Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rambling in the North Georgia Mountains

One of the things I was most looking forward to doing during our vacation in Blue Ridge, Georgia, was to take some time to get off the beaten path and explore some of the many scenic mountain drives around Blue Ridge. But there was only one problem with that ... driving (or just riding, for that matter) on mountain roads makes me very nervous, and I knew I wouldn't be able to handle driving by myself and shooting pictures, too. But never fear, my sweet husband came to my rescue and "volunteered" to be my "designated mountain driver."

I had a couple of things in mind that I wanted to see, along with directions on how to get there, so off we went on our little "adventure," armed with cameras, a bottle of water for him, a Dr. Pepper for me, and some chips and candy bars for "energy," in case we had to hike to our destinations.

We were traveling on Highway 60, one of the most beautiful scenic drives in Georgia ...

Complete with old ramshackle barns like this one ...

This was a common sight, too, and made me sorta/kinda wish we had a motorcycle to cruise up and down the backroads (until I saw some cyclists caught in a rain shower a little while later) ...

A little farther down the road, I did a double take when I saw these unusual wind chimes on the side of the road. They are the largest I've ever seen and, yes, at the risk of being captured for posterity by the owner's security camera, I just couldn't resist ringin' those chimes!

I mentioned earlier that there were two places off of Highway 60, that I wanted to see, and the Old Skeenah Mill is one of them. It was built in 1848 by Willis Woody, who brought his family to the Skeenah Valley (named after the Cherokee word for “black bear”) in 1839.

The Mill is listed on the National Register, and was once a popular place for neighbors to gather and chat as they waited for their wheat or corn to be ground. It is currently being used as a campground.

Less than a mile up the road is the second place I wanted to visit -- the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi River! Located at the end of a three-mile bumpy dirt road that twists and turns as it winds its way up the mountain to the Benton MacKay/Duncan Ridge National Recreation Trail ...

... The 265-foot suspension bridge was worth every bump and the short hike down to the Toccoa River to see.

The Toccoa River is absolutely gorgeous ...

And I love to watch the water swirl around the huge river rocks. Its power is truly mesmerizing ...

After our hike back UP the trail, we were ready for our candy bars and drinks, and headed back to the lodge. As we passed through the little town of Morganton, Georgia, I noticed this sign and wondered if Mayberry's Floyd had moved his barber shop to the Blue Ridge mountains.

By the way, the lodge where we stayed during our vacation overlooks the Toccoa River that the swinging bridge spans, and here are a couple of pictures I took from our porch balcony.

The railroad tracks shown in this picture run along the river from Blue Ridge to McCaysville, Georgia, and the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway passed by our lodge twice a day.

The engineer would blow the horn to announce its arrival, and we would all run to the porch overlooking the river and wave to the passengers on the train.

No matter where Avery was, you could hear the pitter patter of her little feet running to see the train.

That's just one sweet memory to remind us of all the other little things we did together during our vacation this year.

Like our "scavenger hunt" grocery-shopping trip when we first arrived in Blue Ridge (we broke up into groups and each group had a list of things to find)

Picking blackberries along the road to the lodge ...

Playing board games until one o'clock in the morning

Eating whatever we wanted to eat, whenever we wanted to eat it (like a tuna fish sandwich for breakfast, with a fried apple pie for "dessert")

Whitewater rafting down the Ocoee River
(the younger, more adventuresome family members)

Watching movies (Evelyn, with Pierce Brosnan, and Heaven Must Wait, with Andrew McCarty ... both excellent movies, by the way)

Struggling with a jigsaw puzzle we weren't able to finish because we ran out of days

And finally, the "goodbye hugs and kisses," and teary eyes and more hugs.

So many little things, shared when a family spends a week under one roof ... things we will all recall and cherish for days and weeks and months to come ... until one day, once again, we will start planning next year's vacation. I can't wait!

If you are interested in planning a trip to the Blue Ridge area, you might enjoy reading some of my previous posts about our experiences there. Just click on the links below ...

A Visit to an Alpine Village in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia
A Blue Ridge Vacation ... the Rest of the Story!
Blue Ridge, GA: A Perfect Family Vacation Getaway
All Good Things Must Come to an End
A Blue Ridge, Georgia Family Vacation
Mountain Lagniappe
Just Ducky!
A Place Called Blue Ridge


Deb said...

your photos are is fun to travel on a notice so much more...but you can get caught in rain storms...we have done that a few times...all your photos are so should be a travel agent...your photos would definately get people to the destinations...

Marlene said...

Oh my, I feel that I have just been on a lovely vacation in the beautiful N.Ga. mountains. I am more familiar with the Clayton, Lake Rabun area, having lived there for a spell, but it is all God's Country. Beautiful pictures and thank you for sharing your precious time with all of us.

Marjorie (Molly) Smith said...

Your pictures are just beautiful, looks like a great time by all.

RachelD said...

I LOVE being along on your adventures---nothin' to do but sit back and ENJOY the RIDE!

And you included a TRAIN---I've just learned of a wonderful round-trip from Chicago/Seattle which is in our price range---takes a couple of days each way, and I'd go without getting OFF the train at Seattle, just to ride the rails.

Our friend couldn't praise the journey enough, with the sleeper and the dining car and all the scenery and comfort, so I'm set on going---perhaps in the fall.

I DO love your pictures, as well, for you find the most beautiful and interesting things---lots of which have stories of their own. How far from the HOUSE was that gazebo filled with music? Could they hear it easily from there?

And I also wonder---in the MILL picture, reckon the water parted for the tree, or the tree grew in the only "dry" spot?

I always tell myself a story about everything I see, and you provide wonderful material.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Janie, this sounds like SO much fun. I loved your descriptions of what you did as much as I loved your pictures, and that one of Avery is adorable!

We always took vacations when we were young with my cousin Barry's family, and we would go with our cooks to the beach. All day long, we would crab, crab, crab, and then at night, we would have crabs for dinner! It was heaven! We also rafted during the day, too, in shifts (the ones who weren't crabbing). Then there were board games and puzzles at night.

I almost cried myself when you told about all you did and then everyone hugging goodbye. Someday, we will never have to say goodbye to our loved ones ever again. What a joy!


Sheila :-)

Gary and Lissa Knight said...


Gary and I LOVED reading about your memorable vacation - so much so that we both got teary eyes! Every single thing you did is what we have done with our family - everything from working jigsaw puzzles, hearing our children's pitter-patter footsteps running to the porch to wave to the train EVERY single time it goes by, to exploring the back roads and having picnics at the Swinging Bridge, picking blackberries, and walking along the Toccoa River. The lifestyle that we live here in Blue Ridge just has to be shared, and that's the very reason Gary and I got into this business - we wanted to share the beauty of God's creation and grace, coupled with a luxurious lifestyle with everyone - we wanted everyone to experience the things we are so blessed to experience daily - God's infinite and matchless grace and His amazingly beautiful creation.

Thank you so much for staying with us again, and we are so glad that your time here was as memorable as the last! Also, we appreciate your descriptive narrative and Gary loves to see your beautiful images from one photographer to another.

We hope you have a great rest of the year - let's pray that November turns things around for our country!

Take care, and thanks again!
Gary and Lissa

Tonja said...

With all the beauty there is in the world...mountains, rivers, oceans, islands, plains...the most beautiful place to be is with the ones you love. And, that is where you will find the scenery that delights you most. Because your eyes are already so filled with love.

Don and I love to ride the motorcycle out in nature. Everything that you see in your car, is actually felt as you whiz through it! And, when those rains just stop and put your rain suit on and keep going! Unless it's lightning...then you find a place to get inside!

So glad your vacation time was all that you hoped it would be!

Unknown said...

I so love getting off the beaten path! It's so fun to explore the backroads, you never know what you'll find! You found a lot! Those wind chimes are huge! I wouldn't want to be on a motorcycle simply because you can never trust the weather. lol Swinging bridges scare me!