On the Road Again…

Road Trip – Summer 2020

Well this vacation started like most…hopping in the van and heading out. Normally we would be headed to the airport or one single location. This year, I wanted to experience more in different locations. I also thought about the possibility of restrictions at certain places/states, that there might not be in others. Doing all this switch a roo was in preparation for the volatility of COVID-19 and how it could affect our travel. There was a chance COVID might affect parts of our vacation, but we hoped that it would not cancel the whole thing. We wore our masks and social distanced and had to have some minor changes in our plans.

On the road again…the photo that starts all family trips!

We headed to Shady Grove Campground at Lake Lanier in Cumming, Georgia to spend one night Glamping at Georgia Glamping Company. Now let me tell you…Georgia Glamping Company has a new site in work as well. Be sure to follow them on social media to keep up with their news and at www.gaglamping.com. The next morning we woke up and headed to Tiger, Georgia for 3 nights. While there we went white water rafting, went boating on Lake Chatuge, and just did some exploring. Next stop was Woodfin, North Carolina, where we visited the Biltmore Estate (it was my birthday, so I got to choose my activity); well who am I fooling, I chose all the activities, but this one I was selfish about. I planned the vacation with everyone in mind; what they liked to do or wanted to try. The Biltmore experience was all about ME and something I wanted to do, but knew more than likely, the kids and hubby would want to rush through or be “bored” the entire time. We only spent one night in Woodfin. Then our last destination was Isle of Pines, South Carolina. We spent the time there going to the beach and exploring Charleston. After three nights there, we had to sadly head home. It was a nice time away from home…kind of the last hoorah before all the kids head to college and we are completely empty nesters!

Keep reading for all the details of the trip!!

We left home on July 9th…On the way to our first night’s accommodations, we took a pit stop at Anderson’s Family Sunflower Farm. The sunflowers only bloom for about 2 weeks and we happened to be passing through in perfect timing. It was really packed, but the sunflowers were really pretty.

Georgia Glamping

We drove to Cumming to go Glamping on Lake Lanier at Shady Grove Campground with Georgia Glamping Company. We arrived at around 1:00 pm to explore Lake Lanier; we relaxed at one of the beach areas and cooled off. Check in normally isn’t until 4pm, but ours was ready early at 2pm. We stayed at Site 17 a Deluxe Safari Tent, 16 X 20 foot tent with 1 king size bed, 2 bunk beds, air conditioning, mini fridge and coffee maker. It was really quite phenomenal and comfortable…definitely glamourous camping! The air conditioner though didn’t really start to cool things down until after 11pm. Be sure though to bring your shower shoes and flashlight as there is no bathroom attached. You will have to take a little walk to get to the restrooms/bath house.

Glamping Site 17

We brought our hammocks to lay around in and relax. There were already 2 hammocks there, so we didn’t even have to set our hammocks up. You can rent kayaks, paddleboards, corn hole boards and an array of activities. We chose to roast s’mores and just hang out on Lake Lanier. Hubby and I explored the entire park on foot. We saw so many deer along our way and they were not even phased by humans. They just let us photograph them and talk and point while all the long just eating or looking right back at us.

There are quite a few camp and glamp sites directly on the water that have quite impressive views and even a little area to get in the water right at your site. Our site though was close to the bathhouse, so no water view for us without a little walk.

Sunset from the boat launch

Since we were only spending one night, we chose to not bring all our camping gear to cook our meals. We didn’t have enough room in the van to bring everything. So we chose to eat out for our meals. We ate Pueblos Mexican Cuisine in Cumming for dinner. Nothing to write home about, but it filled us up and had some margaritas to boot!

After a night of glamorous camping, we headed to get breakfast at Dunkin….since they had dine in available.

On July 10th, after we checked out at Georgia Glamping, we drove towards Tiger, Georgia (our next location for a few days).  We had a few pit stops on the way, because we couldn’t check in until later in the day.

Hemlock Falls at Moccasin Creek State Park

For our first pit stop, we hiked the two-mile Hemlock Falls Trail at Lake Burton. Hemlock Falls is near Moccasin Creek State Park in North Georgia’s beautiful Rabun County.

