.

Since the 1990’s, Catwoman has been one of Batman’s most enduring love interests and has been featured in most media adaptations related to Batman. 

Next up on the Sun City Peachtree bench?  Wonder Woman!  A DC Comics superhero, the character first appeared in All Star Comics #8, in 1941.  I missed her, too, so here is the artist’s picture:

As a civilian, Wonder Woman is known as Diana Prince; but, when she is in her homeland, the island nation of Themyscira, her official title is Princess Diana of Themyscira.

The superwoman was created by the American psychologist and writer William Moulton Marston (pen name: Charles Marston) and artist Harry G. Peter, during World War II.  The character was initially depicted fighting Axis forces as well as an assortment of colorful supervillains.  Over time, though, her stories came to place greater emphasis on characters, deities, and monsters of Greek mythology.  Many stories depicted Wonder Woman freeing herself from bondage, which counterpointed the “damsel in distress” trope that was common in comics in the 1940’s.

Wonder Woman is a powerful and strong-willed woman who commands respect; and, she never backs down from a fight or a challenge.  What a badass!

If you want to watch a modern-day badass in action, check out Queen Latifah in The Equalizer on CBS.  She rocks!


“With great power comes great responsibility,” Spider-Man stoically stated as he stood watch on the Sun City Peachtree bench.  He was ready to react quickly to potential danger with his “spider-sense” power and “web-shooter” in hand.

“Spidey” is a Marvel Comics superhero and the main protagonist of the entire Marvel Universe.  Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, he first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15, in August, 1962.

Before becoming a superhero, Peter Parker was an orphan raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben.  Like many teenagers, young Peter had to deal with the normal struggles of high school life.  He felt rejected, inadequate, and lonely—feelings teenagers in real life could relate to so well.  As a result, Lee and Ditko’s superhero creation was a huge hit in the comic book world.

When Spider-Man first appeared in the early 1960s, teenagers in the superhero comic books were usually relegated to the role of sidekick to the protagonist.  Lee and Ditko changed that by making their teenage character the star.

Since the teenage superhero didn’t benefit from being the protégé of any adult mentors like Captain American and Batman, he had to figure things out for himself, including the realization that “with great power comes great responsibility.”  That line appeared in the final panel of the first Spider-Man story.

Over the years in the comic book series, Spider-Man developed from a shy high school student to a troubled but outgoing college student.  He then became a high school teacher and got married in the late 2000s.  In his most typical adult role, he is a single freelance photographer. 

Spider-Man is now a member of the unofficial splinter group of the Avengers, one of Marvel’s flagship superhero teams.  The “web-head” is one of the most popular and commercially successful superheroes and is Marvel’s company mascot. 


The other day, this adorable baby penguin waddled her way to Sun City Peachtree and somehow managed to hop up onto the bench for a rest.  She had come a long way, after all!

Here’s a little fun fact about penguins:  They are incredibly fast swimmers!  Their wings function like wheels in the water, and they can have a speed of up to 15 mph.  On land, however, they’re not so fast.  They walk (or waddle!) at a speed range between 1.7 mph to 2.4 mph.

If you compare the swimming speed of penguins to Olympic gold medalists such as Caeleb Dressel or Michael Phelps, they race at less than a third the speed of penguins.

Yesterday, this kangaroo hopped with her joey all the way from Australia to join us up here in Georgia.  I wonder if they stowed away on a ship to get here?  Nah, they probably escaped from the Atlanta Zoo instead.  What a couple of cuties!

Have you ever wondered why Australia has a sporting flag of a kangaroo in boxing gloves?  The idea of a boxing kangaroo originates from the animal’s defensive behavior, in which it will use its small forelegs (its arms) to hold an attacker in place while using the claws on its larger hind legs to try to kick, slash or disembowel them.  This stance gives the impression that the kangaroo appears to be boxing with its attacker. 

The boxing kangaroo is a national symbol of Australia, and is often displayed prominently by Australian spectators at sporting events.  It rose to prominence in 1983 when the Australia II team won the America’s Cup, and the crew raised the Boxing Kangaroo (“BK”) as their sporting battle flag.  The image, a red-gloved golden kangaroo on a green background, was owned by Alan Bond (owner of the Australia II yacht) who licensed it for mass production.

The next animal to visit was Scooby-Doo, the pet and lifelong companion of Shaggy Rogers.  Although he’s a Great Dane, Scooby-Doo and Shaggy share several personality traits, mostly being fearful and perpetually hungry.  The pooch doesn’t say much, but every word he does manage to utter has an “R” at the front of it, due to a speech impediment.  One of his catch phrases is “Ruh-roh, Raggy” (Uh-oh, Shaggy).  He also howls at the end of every episode, “Scooby-Dooby-Doo!” or “Rooby-Rooby-Roo!”

