We arrived at Bald Ridge Creek Campground on Lake Lanier, Georgia on Sunday, May 31st and have to say, we absolutely LOVED the campground. It’s a Corp of Engineer park, and we really like the layout and spaciousness of these parks. The campground is nestled in one of the peninsulas of the lake and has about 80 or so well spaced, mainly lakefront spots. We were able to sit on our patio and look out over the lake. It was heaven. Actually, we stayed here for 10 days and Greg had only one install, so it left us some time for exploration and field trips!!
Our campsite with Lake Lanier in the background
The park has a gate and hours where someone staffs the little guardhouse. This actually made us feel pretty safe and is a really cool thing with only one drawback--gates lock at 10 and open at 7. Curfew. It’s sort of like we were teenagers again, paying attention to the clock, needing to be home by 10. Shouldn’t be a big deal, or so we thought.
We had an “oh sh*t” moment on our fist Monday night when I had to catch a flight on Tuesday morning. Figured out I needed to leave around 6:15 a.m. to catch my flight, but wait, the gate doesn’t open until 7:00. Crap! We spoke to the workers at the guardshack and they said we can park our car outside the gate—you know, right next the 'tow away zone' sign. “No one’s ever been towed to our knowledge,” they said with a ‘park there at your own risk and if something happens, don’t wake us up’ voice.
Well, with not too many other options, I hurried up and threw some stuff in a suitcase and we drove the jeep outside the gate, parked it and walked back to our house. Only a half of a mile, which we had to repeat first thing in the morning—seriously not a big deal. Until. Until we woke up to a thunderstorm with rain just coming down in buckets. Uh oh!
We were relieved when we realized it was only 4:00 am. By 6:00, there was no rain and we started off the morning with a hike (to our car) and a prayer (that our car would still be there). And, luckily our car was still there and everything worked according to plan!! Whew!!
Our ultimate destination for this leg of the trip is Texas for some family time and we’re planning on spending six weeks there before heading back to Pennsylvania for our niece’s wedding and some medical stuff. A couple of weeks ago we received notice that all of the campgrounds (three of them) we booked in Texas had flooded and would be closed while we are there. While we were left scrambling to find some new campgrounds, we realize how fortunate we were not to be there during the weather and our hearts go out to those who lost so much during the floods. And after lots of searching the past couple of weeks, we nailed down two campgrounds for our visit.
For me, this trip was a return to Georgia, since I’d lived here PG (pre-Greg). Greg had been to Atlanta for a couple of quick trips (Eagles football, etc.) so was excited to share some of my favorite spots (and finds some new ones) with him.
One of the places I was most excited to visit was Dahlonega, Georgia. Dahlonega was the site of the first major US gold rush and remembered it as just an overall cute little town in the mountains. And, as luck would have it, our campground was only about 40 minutes from this little golden gem!!
We checked the town’s website and noticed a “First Friday” celebration so we decided to go and were even more excited when our friends Guy and Sue—who were staying in Blue Ridge GA--said they would meet us there. Well, ultimately the company was fantastic, and believe the music would have been okay, but don’t think the town had updated the sound system since I was a resident of this state some twenty five years ago!!
Overall, the town had changed some, but the downtown was still as I remembered it, a traditional town square made up of various retail stores.
University of North Georgia campus' administration building, Price Memorial Hall. It's topped with a spire covered with gold leaf from the town.
First Friday's drew quite a crowd!! Dahlonega is home to a few famous musicians--Zac Brown and Amy Ray....and the Ugly Cousins (below). Okay..a little stretch, but they had some potential!!
Also on this trip, we got to spend an evening with some of Greg’s friend (now mine!)--Tom, Diane, and Tom’s parent’s Gretchen and Jim. We were hopeful they would be able to come out to the park, but Tom is having some health issues so it worked better with us going to them. We arrived just in time to see American Pharaoh win the Triple Crown and it was even more exciting that Jim had a bet on the race and won….a trifecta! Awesome!!
We knew when the steaks went on around 8:30 that we were going to be late...dang curfew! We pulled in to the campground just before midnight; nothing like a hike before bed!! Was definitely worth the walk as it was great to see Tom and Diane and Tom’s parents...and I forgot to take pictures!
On Sunday we headed to Carrollton, home of University of West Georgia, where I went to grad school and also worked full time as a Hall Director some twenty plus years ago. I had reached out to one of my old bosses—Trish-- and was very excited when she agreed to meet for lunch and show me all the new things around campus. Glad she did as I barely recognized the place—although Trish hadn’t changed a bit!! She retired in 2012 as Asst. Dean of Students, after 34 years of working at the College/University. During that time many, many Hall Directors came and went, and she stayed, grew her career and touched many of people’s lives. Honestly, I was glad that she at least remembered me (or at least pretended to) because when I put it into perspective—there was only one Trish and hundreds of people who passed through there during the years. As a side note, the last time I communicated with Trish was 2005 and still had that email and as a retired employee, she luckily still had that email address so she actually got the email, then reached out to me via Facebook. Technology is a wonderful thing!