Hemlock Falls

Sliding Rock Cascade

After Hemlock Falls, we also hiked about 1 mile (in and out) to go to Sliding Rock Cascade on Wildcat Creek. I sat with my feet in the freezing water while hubby and Isabel slid down the rock!! It was so refreshing!

Isabel checking out the top…before she plunged down!

We stopped at Goats on the Roof for a light lunch before we headed to the house.

We checked into our AirBnB. It was a quaint little cabin with a babbling brook in the back with a cute little flower garden.

We all just relaxed and showered. Then we headed to dinner at Fortify Pi. Everything was delicious! Another definite addition for my must eat list.


Chattooga Rafting turned into Ocoee

On July 11th, we went to raft the Chattooga River with Wildwater LTD. I have been rafting with Wildwater LTD for about 30 years on the Ocoee River and we also used them when we took the kids on the Nantahala River when they were a lot younger. To me, their good reputation, was all I needed to decide what company I was going to use to raft the Chattooga. We had to arrive by 0730 at the Chattooga Ridge Adventure Center –Wildwater LTD. Our rafting trip was scheduled to last 7-8 hours…with lunch in the middle. When we arrived to check in we found out one guide had tested positive for COVID-19 and that our trip was cancelled. First real upset from COVID. We weren’t giving up on rafting, but all other outfitters were booked for the Chattooga River, so we decided to raft the Ocoee again, this time the Upper Section (Olympic Section). We got scheduled for the upper Ocoee River at 1 pm.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said Adopt the Pace of Nature…

And in this case, we had to paddle faster! What a rush!!

Lake Chatuge Fun

July 12th, we rented a ski boat, wake board, and double tube at Lake Chatuge. All I really cared to do was lay in the boat in the sun and maybe swim a little…but all the adventure was planned to fulfill the hubby’s and kids’ desires. Of course I got in on some of the fun too, but I just love being on the water, so I would have been happy with or without all the water toys.

Biltmore Estate

On July 13th, (Happy Birthday to me!!) we left Tiger GA and drove to Biltmore Estates Asheville, NC. We had tickets for 1230 at Biltmore, so we had to arrive by 1200. We explored the estate. The house and gardens were immaculate and the views stunning!

Woodfin

We checked in at our AirBnB and I was not impressed at all….I will leave it at that. After this honestly I don’t know if I will trust AirBnB for who they call a super host. But we spent our night there and moved on.


Isle of Palms-here we come…

On July 14th, we left Woodfin (thank goodness) to drive to Isle of Palms, SC to check in to our AirBnB. I really hoped AirBnB would redeem itself on this place. We checked in at condo after 3 pm. Our condo was pretty small, but is completely renovated and right on the beach! The family thought I was crazy when I had them pack their clothes in ziplocks, so I could arrange suitcases by the location and its coordinating suitcase, so we only had 2 bags in the condo instead of 7 or 8…In my opinion my packing method was very successful. We only had to bring in one large bag and a bathroom bag at every stop!

Once we arrived to the condo, Baylee had to take a test for her online course, so we headed out to explore Charleston and try another escape room.

We parked near the US Customs House and walked to the Waterside Park.

We went to the Waterside Park with the Pineapple Fountain.

You can see Ravenel Bridge between Charleston and Mt Pleasant from the waterfront park. But I knew I wanted a more up close view.

We checked out the Circular Congregational Church.

We tried Escape in 60, Davy Jones Locker and escaped. It was a fun room! We made plans for going back on Thursday as well to try a harder room.

We ate at Acme Lowcountry Kitchen and it was phenomenal. Another definite add for my must eat list.

After dinner, we all showered and it was time to hit the hay. I knew I wanted to be up for beach sunrise photos the next morning.

On July 15th I woke up to take sunrise photos

Right before sunrise

Once everyone else woke up, we went to tour the USS Yorktown. The view of the Ravenel Bridge was a little better from here.

We ate lunch and then spent the rest of the afternoon at the beach and pool

For dinner, we had reservations for 5 at The Refuge at 7 pm. Dinner and service at The Refuge was also very good.

On July 16th we went to check out the lighthouse on Isle of Palms.

Then we spent some more time at the beach and later we headed back to Charleston to shop at the market and eat an early dinner at Amen Street, Fish & Raw Bar. Another must eat to add to my list. After our meal, we headed to Escape in 60 to try our hand at

🆁🅽🆂🅼.

