Coloring the Void

living nomadically

Archive for the category “Georgia”

Pine Mountain, GA

We looked around Macon and Augusta, Georgia, for the next place to land and quickly realized: 1) there aren’t many public RV parks in that area and 2) the Masters Golf Tournament was soon to begin and anything there was was booked. I started looking around around Helen and Dahlonega, in my favorite area of Georgia. It was kind of out of our way but the area is so beautiful it would be worth it. In my browsing I stumbled across F.D. Roosevelt State Park in Pine Mountain. The campground was booked solid for the weekend. I kept checking for two days (my OCD kicking in) and on Wednesday, someone cancelled. We immediately booked, starting Thursday, for the weekend. This cut our stay down in Albany to two days, but we got the highlights of the area, and managed to see what we wanted to see.

We got an early start (for us) to the campground and made it there just before 1PM. This is important in Georgia State Parks because, while you can reserve a site large enough for your RV, there is no guarantee you will have a site you like. The later you get there and the more crowded the park, the more likely you will end up with an unlevel, hard to get into site next to the dump station. Okay, it isn’t always that bad, but we have had some pretty awful sites in our time. We got extremely lucky. The sites around the lake were completely empty and we pulled into the first one – a pull through overlooking the lake.

pm36

The view from site 101

The site was nice and large and open with a beautiful view of the 25 acre lake the campground surrounded. It could hold a 45′ RV easily though a bus that size might have to back out as the turns and trees deeper in the loop are a little tight for a 35′ short bus. By Thursday afternoon, the campground was nearly full. First thing Friday morning, any remaining sites were gone as people raced in (beginning at 8AM) to claim their favorite site or what they could get.

We explored the very tiny town of Pine Mountain, which took all of five minutes. We ended up eating at Aspen’s Mountain Grill, one of the few restaurants open at the time. We stuck with our standards, Steak Salad for Mike and burger for me, and both were good. The burger was supposed to have pimento cheese on it – a South Carolina staple – but I couldn’t taste it.

Friday it rained. and rained. and rained. We had more rain in the last week than we had even in Alaska, where it rained a lot. Maybe that is why someone canceled their reservations. Further north and east, a tornado touched down and took out a few houses. We felt safe where we were, in spite of the trees. They seemed to have been there a long time and had probably seen more adverse weather than we have.

We had wanted to go to Callaway Gardens on Friday, to avoid some of the weekend crowds, but put it off until Saturday. The gardens were one of the reasons we had stopped here: 6,000 acres of wild and cultivated rhododendrons, beautiful gardens, a butterfly center, lakes, ponds, walking and biking trails… If that isn’t enough, they also have zip lines, golf, cottages, a beach, boat rentals, and at Christmastime, a light show that might rival Disney. We packed a pretty full day in, wandering around the various areas.

Yeah, I love butterflies. And the Day Butterfly Center is the perfect place to practice shooting them and to get images of the ones I will rarely see in the wild. Because they move so fast and the Center is pretty shady, I had to use an ISO of 800 with the smallest aperture on the lens: 4.5. I probably would have had better luck with focus had I brought my 100 mm macro; at the same distance (about 6′) it has a deeper depth of field than the 75-300mm with which I was I was shooting. But, because the depth of field was so tight, I got better bokeh. There are always trade-offs…

Because of the previous days brutal downpour, some of the azaleas and rhododendrons looked a little worse for the wear and tear. But for the most part, the gardens were beautiful.

And there were also plenty of other flowers to photograph.

The walking paths and biking paths wandered all over the property – I think there are 30 miles of trails – more than enough to while away an entire day.

pm22

We took a break for lunch at The Gardens Restaurant which had just opened for lunchtime for the spring season. The food and service was great and the location and ‘ambiance’ was excellent. We would eat here again if ever in the area.

All in all, we had a wonderful spring day in the gardens, got a lot of walking in, and some shooting practice to boot.

At about 10PM Saturday night, while relaxing on the couch, I saw it: EEK! a mouse. It came out from under the bathroom door, saw us sitting there, and did an abrupt U-turn. ACK! I like mice but I’m not fond of sharing my tiny little house with them. We looked in the bathroom – it must have squeezed behind the sink to escape. We moved the sink pedestal against the wall so tight that ants could barely crawl through. We started looking around the RV. It had gotten into¬† the toilet paper drawer, the pot drawer in the kitchen, and the trash cabinet under the sink. We actually had two traps left over from our experience in Cody, Wyoming: a live trap and a not-so-live trap. We put them out and went to bed.

Sunday morning our plan was to visit the Wild Animal Safari just up the road. Our plans changed, as we had our own wild animal to take care of. We ran up to LaGrange, the closest town with a Home Depot/Lowe’s to stock up on supplies. We got a few more mouse traps and some spray foam to seal up whatever gaps we could find.

There was only two ways for it to get in: up the water hose into the utility cabinet where, from there, it could follow electric and waterlines to anywhere; or up the front passenger leveling jack, where wires would allow it into the propane cabinet where it could follow electrical and propane lines into the space under the fridge and from there, into the bathroom. We spray foamed both areas extensively, where water and electrical lines entered the house and for good measure, spray foamed under the TP drawer so we wouldn’t lose any more TP. We didn’t know if we had blocked the mice in or out, but they would eventually need to eat. Then we spent the rest of the day cleaning, vacuuming, and sanitizing anything and everything in the bus.

Our conclusions on where it may have come in were proved correct when we found a mouse in the propane cabinet. We couldn’t get him out, but we set a live trap there, just in case. We also ended up catching one (in a not-so-live trap) in the water closet under the house. In the few days since, we have seen no sign of any mice and are hopeful that the one we caught is the only one that was here.

