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Ch. 23 ~ Dora The Explorer(s)

What a great day to have a great day.

It seems to be common place for the prediction of liquid sunshine to be in the ch8se forecast. The seasoned ch8sers are used to these predictions, and are neither concerned, bothered, or deterred by it at all. We simply plan accordingly.

You are Dora, You Are Dora & You Are Dora!

As life would have it, this ch8se and the liquid sunshine prediction was no different than others before. Sure enough, more than 18 women RSVP'd to create the narrative of chapter 23; yet, only the eager eight earned the Dora The Explorer badge of honor.

Most people that know this ch8se champion can relate to the Dora reference, and many without explaining, understand its significance and its association; however, let me break it down for those who may not get it.

Dora the Explorer, as defined by Wikipedia, is a "series which centers around Dora, a seven-year-old Latina girl, with a love of embarking on quests related to an activity that she wants to partake of or a place that she wants to go to, accompanied by her talking purple backpack and anthropomorphic monkey companion named Boots (named for his beloved pair of red boots). Each episode is based around a series of cyclical events that occur along the way during Dora's travels, along with obstacles that she and Boots are forced to overcome or puzzles that they have to solve (with "assistance" from the viewing audience) relating to riddles, the Spanish language, or counting."

The story of Dora could truly have been adapted from the life of this ch8se champion, with a few exceptions. To name a few, I'm more like Dora's grandma, who is accompanied by an orange backpack, my angel baby, and the ch8se chariot, Choppa. There are often obstacles to overcome, and puzzles to solve, be it in every day life, or on a ch8se. Either way, I can always rely on the assistance of all of my family to help solve whatever comes my way. My natural family, and my bonus GirlTrek family, that is.

When this date was selected, we had no idea that life would toss so many things our way, which prevented us from scouting the ch8se location. We never cancel, the date was set, and there was no other time in the month for this ch8se champion to lead the adventure for July. With all of this in mind, that daring Dora sat on our shoulder, and challenged us to explore. Basically, exploring either solo, with my husband, or another person is what we do anyway, so why not explore with the group? Explore with the group! Sure! Why not? We are all brave, bold, bad ass, adventurers, eager to face and embrace the ch8se, so why the heck not?

Once more we met at the Busby Park and Ride in Kennesaw, and with two car loads, we struck out to Little River Canyon, National Preserve, in Fort Payne, Alabama. We welcomed two new ch8sers to the adventure. The sister to one of our GirlTrek Gangstas, and a sweet spirit, this ch8se champion met at a local Atlanta restaurant.

[inserting a pause]

The actual, factuals (I know that's not a word, but whatever,) are that there is no ch8se without GirlTrek.

Ch8singWaterfalls is a the passionate movement within the powerful GirlTrek movement. The ch8se was birthed in love. My husbands love for me, our love of our daughter, and my love of waterfalls. I needed to reiterate that before I went further.

You see, you truly never know who you will inspire, encourage, motivate, or gently nudge when you begin to share your shine. When you speak of the goodness you have discovered, and share the black girl magic birthed by Vanessa Garrison and Morgan Dixon.

When you share the awesomeness of GirlTrek, you never know what it will manifest, until you wake up one morning and the person you've talked with for months is packed and ready to go. Never stop sharing your shine, someone needs it, and trust me, you have it to give. Shine Sista, Shine. (Dynamic Deb)

Now, we have had our talk before the walk, our introductions, our head count, and we all have a clear understanding of this being a ch8se first, in that we were exploring together. You are Dora, you are Dora, and you too, sis, are Dora, we all are Dora, in my best Oprah impersonation, we had an understanding, and we hit the road.

Two hours later we descend upon the location of our adventure. It looks like the Google images, it was a straight shot, well, that is if Choppa was paying attention to the directions. Nevertheless, we head inside the welcome center, get our maps, talk with the trail experts, retain as much as we can, and go for it. Ya'll we are some smart ladies. We took those maps, took selfies, and hit the trail. We hit the trails, after, of course, the inquiring minds, who wanted to know who we were, and where we come from, received their crash course in our GirlTrek, black girl healing, and self care.

