Georgia

Macon to High Falls State Park, GA – March, 2016 We planned a visit to Georgia’s High Falls State Park with two objectives. Most importantly, we wanted to see our eldest daughter who lives in Atlanta. And if we happened to make it to Macon’s Cherry Blossom Festival, well, that would be cool too. High Falls SP is smack dab between Atlanta and Macon.

We arrived on a Thursday and were immediately blown away by the falls. I expected there to be some falls we would need to hike some distance to. No, the falls are right next to the state park’s office and straddled by the road. They begin with the spillway from a dam that creates an adorable little lake.

But they continue for some ways. Here is the view downriver from the other side of the bridge.

We hoped to attend the Cherry Blossom Festival’s parade on Saturday afternoon but the weather forecast was looking dismal so we decided to visit Macon on Friday, even though there were no festival events that day. We hoped to see a city in bloom. We found a lovely little city with many beautiful churches.

It also had amazing old homes.

Not many people can get away with a cannon for a yard ornament but they pull it off because a cannonball actually went through the house during the civil war.

We did find a city in bloom.

Unfortunately, the Yoshina cherry trees that the city is famous for were not yet in bloom. We were told it would likely be another week or two before they were. Next time we are in the vicinity in late March or Early April we will check that they are in bloom and then spend a few days exploring Macon at its pinkest.

We had a wonderful weekend at the state park and lured our daughter and her boyfriend out to camp on Sunday with the promise of a large breakfast over the fire and plenty of fresh air and hiking.

Near the campground is an old mill that was converted to an old power station. Now it’s just a cool, abandoned building.

We drove up to the dam then walked down the other side of the river, opposite the campground. They have great trails along the river with lots of great spots to enjoy the falls that just keep going and going.

Then you can return through the woods for a little variation. Check out this very crooked tree.

We decided we could do with a little more walking to work off that big breakfast so we drove 9 miles to Indian Springs State Park. It has some great buildings built by the CCC, Civilian Conservation Corp, in the 30’s. This is the back of what is now the museum. I love the rock used.

The spring is under a dome inside this springhouse.

We thought we might walk around the lake but instead found this.

Apparently they drained the lake to repair the dam’s valve; glad we didn’t choose to camp here. The park does have a nice little falls near the entrance.

Indian Springs was an OK place to kill an hour and worth seeing but High Falls definitely stole the show. There is a private and free nature center with trails and animal exhibits between the two state parks called Dauset Trails. We didn’t have time to visit this trip but it got rave reviews and we’ll definitely check it out next time we are in the area.

High Falls has two campgrounds, one near the lake and the one we stayed in near the river. It was $32 per day for a water and electric site. It was a well-cared for campground with the friendliest campground hosts. They welcomed us the first day and they delivered the firewood we bought to our site and refused to even let us help them unload it. We will definitely return.

St. Patrick’s Celebration

Savannah, GA – March, 2016 I knew about where we were going to be for St. Patrick’s Day well in advance. So I did a little web surfing and discovered correctly that Savannah has one of the biggest celebrations in the country. I also read on some random website that supposedly compiles info on celebrations all over the country that Savannah’s parade would be the Saturday before St. Pat’s Day. It wasn’t out of our way at all so without any further investigation I made a reservation at the same campground we stayed at when we visited Savannah last fall.

Only a few days before we were to arrive, Jim was looking at the city’s website and informed me the parade would actually be on the 17th and the major festival would start that day and continue through the next weekend. There was to be a smaller festival the Saturday we would be there, the Tara Feis Irish Celebration. We could have extended our stay if we really wanted to but we didn’t feel like hanging out in the area that long. We decided instead to make the most of what Irish we could find downtown on Saturday.

The last time we visited we spent 30 minutes hopelessly driving around trying to find a parking spot that would fit our monster truck. This time we knew to head straight to the Civic Center where they charged us $5 to park each time. They also allow RV’s to park there. It was then just an easy half mile walk to the riverfront. The city has a free bus route downtown but it is so walkable we have yet to use it. It’s comforting to know that if you walk till you drop, you can get a ride back to the car without too much hassle.

The city has many fountains and they are all green in readiness for the big day.

We walked along the riverfront enjoying the fountains.

We also like the WWII Memorial “A World Apart”.