A Hanna-Barbera creation, Scooby-Doo was a children’s cartoon on CBS.  Fred Silverman, the children’s programming director, came up with the character’s name from the syllables “doo-be-doo-be-doo” in Frank Sinatra’s hit song Strangers in the Night. Artist Iwao Takamoto took it from there and designed the character after first speaking to a Great Dane Breeder, who described to him the desirable characteristics of a pedigree dog.  Takamoto then drew Scooby as the opposite of this.  He said, “I decided to go the opposite [way] and gave him a hump back, bowed legs, small chin and such.  Even his colour is wrong.”  That’s what makes him so cute and loveable, I think!


It appears as if the superheroes have taken over the Sun City Peachtree bench, so we continue with Batman who is visiting us from Gotham City.  CEO of Wayne Enterprises and patriarch of the Bat Family, Batman is a veteran member of the Justice League.  His real name is Bruce Wayne, but shhhh!  Nobody knows that Bruce Wayne is Batman!  It’s his secret identity!

Bruce had witnessed the murder of his parents as a child, so that is what lead him to become a crime fighter.  He trained hard to become physically fit and mentally strong, so he could fight evil.  When it’s time for the fight, he dons his batman costume and heads to the Batcave beneath Wayne Manor to prepare for the fight.  He is assisted by his butler Alfred Pennyworth.

Although Batman does not possess any superpowers like most superheroes, he uses his intellect, detective skills, science and technology, wealth, physical prowess, and intimidation to the best of his abilities.

Batman (aka The Dark Knight, The Caped Crusader, World’s Greatest Detective, and the Defender of Gotham) was created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger.  The character made his first appearance in Detective Comics #27, in May, 1939.

Meanwhile, another superhero, Iron Man, stopped by the bench as well, but quickly disappeared to fight another crime.

Anthony (Tony) Edward Stark is Iron Man.  He is a billionaire superhero from Marvel Universe and a founding member of the Avengers. 

Adopted by Howard and Maria Stark, little Tony grew up privileged without a care in the world.  Receiving the best education money could buy, he attended boarding school and found academics was a breeze.  At the age of 15, attended M.I.T., and by the age of 17, he had already graduated with three Phd’s.

Tony’s perfect world shattered when his parents were killed in a car crash orchestrated by one of Stark Industries’ rivals, leaving Tony the heir of their fortune and company, a weapons manufacturer.

One day, Tony was in Pakistan demonstrating a Stark Industries weapon, and it blew up in his face, leaving a piece of shrapnel piercing his chest and sinking towards his heart.  While unconscious, he was captured by the Ten Rings terrorist group in Pakistan.  Held at gunpoint, the group forced Tony to engineer bombs for them and receive treatment for the shrapnel injury or left to die.  Being as clever as he is, Tony instead built a chest plate that would stop the shrapnel from killing him, then he built a mech suit around it.  With his suit, he escaped the camp and dedicated his life to heroism.  After returning from Pakistan, Tony spent his days fighting crime and eventually forming superhero groups like the Avengers.


Captain America has arrived at Sun City Peachtree!  For some of our residents, I’m sure he’ll bring back childhood memories of lazy summer afternoons spent reading Timely Comics’s Captain America while lounging in the shade under a tree.

The superhero dates back to March of 1941 when Timely Comics (a predecessor to Marvel Comics) released Captain America Comics #1, created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.  The character was designed as a patriotic super soldier who often fought the Axis powers of World War II. 

Captain America is the alter ego of Steve Rogers, a frail young artist enhanced to the peak of human perfection by an experimental “super soldier serum,” after joining the military to aid the United States in the World War II effort.  The character wears a costume bearing an American flag motif, and he utilizes a nearly-indestructible shield that he throws as a projectile. 

Joe Simon had first conceived the idea for Captain America in 1940 and made a sketch of the character in a patriotic costume.  In Simon’s autobiography, he stated, “I wrote the name ‘Super American’ at the bottom of the page.  No, it didn’t work.  There were too many ‘Supers’ around.  ‘Captain America’ had a good sound to it.  There weren’t a lot of captains in comics.  It was as easy as that.  The boy companion was simply named Bucky, after my friend Bucky Pierson, a star on our high school basketball team.”

