The 2018 RV Trip Continues
It's been a busy few days- without internet and little cell service so I haven't been able to post. I can catch up now, and hopefully will get some photos up soon depending on this internet connection. But please do check back to see when all of the pics get up. Here are my last few days:
Friday, February 9
A cool crisp morning. Justin had n 8:00 phone interview so Lil and I went off for a walk. I grabbed some fresh coffee and poked around with her for a while. We got back just in time as he wrapped up his phone call. Places to go, things to see! We packed up and were out by 9:30. We are headed north. Approximately one hour up is Calhoon Falls, SC so we stopped there for a break from driving. The hike was refreshing, but do our dismay, no falls to be found within the park itself. At the very least, we got some more exercise in for Lil.
Click on photo to see more of this area.
One of the things I am looking forward to on this whole trip is finding hole-in-the-wall places to eat when we have to eat on the road. That’s what we did, found this place called Hudson Café; “You’ve tried the rest, now try the best!”. How could we go wrong? It was a large shed type building with a few booths sprinkled around the inside. We ordered at the counter, then sat to wait for them to bring it out. We waited, then waited some more. They sure were not fast, but the food was quite good! Score one for the dives! With full bellies, we hit the road again.
Headed north yet, aiming for Tallulah Gorge State Park in Georgia, the gorge there has some raving reviews for activities, if one gets granted permits to hike to the floor of it. I could see faint outlines of the Blue Ridge range in the distance. The rest of the drive held dramatic scenery of red dirt, small ravines and large limestone mounds among the tall pines, and every so often it was littered by the rotting remains of abandoned buildings. There were a few towns dotted along the way, seemingly accidentally antique, leaving the feeling as if time had forgotten them.
Lil spent most of the drive snuggled up in her bed on the couch, but every so often she would climb up on my lap to watch where we were going. We arrived at Tallulah Falls and were set up by 3:00 pm, but unfortunately we were not granted permits to hike the gorge floor. It was too late by our arrival, and any for the next day were cancelled due to incoming rain. Not to worry though, we still had enough other trails to walk. We started with the North Rim trail around the gorge, I’d guess between 300-600 gain in elevation in the short distance it was. The views over the edge into the gorge below were captivating. A time or two, In peering over the lookout ledge, I’d feel myself sway a bit from the view. It was a strong yet fragile image with bold rock faces leading down to the falls and river far below. Some of those mammoth rocks were precariously balancing, awaiting erosion to free them to fall to the gorge basin below. I kept wondering how often that would happen, and if any hikers had the experience of seeing the event. I suppose this is one of the dangers that require them to issue access by permit only.
Lil was again quite the adventurer. She was pulling us along the trails most of the day, but no off-leash today. I didn’t want to risk her running off trail into a dangerous part of the gorge where I couldn’t get her. At every overlook, she was up on her toes peering as far as she could get her nose to see what was below, but with such caution it melted my heart. That dog!
Click photo to see more of the Gorge area.
We got back by 5:30 pm and relaxed with a couple beers while sitting outside, waiting for the rain to move in. It was a gorgeous campground, hilly and with many trees but nearly empty this time of year. How fortunate were we that the whole place was nearly all ours. The temps stayed comfortable in the mid 50s, great for hiking!
Later that night, we looked at the map to see where to next. This is where Justin had to remind me that it’s not about the destination, rather the journey. With a vague eastern direction in mind, we were satisfied. Tacos for dinner, then I worked on some photos from the day, and we actually made it to bed at a normal time by 9:00 pm. This time, Lil is going to start sleeping on the couch. It’s just a tad crowded when she takes up half the bed.
Saturday, February 10
The rain moved in during the night, and such a soothing sound it made on the RV. Lil did great on the couch until the rain, she seemed scared so I put her back in the bed where she curled tightly next to me. The rain quit by morning, well, mostly. It was a fine mist in the air but nothing worth spoiling our morning hike. We went along the South rim this time, which held a more spectacular view. Stirring as described by Justin. Lil enjoyed it just as much as the one the day before. I proceeded down stairs to get to a suspension bridge while Justin and Lil went back around to the North rim to meet me on the other side. The view of the falls from down there was quite something! Such a closer view, and I was so close to getting on the trail to the floor, but I minded the rules and stayed on the proper trail. On my way back up, the some 600+ stairs kicked my butt a little, but I’d say it was worth the work.
