Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - 42

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ABOVE: Helen, Georgia, has adapted a Bavarian style for its downtown.
RIGHT: Dan Witucki plans to play this fall at Bodensee, a Helen restaurant.

"The fall colors are spectacular," says
the ebullient park naturalist.
At 48, Cousin is going on 26 years as
a naturalist at the state park in Tucker
County, West Virginia, where thousands
come to "ooh" and "ahh" at the park's
picture-perfect waterfall, especially when
seeking to see fall colors.
"October has the yellows, the oranges,
the reds," Cousin says. "What's so unique
about Blackwater Falls is if you look in
the canyon, you get a good contrast. The
north-facing slope is green. The south-facing slope is where all the fall color is. So
we have the whole spectrum of colors that
they can see."
Other than Blackwater Falls, Cousin
recommends hiking in the park to Pendleton Point Overlook.
"Autumn is absolutely my favorite time
of the year to hike," Cousin says. "Tucker
County is gorgeous and striking in the fall.
The fall asters and goldenrods light up the
landscape with occasional other favorites
such as ladies tresses, bouncing bet, bone-

42

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set, white snakeroot and
gentian."
Into the forest of the
state park, Cousin finds
hardwoods "with the maples and sourwood showing those reddish hues and
trees such as black cherry
and tulip poplar bringing
in the yellow hues of fall."
In turn, Cousin says,
the conifer forest adds the
dark green contrast to autumn's vibrant
colors.
"Even if I didn't work here, I would
just always be traveling back to Blackwater
Falls. It's a very special place."
That's why she wants to show it to
visitors.
"I'm loud and proud," Cousin says.
"I'm very passionate about nature and
not afraid to be goofy. You will see me
wearing crazy hats. Or I will crawl around
and get people interested in nature, especially kids."

GEORGIA:
Squeezeboxing in
Helen
Dan Witucki has a squeezebox he plays on his
chest. And when he
comes to Helen, Georgia,
he hardly gets any rest.
This year, though, with
cancellation of Oktoberfest, Witucki now plans to
play nightly, starting Sept. 11, at Bodensee, a German restaurant near the center
of town. Even so, Witucki says, you'll still
find plenty to see and do in Helen.
Tubing on the Chattahoochee River
remains viable through September.
Specialty shops are open. And fine
German cuisine at Bodensee Restaurant.
Witucki says he often heads in the fall
to Helen, a town that transformed itself a
half century ago into a Bavarian-style village called "Alpine Helen."
"It was a logging town for years, and


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Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020

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