Jericha and Chaz had work and school and appointments (poor saps 😉 ), and we needed to go back and face the same. So we were off again on Wednesday night. On the way out of town, we made a stop at the Sand Dollar at (another highly recommended seafood spot by people in the know) and listened to Joe Cocker’s younger brother… or, some guy who sounded like him anyway.
We meant to stay at the Fort Clinch Amelia Island State Park, but when we got there, the gate was closed (how very rude), so we wandered down the road a couple blocks and found a nice city park with subdued lighting, and just parked and jumped in bed again… (I’m liking this sort of “camping”). When we awoke, we were VERY pleasantly surprised by the view in our “backyard”
There is something special about hot coffee on the beach at 6:30 in the morning…
Did some beach combing, found a few good shells, went for a stroll, and headed back to the van to continue on on our journey. Found some fresh baked muffins in the sleepy little tourist town of Fernandina beach, and headed back to the now open fort and state park…
The Live Oaks, canopy roads, and Spanish moss are something to see..
And, who’d a thunk it?
The Fort was a pretty humbling experience, it’s hard to imagine how rough they had it in 1863… In the Florida Jungle, with no A/C, or fans, or “OFF”… Of course, we’re here in February so heat isn’t a problem… But the wind would get old in a hurry…
Even if I took dozens of pictures, you probably couldn’t get a feel for the size and craftsmanship and astounding amount of labor this place must have took to build…
After some time touring the fort (and only seeing one other person), we found a good shade tree, and took a short hike down the “pond trail”..
This ain’t like no “pond” I’ve ever seen.. Nor have I ever seen “Alligator Warning” signs in the Ozarks…
Even the trees were creepy in this place..
Back to the Van, and we headed up the coast to Savannah Georgia. On the way we stopped at a touristy little Peach shack and got delicious Peach Slushes. If you ever have the opportunity, get one. (along with some peach cider, peach candy, peach butter, peach jerky, peach preserves, peach wine, and on and on and on.
Savannah is a beautiful city. Gardens all over the place, old quaint buildings, a huge art college (the biggest in America they tell me), restaurants, Art galleries, specialty shops, Bars, tea rooms, bed and breakfasts, cobblestone streets, etc.
I’m sure one could spend a few days easy lolly gagging around this place.
Oh.. and Bars, did I mention the seafood and bars?
From Savannah, we headed up through South Carolina and found another great state park and camped by the Lake at Hickory Knob.
Had another great night, coffee and breakfast, and headed into the North Georgia Mountains on Highway 76 (great drive). Stopped in the charming little town of Clayton and did some shopping and had a great lunch at the “Universal” restaurant.
Took a great ride west on Highway 74 through the Cherokee National Forest and the Nantahala National Forest, and the Chatahoochee National Forest, along side the Ocoee River.
This is an area I plan to return to.
Crazy whitewater rafting and tons of what would look to be beautiful hiking and biking trails
Drove up a narrow steep forest road a few miles looking for tumbling creek campground only to find a sign that said it was 7 more miles. We turned around and camped on the Ocoee river for $12.00.
Glamping: Hardwood grilled home raised organic steak with sauteed mushrooms and onions, fresh salad and anti pasta.. Thanks Kenya and Nathan!
Sleeping on a great bed, in a heated van, with a beautiful girl, in an empty campground, under a full moon, playing “cards”, and having a dos equis.. That’s what I’m talkin’ about 🙂
SATURDAY: Woke up to realize why they called our campground “thunder rock”. Sometime around 6:30 in the morning, someone obviously opened the flood gates of the dam about a mile up river from where we were camping. The Ocoee river, turned from a fast and dangerous (and somewhat loud) 1′ deep river into a crazy powerful 4′ raging churning thundering river! The sound alone made is sit up in bed and take note.. Quickly. We got up and went outside to make sure we were not going to get washed away .
Jennifer made steak and egg burritos with cheese and onions 🙂 we took off and worked westward through the Ocoee river valley for another hour or so. This is a beautiful part of the world, and Jennifer’s “most scenic” part of the trip. The aqueduct 100’s of feet over our head running for MILES through the valley was worth the price of admission alone ($0). The cost in labor for that project had to be phenomenol! There seems to be countless waterfalls and trails in this area. WE WILL BE BACK
Made a quick detour to Chattanooga and drove up lookout mountain to see the famed tourist traps of “rock city” and “ruby falls” only to find each one of them wanted a $20.00 admission to get “in” to look at nice mountain views, rock formations, and an underground waterfall…. Don’t think so… Judging from the photos, we can do the same thing at home for free..
Instead we talked to a national forest employee at a civil war museum and gift shop and found a free trail to hike around the mountain. The painting below was about 25′ wide.. Tons of figures, many you can not see in the photo. The artist recreated the whole scene with guidance from the soldiers that were there fighting. Monumental work; very cool. Civil war history buffs must go nuts on this mountain; very well documented with books, monuments, markers and headstones.
And once again, Jennifer finds a tree oddity.
After our hike we headed west through the south of Tennessee on #64 . This used to be a picturesque drive dotted with small towns and tons of stuff to see. The new 4 lane highways have bypassed all the towns, and now it is somewhat depressed looking. Progress is sad…
Camped at the Meeman Shelby Forest State Park, had a great burger and spent another peaceful night.
Had to stop in Memphis and see what the Humongous pyramid shaped Bass Pro shop was all about… It’s a Humongous pyramid shaped Bass Pro Shop…
A quick drive by of Beale Street.
And great Ribs at Central BarbeQue in downtown Memphis…
From there it is a straight, rough, and rather boring ride home through central Arkansas. It’s always sad when a trip comes to an end..
But we are still two very happy thankful campers 🙂