Charlotte NC and Georgia

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November 16th 2019
Published: November 17th 2019
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Still catching up😊 Saturday October 26, 2019 we left the Blue Ridge Parkway in Blowing Rock, NC and headed to see my cousin Dan who lives in Charlotte. Almost immediately off the Parkway we were on a 4 lane road and back into civilization. Blowing Rock is at the gateway of the Pisgah National Forest. There were restaurants, specialty stores, lodge accommodations. There were people everywhere, parking lots full. I kept saying, "Look at all the people." After a week in the woods, it was culture shock I guess. The road quickly wound us down from the mountains. I was so glad we had 2 lanes in each direction, nice and wide for that decline. The mountains were still so pretty with the clouds coming up from the valleys.

We actually stayed in Fort Mill, SC at the KOA where my Uncle Dan and his wife Janice stay when they visit. It was a good recommendation. Right off the highway and next door to the grocery store. We picked up 50 channels with our antenna! Got to see some football! YEAH! Being the weekend before Halloween many of the sites were decorated and I wish I would have gotten some pictures because a local chapter of a national group called Sisters on the Fly were there with their vintage camper trailers and they all dressed up as witches for a party they had. I had to look them up, apparently it was started by 2 sisters who were camping together years ago and grew from there.

In Fort Mill we finally found some HEAT! and took the electric blanket off the bed. We spent Sunday afternoon with Dan. We had a yummy NC BBQ lunch and got a tour of his new house, and met his 2 pugs, Seville and Girly. He lives in the southern part of the city right along the SC border. The area was very nice, lots of gated neighborhoods, shopping, and peach groves. I can see why he likes it here and made the move 10 yrs. ago. Thank you Dan for a great day😊

Monday we hit the road for Georgia after Safelite came by to repair the windshield damage we had back in Winchester. It was so convenient to have them come right to the campsite to do that. I took advantage of the extra time and did some cleaning and baked some apple crisp, YUM! In Georgia we wanted to see Stone Mountain just outside of Atlanta. We made it to the state border driving through South Carolina and found a campground in a little town called Toccoa. Georgia had a really nice information center on the border. We picked up some information about their state parks and Stone Mountain. Reading over some of the info we got I learned Toccoa has a waterfall that is 186 feet high and says it's higher than Niagara Falls. We checked it out in the morning before going on to Stone Mountain. It is very pretty as you will see and we are so glad we saw it. You would never know, it sits in the back of the local community college there. The northern part of Georgia is mountainous and the beginning of the Appalachian Trail. Apparently there are a lot of waterfalls here too. This is an area that is worth making another trip to but after spending a week in the woods hiking, we were ready to keep going and explore other things.

We were able to check into our campsite at Stone Mountain early so we got right to the business of seeing the park. We knew it was going to rain the next day so we wasted no time setting out. The campground is in the Park but the Park is quite big, 2 golf courses, lakes, Stone Mountain, a hotel, campground, amusement type park. We walked over to the attractions area and up the mountain. Now, you remember my story of hiking up Tuck Mountain? in the heavy mist, went too fast to keep up with Mike, felt dizzy at the top??? Coming back to you??? Well before we left on our hike this day I was singing to Led Zeppelin and continued to sing after we turned off the radio. Mike was teasing me of course😊 Then he added, 'it's ok, I know once we start climbing that mountain you won't be able to talk. Any last words?" Isn't he so cute? We had a good laugh! I told him to make sure our boys know their mumma loves them very much! and I thanked him for this wonderful life.

We made it up that mountain it was not that bad at all. You will see in the pictures the face of the carving is sheer but it is a dome shaped rock and the walk up trail on the side was really only steep near the top. The rock trail reminded me a lot of walking the rocks at the coast when the tide goes out in Maine. You know the little water pools and eroded rock formations from the water. I no more shared that thought with Mike and I looked up at a power pole that looked like it had barnacles on it! It was GUM! so Mike had to make sure to add to the collection on his way down. He also saw a guy hiking in his barefeet so he had to try that too. When we met he used to go barefoot all the time, he has been doing that a lot now that he is retired especially when driving.

The view at the top of the mountain was extensive but really overcast with the predicted rain. We could see a city skyline that we assume is Atlanta but it was stretched out in 3 sections so we aren't sure if there is another nearby city or if it is just that way. We didn't explore the city. We also got a good birds eye view of the Park complex. After we went down we walked around to the viewing field of the carving of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis. In one of the picture, notice Mike laying in the grass looking up at it, you can see the scale.

We kept on walking after that along the Cherokee trail that goes around the mountain back to the campground. We saw an old grist mill with stone troughs, and a covered bridge as we walked along the lakes on the complex. By the time we got back it was dark and we logged 10 miles! The next day we determined that 10 miles is probably our max and only when we have a few recovery days lined up! Our second day was pouring rain so we drove the RV over to the park so we could go to the museums and it was like we had a private showing. Being a weekday and pouring rain, there was a school tour in the "free" museum and no one in the "fee" museum, not even a ticket taker, we got in FREE! We were so glad to have looked at the mountain the day before because you couldn't even see it from the museum due to the rain and fog....and because in the viewing area they are in the process of getting ready for their winter celebration complete with setting up tubing ramps and fake snow! I have a picture of that in here too.

We learned in these museums the geology of Stone Mountain. Apparently it once was 8-10 miles under ground and was formed form hardening lava. Over the years of erosion the stone has been "uncovered" The base of the walk up trail was once a store owned by a family and their son was known as the "old man of the mountain" as he grew up there, saved many lives of people who got into trouble trying to climb it and also doing stunts. Back in that time, before the face was carved, people in the city would come to the area for picnics and relaxation at the lake and see the huge rock. The memorial museum showed the carving process as well as some history of the civil war more from the perspective of the life of the area
people during that time rather than the war itself. An organization honoring the lost soldiers of the south commissioned carvers to do a memorial on the mountain for their heroes and so it came to be. It took many years to complete finishing in the early 70s. It is amazing to me how these people were able to accomplish the detail and scale while working on suspended scaffolding.

We really enjoyed seeing this and our long walk. At this point in our trip we hadn't really planned any specifics other than getting to California for the Rose Bowl game. After the cold and rain, we decided, "let's find some sun and sand. Let's get to the beaches of Florida."

Mike continues to do a really great job driving the RV. We are finding about 150 miles/day is plenty and we prefer a 2 night stay. So we use that as a guide on the map to pick our routes. We found Georgia has a "little Grand Canyon," Providence Canyon, so we set our sights on that as we made our way south. It was really beautiful. We were able to walk into the canyon floor which really gives
you a different perspective. We found a state park campground nearby on a reservoir created by damming the Chattahoochee River which borders Alabama and Georgia. Speaking of Alabama, we crossed into it and then back to GA to get to Florence Marina State Park. We were hoping to spy an alligator as signs were posted everywhere but no luck. They did have a marina with covered slips full of pontoons and a huge old house boat. Even though the weather is cooling again, (electric blanket is back on the bed) this park was booked for the weekend, so we were lucky we could get in for Thursday night as there really aren't any places to stay near the canyon.

When we hiked the canyon it was a cool morning, we had hats and gloves on....then drove on to Florida where we were greeted at the state line with palm trees😊

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