Monthly Archives: June 2021

Greco Transport & Home Medical

Retirement & Senior Living

Affordable and trustworthy non-emergency medical transportation.

Greco Transport provides non-emergency, long and short haul medical transportation services to the Augusta area as well as the CSRA, local southeast and state-to-state. At Greco Transport, we offer affordable and trustworthy medical transportation services that focuses on patient care as well as on-time appointment pick-up and delivery.

With over thirty years of both emergent and non-emergent medical transport experience amongst our staff, Greco Transport is equipped with the knowledge, expertise and caring attitude to provide you or a loved one with premiere medical transportation services. Our high-quality long-distance ground and non-emergent medical transportation services offered at Greco transport are comfortable, reliable and affordable and we value each client who puts their trust in us.

At Greco Transport, customer care and safety are our top priorities. We are committed to providing our clients with safe and environmentally sound operating practices and resources that will result in the assurance of safe, comfortable and reliable medical transport. Each of our medical transportation vehicles are equipped with state-of-the-art sanitation devices to ensure safety and health throughout the transport.

300 Rose St B | Augusta, GA 30907
706-364-4365

www.grecotransport.com

Lake Crossing Health Center

Retirement & Senior Living

Lake Crossing Health Center is a Medicare & Medicaid certified skilled nursing facility. We are recognized for our rehabilitation programs in physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. Our therapy staff provides care to residents recovering from stroke, orthopedic and cardiopulmonary disease. Our care plan team works with each resident, their family and the resident’s personal physician to structure a program that will meet each resident’s personal goals. Our belief that each resident deserves the chance to succeed directs our rehabilitation program.

6698 Washington Rd | Appling, GA 30802

(706) 541-0462

Up on the Roof

Georgia

Photos courtesy of Goats on the Roof

Pet, feed and befriend the amiable goats that hang out on top of sod-covered buildings at a popular roadside attraction in north Georgia.

It only stands to reason that one of the G.O.A.T.s (for the uninitiated, that’s “greatest of all time), of quirky Georgia travel and tourism is populated by – you guessed it – goats. These friendly kids meander from barnyard to rooftop at a roadside attraction in Tiger, Georgia named – naturally – Goats on the Roof.

“Several tourism boards have ranked us as the second-most visited destination in Georgia,” says Russ Phillips, who owns the business with his wife, April. “More than a million people have visited us.”

The couple purchased the business, which started in June 2007, from a friend in April 2015.

“My wife says I lost my marbles,” says Russ, who originally was an accountant. “We just closed our eyes and took the plunge.”

Follow the Food
While April initially may have questioned her husband’s judgment, she quickly fell in love with the goats. Their 14 “kids” are her babies, and she buys a new one every year. The goats include one Boer goat, four miniature Nubian goats and nine Nigerian Dwarf goats.

They wander from rooftop to rooftop between the general store and the Rock and Old-Time Candy Store, which is new this year, on a steel bridge that connects the two buildings.

“The goats can come and go as they please. They have free roam from their fenced-in area with a barn to the rooftops. They have a ramp they can walk up and down,” Russ says. “They just follow the food.”

It’s hard to know who enjoys feeding time more – the visitors or the goats. Visitors can buy goat food by the bag or in a souvenir bucket. They can feed the goats by hand, with a hand crank or by pedaling a bicycle attached to a contraption that sends a cup full of food up to the goats.

Humans won’t go hungry at Goats on the Roof, either. The attraction offers award-winning nitro ice cream, including new flavors this year; sweets such as homemade fudge, buckeyes, Oreo balls, chocolate-covered bacon and cookies; popcorn and fresh boiled peanuts. The Rock and Old-Time Candy Store also satisfies a sweet tooth with a wide selection of nostalgic candy.

Goats on the Roof also added a new food truck, Game Time by Coach Joe, in May.

Regular Stop
Gifts and souvenirs, along with the sweet treats, are available at the general store, and visitors can buy gems, rocks and specialty stones from all around the world at the Rock and Old-Time Candy Store. The attraction also includes a playground and a gem mining sluice for miners who like to earn their treasures.

“Gem mining is a lot like gold mining,” Russ says.

Goats on the Roof is open year-round, but the days of operation vary from season to season. Currently, the business is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Monday until the end of December. Admission is free.