 

 

Albany, Ga

While waiting out the rain in Eastbank, I looked around for a place to stop next, somewhat north, that had a laundry and something of interest to do. My first go to is always US Campgrounds, a website with maps of every public campground in the US. It includes the smaller city and county parks that are typically very hard to find without knowing the area. And that is how I found The Parks at Chehaw. They have a zoo! It was 100 miles from Eastbank, in the general direction we were traveling, had laundry, and was within an hour of driving to Ashburn, GA.

The reception at the front desk wasn’t the greatest when we arrived and the short road into the campground could use quite a bit of work. If one overlooked the trash strewn about (some kids obviously had a fun easter) the campground was quite pleasant. The sites are not private but they are wonderfully shaded by tall pines and very level. The power and water pressure is good and we had a sewer hook up. While the laundry room only had one washer and dryer, they were both clean and worked well. The park was mostly empty so we had no problems doing four loads of laundry.

Our reason for a quick run to Ashburn, GA was to visit Carroll’s Sausage and Country Store. We had visited there a couple of years ago while staying in Wanee Lake Golf and RV Resort, a wonderful place to stop over on a trek north or south. Carroll’s Sausage is probably the best hot pan sausage we have ever tasted. So good in fact, that two years later we were willing to drive 45 miles each way to get some more. As luck would have it, on our way into Chehaw Park, we saw a Carroll’s Sausage store right near the entrance. No visit to Ashburn needed, and we stocked up on quite a few pounds of hot pan along with thick peppered bacon and some smoked jalapeno link.

Chehaw Zoo is a very small zoo, with about 85 different species. But, the enclosures are large and open and the different animals have space to move around, hide if they want to, get away from the crowds if they need to. The draw for me was the black rhinoceros, a critically endangered species that may not survive in the wild for much longer due to poaching. There are only about 5,000 left in the world.

cp8

Chehaw Zoo works with many conservation groups, including the Cheetah Conservation Fund. Right now, there are only about 10,000 cheetahs in the world, and the Conservation Fund is working hard to fix that. The two at Chehaw Zoo seemed very happy, though I didn’t get a chance to see the Cheetah Run.

cp9Some of the other animals we spotted on our walk…

cp15

I was fascinated by this bird’s head and how abruptly it erupted in feathers

cp14

The bobcats had a very open enclosure, enabling them to climb about 30′ or more up into trees. This one was sleeping sitting up about 20′ over my head (the walkway is a raised platform).

cp13

The meerkat enclosure was small, at least the visible part. This particular one was looking for any way to get out.

cp11

A frog in a pond of the lemur enclosure. The lemur enclosure was huge – open air – and viewers were more enclosed then they were. Unfortunately, while we were there, they were all sleeping and looked like furry lumps.

cp10

Colobus Monkey and baby. They were fun to watch.

cp4

cp7

The zoo had the biggest alligators I have ever seen in a huge open swampy area where the people were confined to a raised walkway and they were not. That 800 lb. gator recently killed in Florida? I’ll bet there were at least three here that would rival that one.

cp6

I love camels, as long as they aren’t close enough to spit on me. These were almost that close but seemed good natured. This is the first time I remember seeing two hump camels (bactrian).

cp1

Chameleons are so cool. The skin texture, the colors, the way they move…

cp3

There were also Kangaroos, emus, wolves, snakes, various birds, and a petting zoo. The walk around the grounds made for a very pleasant afternoon.

Chehaw Park also has a very large frisbee golf course, a lake one can fish in for free, lots of walking and biking trails, a huge kids playground, and a bmx race track. If we had had more time, we would have stayed a while longer.

 

Turning North – Eastbank

Spring is here! Of course, it took three days of rain to see it. We arrived around 2PM on Thursday and it started raining around 6PM. And it didn’t stop until Sunday evening. This blew our plans for kayaking and fishing but we had a lovely site with a beautiful view so we didn’t mind too much.

eb2

The view towards the campground from our campsite, #3.

 

Eastbank is an Army Core of Engineers campground on the banks of Lake Seminole.  It has large, mostly level sites that will hold any kind of RV. The sites come with water and electric and there is a dump station within the grounds. The lake itself is listed as one of the best places to catch large mouth bass in the state of Georgia and it is pretty easy to launch a kayak from most sites. Some sites even had small motor powered boats tied up next to shore.

The campground is closest to Chattahoochee, Florida, a small town where one can get a few supplies but not much else. We did a bit of driving around the area to keep cabin fever at bay and have one suggestion: stay off the back roads during heavy rain. Most of the back roads were clay. Deep red clay that sticks to tires and turns them into slicks. While we didn’t get stuck we did a fair amount of sliding around – even four wheel drive doesn’t help much in soggy wet clay. Our GPS routed us on these roads and we were thankful we figured it out before driving on them in the short bus. We would have been stuck for days…

When the rain finally broke, the wildflowers came out. They were the tiniest flowers I had ever seen, each the size of a babies finger nail. There were thousands of them and I could have spent hours getting pictures. To get them, I used my 100mm macro, the only thing I have that can focus closely enough to have these tiny flowers fill the frame.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Once the rains were gone, the sunsets were beautiful. But we only got to enjoy two as we needed to head north.

eb1

the view from our campsite

We had to change our plans. We were supposed to go to Savannah to spend a few days visiting with friends and family, then on to Charleston for some good low country food. Due to a death in the family, we needed to reroute to be in Maryland by April 15 instead of May 5. It wasn’t too much of a strain – we only had one reservation booked until June. We looked at the routes between Eastbank and DC and the shortest was right through the foothills of Georgia and South Carolina. Since we hadn’t spent much time in the area at all, rerouted our path north.

eb11

 

Post Navigation