We enjoyed lunch at Kevin Barry’s Irish Pub. Jim ordered the Irish Sausage Rolls. I ordered the Irish Sampler with beef stew, corned beef and cabbage, and shepherd’s pie. Then we shared everything. It was all good but the shepherd’s pie was the best part.

We walked off the rather heavy lunch strolling along the riverfront. We did a little shopping and enjoyed all the great old buildings.

In this city even an old brick wall is far from ordinary.

We finally arrived at Emmet Park where the Irish celebration was being held. There were some food vendors, which we obviously had no interest in at that point. This is a family friendly event, so there were tons of adorable wee ones. There were two stages of entertainment and we really enjoyed both acts we saw.

First was a local dance company that taught Irish dancing. Here is the older group with their colorful outfits.

They were really good but of course the next group that included the three year olds stole the show.

On the main stage was a very entertaining group of musicians. They took turns performing and one singer was very good at including a little Irish history in his act and getting the crowd to participate. It was a lot of fun and we enjoyed it immensely.

We walked back through the city enjoying the parks and more green fountains.

There were lots of people dressed up for the occasion and I wish I was more brazen (or cunning) at photographing strangers. Here was one guy I doubted would mind.

Between the food, the walk, and the heat (not complaining, we love heat) we were about as worn out as these guys looked by midafternoon and ready to go home.

We had another great time in Savannah and will definitely be back. Guess where we hope to be next St. Patrick’s Day. I’ll try to get it right next time.

Savannah & Tybee

Savannah, Georgia – August, 2015  We have made brief visits to the Savannah area several times during the last 10 years. This visit was also too short but we expect to become regular guests in this amazing area in the following years.

Jim’s daughter recently moved to Atlanta so this was a convenient place to meet her and her boyfriend for a weekend. We wanted a campground convenient to their accommodations so we chose Red Gate Farms. It was a beautiful, roomy campground on a farm with horses, goats, and chickens but little more than 5 miles to historic Savannah. It has a lovely pool which we didn’t have time to use and the price was steep for us at $45 per night but a good value for the area.

Our first order of business was getting our toes in some sand and surf. We met the kids (we consider 30 year olds kids) and made the short drive to Tybee Island. This is one of our favorite beach towns. We walked the beach, had a great meal at Spanky’s, then visited the pier and walked the beach some more. If you have not visited Tybee you should put it on your must do list. It has a great campground called Rivers End that is a short walk to the beach.  We stayed there during our last visit and enjoyed it immensely.

That evening we met them downtown for dinner. Jim and I headed there an hour early because we didn’t know how hard it would be to find a parking place for our big truck. That was a good decision because we drove around 30 minutes before finally parking three quarters of a mile from the riverfront at the civic center. The walk to the restaurant through downtown was a joy though and we arrived exactly on time. The kids in their sleek little black car were able to park in the riverfront parking almost in front of the restaurant.

We had eaten at the south side location of Fiddlers Crab House several years before and I requested a repeat visit but to their riverfront location. They have amazing food and this location overlooking the Savannah River can’t be beat. We arrived just as a storm was blowing in and at 6 pm were seated right away in front of a window overlooking the river. Dinner entertainment was watching the fierce storm. By the time we finished our meal it had died down to a drizzle and we stepped out of the restaurant to the sight of a beautiful double rainbow.

After dinner the four of us walked around the historic district. What a crazy, wonderful place. There were already plenty of revelers out at 7 pm. We saw dozens of people dressed in grass skirts, coconut bras, and the like. I assume there was an event somewhere with this theme and not just the way locals like to dress on Saturday night. They have a bar that looks like a trolley car but is pedaled by its customers which cruises the streets. I had heard of such a contraption but this is the first time I had seen it.

We enjoyed walking through the dozens of little parks throughout the area filled with trees draped in moss. The historic buildings are extraordinary. I could walk these streets for hours, probably days, and not get tired of all the beautiful architecture. We got to the Colonial Park Cemetery just 15 minutes before they closed. So we enjoyed a quick visit. This is the oldest cemetery in the city and was used from 1750 to 1853. There is a brick wall along the back where they have installed the many headstones that have been separated from their intended occupant.

But that wasn’t enough dead people for us so the next morning we all went to the Bonaventure Cemetery. At almost 160 acres this place is huge and it has tons of delightful statuary.

And of course it has the requisite moss covered trees that make these graveyards especially beautiful and a bit more sad and spooky.

We enjoyed our visit to the Savannah area even more than our previous stays and are looking forward to going again and again.