A Girl and her Hair

For a while now, since I’m not working and no longer have to conform to “work appropriate” hair, I’ve wanted to experiment with colors and cuts that would have shocked and offended my parents (were they still alive).

Back in Georgia (in March), I’d started the transformation from my old self to my current one, but as my hair when I first walked into the salon back then was still in it’s virgin state (aka, utterly natural, and gray), the colorist, who had only just met me and didn’t seem to quite trust that I could really wanted what I’d asked for — she knows me MUCH better now. (To her credit, let’s face it, I’m odd, and hair stylists have been sued by unhappy customers before.) At the time, I tried to explain to her how my inner soul really was not reflected by my current appearance; that I had needed to appear professional in my old jobs, but that now I was free of that and I could return to being more myself — and that I wanted my hair to reflect a truer version of me… the former art student me more so than the business school professor me.

I remember her saying things like, “if I do what your asking for you won’t be happy with the result,” and instead of what I had initially asked for she produced something that was radical by local standards (from what I’ve seen, middle aged, upper class, well educated women in Dalton, GA just don’t do this sort of thing with their hair) — driving around Dalton I found most women to have almost identical dye jobs and hair cuts, that were usually of the sort that required bi-weekly hair appointments to maintain. And while I’ll grant you that what she created was VERY pretty, it was not quite as ‘fearless’ as I was ready to go … however, that said, I really did like the end result as it was a bit like having a head of full of firey embers still burning in blackened ash — and I have a personal connection to that sort of energetic. Also, it could be argued that this dye job flattered me more than the one I ended up getting in Victoria.

Now… it was a few months later and the hair had to be redone. While walking around Victoria I spotted this dress in a shop window, and knew THIS was the color pallet I wanted to go for — only with more of the orange and red, and less of the yellow — so I snapped a shot of it, posted it to Facebook and asked the friends to chime in on what they thought about it. I decided, based on the comment of my friend who authors the blog, rover@home.com to describe it to whomever my colorist turned out to be as a “Caribbean sunset.”


Now granted, between the Georgia hair coloring and when I finally went in to a salon again (almost five months) my hair had grown out (about two inches) and faded out almost completely, from dark hair with fiery highlights, to something which was now brown with the fire faded to mostly orange… although you can still see some red in there.


As I discussed in a later post, on the distinct nature of homelessness in Canada, I had actually gotten the referral to the Aveda Beauty School from a homeless chick I ran into who had wildly colored hair. I’d been wanting to get creative with my hair for a while, and based on my experiences in Georgia, realized I’d have to find a salon that regularly did this sort of thing, or at least do it in a town where it was far more ‘normal’ to request it. The first day I drove around Victoria I knew I was finally in the right place, so it was a question of finding the best salon for it, at the cheapest price. And the Aveda Beauty School turned out to the be the right place.

I will say however, that at first they rejected my request. “We don’t do that sort of thing here” but… let’s just say I when I’ve set my mind to something I rarely take no as an answer. After a while they of negotiating they gave in, and assigned me to Jessica (the girl in the pictures) who was just a few salon hours short of graduating, and who had exhibited a real flair during her training in the use of color. She was both excited, and a bit intimidated, but we talked about it, and there was a full week between my initial consultation and when she would start the job… and she said she had gotten increasingly excited about it as she had time to mull it over in her brain. “I’ve always wanted to do a job like this one but the customers who come into aveda aren’t asking for it.”

With regard to the gray left at my sides, that was my choice. When I had the last coloring done, in Georgia, I had asked the colorist NOT to color over grey at my temples… which she did, but not as MUCH as I had wanted her to, so with Jessica I was much fiercer about it, but it turned out that again what I was asking for wasn’t as radical a notion in Victoria as in Georgia … it is in fact from what I saw it is beginning to be a THING now for older women to NOT completely cover our gray… or even try to. All over Victoria I was elderly women who had embraced their silver and only added dark highlights in creative ways to to compliment their appearance. I saw this one woman who had short curly hair, where her first two inches were kept completely gray, and only had the tips of her curls made dark… it looked amazing, emphasized her curls, and her face… think of it as older women reclaiming pride in their age.


The whole job had to be done in two steps, in large part because it was going to take 8 hours and the students only work in four hour shifts. Fist they needed to cut my hair to remove damage from the previous dye job, and because they refused to do what I wanted on very long hair (to expensive). Historian type that I am, I told her to think 1920’s inverted bob, long in the front (enough so that I can still pin it back on bad hair days, but short and layered in on the back… and then they did a base dye of a an ashy brown in order to obfuscate the transition between new natural hair and the rest of the head.


Nice, but oh so mundane…. I think I look a bit like pictures of my grandmother taken in the late 1920’s. This was done on the Tuesday.