The business is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. the rest of the year, operating Friday, Saturday and Sunday from January through the first half of March and Thursday through Monday from the last half of March until the end of May.

Russ says many of their visitors are repeat guests. “We get a lot of people that travel to Tennessee, and they tell us that we’re one of their regular stops on the way,” he says. “We also get people who travel the other direction from Tennessee to Florida.”

The concept of putting goats on the roof began in the United States in the 1970s at Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant & Butik in Sister Bay, Wisconsin, Russ says. Before that, he adds, personnel at Goats on Roof Old Country Market in Coombs, British Columbia, Canada, put the animals atop their building after the Norwegian immigrants “borrowed” some goats to “mow” the sod-covered roof, a common feature of hillside homes in Norway, to provide entertainment for passing cars. The goats never left, and the people kept coming – just like in Tiger.

“I enjoy seeing people’s reactions to the goats,” says Russ. “I enjoy the good time they have, and I enjoy working in a family business atmosphere.”

A Tiger in the Tank
To see the other area attractions, energetic visitors can put a tiger in their tank to explore the mountain region. It won’t disappoint. Film buffs can catch a first-run show under the stars at Tiger Drive-In movie theater. The drive-in is one of only 349 left in the world out of more than 5,500 at one time. The theater originally operated from 1954 until it closed in the mid-1980s, but it reopened in 2004.

Combining elements of yesteryear with modern amenities, the drive-in features all-grass terraces, FM broadcasts, outdoor speakers, Pandora pre-show music and Wi-Fi. Movie-goers are welcome to bring a picnic or order food from the TDI Grill. The property is pet friendly, and it has a playground for kids.

Gates open at 6:30 p.m., and the first movie starts at 9 p.m. The theater operates on a first-come, first-serve basis. Online ticket purchases do not guarantee a spot. Admission is $10 for adults 12 and older, $5 for children ages 4 to 11 and free for children under age 3.

Visitors in search of food and drink in Tiger will find local eateries, farm-to-table restaurants and cafés that offer fine dining, comfort food, BBQ and international cuisine. Wine lovers can visit the family-owned, award-winning Tiger Mountain and Stonewall Creek vineyards.

Tiger Mountain guests – families or small groups of friends – who come to pick up bottles of wine can stroll through the vineyards or enjoy wine flights on its Red Barn Café patio. At Stonewall Creek, visitors can sample wine by the glass, bottle or flight on the covered, outdoor patio or the indoor tasting room.

In nearby Clayton, Georgia, the award-winning Moonrise Distillery offer tours, tastings or both. The distillery creates whiskey with methods that date back to the early 1850s, and visitors can sample 12 different products.

On Sundays (and the occasional Saturday) from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Moonrise offers live music. The events are free, and visitors can bring a picnic basket or munch on pre-packaged snack foods.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to do in Tiger and the surrounding area as well. Visitors can go boating, camping, picnicking, swimming and fishing at Lake Burton. The smaller Lake Rabun offers fishing, water skiing, jet skiing and tubing as well as afternoon and cocktail cruises.

Rabun County is home to many waterfalls and hiking trails as well. The southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail is located at nearby Springer Mountain.

Accommodations include resorts, cabins, boutique hotels, budget motels and Airbnbs. Regardless of the sleeping arrangements that overnight guests prefer, however, they can agree that they need to get their goat fix.

“They are just goofy animals,” says Russ. “They’re constantly playing. They’re very active. They love to have fun.”

For more information, visit goats-on-the-roof.com, tigerdrivein.com, tigerwine.com, stonewallcreek.com, moonrisedistillery.com or explorerabun.com.

 

By Morgan Davis

Staying Power

In The Home

Photography by Sally Kolar

With a swimming pool, backyard porches and lots of flowering plants, this Bartram Trail home is the perfect place for an Evans couple to enjoy year-round staycations.

Anyone who lives in paradise knows it’s an experience to be savored – whether they’re sharing the space with friends or enjoying the solitude. Just ask Evans residents Karyn and Paul Edmondson.

They have all the amenities they need to entertain, which they love to do, at their Bartram Trail residence. However, when it’s just the two of them at home, the empty nesters, who own two small businesses and have four children between them, can relax in a haven of peace and tranquility.

At the end of a busy day, Karyn loves to settle in the soaking tub in their newly remodeled master bath and tell Alexa to play calming music while she relaxes with a glass of wine. If Paul tries to take that opportunity to discuss business with her, well, Karyn isn’t having it.

