Into the Georgia Mountains

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Dahlonega and Young Harris, Georgia

Dahlonega and Young Harris, Georgia

Linda and I went into the Mountains of Georgia to share with students my enthusiasm for John Muir and his walk through the region in 1867. He went through Unicoi Gap, past Track Rock, Mt. Yonah, and Helen, Georgia. We went to North Georgia University to meet with a group of students and learned about their Appalacian Studies program. Afterwards, we went to a coffee shop with Rosann Kent, and students Jessica and Josh to talk about their plans and goals. We then drove to Young Harris, Georgia to meet with students on two occasions–a dinner around the table and then an evening program. We we delighted with the arrangements made in our behalf. It was gratifying seeing how these students were interested in learning about the wider world through off campus programs and international education. Many students had come from Atlanta to the mountains just to get closer to nature. Their outdoor recreation program had worked significantly to prepare them for the John Muir material; many had read Muir in preparation. Thomas Sterns was a wonderful host. It was a delight to see the energy and vibrancy of this two year college becoming a four year college. Lots of new construction, student enrollment growth and growth of faculty. All in all we had a delightful time in the mountains of Georgia. We also appreciated the night spent at Brasstown Valley Resort. The lodge was stunning and its views commanding.

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University of Georgia, Griffin

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One of the delights of a book tour is meeting new people, sharing your enthusiasm about John Muir and finding some delightful restaurants and Museums. These photos were taken in Griffin, Georgia. I was invited to an evening lecture series but had the day to explore central Florida. Linda and I had lunch at Barnstormer’s Grill which had a flying museum adjacent to the very fine restaurant. The private museum financed by a former Delta pilot had a classic car collection, bi-planes and 1920’s airplanes all of which worked and could fly. It was a bit cold, otherwise we would have gone up into the wild blue yonder. Linda put a couple of quarters into a functional player piano and we danced away to “Yakity Yak.” Fun! We also visited a garden that we learned about in a local radio interview. It was delightful to hear the bird calls and actually see flowering forsythia, tulips, cherry blossoms, daffodils and pansies. This was a great treat after our long winter in which ice is still melting in our back yard in Spokane. The speaking event went very well and was followed by a wonderful dinner and even more delightful conversation from our UGA at Griffin hosts. Excellent conversations about cultural differences, race, politics and life. The little town has a huge Baptist Church at the heart of the town. It has about 59% Afro-American and 41% white. School leaders are determined to assist their high school students to engage in travel so as to help them meet a goal of equipping them to get into college. So far it seems to be working, but economic pressures make these initiatives difficult.

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Dealing with Media

Jim Hunt and Dr. Wayne Gardner being interviewed on radions, Griffin, GA

Jim Hunt and Dr. Wayne Gardner being interviewed on radions, Griffin, GA

One of my surprises was having to adjust from a lecture format to a media format on both TV and radio. I found this to be both a challenging and delightful experience. Most profs don’t do pithy. But with only three minutes on Macon, GA TV interview, I really needed to compress my message–not easy but doable, and a good challenge. I’m grateful for some school kids in the audience. I also learned that I need to focus more on the camera and less on the interviewer. The give and take in radio was more casually paced, but also lively in its own way. The interviewer, the son of the station’s owner, had a down home intelligence and winsome personality that brought out the best in use with jokes, humorous images and, yet, lots of good information. So far, this has been a remarkable experience. We enjoyed learning about the University of Georgia at Griffin, an agricultural research college that had a delightful garden, that Linda and I visited, with lots of wonderful bird songs in the sunshine.

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Book Tour Newbie, First Days

Thanks Kathie Bennet for setting up this wonderful tour through Georgia and Florida.

Thanks Kathie Bennet for setting up this wonderful tour through Georgia and Florida.

The first few days involved meeting Kathie Bennet, a very helpful contact who arranged our visits throughout Georgia and Florida. After recovering from daylight saving’s time and three hour jet lag, we went to Mercer University Press to meet with my editor, Mark Jolley, Marshall Luttrell and Mary Beth Kowolski. The Press is located on Orange Street and a home stuffed with books and delightful conversation and friendship. We got our large posters there and three boxes of books. Our hotel was the Wingate in Macon. Weather got a little rainy. We visited a lovely three story mansion with marvelous interior designed such as a pre-airconditioning airconditioning system and central heating before coal and oil called the Hay home kept up by the Georgia Historical Trust. In the evening after a dinner with members of the Audobon Society we went to our venue at the Museum of Arts and Culture. Doors were locked and I held an informal seminar with my John Muir’s Route poster under the eve of the entrance until the Director showed up with the keys. It was an experience of adaptability and flexibility. The lecture/reading went quite well, lots of good questions and fine feedback. Mercer University Press sold their books. All in all it was an eventful first day.

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Southern Book Tour

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Beginning tomorrow, I will provide reports and pictures of my Southern book tour in Georgia and Florida in sharing my enthusiasm for John Muir’s Thousand-Mile Walk based on my book, Restless Fires, Young John Muir’s Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf in 1867-68 published by Mercer University Press.  I’ll be at Macon, Georgia to meet the people at the Press and people helping out with our connections.  It should be a delightful experience.

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Purpose

This is a blog featuring the Thousand-Mile Walk that John Muir took in September, 1867. Muir took this walk to better understand, in his words, “God’s inventions;” the tropical flowers of the South, just two years after the Civil War.  The Blog will also follow the author, Dr. James B. Hunt’s journey in re-counting this story through the South and other parts of the country as he provides lectures, bookstore and library readings based on his published book, Restless Fires, Young John Muir’s Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf in 1867-18 (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2012). The purpose of this blog is stimulate interest in both the book and one of the most important hikes John Muir took as a young, twenty-nine year old “wandering botanist,” that powerfully shaped his world view and humankind’s relationship to Nature.

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Theme of the Blog, Restless Fires.

“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”  Image

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