Two days later, Thursday, I came in again, and the first step was to bleach may hair light enough to allow for the other colors…


The result was a sort of bright orange with some red highlights left in it… To be honest, I always wonder why they can’t just leave hair THIS color — which is what happens when you strip brown out of hair, because I think it’s cool, but they won’t. No colorist has ever explained to me the reason why. That and, as I was not used to seeing myself this way it was kind of a shock… still can’t decide if it’s a good color for me.


The 2nd girl is a friend of Jessica’s who came in to help. Jessica applied all the color, but this girl functioned as a 2nd set of hands, holding bits of hair out of the way, and handing Jessica things as she needed them.


Then we entered the coloring stage. Three colors were used, a purple, and orange, and yellow… and rather then applying the colors in vertical stripes, as is normally done, these were applied horizontally, in a technique now known as decoupage.


And this was the final result…



This is my hair blown out and curled with a curling iron


This is what it looks like when it’s just wash and wear

I’m sad to say that the colors only lasted a few weeks, with the purple disappearing almost immediately, so that two months later (when I’m finally writing this) the hair is mostly orange (close to the color of the hair when initially striped) and a yellow that turns almost neon in the sun… So it will soon be time to try something else.

I’ve sort of been considering the Miley Cyrus inspired haircut (Miley had it when she was in the TVshow, Two and a 1/2 men) that Jessica was sporting… but it actually requires MORE upkeep to get the hair to stay up like that, not less…. and I would need to loose a more weight, as right now my face is too fat


Prater’s Mill

Picturesque spot for a nice picnic, or to fish: This is an historic site that’s technically in Dalton, even though you’ve got to drive past a few other towns to get to it… I think it’s a bit like O’Hare Airport being in Chicago (It’s ORD designation refers to it historically being located in Orchard Place, which Chicago annexed in the late 1950’s via a thin strip of land, against the wishes of the surrounding suburbs, so as to be able to claim the income generated by the airport). Even though it’s supposed to be in Dalton, on the map it’s much closer to Varnell, GA … and if you are from here Varnell is pronounced Varr-a-nell

It’s Historic (pre-Civil War & Trail of Tears, and listed on the list of Historic places), and pops up on all the ‘things to do lists for the area — even though they haven’t actually put in the effort to give you anything to do when you get here. In spite of it being a working mill (the product of which is sold at a local shop) it’s apparently only open to the public once a year in October, when they have a festival here — makes no sense to me either. If it is a working mill, why not just set a schedule and allow folks to visit while its happening, talk to the kids about the process, etc… more often than just once a year. There is a visitor’s center and ‘historic’ store across the street, but it too is rarely open. As such, this is more of picturesque place to stop and eat than really an educational experience (although there are the obligatory signs scattered around). Knowing this (thank you to Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews – by other confused visitors), I had picked up a Ruben sandwich from the butcher shop/deli near here and am eating it as I watch three old guys who are sitting pretty spread out from each other along the river bank, fishing silently.

The most entertaining thing that happened while I was here was a car and a truck drove into the lot, and a young dark haired woman got out of the car, ran over to the truck, got up on the running board and started repeatedly head slapping the poor guy sitting there who looked to be in his early 20’s. After she was done she ran back to her car. He then slowly got out and went over to her car to talk to her… At that point one of the fishermen and I made a quiet retreat.

Dalton, GA: Hamilton’s Food & Spirits/Pizzeria

If you’re looking for an upscale eaterie in Dalton, GA, the fact is you’re best off opting for a national chain.

This review reflects my first attempt, and probably my last, at the only upscale non-chain restaurant in the Dalton area. Apparently (based on conversations with locals) the town used to support a few very good eateries but they all failed, mostly due to mismanagement. Relative to it’s competitors this place is incredibly expensive — its competition being the myriad of other chef driven establishments that Dalton locals consider “in the area,” which seems to be from just north of Atlanta (slightly over one hour south) to Chattanooga (about 35 minutes north).  Thoughts, 1) this appetizer’s big enough that if you added a veg it would be a big meal for one person, as it is I am already full having only eaten half of it & with no vegetable side  … And 2) the risotto is slimy and gross tasting, and I usually love barley. What really killed me was the waitress said, as I was eating it, “most of the locals order the quail on a salad instead of the risotto.” … so WHY you may ask, isn’t the chef putting that on the menu instead? That, and while the balsamic works well with the quail, it is NASTY with the risotto. Seriously, the mind boggles. Based on what I have seen of the portions on other customers’ plates, if these guys halved their servings and their prices, they’d probably do a lot more business because they’re the only upscale eaterie in town that is not a national chain, and hence, travelers who are crashing for the night at a local hotel (Dalton is off one of the major north/south arteries to Atlanta and Florida) of the sort who utilize smartphone apps would come here… just because.

