27th - 30th May 2008

We decided, if we were really to see America during our road trip, we would have to stay off the Interstate and travel on the smaller roads.    Our other plan was to do about 200 miles a day, to arrive at our next camping destination around lunchtime, giving us time to explore.   We left Green Cove Springs on the very scenic route 16.    The magnolia were in full bloom and often we were seemingly driving down a magnolia roofed tunnel.  
We'd selected route 441 for our trip across Georgia and a first camping destination at the General Coffee Georgia State Park, famous for its heritage farm, demonstrating old-time farming techniques and for being the home of the threatened Gopher Tortoise and Indigo Snake. 

Once we'd set up camp, we hit the hiking trails in the park, first taking the nature trail to the heritage farm.    There were no sightings of the endangered wildlife but we chanced upon a group of Armadillos, who seemed unconcerned by our presence.    After visiting the not-so-wild-life at the Heritage Farm museum and the beautiful fishing pond, we decided to follow a second trail, which passed "many scattered tortoise colonies".   Again we had no luck with the wildlife and on returning to our campsite we glad of the excellent shower and laundry facilities the campground had to offer.

Wild and not-so-wild life at the General Coffee State Park

We'd really enjoyed the first day of our road trip, when the biggest stress had been trying to find the local Walmart to pick up supplies!

The next day we continued along route 441, enjoying the scenery until we reached Lake Sinclair, where we stopped in the not particularly thrilling campground at the National Forest Recreation Area.    We were glad of the on-site electricity and our air-conditioning as we were rained in through an evening thunderstorm.

Now we were climbing into the Georgia Blue Ridge Mountains, bound northwards towards North Carolina.   By a spot of incorrect navigation we passed through the pretty and historic town of Madison.

Harvey Deep in the Woods


En route we made a stop for refueling Harvey and for a crew bathroom break.    Two almost identical elderly sisters ran the petrol station and pointed us in the direction of the bathroom.    Christine quickly returned to the kiosk after finding herself plunged into darkness, to enquire about the possibility of light in the restroom.    Apparently the ladies had forgotten to change the bulb and after some debate, reluctantly agreed to allow Christine to use "their" bathroom and handed over the key.    Unsure about this dubious honour, Christine promptly took the key, unlocked and walked into the cleaning closet before being rescued and pointed in the right direction. 

Mountain Laurel in Bloom at Tallulah Gorge

Refreshed and refueled we headed for Tallulah Gorge State Park, where the navigator and new GPS had their first minor disagreement.    Eventually we found our goal and arrived at the Gorge, one of the oldest geological features in North America.    Over thousands of years, the Tallulah river had eroded the rock into a 1000 foot deep chasm, more than two miles long.    The river dropped almost 600 feet before joining the Chattooga River, with five major waterfalls in its path.     The town of Tallulah Gorge had been a popular holiday destination once the railroad was built but was largely destroyed in a major fire many years before our visit.    

The State Park offered a trail along both sides of the gorge, with impressive views along the way.   At one end the two sides were joined by the highway bridge over the gorge.   To cross the other end of the gorge was more tricky, involving descent and ascent of 1003 steps and a walk over the Hurricane Falls narrow suspension bridge.     Christine and Phil were the only people on the bridge when they crossed but, needless to say, a naughty little boy wanted to try to make the bridge sway, despite his fear of heights.

How many steps?

Hurricane Falls Suspension Bridge.

We continued north on 441, further into the mountains, in search of our next destination, Black Rock Mountain State Park, where we planned to spend the night.   Despite apparently lying on a road close to 441 on the map, the park proved tricky to find, with several unmarked junctions along the way.     Harvey huffed and puffed his way up the steep and narrow lanes.    After making a wrong turn and ending up on a dirt track, we retraced our steps and tried to ascertain our location on the map.     On being asked where we were, the navigator's response was that she was unsure but we definitely lay right on the Eastern Continental Divide.    "How do you know?" she was asked.     The big sign just outside the passenger window was a good clue!

So where exactly are we?

Beautiful trees at Black Rock Mountain.

We eventually arrived at the campground and selected our beautiful campsite, with its own picnic site, completely shrouded in blooming rhododendrons.   We set out to explore for the rest of the day.  We had already hiked quite a way at the Tallulah Gorge and now found ourselves on pretty strenuous trails through beautiful woodland.   

As in the sailing world, it seemed that pot-luck dinners were common in the camping world and we were invited to one at the campground office.   However, by the time we arrived back at our home campsite after our hike, we were just too tired to be sociable!

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