Can someone call Oprah and remind her of our badassery, out here in these woods? Please tell her of our brown faces in these green spaces. Tell her that this electric blue is memorizing the locals, and leaving lasting impressions, and oh yeah, tell her we are still waiting on her to ch8se with us. Ya'll got my number right?

Research showed that there were a few falls in the area, and a hippie hole. A hippie what? Of course, the Dora's had to find this hole. We climbed rocks, went over fallen trees, dodged branches, and descended stairs, to ultimately find the Little River Falls, and yes, the Hippie Hole. You will have to research for yourself to see why it is called the hippie hole, I ain't going there. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful space, and there were countless bodies in that hole, enjoying it as we were spectators sharing our shine. The picture below has a few images in the background of people enjoying the hole. That was not on our agenda; though we enjoyed it all.

After ascending the stairs, we took a break, and headed back to our vehicles. On the way back, a few of us had prayed for an Uber, and as we reached the flat area, sure enough, there she was. Well, not exactly an Uber driver, but the park ranger. It was at this point we were seeking the short cut, we were tired, and one of us was in pain. Though not a ride share, the ranger was extremely helpful, very pleasant, and a welcomed sight. We were greeted kindly by all, and even received the assistance of one man as we climbed the stairs. We are quite impressionable, and I am sure they are still talking about these brown faces, in green spaces, in our superhero blue, out there doing what we do. (lol)

Back to our vehicles, we establish the next phase of our adventures, and with the help of the staff at the visitors center, we journey to the neighboring DeSoto Falls, before we head to lunch, and before the liquid sunshine turns into an all out down pour.

Slightly, "navigationally" challenged, due to the thrill of the adventure, and exciting conversation, one of us misses a few turns, that causes a little fancy maneuvering, but we make it ya'll. But right before we do, there is the most amazing area to pull off the road and enjoy the land and the beauty of Fort Payne, AL. We had a selfie show down. It was so much fun, and such a beautiful place. Choppa really loved playing in the dirt. See for yourself:

After savoring the spectacular view, we make our way to DeSoto Falls, and so does liquid sunshine, and all of her kinfolk. Ya'll, by now it is raining. The thunder is rolling, and the rain is pouring. Nope, we were still not bothered. We pulled out the umbrellas, rain jackets, ponchos, and found our way to the waterfall. And guess what, as soon as we make it to the waterfall, which by the way was right at the parking lot, and we are melting from the hot rain jackets, the rain stops. As if it thought we would be scared of a little rain. Nope, wrong group of gangstas. Ya gotta come harder than that to stop us. We hop out and mesmerize a new set of people enjoying the sites. We take our selfies, and even pose for someone who volunteered to take our pictures. This super hero blue, and this black girl magic is undeniable, ya'll, let me tell you.

DeSoto falls is spectacular. Its waters were falling from a damn, and in a way that was absolutely breathtaking. Several of us did a live video to share the beauty with the ladies who were home missing this adventure. There were people at the bottom tubing the waters, and homes built around this space, that seemed like a perfect get away. One of our awesome ch8sers discovered the best side of the area to capture the waterfall in its entirety. Her discovery was the perfect, the most perfect conclusion to this ch8se adventure. I could have sat there for hours.

(Scroll to the right to see the pics.)

As if our day wasn't already awesome, the liquid sunshine, the rain and all of her kinfolk left us long enough for us to make it to, park, and get inside of the Greenleaf Grill in Mentone, AL. No sooner than we were seated, and placing our orders, the skies opened and the clouds were oozing hard rain all over the place. It was an all out thunderstorm. But we were inside, safe, dry, and ready to eat.

We got the best attention every. Avion was our waitress, and Misty Ogle was the cook, oh, my goodness, that Misty is a funny mess. Those ladies took great care of us, and brought the smiles. The place was nothing fancy, but the food was good. Misty, & Avion's service alone is reason enough for this ch8se champion to return to the Greenleaf Grill. If you visit, ask for Misty, and be sure to get the fried green tomatoes. Don't say I didn't tell you so.