Bacon wrapped quail with a balsamic glaze on barley risotto

excuse the lack of a map, but for some reason it refuses to load for this location.
The address is: 243 N Hamilton St #5, Dalton, GA 30720, and it’s in the historic part of Dalton, rather than highway off ramp section.

Chief Vann House; Dalton, GA

Highly educational restored home that will blow away historically inaccurate, Hollywood based, preconceived notions of who Native Americans were in the early 1800’s.

If you are in the area and have little hard knowledge regarding the original inhabitants of what is now the United States of America, than I strongly suggest a visit to this historic house if only because it may help to destroy some of your misconceptions regarding who the Cherokee were at the time of the trail of tears (1838-1839).

Most Westerners (and in this I include Americans and Europeans), based on what they have learned from Hollywood films, etc., seem to believe that all Native Americans were backward, or refusing to integrate into western society and that was the reason they were moved westward to what was called the “Indian Territories”, but this is woefully incorrect. In actuality, the reason the native inhabitants were removed had more to do the the recent discover of gold in their lands in 1829.  The historic location I visited today is the restored home of Chief Van, a Native American so rich that he owned at least 100 slaves, a bunch of paddle wheel river boats, many trading posts, etc.

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He was one of the influential Native Americans of the time who were using the American Judicial system to fight for the rights of his people, and with varying degrees of success in that regard (think of this as the first time that America Judiciary and the southern states came into direct conflict with each other — a pattern later repeated with civil rights, abortion, and then gay rates, et al). In spite of all of his wealth, and power, he made the major tactical error of hiring a white overseer when it was illegal for an Indian to do so (the states had been passing laws restricting the rights of native Americans that were not all that dissimilar to the segregation laws after the civil law, or to what Hilter later did to the Jews in Germany) thereby giving the federal government cause to kick him out along with the rest of the Cherokee during the trail of tears (only he took all of his furniture, slaves, etc. with him and continued to be very rich).


The house is SO fancy that it had a floating staircase and a fancy interior paint job with pigments most people of the day could never have afforded, and president Monroe had spent the night there when visiting the area.


After I leaving the house I drove past the first swamp I saw in Georgia. According to the  docent at the Vann house, Spring Place which is the town where the house is located is the poorest part of the state, I guess this was the proof.


Tunnel Hill Heritage Center and Historic Railroad Tunnel; Dalton, GA

The end point of a civil war raid you probably never heard of, that resulted in the first medals of honor ever given. Interesting, both from historical and engineering standpoints. I suggest that you hire the docent to take you around (optional).


I actually came here twice, the first time I was amazed at how popular the attraction was, till I realized that I had timed my visit badly to coincide with the republican and democratic Georgia primaries, which I had not realized was happening that day, and had known that the visitor building doubles as a voting center (in cause you’re interested: for the democrats Hillary Clinton won 71.3% over Sanders’ 28.2%, while Donald Trump won 38.8% against 4 remaining challengers).


That said, inside the visitor building  is where you buy your tickets, and hire the docent to take your around to the tunnel and the house in a little golf cart (which is optional, but I strongly suggest it). The museum inside the center is small but interesting, so you can easily spend at about an hour in there — it is as much about trains, and life during the civil war as it is about the battles that took place here; it is, as the sign says, a “self-guided” museum, but there is a system in place where, assuming you’ve got a cell phone with you, you call a number and punch in codes for narrations of most of the more interesting exhibits. Right near the entrance you will also find a wall with a plethora of advertisers for other things to see in the area — I often find these to be far more useful than TripAdvisor or Yelp in trying to find things of interest — in part because they act as a little stack of reminders.

Because my first visit was thwarted by the elections I came back here a second time about a week or so later and paid my $10 for what turned out to be a very enthusiastic old guy (the docent) to take me around on a golf cart while explaining it all to me. First he drove through the now retired train tunnel … it’s about a 1/4 of a mile long from end to end, and is maybe 1/3 of a mile trek away from the parking lot…  and along the way he explained all about how it was built, in great detail. It’s actually kind of cool looking in there, and his explanation of how it was built, back before they had the tools of today, was very interesting.

Of note, it was on the hill above the tunnel that the battle of Tunnel Hill took place, and I was told that there’s a yearly reenactment of the battle done every September, which hopefully I’ll be able to see at some future point. (Part of my reason for being in town was I have an old college friend — also a travel blogger —  who lives in Dalton, and it’s my intention to spend more time here… as I am considering it as a place to retire to.)