When we got back to the RV, we decided to pull out since the rain was getting heavier. We left by 10:00 am headed East driving in the rain. The only radio station we could get in was blues playing on an old country station, which fit the weather perfectly. About an hour East, we stopped an a tourist trap of a town called Helen. It was a bustling small town tucked within the foothills boasting a solid German theme; from building façade to food. We lunched at a place called Old Heidelberg Restaurant and Pub. We were the first patrons of the day, and the food came rather quickly after ordering and delicious it was! We wandered the streets for a spell before getting back on the road.
The rain got heavier as we drove, and the rolling hills with twisty turns made me a bit nervous. It was vineyard country, and some of the hills faded into the foggy rain. I guess it would have been a beautiful sight had I not been so nervous about our RV on these roads. Instead, it felt a little creepy.
Next stop was Amicolola Falls State Park. There was a steady drizzle but we went up to see the falls anyhow. I’m glad we did because this was the most impressive falls I’ve seen yet, so wide and monstrous that at one point while taking Justin’s picture with Lil, the falls seemed to come straight from the sky above. But more damn steps!
Click on photo to see more of this area.
We were making such good time on these stops today, we decided to head East for one more park. The rock façade changed from limestone to a heavier, more impressive lumbering landscape.
We arrived at Cloudland Canyon State Park by 5:00 pm. The rain was heavy again so I took the time to work on photos and the blog, staying cozy and warm inside the RV. I’m sure Lil appreciated the break too, she had a lot of hiking these last few days.
Sunday, February 11
It rained all night, heavy at times, and the wind shook the RV every now and then. Lil started the night on the couch but wound up in bed again, leaving me with only 12 inches of space for myself. Not a restful night for me.
The rain did end by 7:00 am, the weather gods must be smiling on us because we’ve gotten lucky every day while this storm system works through the area.
The temps were mild in the 60s still, a good morning for a hike since we really didn’t get a chance to get out last night. We drove the RV out to the parking area where the overlooks and trailheads were. The vantage point was pretty stellar with a sweeping view of the lower canyon and falls. The three of us hopped around peering over each overlook. Justin took Lily to a fishing hole where no license was needed and he fished a while so I could continue down the trails to photograph the falls. More stinkin steps! I quit counting after 550 on my way down because it was making me sad to know I’d have to climb them all on my way out. Both of these falls (Cherokee and Hemlock) were quite stunning. I could feel their booming force in my chest and I just stood there a minute to absorb it. One of those moments where it’s so forcefully loud but peaceful at the same time. Again, we seemed to have the whole place to ourselves. The mist from the falls was heavy in the air and it made it a little tricky to shoot them without getting my lenses too damp. Along the trail to the second falls was one of those gargantuan boulders hanging out above the path. I stood a moment to imagine that thing giving way wondering how or where it would land in the gorge below. By the time I was done playing around down in the falls, I was pretty damp, but welcomed it because the hike out was quite warm. We met back up and hit the road toward our next destination, eastward into Alabama!
Click on photo to see more of Cloudlands area.
We stopped at a Walmart so I could find a gate to block Lil in our “living room” so she might stay on the couch at night. We’ll see how that works out.
Then in sticking to our goal for local eateries, we had lunch at Carliles in Scottsboro. The hospitality in this area is more southerly welcoming than in Charleston. The hostess was quite chatty; I tried my hardest to quiet the inside voice that was screaming “I just wanna eat, I’m starving!” and smiled while she carried on. Even our waitress had to bend our ear a while about how much she loves sweet tea. Goodness. Food was good though, I had some of their tomato pie, a first for me.
We got back on the road and arrived at our destination of Cathedral Caverns State Park. I can say so far, Alabama seems to be somewhat behind Georgia in updating their park system. The RV site was a little scary, I swear I could hear banjo music off in the woods. Setting the unease aside, we went to take a cave tour. Holy smokes, I was blown away! I’ve toured a lot of caves and caverns, and none held as much splendor as this. Some of the rooms were as big as an auditorium with formations as tall as a water tower, the photos simply can’t serve justice. And wouldn’t you know, one of their charmed talking points was a fossil shark tooth exposed high above in one of the ceilings. We saw many other fossils in the stone along the way. I wanted so badly to jump off the path and begin chiseling some out. We were also fortunate enough to see the caverns during uncommon flood stages, making the sight even more dramatic. I fully enjoyed the tour.
Click on photo to see more of the Caverns.
Spent the night swatting away mosquitoes while catching up on all the photos I took today, and hopefully tomorrow we will find wifi somewhere so I can upload them all to the blog.