I left Coker Flats, Tennessee and headed south to the town of Blue Ridge, Georgia, after which I made a beautiful drive up and over a mountain, arriving in Dahlonega. I was quite taken with the Square, the best I’d seen on my travels. I located the Episcopal Church and it felt like home.
However, I didn’t feel my traveling days were over. I continued up into Western North Carolina again and started meandering back into North Georgia. It was now October, and the rainy season was working its woes on me. I was cold, wet, and nearly caught the flu. I thought it was time to get out of my truck for the winter. But where should I go? I hadn’t gotten to the Atlantic Coast yet.
I pondered what to do and decided to head back to Dahlonega, as it was the most impressive town I had discovered. Once again (Missouri was the last time), I pulled into town on a Wednesday, grabbed the local paper and found an ad for an apartment. I was prepared to just pull everything out of my truck into an apartment and keep living as I had been. Though the ad didn’t say, this apartment turned out to be furnished, so I just moved in. Sunday, I went to church and the rest is history.
Dahlonega is a mixture of young and old people. The University of North Georgia’s main campus is there with a student population at the time of about 6,000. Some magazine in its yearly ranking of best places to retire had chosen Dahlonega as number one in the country. The town makes a good offering of the arts for viewing or participating.
I unknowingly learned North Georgia was a wine-producing region. I should have known this, as I had been associated with wine literature for 25 years. I had gotten started in this field when I was living outside the Napa Valley in California. I didn’t know where these wineries were, so I started exploring to find them. This led to the publication of my book Georgia’s Wineries and Vineyards: A Wine Lover’s Guide. Once the book was printed, I had a wonderful time traveling to all the wineries in North Georgia selling my book. This was the first print book I ever published. Despite going through 4 printings, the book quickly went out of date due to the changes in the wines produced by the individual wineries.
After 1-1/2 years, I found my dream home – a cabin in the woods. I had responded to another ad, this time to view an old farm house. This was not for me, but the landlord said he had this cabin which wasn’t ready to rent. I took it on inspection and moved in a few months later when it was ready. It was a 1-bedroom but with three floors. I arranged to have all my stuff sent out from Oregon so I didn’t have to live with only the belongings in my truck. There was plenty of space in this cabin to set up a home and an office, and I got back into book selling.
I tried selling books and other items in an antique collective for 1-1/2 years, but this wasn’t profitable. I tried whittling down the books via the Internet, but it was slow going. Eventually, I realized I needed to do something different and probably find a new home for the books and me. The economy and Covid led me to look outside the US. I took tours of Panamá and Mexico and decided I would move to the mountains of Western Panamá.
For five days, I had estate sales and ended up giving the rest away. My landlord bought my car. Suddenly, I found myself with total freedom and no encumbrances. I packed up a small box of a few books and some papers and mailed them off to Panamá. Then I packed some clothes into my backpack, put my computer into its bag, and I was essentially gone. I left the US with only those two items and flew south. Now, Panamá was really on the horizon.
Fact: U.S. News and World Report once named Dahlonega Georgia as Best Value Retirement City in the US
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