“I tell him, ‘We’re not working right now. We’re on vacation,’” she says. “Because we’re in the heating and air business, we don’t get to take much vacation in the summer.”

However, they don’t need to go far to find an escape. “We have staycations in the yard,” says Paul.

Carefree State of Mind
About eight years ago, they built a swimming pool, complete with tanning shelves, in the backyard. Lush flowerbeds filled with beautiful plants like cala lilies, dahlias and lily of the Nile are nestled in the curves of the pool on the surrounding salt pit concrete decking.

“I didn’t want the deck to look brand new,” says Karyn.

The sound of water soothingly trickles down a stacked stone wall in the backyard koi pond, creating a carefree state of mind.

“It’s so nice when the breeze comes through and you can hear the water,” Karyn says. “We actually feel like we’re on vacation.”

Even if their home feels like a resort, the Edmondsons have put a lot of work into it. They moved into the house in 2006, putting a contract on it before it was complete so they were able to pick out the materials they wanted. Through the years, however, they have remodeled the entire house.

Four or five years ago, they renovated the kitchen to create a space that not only is functional. It’s also a great place to spend time.

Rich with various textures, the kitchen features a tongue-and-groove pine wood ceiling and tile flooring with a brick look. The copper hammered farmhouse sink has a curved apron front, and the tile backsplash called “grunge” adds to the room’s rustic, farmhouse look. A decorative tile inset accents the wall above the range, and the range hood, which Paul ordered from Mexico, is made of stainless steel, iron and copper.

The room also includes marble countertops, barn door cabinets, a pot filler and a large island. Sitting on the end of the island is a wood riser that Paul made from the base of a cedar tree. Typically, it is a display space for flowers, candles and other accessories. However, Karyn says, “When we have parties, I use it for my charcuterie board.”

Paul used the rest of the tree to make large cheese boards. He got a lot of the lumber he uses for woodworking projects from a friend’s farm in Thomson when he tore down some old buildings on the property. “A lot of the things I make are Karyn’s idea,” Paul says. “She is very creative – and a great cook.”

A chest stands at either end of the island to provide additional storage space such as drawers for pots and pans, and a perimeter countertop serves as a coffee station.

“We’re both coffee snobs. We drink coffee all day long,” says Karyn. “This is our first stop every morning.”

She also keeps a photo of her great-grandmother, who raised her mother, on the coffee station countertop. MacKenzie-Childs accessories, including two rugs, add a splash of color and whimsy to the kitchen.

An adjoining sitting area offers a comfortable spot for guests to gather. Four oyster paintings hang on the wall by the windows that overlook the pool.

Remembrances of Karyn’s late brother, Greg Connell, an aerobatic pilot who was killed in an air show accident in 2016, are placed throughout the house, including the kitchen.

A black-and-white picture of Greg from his high school football playing days hangs on the kitchen wall beneath a canvas of a black dog in a pickup truck. The canvas, where the words “Country roads take me home” are scripted in the bottom left corner, has twofold significance.

“When we were little, we would sing ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ at the top of our lungs,” says Karyn.

The Edmondsons also named a new business they recently started, Greco Transport and Home Medical, after Greg’s call signal when he flew. Capitalizing on Karyn’s healthcare background, the business transports clients to doctors’ facilities, treatment centers, patients’ and relatives’ homes, hospitals and from state to state.

“When we retire the vans, we transport homeless pets from kill shelters to no-kill shelters. We’ll take them anywhere,” says Karyn. “That’s what Greg wanted to do when he retired. He was all about dogs and saving dogs.”

Despite the kitchen’s many features, the Edmondsons took advantage of existing space to expand their culinary prep areas. They turned a closet into a small butler’s pantry and gave the laundry room, which features a tongue-and-groove ceiling, a dual purpose.

“I transformed my laundry room into a bar,” says Karyn. “We took out the utility sink, put in a copper sink and made it into a wet bar.”

The laundry room also offers convenient access to Karyn’s fresh herbs. “My herb garden is right outside the window, so I just open it and get what I need,” she says.

In honor of Paul’s Alabama roots, a painting of Bear Bryant hangs on the laundry room wall. In Paul’s six degrees of separation from the legendary Crimson Tide football coach, his mother worked for RC Cola when Bryant served on the company’s board of directors.

