Monthly Round-Up: Rose & Thorns – November 2021

November Rose & Thorns – A monthly recap of the highs and lows experienced throughout each month.

Rose: First Solo Trip

On a whim, I took myself on a road trip to Helen, Georgia, this month. I’m not sure if listening to true-crime podcasts helped keep me vigilant or made me nervous about traveling such a far distance alone. Either way, I forced myself to rise to the challenge. There were a few mantras I repeated to myself to keep me from panicking and running back to my Airbnb mid-trip; 1. What would Rick Steves do? 2. You will never see these people again. 3. Stop overthinking. 


As the days went on, my solo travel anxiety faded away. I took in the golden, and amber fall leaves that married with the Holiday decorations lighting up this little alpine town. Each day, I ate as many soft pretzels as I humanly could, hiked, and tried to soak up the history of every historical marker I passed. As I reflect on the trip, I look at the pictures I took, and I don’t see someone shaking from nervousness, but someone trying to grow and build confidence. 

Like a set of Russian nest dolls, I’d like to share my Rose & Thorn for this trip. The rose is discovering Sautee Culture and Arts District; a local suggested I go for lunch. I’m so glad I took their suggestion. This tiny town is just a few buildings at a crossroad leading out of Helen. I stopped in the Old Sautee Store, established in 1872; this general store has provided everything from apparel to farm-fresh cheese. I made it just in time to grab a sandwich and sweet tea before they stopped serving food for the day. The chicken salad sandwich was spot on to the type of sandwich my grandmother would make for me as a kid. In my preliminary research of things to do around Helen, the town of Sautee did not come up on my radar. I’m glad I asked someone local where to go, or I would have missed out on this hidden gem. 

Aside from the anxiety I felt at the beginning of the trip, there were no bumps in the road. My only thorn would have to be on my last night in Helen; I took myself to dinner at The Heidelberg. I was excited because the balcony overlooking the beer garden was open, offering a prime people-watching location. At this point, I was comfortable sitting alone, sipping my gluhwein and waiting for my pretzel to arrive. There were only three tables on this tiny patio. By social distancing standards, we were not six feet apart.


I was surprised when I was snapped out of my daydream by one of the guys sitting at the table next to me, exclaiming how he “could never eat at a restaurant alone.” I’m the only person eating alone on this postage-stamp patio! Up until now, I felt like I had been wandering around this town with an invisibility cloak for the past three days, and now it had been ripped away. I wanted to cry. Instead, I did what any mature adult would do; I turned to him in a blatant stare, not breaking eye contact, and took a very long sip of my drink. The table was silent. Their minds tried to change the subject but were frozen by my stare. With perfect timing, the waitress delivered the pretzel to my table like it was a well-orchestrated play. Nothing more was said, but the bold declaration pointing out my loneliness by this stranger stuck with me. 

Casual walk in Helen Georgia. November rose and thorn

Thorn: Making Strawberry Short Cake the State Dessert

As I drove out of Florida on my solo road trip, I listened to the latest news updates on NPR until the station became static. One of the news stories that made my ears perk up was the announcement of the music performers scheduled for the Strawberry Festival this season. The reporter also mentioned the strawberry shortcake had gotten a senator to sponsor a bill to make it the States official dessert. I almost slammed on my breaks and made a detour to Tallahassee. While I look forward to building “your own strawberry shortcake” at the festival each year, I do not believe it represents the state as a whole. That title belongs to Key Lime Pie. 


Our State’s dessert has to represent the citrus industry we’re known for globally. Whether made from genuine Key Limes or not, the key lime pie still rolls off the tongue in the same smooth pattern as the custard itself. Never referred to as just lime pie (yuck), grocery stores worldwide pay homage to the tiny row of keys dotting the southernmost point in Florida. The strawberry shortcake doesn’t have the same clout. 

Favorites of the Month

I didn’t buy anything this month worth sharing. At this point, we’re all inundated with ads and sales. Honestly, I’m over it already. The news has gone on and on, warning of issues with supply changes slowing the pace of shipping, and quintiles will be limited. I just want to enjoy the season by waking through brightly lit Christmas lights in the park and seeing the friends and family I love. 

Last year, I posted about the local shops I purchased gifts; 5 Businesses to support during  Shop Small Saturday. This year I plan to continue to shop small for the Holidays season and try to make handmade gifts. 


November Blog Post Recap

In case you missed any posts this month: 

Yellowstone National Park – Five Day Itinerary – This post took forever to write. But I’m so happy with the amount of detail I could include. If you’re planning to visit Yellowstone or just want to know how much ground we covered on our first trip, check it out. 

What You Need To Know About Camping In Yellowstone National Park – A few unplanned surprises popped up during this trip. But I would camp in the snow all over again.

Five Things You Should Do At The Florida Welcome Center – Planning a road trip to Florida? Make sure you stop by the Welcome Center. 

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