As you drive into Lithonia, very few clues are there to convince you this is much more than a commuter town. A Wal-Mart ungraciously displays it presence and it is joined in its omnipresence by every brand of fuel or motor oil known in America as I am leaving the East Expressway. Tucked away in the soft rolling hills and hidden by the beautiful trees, Lithonia started its heydays with the construction of the Atlanta Augusta Railroad in 1845 to connect the quarries with the world. With the prospering of the local granite industry, the -what is now known as- Lithonia Historic District grew both in size as in local importance. Lithonia, or the city of stone, is home to a number of quarries.
I’m woken up by distant chirping of overactive birds welcoming the day. As I open my eyes I feel the sun gently poking me as if it was telling me to get out of bed. The terrace at the back of the house looks at the high but somewhat bald trees that mark the start of the Arabia Mountain Heritage Site. We’re heading into the woods today and want to save some time using the pressure cooker to cook the rice. The experiment, as it was more than once detailed by my Indian friends at work, was not meant to succeed. Not to blame the equipment, it did not reduce preparation time at all but took the cooking time from 40 minutes to an hour. At last, as Etta James would sing, my rice has come along. Eggs, rice, tomatoes and a mid morning sun provide a heavenly breakfast.
We’re all set for a walk to Arabia lake. The good part is, the trail we’re taking is only instances away from where we are currently residing. We head towards Arabia Lake and leave the big trail for smaller hiking trails. I’ve noticed the sun can hit your hard in Georgia, especially when you’re out walking. It’s a weekday and with most people at the office, the clouds and the distant threat of a thunderstorm, the forest is all ours. A small mob of deer sees us, just as we see them. Some of the young freeze as I search my camera. Other members of the herd just don’t care and keep on going.
We reach the lake as we see a wall partially destructed by time to generate a tiny waterfall and even more subtitle creek. As I turn right I see a landscape abundant in stone but poor in trees, dotted with dark red Diamorpha. Arabia Mountain is a monadnock and was one of the three quarries that were actively exploited until the late sixties, when it was no longer viable to do so. Stone was transported by rail from the quarry to supply the local market and by extension the entire United States. Parts of those railways have been converted into comfortable biking trails. Today, more than 30 miles of biking trails through nature, across historic sites and a monastery as a gateway to this area make this truly a unique experience.
After a long walk, I’m getting hungry. Time to go back and prepare dinner. Tomorrow we’ll visit Atlanta. I can’t wait to drink Peach Juice on Peachtree Avenue. However, I have been warned I would have a hard time finding Peach Juice in Georgia.