The living room, which features red oak hardwood flooring, a raised-hearth brick fireplace and a cathedral ceiling, adjoins the kitchen. To create a definite demarcation between the living room and the kitchen, they added a pine door frame when they remodeled.

Meaningful Mementoes
Family photos are plentiful throughout the house. “We grew up having our picture made,” says Karyn, whose father, Charlie Connell, worked in photo finishing.

One special memento sits on a bench in the foyer, just inside the front door — a blue-and-white-striped stuffed bear that is made out of one of Greg’s shirts.

The red oak flooring in the foyer extends into the dining room, which features a high chair rail and the Arnold Palmer Lexington table that Karyn has had for about 30 years. “When I like something, I just keep it,” she says.

Giving the formal setting a bit of playfulness, a pair of black-and-white-checked MacKenzie-Childs moose candlesticks sit on the tabletop.

“MacKenzie-Childs pieces can be a little ‘extra,’ so I have little pieces of it here and there,” says Karyn.

The master bedroom features a trey ceiling and a ceiling fan, and a pair of angel wings hang from the armoire in Greg’s honor. When Karyn took over her brother’s heating and air business after he passed away, she also re-engineered the company logo to include his wings.

In the master bath, they replaced the built-in tub with the stand-along soaking tub and enlarged a walk-in tile shower, which features a rain showerhead, when they renovated the room earlier this year.

“Our shower was like a phone booth,” says Karyn. “We expanded it and made it all glass. We added a pebble floor, and it’s one of my favorite things.”

The space also features a double vanity with a granite countertop, a vaulted ceiling and two shiplap walls.

“We kept the room light so we can feel like we’re on vacation,” Karyn says.

Porch Life
The Edmondsons’ house sits on a corner lot, which brings a cheerful, vacation-like breeze onto the property. They often enjoy the breeze from the covered side porch, where lots of hanging baskets filled with ferns and flowers give them more privacy.

The side porch includes a wicker sectional couch and table, an antique church pew, a ceiling fan and a TV on the wall. The beadboard ceiling, like the front porch ceiling, is painted haint blue.

They found the church pew, which is more than 100 years old and is constructed with wooden pegs, at an antique store.

MacKenzie-Childs accents include a birdhouse that hangs from the ceiling and a frog-shaped dinner bell mount on the wall. The frog’s long, curly tongue is sticking out to hold the bell.

Planters filled with bougainvillea hang from the side of the porch railing into the yard, and small blue and white planters line the rail. Paul made the fish wall hanging on the side porch out of plywood and tin.

“We saw one on the wall at TakoSushi. We tried to buy it, but they wouldn’t sell it. We came home and the next day, I made it,” he says.

An open air porch that extended from the side porch features more wicker furniture and wrought iron chairs. The décor includes a decorative pig and colorful pillows that accent the furnishings. Glass ornaments embellish flower-filled containers.

The Edmondsons like to eat on the porch or by the pool. Mostly, though, they like to enjoy each other’s company at work and at home.

“We raised children here,” says Paul. It’s been a great place.”

By Betsy Gilliland

Frozen Tropical Fruit Salad

Desserts
  • 10 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup mayo
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped until stiff peaks form
  • 3/4 cup coconut
  • 1/2 cup pistachios
  • 1 1/2 cups pineapple chunks
  • 2 bananas, chopped or sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries

Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, mayo, coconut extract and powdered sugar until smooth. Fold in whipped cream. Add coconut, pistachios, pineapple, bananas and strawberries. Stir gently and pour into baking dish. Cover and freeze 24 hours. Thaw 10-15 minutes before slicing into squares and serving. Makes 10 servings.

Summer Bucket List ’21

Buzz

Make the most of summertime with these 21 ideas for local fun that are (mostly) off the beaten path.