Okay, I didn't realize how creepy this statue looked until I saw the picture. Lunch and company was much better than the decorations! We ate at The Border Mexican Restaurant; a new addition to the town.
When I attended, it was a College and in the mid-90’s it received “University” status and it was really nice to see all of the growth that a “University” brings to a campus. There were parts that I recognized--just like I’d never left, and then at times, I didn’t have a clue it was the same campus. In August, we’re heading through Cape Girardeau, where I did my undergrad, so will probably write a more in-depth blog post about the two schools then.
This was my home for three years. It's currently closed, but has a very nice bike path that wraps around the building now.
Greek Row. A new addition to the campus. (Along with Starbucks, Chic Fil A, Subway, Einsteins.....and the list goes on.....)
Another new addition, the Student Rec Center. Has a rock climbing wall, lots of exercise equipment, etc. Kids these day have it made!
I always loved this buiding, which was the student center and basically the middle of campus back then. Something about a round building.....
This is the Mansion House in the town of Carrollton, which is where I had dinner during my interview. Last year it was scheduled to be demolished, but luckily it was spared and ultimately restored. So glad to see people fought to save it.
And the C.M Tanner Grocery (and my first B&W). I was nominated by Tracy awhile back to do the black and white challenge. So....finally, here's my first pic. Supposed to nominate someone else, but it took me three posts, to just get a b&w pic posted, so don't rush me!!
On our way back to the campground, we drove through Villa Ricca, which boasted on their tourism website (yes, they have a tourism website) that they are home to Wick's Tavern, the oldest commercial structure in West Georgia.
History AND a tavern--what could be better?!!?
Well, the website failed to mention that it wasn’t an operational tavern and after a cruise through town, we came to the conclusion that they probably did that intentionally. It was obvious they needed a reason for people to come to the town and guessing “Home to a defunct, dilapidated building that used to be a tavern and is really old,” just doesn’t have the same sizzle as “the oldest commercial structure in West Georgia. Obviously the marketing worked; we fell for it!!
Yep....this is it! Wicks Tavern.
We also worked in a trip to Blue Ridge, Georgia to see our friends Guy and Sue’s soon-to-be new compound. They are buying a couple of lots which will be their home base for their motorhome, and also are going to be adding a couple of spots with hookups! We met in town for lunch and have to say that we absolutely loved the quaintness of this town. Had a great downtown and a really nice “great place to escape to” vibe.
Nice scenic drive on the way to Blue Ridge
The quaint town of Blue Ridge, GA
This was our lunch spot and was a great place to eat. Dog friendly (on the patio) too!!
On our way to Blue Ridge, we stopped at Helen, which is a town that reinvented itself in the late 60’s/early 70’s into a quaint Bavarian-like replica of a town. It really hasn’t changed much since the last time I had been there; sure, a few more touristy trap kind of shops, a few more things to do, a little urban sprawl (aka unoccupied strip malls at the edge of town) but ultimately, nothing that makes me want to rush back (okay, maybe Oktoberfest....but that's it!) The reinvention of the town way back, however, did change it from a dying lumber town, to Georgia’s third most visited city. Hmmm...wonder where Villa Ricca and Wick’s Tavern is on that list?!!
Love their answer to grafitti, paint the bridge underpass with chalk paint!
A couple of very serious guys looking for treasures....assuming gold. They had snorkels, wet suits and metal detectors.
We wrapped up our time in Georgia with another visit to Dahlonega and a dinner at the Smith House. My family and I went to the Smith House for the first time in oh, probably in 1976 (according to my sister, the family historian) and again for Thanksgiving in 1987-88’ish. The restaurant was still there and has undergone some renovations, but they still serve dinner family style with LOTS of food.
The Smith House now almost engulfed by the University of North Georgia
Okay, we were the first ones there. And yes, it was 4:30 p.m. What the heck has happened to us!?!
In 2006 they were moving the dining room and in the process, discovered an old gold mine in the basement. The actual location of the mine was in the original dining room and when workers were excavating the concrete floor they punched through a large hole, which led to a mine shaft some 20 feet down. The actual dimensions of the shaft were 4 feet wide and 30 feet deep and it was packed with all kinds of (at that time) garbage, now treasures. It was a great bit of history that wasn’t there the last time we went.
Some of the items found in the mineshaft:
We got back to the coach, packed up and enjoyed one last sunset at Lake Lanier (for now)
…..on to Slidell, Louisiana where Greg has an install and we’re hopeful we can sneak in the Big Easy for one night! We arrive in Texas on Monday!