Sunday, October 7, 2012

Vogel State Park, Blairsville, Georgia – Oct 4, 2012

We were sad to leave Riverbend RV Park in Lake Toxaway, NC, but as we pulled into Vogel State Park in the North Georgia mountains, we knew our Florida neighbors had given us a good recommendation. What a beautiful place! Trees everywhere, a beautiful stream winding through the park, a lake, store and lots of trails!

At this park, you can make a reservation online, but once you get there, you drive around and pick the site you want. We got a great one, number 48. It was very deep and backed up to the creek.

We set up camp and explored a little bit. I walked down to the creek and took some photos and we stopped by the camp store and picked up some firewood for later.

Since we hadn’t eaten for quite a while, and our homemade stew was all gone by now, we drove a couple miles down the road to Jim's Smokin' Que another place recommended by our neighbors. OMG! Some of the best bbq ever! We ordered pulled pork sandwiches which we could not finish as they were so big! Share one! The bbq sauce was so good we bought a bottle of sweet and one of smoky. They had great sides too like coleslaw and Brunswick stew. It had a wonderful local vibe with a real ‘hometown’ feel.

Down the road was a stop for Appalachian Trail hikers. There was a little shop and a hostel.

Back at home base, we went for a bike ride and immediately missed the flat ground in Florida! We then decided to have a camp fire. It was a bit of work, but in the end we had success! We didn’t buy any of the ‘kindling’ they had, just the larger pieces of wood. The kindling we gathered was a bit damp so we thought, hey, let’s use a piece or two of the charcoal we have. Well, it must have gotten damp or something too as it wouldn’t do anything. Then, our only lighter, ran out of fluid! Good grief! I really wanted a fire though, so I snagged the candle inside the RV that we had lit earlier, and I tore a cardboard box lid up and we held pieces of it into the candle flame then put in the fire pit. At one point, the candle went out, but I was able to relight it from the tiny flame in the fire pit. Eventually, the combination of leaves, cardboard and fire wood yielded a successful fire!

 This was the view from our bedroom window.

The next day we got up early and headed out with the siteseeing list Dave had prepared. It was an ambitious list with ten stops on it!

First was the little town of Cleveland. Cute, but we decided not to stop. It didn’t have a lot of shops or anything we felt we had to see. Next was Dahlonega. We walked around for a bit…real cute town. I think I came here with my family several years ago.

From there we went to Amicalola State Falls State Park. The waterfall is 729 ft high! Below are photos from the top and from about midway down.

Next on the list was the town of Blue Ridge. There was a lot more in this town than we thought! Below are just a few photos of the cool stores and restaurants. The scenic railroad also goes through town. We ate at Harvest on Main…yum!

From downtown Blue Ridge we drove four more miles to Mercier's Orchard, which our neighbors also had recommended. You can pick your own apples and they have a pumpkin patch. They have a huge store with apples and all kinds of produce, fresh pies and their famous fried apple pies! They were small and we limited ourselves to one!

Arms loaded with pecan apple butter and apple cider, we headed out again. We drove past Brasstown Valley Resort, which looked cool, but didn’t stop. We intended to drive a bit further to Helen and check out their Octoberfest festivities, but Dave remembered that Vogel locks their gates at 10:00. I called the park to verify, and yes, even if you are a registered camper, they padlock the gate at 10:00! So…..we decided to skip Helen so we didn’t get stuck sleeping in the car!

So, we headed back to our campsite and ate some dinner. We had a new neighbor arrive who had a cool vintage Shasta camper, Turquoise and white with a striped awning and cute colored camp lights hanging from it! It was adorable!

The next morning, we took our time and savored every minute of our last morning before heading back to Florida. We walked down to the stream and found a couple nice river stones to take with us.

A couple little things I forgot to mention: at least 60% of the people we talked to on our trip (in SC, NC & Georgia) were from Florida! They either still had a home there, or had lived in Florida for several years and had moved after visiting on vacation. Amazing! One thing we noticed was that every shop we visited had wonderful, old creaky wood floors. We have wanted to install wood floors in our house for quite a while, now, we are thinking of finding old, reclaimed wood.

We had such a great time and feel like we just scratched the surface on discovering cool mountain places! For a coastal trip, Hilton Head was great. For the mountains, NC is still our favorite state.

I will post more photos on my FB page over the next couple days.

We cannot wait to plan our next trip and be….on the road again!!

Misi and Dave

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Riverbend RV Park – Lake Toxaway, NC Oct 2, 2012

We love being able to tow the Honda behind Winnie, but figured it would be best to unhitch and have me drive the car following Dave from Twin Lakes to Riverbend. We had our first taste of steep, curvy roads in the RV. Dave handled it well, I followed in the car and prayed. Seriously. It’s a little nerve wracking to follow behind and see him picking up speed going downhill with sharp turns up ahead! I’m ok now.

As we got into Cashiers and then Lake Toxaway, we exchanged a few ooh’s and ahh’s on our walkie-talkies as we passed beautiful mountains, lakes and streams, oh my!

Riverbend RV Park is exactly what we pictured from their website. Cozy and quaint, quiet and private. A ‘mom and pop’ place. We parked at what would be our new location for two nights, site 6 (7 and 8 are great too!). It backs up to a wonderful stream (which we later discovered) you can hear peacefully gurgling as you drift off to sleep.

At check-in we were told they ring a bell at 5:00 and everyone meets at the gazebo for ‘happy hour’. We set up camp, took some photos, then headed over to the gazebo as the bell chimed. We didn’t know what to expect, so we brought some wine and homemade beef stew I had made. We were hungry and figured we could share too! We were thrilled at how friendly everyone there was. We made some fast friends. Everyone there had stayed for at least 2 months, some 4 months! Some had been coming there for almost 30 years!

Wes drove us all around the property on a 4 passenger ATV. It truly was a little slice of heaven!

Tim and Dave do similar work so they chatted it up! We talked for quite a while with our ‘next door neighbors’ and Kathy told us which waterfalls to see and loaned us a hiking/waterfalls book. We told everyone we would definitely be back…and we will stay longer!

Even after all the socializing, we still had some daylight so we headed out to explore. We saw some beautiful lakes and just enough fall leaf color to excite us! We were still hungry so we stopped at a little place called the Cork and Barrel in Sapphire. Dave couldn’t stop talking about how good his dinner was… Cajun pork tenderloins with mango chutney. Next door was the Cork and Barrel Lounge which has fantastic cheesecake!

The next day we packed so much in! We visited two waterfalls: Looking Glass and Whitewater Falls, and somehow we managed to visit four little towns as well: Brevard, Waynesville, Sylva and Dillsboro. They were all charming, but Brevard and Waynesville were larger and had more shops and cafes. The weather was cool enough to enjoy a spiced pumpkin latte in Brevard, but not too cool to enjoy lunch outdoors in Waynesville. The Patio Bistro had fantastic wraps and to-die-for homemade soups.

We found another Mast General Store in Waynesville and had to stop in as it is one of Dave’s favorite stores. So many cool places, not enough time!

We started our day with Looking Glass Falls and capped it off with Whitewater Falls (below), then headed back to relax at our cozy campsite.

Since we packed so much site seeing in the previous day, we opted to get up a little late and have a leisurely morning, packing up while visiting with our new friends. Oh, I should mention, Riverbend's showers are fantastic! A long, hot shower hits the spot on a chilly morning, especially when our RV shower has warm water that does not last long!

Well, once again, we are off and running (cue the Willy Nelson music)! Next stop, Vogel State Park in North Georgia. Our neighbors who live across the street from us highly recommend it.

Until our next stop…

Misi and Dave