Food Truck Fridays, Evans
Bands and brews, food trucks and free admission — who’d want to miss that? This new summer event at the Columbia County Amphitheater (behind the library) will be serving up American fare (July 23), Italian (August 20) and Hawaiian (September 24) from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Bring a blanket and sit a spell. columbiacountyga.gov

Georgia Glamping Company, Appling
If you want to enjoy the great outdoors without getting too carried away, then Georgia Glamping offers (almost) all the comforts of home in lakefront safari tents at Wildwood Park. With beds, hammocks, string lights, fire pit, charcoal grill and amenities like a nice hotel room, you’ll no doubt want to come back for s’mores. georgiaglamping.com

 

Graves Mountain, Lincolnton
This gem rocks. A happy hunting ground for rockhounds, Tiffany’s once mined for rutile (used for polishing diamonds) here in the 1920s. If you dig this kind of recreation, make sure to call ahead because it’s open for rock collecting by appointment only: (706) 359-3862 or (706) 401-3173. Facebook: Graves Mountain

Baby Jo’s, Appling
When you know there are desserts like chocolate lasagna on the menu, you know the home-cookin’ and apps are going to be epic, too. Think barbecue, burgers, catfish, tacos, steak, shrimp — you get the idea. For summer on a plate, get the grilled pork chops with peach jalapeno glaze. Facebook: Baby Jo’s 

Fishing Excursions, Clarks Hill Lake
If you don’t know a rod from a reel but want to catch the big one, book a trip with fish whisperers Captains Tony and Rocky of Little River Guide Service (they claim to “kick bass”), Captain Dave of Crockett Rocket Striper Service, Captain Eddie of Mason’s Striper Guide Service or Captain William of William Sasser Fishing Charters. All that’s left is the fish fry. littleriverguideservice.net, crockettrocketstriperfishing.com, masonguideservice.com, williamsasserfishing.com

Sunnyside ATV Paradise, Wrens
When you can’t get enough ATV or dirt bike fun, this Wrens park is right in your wheelhouse. It isn’t aka “The Sandbox” for nothing. Just play nice with the other kids. sunnysideatvparadise.com

Williemacs, Lincolnton
Water view with your menu? Yes, please. With steak and seafood, live bands on the patio, and cocktails and ice-cold beer, this dockside restaurant is a fun place to kick back after a day on land or lake. Facebook: Williemacs

Palmetto Shooting Complex, Edgefield, S.C.
Take aim at some fun with sporting clays, trap and skeet fields and 3D archery at Palmetto. Or slow down and take a walk on the wild side with their interpretive walking trails, wildlife observation decks, wetlands and fishing habitat. nwtf.org/psc

 

Back Paddle Brewing, Lincolnton
Bring your appetite and craving for craft brews. This veteran-owned, small batch brewery offers styles you don’t typically see like an Imperial Stout or Scottish Ale, as well as farm-to-table dining. Along with signature burgers, they whip up specials like gumbo, shrimp and grits, Cuban sandwiches and burritos made with barbecue and mac ‘n’ cheese. Try the new peach wheat ale, and don’t forget to ask about their homemade peach cobbler. Facebook: Back Paddle Brewing

Laurel & Hardy Museum, Harlem
Looking to get yourself out of the heat and into a nice mess? Cool down with comedy. Kick back in the newly renovated Columbia Theater and watch the Laurel and Hardy slapstick films that run throughout the day. harlemmuseumandwelcomecenter.com

La Cantina, Clarks Hill, S.C.
Don’t let appearances fool you. This quirky restaurant (it looks like you’re pulling into someone’s yard) offers dinner Fridays and Saturdays followed by a show of the chef’s choice… because the chef is the show. Watch him cook steaks and seafood in the outdoor horno oven, and later entertain as a ventriloquist or play classical and flamenco tunes on his guitar. Make reservations and plan to stay awhile. No credit cards. 1750 Garrett Road 

Pelican’s SnoBalls, Grovetown & Augusta
When the mercury goes up, cool yourself down with a fluffy, flavored SnoBall (not to be confused with its crunchy SnoCone cousin). Even reading the menu is entertaining — Shark Attack, Gone Fishin’, J’Makin Me Happy + 97 more. Decisions, decisions. Four-legged fans will love their pup cups. pelicanssnoballs.com 

Ridge Road Café, Appling
Eggs and grits? Check. Burger, sandwich or fried shrimp basket? Check. Ribeye with some grilled shrimp on the side? Check and check. Get breakfast, lunch or dinner at this rural roadside diner where time stands still. Just as handy, it doubles as a convenience store and bait and tackle shop. 6539 Washington Road

 

Eudora Farms, Salley, S.C.
Follow your animal instincts to this 3-mile, drive-through safari park. You don’t have to leave your vehicle to see and feed more than 200 exotic animals from around the world. Then you can feed yourself at the picnic area and visit the enclosed petting zoo and Parakeet Adventure. eudorafarms.net

Lakeside Grill, Plum Branch, S.C.
Everyone is family at this 1950s throwback at Plum Branch Yacht Club. Get to the dockside eatery Thursday through Sunday by boat, car, golf cart or foot, then kick back with some fresh seafood, pizza, ice-cold beverages and everything else in between. plumbranch.com

 

Vance’s Bakery Bar, Augusta
OK, so you need to be at least 21 to hit this sweet spot. This mid-century modern bakery and cocktail lounge pairs local craft beers and spirits to create signature cocktails, coffee drinks and dessert drinks. Don’t forget to leave room for the decadent, alcohol-infused desserts. vancesbakerybar.com

Big Mo Drive-In Theater, Monetta, S.C.
Not all drive-ins have bitten the dust. For movie-going the old-fashioned way, park yourself at this 70-year-old outdoor movie theater with three screens and a concession stand. Chow down on hot dogs, pizza, burgers, nachos and more. You can even bring Fido, as long as he’s on a leash. thebigmo.com

Savannah River Brewing Co., Augusta
Things are always hopping at this craft brewery. Take a tour or join the activities they have on tap such as beer yoga, ax throwing, cornhole, Fitness on Tap, Tipsy Spelling Bee(r) Night, Dungeons and Dragons night and food truck offerings. Don’t forget to bring your dog and hang out on the deck. savannahriverbrew.com

Love Locks, Savannah Rapids Pavilion
Profess your eternal love with the one who makes your heart skip a beat by adding a personalized lock to the Savannah Rapids Pavilion headgates. According to ancient Chinese custom, as long as the lock remains, love will endure. For inspiration, check out the many creative locks already there. Facebook: Love Locks in Columbia County

Edgar’s Above Broad, Augusta
Go up to get down and have fun at this rooftop restaurant-entertainment venue. Where else will you see an Airstream trailer on the roof (it’s a bar), along with a bocce ball court, putting green and oversized outdoor chess board? While you’re having a good time, culinary students are serving up 5-star menu creations. edgarsabovebroad.com

 

Stay. Social Tap & Table, Evans
Well, it’s not off the beaten path, but this coffeehouse by day, self-serve taproom and tapas bar by night is front and center for fun. With indoor and patio seating, it has beer and wine taps, tapas served charcuterie-style, desserts and live music. You morning folk will appreciate the grab-and-go breakfasts, too. staysocialevans.com

On Target

Buzz

Training methods developed at MCG help camouflage breakers find a target in less than a second.

After looking for just one-twentieth of a second, experts in camouflage breaking can accurately detect not only that something is hidden in a scene, but precisely identify the camouflaged target, a skill set that can mean the difference between life and death in warfare and the wild, investigators report.

They can actually identify a camouflaged target as fast and as well as individuals identifying far more obvious “pop-out” targets, similar to the concept used at a shooting range, but in this case using easy-to-spot scenarios like a black O-shaped target among a crowd of black C shapes. 

In fact, the relatively rapid method for training civilian novices to become expert camouflage breakers developed by Medical College of Georgia neuroscientist Dr. Jay Hegdé and his colleagues, also enables the camouflage breakers to sense that something is amiss even when there was no specific target to identify.

This intuitive sense that something is not quite right has also been found in experienced radiologists finding subtle changes in mammograms, sometimes years before there is a detectable lesion.

The MCG investigators who developed the camouflage breaking technique wanted to know if trainees could detect the actual camouflaged target or just sense that something is different, an issue that is highly significant in real world circumstances, where a sniper might be hiding in the desert sand or a dense forest landscape.

“Merely being able to judge, no matter how accurately, that the given combat scene contains a target is not very useful to a sniper under real-world combat conditions if he or she is unable to tell where the target is,” Hegdé and his colleagues write in the journal Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications. 

They already knew that they could train most nonmilitary individuals off the street to break camouflage in as little as an hour daily for two weeks as long as their vision is good, a finding they want to benefit military personnel.

“We want to hide our own personnel and military material from the enemy, and we want to break the enemy’s camouflage,” says Hegdé, goals that summarize his research, which has been funded by the Army Research Office, an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory, for nearly a decade. “What are the things we can tweak? What are the things we can do to make our snipers better at recognizing camouflage?”

Because a missed shot by a sniper also tells the enemy his location. “You can’t take shots at things that are not the target,” Hegdé says.

Hegdé notes that even with his training, some people are better at breaking camouflage than others — he says he is really bad at it — and why remains mostly a mystery and another learning point for Hegdé and his colleagues.

For this newly published work, six adult volunteers with normal or corrected-to-normal vision were trained to break camouflage using Hegdé’s method. Coauthors Isabelle Noel Santana and Allison JoAnna Lewis were undergraduate apprentices of the U.S. Army in Hegdé’s lab when the work was done. Lewis is now an MCG medical student. First author Fallon Branch is a U.S. Navy veteran.

Six Tips to Keep the Brain Young

Buzz

By engaging in healthy habits and new activities, people can remain mentally sharp as they grow older.

Age is a state of mind, at least to a degree. As people begin to grow older, however, many fear that their mental capacity inevitably will decline. The thought of the mind becoming weaker can be even more frightening than the potential loss of physical ability.

But are memory lapses and other mental issues associated with old age truly unavoidable? As it turns out, no. If certain proactive steps are taken, the brain is much more resistant to the effects of age than usually is supposed. Here are a few recommended ways to keep the brain young.

  1. Try new things. At any age it’s easy to get stuck into the same old routine and fall into boredom. But as you age, it’s even more important to actively work against this by regularly seeking out new things to do in life. Expand your horizons, be spontaneous, say “yes” to everything, no matter how out-of-character it might seem.

The brain responds positively to fresh experiences. New things naturally challenge the brain in unfamiliar ways, which helps to preserve the brain’s youthful adaptability. While it might be a stereotype that older folks hopelessly are stuck in their ways, there’s no reason for that to be true. It is always possible, at any age, to try a different hobby, visit a new place or participate in another sort of novel activity.

  1. Stay socially connected. Retirement is not the time to become isolated – especially since social contact is critical to keeping the brain agile and strong. Researchers have found that seniors with a strong network of close friends and family are much less likely to experience significant mental decline. That’s probably because emotional health is important to brain function – depressed people, for example, are likelier to suffer from cognitive deterioration.

In addition, instead of always mixing with the same circle of friends, you should make an effort to meet new people. New friends give you new perspectives and insights, and it will stop your thinking from falling into predictable patterns.

  1. Learn. The brain needs to be kept active through learning. A person who learns something is providing the brain with a valuable challenge. Learning fights cognitive slowdown by encouraging brain cells to communicate and form new connections with each other. Remaining inquisitive about life and the world as you age is important. By stretching yourself in new directions, your brain will keep the ability to make new neural connections easily, and the effects will be felt across your life.

Learning also helps the brain stay in strong, youthful form. For instance, don’t rely on younger relatives to handle computer and smartphone technology issues for you. Stay at least a little in touch with tech to help keep you grounded in this fast-moving world.

  1. Be active. Keeping the body in good shape is vital to maintaining cognitive strength. Scientists have found that regular exercise encourages the growth of new synapses in the brain. Synapses are critical to cognitive strength because they serve to connect brain cells to each other. In addition, working out helps increase the number of blood vessels that transport oxygen to critical areas of the brain.

A short walk in the sunshine will do far more to keep your mind sharp than planting yourself in front of the TV, particularly if it becomes a habit. People who take the time to invest in their physical health are happier and stronger than those who decide to watch the years go by, thinking of better times.

  1. Eat a healthy diet. Appetite often declines with age, but eating healthily isn’t about amount. Make sure your diet includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and as few processed, fatty, sugary products as possible, although treating yourself from time to time is perfectly fine. If you don’t eat well, your brain will lack the basic fuels it needs to operate at its peak.

Consuming fewer calories also is beneficial, since high caloric intake has been associated with greater cognitive decline. In addition, seniors should avoid smoking, drink only in moderation and get plenty of sleep.

  1. Strive for emotional well-being. Those with emotional issues do relatively poorly on tests of cognitive ability, it has been discovered. Whether it’s stress, anxiety, depression or another condition, emotional problems sap the brain of flexibility and youthfulness. Fortunately, there are many ways to become mentally healthier.

For example, stress can be fought through activities like yoga or meditation. Other emotional problems can be addressed through confiding in a friend or family member, or perhaps by visiting a therapist.

The brain is a whole lot more resilient than most people think. Cognitive abilities do not automatically degrade as the years pass by, so seniors should not accept mental decline as an inevitability.

Star-Spangled Fun

Star-Spangled Fun

Independence Day Fireworks & Festivities

July 1
Fort Gordon’s Independence Day Celebration
Barton FieldFort Gordon’s annual celebration that includes a kiddie carnival, food and craft vendors, fireworks show and live music. Bring blankets and chairs, but no pets, tents or coolers. 5-11 p.m. Admission is free. Food and beverage tickets also are available for presale at the MWR Directorate Office (Building 28320, Lane Avenue). Guests 16 and older must present a photo ID at Fort Gordon’s entrance gate. Masks must be worn for all unvaccinated attendees. (706) 791-8878, fortgordon.com

July 2
Freedom Blast
Thomson-McDuffie Government Center Grounds
The Thomson-McDuffie Chamber of Commerce and the City of Thomson bring Independence Day fun with a picnic on the lawn, food from local restaurants, music and fireworks. 7-9:45 p.m. Fireworks begin at 9:30 p.m. Bring lawn seating. Coolers are allowed, but no alcohol. Admission is free. (706) 597-1000, thomsonmcduffiechamber.com

Clarks Hill Lake 4th of July Fireworks
Raysville Marina
Friends of Clarks Hill Lake present a fireworks show for boaters and onlookers from shore. Best viewing areas on land are from Amity Recreation Area and Raysville Marina. Free. 9 p.m. Bring seating and picnics.

July 3
Grovetown Fourth of July Barbecue
Liberty Park Community Center
The City of Grovetown’s community-wide picnic will be a drive-through this year with free barbecue plates. Plates include barbecue, two sides and a roll. 11 a.m. (706) 860-7691, cityofgrovetown.com

July 4
Boom in the Park
Evans Towne Center Park
Bring chairs and blankets to Columbia County’s annual Independence Day celebration. Event includes live music by Whiskey Run, food trucks and fireworks. 5-10 p.m. Fireworks begin at dusk. Admission is free. No glass or alcohol is allowed. (706) 868-3484. 

Independence Day Celebration
Augusta Commons
Downtown Augusta’s Independence Day Celebration features live entertainment, arts and crafts vendors, food vendors, patriotic merchandise. 5-9:30 p.m. Fireworks begin at dusk. Bring blankets and chairs but no coolers or pets. Free admission. (706) 821-1754, augustaga.gov

July 10
Independence Day Celebration Fireworks and Boat Parade
Plum Branch Yacht Club
Celebrate Independence Day with a patriotic boat parade, food, games, entertainment and fireworks over the lake. The boat parade kicks things off at noon and festivities continue until 10 p.m. Barbecue plates will be sold for $14 each at the Pavilion at Plum Branch Yacht Club from noon to 4 p.m., and the Lakeside Grill will be open until 10 p.m. Fireworks begin at dark. For more details, contact the McCormick County Chamber of Commerce at (864) 852-2835, the Plum Branch Yacht Club at (864) 443-3000 or the Lakeside Grill at (864) 443-3004. mccormickscchamber.org, plumbranch.com

The Newcomer by Mary Kay Andrews

Literary Loop

Mary Kay Andrews, New York Times bestselling author and “Queen of the Beach Reads,” delivers a delightful summer roller coaster of a ride with The Newcomer.

After Letty Carnahan discovers her sister, Tanya, dead in her New York City townhouse, she knows who did it: Tanya’s ex, sleazy real estate entrepreneur Evan Wingfield. Even in the grip of grief and panic she heeds her late sister’s warnings: “If anything bad happens to me, it’s Evan. Promise me you’ll take Maya and run.”

Letty grabs her sister’s Mercedes and hits the road with her wailing 4-year-old niece, Maya, determined to outrun Evan — but to where? Her sister left behind only one clue: a faded magazine story about a sleepy mom-and-pop motel in a Florida beach town with the improbable name of Treasure Island.

After checking into The Murmuring Surf Motel, Letty tries to heal Maya’s heartache and unravel the key to her sister’s past, all while dodging the attention of the owner’s attractive son, Joe, who just happens to be a local police detective. With danger closing in, it’s a race to find the truth and right the wrongs of the past.

The Newcomer is praised by Country Living as a “perfect-for-poolside binge-reading pick,” and it was named one of “6 Beach Reads That Feel Like an Escapeby Southern Living.