Georgia to Green Cove Springs, Florida

3rd October - 2nd December 2008

After four months on the road and almost twelve thousand miles, by the time we returned to Georgia, adventure fatigue was setting in.    We decided to spend a weekend up in the Georgia Mountains at the charming Vogel State Park to enjoy a spot of lake fishing and crazy golf.    Luckily we arrived just in time to snag the very last campsite available.   It was obviously a popular spot for enjoying the colours of the autumn.

We spent another night up in the mountains at Amicalola State Park.    Neither park brought much fishing success.

Vogel State Park

Red Top Mountain State Park

Our next campsite was selected entirely based on its proximity to Atlanta but Red Top Mountain State Park turned out to be a gem.   The park lay on the shores of the Allatoona Lake and we spent a day trying a spot of fishing from our canoe.    The long drought experienced in Georgia was evident from the water level in the lake.

When the wind picked up too much to make canoe fishing an option, we hiked around the shore of the lake, fishing rods in hand.   We had little success again but encountered some of the local wildlife including a snake and a pair of deer running through the woodland.

Since it had opened a couple of years earlier, we'd wanted to visit the Georgia Aquarium in downtown Atlanta.    Although not keen on driving Harvey in city traffic, we quickly found the aquarium with our trusty GPS and found a suitable parking location just across the road from the Aquarium where the friendly parking attendant took good care of Harvey.

In the aquarium our first visit was to the eerily ghost-like Beluga whales.    The most famous aquarium resident was the enormous Whale Shark in the Ocean Voyager exhibit.   It was an amazing sight to see.    Phil the fisherman was fascinated by the groupers in the same aquarium which were giants too.

Beluga Whale

Whale Shark

Phil ponders the giant grouper

Phil fishing from boat no. 3

During our four month road trip we'd only had a couple of days of rain.   Now, however, it seemed that the weather had turned on us.    We arrived and left Atlanta in pouring rain and for the next four or five days, the rain continued persistently for which the Georgia residents were very grateful.

After an overnight stop at High Falls State Park just south of Atlanta, we pushed on southwards, hoping to have enough dry weather to enjoy a weekend of lake fishing at Gordonia-Alatamaha State Park.   We were disappointed to discover that we weren't allowed to use our own canoe on the lake but instead had to rent a boat from the park.   We were assigned boat number three at a good rate for the whole weekend.    Boat number three turned out to be a large aluminium rowing boat, much heavier than our trusty canoe to drag into the water.   Once launched the job of propelling the boat was not made easy by the fact that it was supplied without oars and rowlocks and only with two small paddles.    Luckily it was a small lake!     

We fished determinedly between rain showers, the lake's resident herons and alligators looking on in amusement as we drew a complete blank.   The only fishing success at all was during our first five minutes in the park when Phil had a quick go off the dock.
The last stop on our summer road tour was to be at Laura Singleton Walker State Park, named for a local conservationist, with the distinction of being the only person still living when a state or national park was name in their honour.

We arrived on the day of an evening "Sunset Wildlife Watch and Owl Howl" and decided to tag along and brave the mosquitoes.    Unfortunately the walk was scheduled about an hour later than the leader would have liked and by the time we reached the park's observation dock it was almost dark already.   

View from our campsite at Laura S. Walker Park

We watched the park's bird residents coming in to roost for the night and once it was dark, could easily spot alligators lurking in the lake, whose eyes would reflect red in torchlight.    The stars of the show, the owls, were conspicuous in the their absence, despite the best efforts of our walk leader with recorded owl calls. 

We spent the next couple of days in our canoe trying a spot of bass fishing.     The lakes water lilies were beautiful, with their reflections crystal clear in the still waters.    Unfortunately they also seemed to attract our fishing hooks and we spent much of our time struggling through the patches of lilies, trying to retrieve lures stuck there.   Having lost a large bass on the first day, we were determined to land another.    Finally we hit the jackpot, bringing the total number of bass we'd caught to five including the biggie.    All were released back into the lake to face the alligators, whilst we were sure to be off the water before sunset!

It was time to head back to Green Cove Springs to check on our beloved Anju, before flying back to the UK to visit with family.     On our return to the marina, as ever, we were greeted as long-lost relatives.   We were delighted to find George and Julie from Seaquel also there, having returned from their month-long house and dog sit at Chris and Vivian's house in North Carolina.   We managed to fit in a night out at an Italian restaurant before we had to leave for the UK and they kindly drove us to the airport.
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