Then he described the Union initiated civil war campaign the tunnel is famous for; it involved the federalists stealing a train from the confederates, intending do as much damage as possible to the militarily strategic rail line on the trip back north to Chattanooga, with the southerners in hot pursuit. Ultimately, the campaign was a bust (for the Union soldiers, i.e., they got caught) but resulted in the first Medals of Honor ever given (which is also why there is a museum dedicated to that medal located in nearby Chattanooga).


Afterwards, he took me to the adjacent Clisby Austin House (VIDEO!!), which is located just up the hill from the tunnel. The house had been owned by Reverend Clisby Austin a baptist minister of the nearby church, farmer and owner of the small store he next to his house, a nearby building that served as a hotel for train passengers, and apparently also helped build the nearby brick church. According to my docent there were rumors that he was also a spy for the Union, because he was very public about being against the south’s secession. What is certain is that he observed part of what became known as the “Great Locomotive Chase.”

Later, during the Battle of Chickamauga, the house was used as a hospital. During that battle, General John Hood, considered by many as one of the best commanders of divisions and brigades the Confederacy had, was injured and his leg had to be amputated. (As a side note: After leaving Georgia I read the historical novel, “Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara, about the battle of Gettysburg — which won the Pulitzer Prize, and in it he makes a major point of describing how a man can be talented at certain leadership jobs in a military, but an absolute disaster at other ones, and you never knew till they were actually in that position who would be good at what, a compelling truth that made me again think of John Hood, so I felt I had to add it here.) One of the interesting factoids is that they cut his leg off near where he fell, and when they moved him here to the hospital/house for rehabilitation they brought the leg along, so that should he die, they could bury him with the leg.  However, he didn’t die, so while the leg is buried here the rest of him is laid to rest in Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans, Louisiana (also on the National Register of Historic Places).

Then, during what I’m guessing was the second of the Battles of Dalton (there were three, all with the same name), the home served as temporary headquarters for General Sherman (Union) who supposedly stayed there for three nights while planning his Atlanta Campaign.


So all sorts of good stories are to be had regarding the house, none of which you’ll learn if you don’t hire the docent. (Note: Unfortunately, they don’t let you take photos inside the tunnel or the house unless you pay for the right. Of course, IF you go though the tunnel surreptitiously, sans a docent, you might be able to get away with it, but I’m not suggesting that… no of course not) 


Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park (TN & GA)

This was the first military park formed in the US. It memorializes the Civil War battle fought Sept. 18-20, 1863. So many bullets flew within these woods during this battle that the surrounding trees because valueless for milling, due to all the bullets embedded within them. If you have any interest in Civil war battles, check out this highly documented park. — Don’t forget to use your National Parks pass.


I strongly suggest that you reserve this park for a nice day when you have a few hours to spend; stop first in the visitor center. There is a 24min documentary reenacting the battle. Watch this first, and then tour the battlefield.  Also, in the gift store — assuming your car has a CD player you can purchase a guided tour of the park CD for $10. On various signs around the park you will also find cell phone accessible annotations, but those are far fewer, and interestingly do not duplicate the information available on the CD.




This is completely a aside, but I assume (wrongly of course) when I’m in a historic national park that the other people around share my interest in history… at this location  The guy parked next to me was driving a yellow Jeep by the name of the Rubicon, and I told him I loved the name of his Jeep because of its historical nature.

So he said, ‘it is named after a river in California’ and I responded “I think it’s more likely that that river was named after the Rubicon ‘river’ which marks the northern border of Rome which Cesar crossed with his troops, essentially declaring war on Rome itself; this is why the term ‘crossing his Rubicon’ now means passing your point of no return”

He looked a little embarrassed and said, he had no idea that was the source but he probably agreed that that’s why they named the river in California Rubicon … and might be the also named the Jeep that…

That said, scattered all throughout the park are all sorts of beautiful memorials both to the fallen, and to particular maneuvers that occurred in that location.





As I look at these things I imagine the families of the various regiments and corps, fundraising and organizing in order to pay for these things to be built to the fallen.



And then with signs like this one (above), you have got to wonder, did they bring back soldiers to walk the fields and try to come to a consensus of what events happened where?


This, The Brotherton Family Farm (above) is where miscommunication among the Union generals resulted in a half-mile break in their lines allowing the Confederates to break through.


This is Wilders Tower (above), it marks the site where a small group of Union soldiers held back the Confederates long enough to allow the other Union soldiers to retreat to Chattanooga. They were able to do so in part because they had a new technology of repeating gun The sound of which confused the Confederates into thinking that there was a much larger group of Union soldiers here then were actually present. (Also let’s hear it for national park toilets that are out in the middle of nowhere! I had been holding it in for the last hour) 


And here is a picture I shot in haste as a group of about 15 baby deer surrounded my car!! 



Snoodgrass Hill

The sun was now setting, which I had been warned is when the park closes, so I headed home.