It was quite challenging, but once again, we escaped!

Of course another opportunity for Kilwins Icecream…that we took full advantage of.

AND….got my shot of the bridge I had been trying to get the whole trip. With each passing of the bridge, I attempted and finally feel like I executed the shot!

Headed home…

We woke up leisurely and drove home on July 17th.

Every traveller returns home.

David Levithan

Everything has a beginning and an end…and this is the end. Until our next adventure, get outside, try news things, live life to its fullest, and be sure to live vicariously through our adventures!

XOXO

-S

North Georgia Exploration

What do you do when you have a long weekend?  Well this long weekend, I rented a tiny house in Clayton Georgia and headed north to get a sneak peek of the fall colors.  I do think it was a little early for the full leaf changing, but when I get an extra day off of work I take full advantage of it.

Before we could hit the road Saturday, Perry played in Region Tournament…We had to leave before it even ended, we headed to Atlanta to drop Baylee off at the airport to head to meet up for her cruise…we dropped her and headed north east to get to our weekend getaway started.

We rented Little Red Roof, a brand new tiny house in Clayton Georgia. They have some specific house rules, like no shoes worn in the house, which just tickles my fancy. We are a shoeless house, so it makes me happy to see like-minded folks. I know it may seem silly to some, but my OCD just cannot stand the idea of shoes/germs on my floors and wearing down my wood finish and carpet…Our hosts were Andrea and Curtis. Their tiny house, was just perfect in every way. House listing

Up to $55 off your rental

Dinner Saturday night was at Universal Joint in Clayton. They are know for burgers and live music. While I’m not huge on loud music, I do love a good burger, so decided to check it out.

So it hasn’t rained in over a month in Georgia and guess what 80% chance of rain on Sunday…the day to hike Tallulah Gorge. So we let the anti-rain dance to commensurate. Hoping and praying for the best weather.

Rain dance didn’t work and it poured off and on until after noon or so. We had a quick breakfast and figured we’d drive up to Black Rock Mountain State Park and see what we could with the fog and rain. Rain stopped for a little while and we were able to get some photos of the fog in the mountains.

I wanted to check out Minnehaha Falls, but wanted to do it when the sun wasn’t too high, the cloudy skies were perfect so I could get the right exposure that I wanted on the water…a nice motion in the water as it falls over the rocks.  The hike to Minnehaha is only .2 miles, so it is very doable.  It is located off of Bear Gap Rd near Lake Rabun.  You depart the trailhead at the green diamond and number 147. The drive there was beautiful around Lake Rabun…all the houses and two story boat docks were phenomenal.

So the big thing I wanted to see was Tallulah Gorge.  Tallulah Gorge is one of the 7 natural wonders in the state. It is a must see! There are multiple trails there, but with my back, I had to just listen to my body and see what it could do as the day went on.  If you want to hike the gorge floor, you MUST get a permit.  

There are only 100 given out every day, so you need to arrive early!  My plan was to hike the easier hikes and see how I felt. Today though there were no permits given out because of the inclimate weather.

The easiest of the all is the Shortline Trail. It is 3 miles, but is paved.  This trail can be accessed from Terrora Circle Road.

Then next up is the Inspiration Loop Trail. It is 1.5 miles round trip; it is mulched with exposed rocks. This trail is accessed on the Interpretive Center Road.

The North and South Rim Trails are 3 miles total and take about 2 hours to hike. It is a mulched trail with exposed rocks.

The North Rim is accessed behind the Interpretive Center.  It is approximately ¾ mile one way with some incline and stairs. The trail has six scenic overlooks

1. Inspiration Point is the best southern view into the gorge.  Gorge depth is 900+ feet

2.View of Oceana Falls with Bridal Veil Falls at the far end of the gorge

3.View of L’Eau d’Or (pronounced Ladore) Falls, top of Tempesta Falls, and Hawthorne Cascade and Pool.  Gorge depth is 350 feet

4.View of L’Eau d’Or Falls, Hawthorne Pool and remains of Water compressor plant used in building the Dam

5.Good view of Tallulah Falls Dam (completed in 1913) and upper portions of the Gorge

6.View of upper gorge and southern view to Hawthorne Pool and Overlooks 2 and 3. Gorge depth is 250 feet

The South Rim Trail is accessed opposite side of the gorge from the Interpretive Center.  It is approximately ¾ mile one way with some incline.  The trail has five scenic overlooks

1. View of Hawthorne Pool, North Rim Trails overlooks 2 and 3, top of Tempesta Falls and down Gorge to Hurricane Falls.  Gorge depth is 350 feet

2.View of Hawthorne Pool, Tempesta Falls and Pool.  Gorge depth is 400 feet.