Simon said Captain America was a consciously political creation; he and Jack Kirby were morally repulsed by the actions of Nazi Germany in the years leading up to the United States’ involvement in World War II.

Fittingly, their first issue featured Captain America punching Adolf Hitler in the jaw.  That image proved so popular that one million copies of the comic book were sold.

Not everybody was thrilled with the cover, though.  As Simon noted, “When the first issue came out we got a lot of… threatening letters and hate mail.  Some people really opposed what Cap stood for.”  The threats, which included menacing groups of people loitering out on the street outside of their offices, proved so serious that police protection was posted with Mayor Fiorello La Guardia personally contacting Simon and Kirby to give his support.

The fans outweighed the objectors, though, and Captain America was Timely Comics’ most popular character of the period.  The popularity of superheroes waned following the war, however, and Captain America comics was discontinued in 1950.  Marvel Comics revived it in 1964, though, and the superhero has been around ever since.  As of 2007, and estimated 210 million copies of the comics had been sold in 75 countries.

The superhero was the first Marvel Comics character to appear in media outside comics with the release of the 1944 movie serial, Captain America.  Since then, the character has been featured in other films and television series, including The Avengers, released in 2012.

Meanwhile, as I mentioned in my previous post about Popeye, if any more of his buddies (or enemies) came along to our community, I would let you know.  Although somebody snagged him off the bench before I got there, Bluto made a brief appearance.  The artist photographed the rock, so I could share it with you.

Bluto the Terrible is Popeye’s best-known enemy.  The brute always has a plot to get the better of his rival or strike it rich.  He’s a selfish and greedy dude, and has a devious attraction to Olive Oyl.  Popeye comes to her rescue, though, thanks to his trusty spinach, which makes him strong, powerful, and able to defeat the villain.

These beauties are a few random acts of kindness left on our neighborhood bench over the past days:


Popeye and his family have come to Sun City Peachtree to take shelter from Hurricane Ida, which is pummeling the Louisiana coast as I write.  He has abandoned his boat somewhere on the lower Mississippi, so I hope it will weather the storm ok. 

I missed the day Popeye arrived; he was snagged off the bench before I got to him.  The artist helped me out with a photo for this story.  The same happened with Wimpy.

The corn cob pipe-smokin’ sailor is actually from the upper Mississippi, in Chester Illinois.  We visited his birthplace in 2017, and you can read about Popeye’s hometown here.

Elzie Crisler Segar, Popeye’s creator, was born in Chester, and created his Thimble Theatre comic strip in 1928.  Several of his characters were based on his experiences with people from the town.

The muttering Popeye is a language-challenged character—he mangles the easiest of words to pronounce.  Although he is violent and uncivilized, the sailor is an introspective guy and has his morals. 

Sporting a couple of anchor tattoos on his huge forearms, he has an interesting body type with those skinny upper arms.  Since we never see his right eye, I’m not sure if he is missing it entirely or just squinting. 

Those massive forearms serve Popeye well when he needs his strength.  Of course, it isn’t until he eats spinach when he becomes mighty enough to lift huge, heavy objects.

Olive Oyl is Popeye’s absent-minded and flirty girlfriend.  Have you wondered how she got her name?  Back in the 1800’s, Chester’s chief commodity was castor oil, which was used as a lubricant.  Castor Oyl and Crude Oyl are two of Segar’s comic strip characters, and Olive is their little sister. 

Segar actually created Olive Oyl an entire decade before Popeye came along.  The sailor became so popular, though, that Segar renamed his strip after the spinach-eating dude.

Olive, as Popeye would like to say, is “a perfect 57… 19-19-19.”  Those are her measurements—extremely skinny! 

Baby Swee’Pea, named for the flower (and Popeye’s term of endearment for Olive Oyl), was found in a box on Popeye’s doorstep, on July 24, 1933.  Popeye adopted the baby and raised him as his son.  In an August 17, 1933 comic strip, he christened his “boy-kid” as “Scooner Seawell Georgia Washenting Christiffer Columbia Daniel Boom.”  It’s a bit cumbersome, don’t you think?

Finally, there’s Popeye’s lazy pal, J. Wellington Wimpy.  The guy loves his burgers, and it shows!  He’s smart and well-educated, but watch out, because he likes to mooch!  He’ll do whatever it takes to get a free burger.  Although he’ll always promise to pay you back “on Tuesday,” he never does. 

I’ll keep you posted if any of Popeye’s other pals come along.  Meanwhile, here are a bunch of other Betty Boop’s that I never got to see, because they were snagged before I got to the bench: