Whenever I write a column on what to do in Gwinnett, I always get a nice thank you from a newcomer. I guess not every transplant is as lucky as I was 39 years ago when my then sister-in-law Jane showed me around.
The first place Jane took me was to Rich's to apply for a credit card. Then she treated me to lunch at Chick-Fil-A. Later treats included catfish at Rio Vista and tea at Rich's Magnolia Room, both now defunct. She and her husband took us to Underground Atlanta and gave us a tour of ritzy homes, including a very slow drive-by past Fran Tarkington's house. I had no idea who Fran Tarkington was, but I remember he did have a very nice house.
Over the years, I've liked to pay it forward and welcome newcomers in the same way Jane welcomed me. I have a list of Gwinnett attractions for all interests from the Blue Moon Motorcycle Museum in Norcross to the Summits Wayside Tavern Baseball Bat Museum in Snellville to the "Georgia History Museum" in the concourse at the Mall of Georgia. I like to think I can make anyone feel connected here.
Last week I had the privilege of attending a retreat at Namestoy Farm in Cumming, run by former Snellville resident Nancy Amestoy, who received the 2008 United Way Legacy Award for the way she connects people.
I relaxed with a reiki healing by Tibetan Monk Tenzin Lama Sherpa and a Healing Sounds gong session by Yogiray Kessler, who has just moved to Lilburn from Colorado. (You'll hear more about Yogiray in a future column.)
As we talked about his transition, he said he was really going to miss the big annual rock and mineral show in Tuscan.
"We have an annual rock show here, too, at the North Atlantic Trade Center," I said. This year it will be from Dec. 7-9.
And if you want to do more than look at rocks in a glass case, right here in Gwinnett, you can visit our own "Grand Canyon" at the Vulcan Quarry in Norcross, the biggest granite quarry in the country or go figure the mysterious rock piles at Little Mulberry Park in Dacula.
For a real hands-on experience, you can climb Stone Mountain or walk across Arabia Mountain in nearby Rockdale County.
A 90-minute drive gets you to Eatonton, home of Rock Eagle and Rock Hawk, Native American effigies believed to be thousands of years old. And Elberton, about the same distance, boasts the Georgia Guidestones, our own Stonehenge.
And for gemstones and minerals, any time you want you can venture to North Georgia and dig up your own, dozens of different kinds from garnet to gold.
I'm sure many of you have favorite spots to take newcomers that you could add to my list. If you'd email them or comment online, that would really rock.
Susan Larson is a columnist from Lilburn. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.