3.View of Hurricane Falls and Pool, Devil’s Pulpit outcrop below, and the interpretive center across the gorge.  Gorge depth is 500 feet

4.View of Hurricane Falls, Oceana Falls, Caledonia Cascade and North Rim overlook one. Gorge is 650 feet

5.View of Celedonia Cascade and the Wallenda north tower area.  Bluff to far right is approximately 1000 feet high.

I really wanted to go to the suspension bridge in Hurricane Falls Trail Loop…but had no idea if I could make it.  The Hurricane Falls Trail Loop has 1,099 stairs to the gorge floor…to get to the suspension bridge isn’t all the way down though. This is the trail you take to get to the gorge trail…and need a permit to go on the gorge floor.

Honestly I’m not even sure which trail we did…we did the stairs all the way down to hurricane falls and some of North Rim trail…my legs were jello and I was super thirsty. There are fountains along the trail, but are not functioning so make sure you bring water with you.

After our hike, we hit Goats on the Roof for some homemade ice cream…it was pretty good and servings were HUGE!

For dinner, yes I planned ahead.  I always look for Farm to Table restaurants before I travel anywhere.  The last thing I want to do is eat subpar food.  I made reservations at Fortify Kitchen and Bar in Clayton for 7:30pm.  Hoping that would give us enough time to see what we wanted to see and get back and showered and dressed for dinner. We had the special shrimp lettuce wraps for our appetizer and I had the pork chop and hubby had the lamb. Both were large portions and very tasty.

Monday morning we woke up and had to check out of the house by 10 a.m.

We had two little friends that looked to have be dumped by someone the day before. They even hopped in the van while we were loading it up…had to scoot them out and then we were on our way. Our host had no idea where they came from.

There is so much to see here, that really a few days isn’t enough to do it all, but if you know me, you know I will squeeze in everything I can.

I could not have come all this way and not visited a winery…after check out it was breakfast at the Dillard House. It is family style dining. You get a TON of food, my favorite was the cinnamon roll!  The Dillard House has been family owned since 1917.  They served locally sourced items and have won multiple awards in the Southern Living Magazine.  The views from the Dillard House were beautiful mountain views.  They are a full service resort…They also offers horseback riding and stables where you can visit their animals.  While there will be no horseback riding for me…I did enjoy visiting their beautiful grounds and animals.  

After breakfast and a visit of the grounds at the Dillard House, we were headed to Tiger Mountain Vineyards at 2592 Old Highway 41 in Tiger Georgia. But they were not open…so we changed our plans.

We went back to Black Rock Mountain State Park to the lookouts to get some more photos. It was very different without all the fog from yesterday!

After that we headed to 12 Spies Winery for a little wine tasting. We did the 10 tastes for $15 and hubby and I split it. My favorite was the sangria…it’s a blend of 5 different wines. The grounds were really pretty too.

After a little wine tasting and exploring, it was time to hit the road to make our trip home.

As we were driving down 441 I saw a sign for a tallulah gorge lookout…so we detoured to check it out. It was pretty but really not worth the detour as there were a lot of power lines in the view. There was a cute little store to buy souvenirs and local goods.

As we got closer to home, we were ready for dinner, so we stopped in Macon. We ate at Ocmulgee Brewpub. I had the Juliette Burger and this burger has moved up to my number one burger of all times. It is topped with a friend green tomato, bacon, onion, lettuce on a freshly baked bun…has a special sauce too! It won the best burger in 2018 and I know why!!

We are home and showered, ready for my next adventure…

Tomorrow morning…another adventure if you want to call it that-L5/S1 injections again…last round before nerve ablation.

XOXO

-S