When Brian found out last year that his buddy was getting married in a remote area of the Georgia mountains in the beginning of May, we decided a great way to kick off the 2013 camping season would be a road trip to Georgia.
The wedding was on May 11 so we headed out on May 9 intending to drive as far as we wanted, park for the night, then finish the trip up on Friday.
We ended up driving as far as Frankfort, Ky., where we boondocked for the night, which is a fancy way of saying we set up camp in a Wal-Mart parking lot. We have parked overnight at other Wal-Marts on our trips to the Keys and I am always surprised at the amount of information there is available about Wal-Mart parking lots.
Various websites will tell you if certain lots are noisy at night, if they are well lit, if the no-overnight-parking signs are merely a suggestion and not enforced or if the lot should be avoided.
If there were an actual rating system for Wal-Mart parking lots, this one in Frankfort would have received about three out of four stars based on the raving comments, so we stopped.
I have to admit, I get a little nervous parked in public lots overnight, even those with raving reviews, but having the dogs with us makes it less scary since their barks are the ultimate alarm system. On this particular trip, however, we left them behind at the doggie resort since we would be busy with the wedding festivities. We both agreed that not having the dogs made the trip way less stressful than others, but I was wishing they were with us that first night. But, the parking lot reviews turned out to be reliable. We had a lovely stay at the Frankfort Wal-Mart and had no issues. After resting up for a few hours, we got up, had breakfast, then completed the trip to Toccoa, Georgia the next day.
When Brian was researching places to stay in and around Toccoa, he quickly learned there was pretty much one show in town: The Toccoa RV Park and campground. Brian called a few weeks before our trip to make reservations and the lady he spoke with didn’t seem at all concerned with the possibility there would be no sites left. In fact, it seemed as if Brian was the first person in the history of the Toccoa RV Park and Campground to ever inquire about this thing called a reservation.
When we pulled up, things were immediately put in perspective. There was a large welcome sign with instructions to grab an envelope, pick out your site, then put your money (cash only) in the envelope and place it inside the box at your chosen site.
As we looked around, deciding which site to choose, we were greeted by a lovely white-haired woman who pulled up on a golf cart. She was the owner but her name now escapes me. Turns out, she was expecting us and had our site all picked out.
It was definitely a no-frills place, but did have full hook-ups. So while there wasn’t a swimming pool or shuffle board court, or even fire pits in which we could build a campfire, we could take long showers inside the comfort of our own home on wheels. Thank God because I wasn’t sure I wanted to check out the bathhouse.
The RV park had it’s share of permanent and long-term residents, one of whom came by to introduce himself right away. Sadly, I was busy enjoying the full hook-ups in the shower when he came by but I noticed him right away once I stepped out of the shower and took a peak through the window. He was, um … hard to miss. To quote Brian: “He was a nice enough guy. I just wish he was wearing more clothes.” Skin-tight, fluorescent yellow short shorts. That’s it.
After the one-man welcome committee finished his hospitality duties, we left to join the wedding festivities at Camp Mikell, which turned out to be a kind of retreat-type area that also doubled as a youth camp. It was in a beautiful area that had both cabins and dorm-style bunk houses. When we pulled up we found there was a welcome party for the start of what ended up being a super fun weekend.
Brian reconnected with several old friends from his days in Florida. The Friday night pre-wedding party turned in to a pre-wedding party after party on the porch of the cabins where some of the others were staying.
The next day was full of activities until the wedding. One of the activities was a rope obstacle. When I first heard of the rope obstacle, I was picturing a series of rope ladders and nets about two feet off the ground and it sounded like fun. But we learned Georgia doesn’t mess around with its rope obstacles! I wish I had taken pictures of the whole thing. It started with a rope net climb to a platform high in the trees that I am guessing was about 25 feet high, followed by a tight rope (!!) you had to walk across (while holding a guide rope) to get to the next platform, at which point you leap Tarzan style to a rope from which you jump to the next rope and so on until you reach the next platform. You then walk across another high wire rope to the last platform from which you zipline down. I should mention they were attached to a safety line with carabiner hooks, but still:
No way, no how.
The ziplining looked fun but you had to go through the obstacle to get there. I remember a time I was not afraid of heights like I am now. It was a time that is now referred to as my stupid years. People young and old were doing it, though. Honestly, it looked like fun. But once you got up there, there wasn’t on option of changing your mind.
While I didn’t get pictures of the actual obstacle, mostly because Brian and I were recruited to help people off the zipline, I was able to snap a few pictures of the ziplining in action.
After the rope activities and then a hearty lunch, Brian and I went for a short but lovely hike with the brother of the groom and got to see more of the beauty of the area.
After the hike, we headed back to the RV park for showers and to change for the wedding, which was beautifully unique and touching. Many of the men in the crowd were wiping tears if that tells you anything.
The ceremony was followed by a good ol’ fashioned southern BBQ at which I definitely over-ate. A dance party followed the BBQ.
The next morning everyone gathered for a farewell breakfast and our whirlwind weekend trip was coming to a close. Except we had about 725 miles to drive to get home.
We left at about 1 pm or so for the voyage home and had a scenic trip through the Smoky Mountains.
Brian declined to take a trip to Dollywood when we approached Gatlinburg so we kept driving until Louisville, KY., where we started looking for a place to park for the night. The Wal-Marts in the general vicinity had negative reviews, so we kept looking. How do Wal-Marts earn negative reviews, you ask? Dead bodies in cars. That’ll kill your rating every time. That, and reviews saying the “no overnight parking” signs are strongly enforced. So we found a highly recommended Love’s Travel Center in Memphis, Ind., that had acres and acres of camping space. We were lulled to sleep by the sounds of semi tractor trailer engines.
We hit the road the next morning with a few hours left to travel and made it home mid-day.
The last two years we have ended the camping season with a big road trip. It was nice to start the season out with one this year, even though it went by way too fast.