Monday, February 25, 2013

Rainy Nights in Georgia

A rainy night in Georgia, a rainy night in Georgia
It seems like it’s rainin’ all over the world
I feel like it’s rainin’ all over the world        via Brook Benton & Ray Charles
The rain goddess (We are sure her name is Evelyn) has been kind to us.  MOST of the days this week have been clear, if a bit windy, except for those days we had planned to be indoors, but the Nights were drizzly to torrential and quite cold for folks who claim to be Snowbirds.
We stayed in beautiful Stone Mountain Park which claims to be the #1 camp in Georgia.  (This, we decided, was in the category of Parks with a 825’ pluton of quartz monzonite at its center.)  Otherwise, the campground has be aptly described as “Quirky” in its construction and distribution of amenities.  We were a bit distressed arriving in a windy dreary drizzle searching endlessly for a site which was reasonably level and within reach of our life support. It Rained.
Next morning Al’s Siblings arrived and we dined sumptuously on Fried Green Tomatoes at the Sweet Potato CafĂ©BETH AND PAT in Stone Mountain Village. 
We laughed a lot and enjoyed a sunny afternoon in the Park.  Bethy stayed in the Airstream and checked out the facilities for a future “Drivin’ Miss Daisy Tour.” 
Need  mention that it Rained in the night?

The Carter Presidential Library was a real treat. carter center facade We enjoyed a tour so engrossing the Director granted us  a little extra time to “finish.”  We had not seen it all, so we came back anther day -- rainy, cold windy day --to see all the videos and play on the TABLETABLE CARTER CTR which let us move around the world looking in on all the humanitarian projects conducted by the Carter Center  staff. 
Very heartening in these times to see Americans quietly working to solve conflicts and drastically change lives by eradicating health problems and food shortages.
There was, of course. horseplay in the beautiful (windy cold drizzly) gardens surrounding the Center.


The next morning dawned clear and we were joined by our beautiful niece, and spent the day on the floor of another beautiful niece romping with tiny little nieces and a nephew.  Yes, rain and big winds into the night.
We then abandoned the Airstream for two days of warm hospitality and GREAT food at Tom’s home.  ANOTHER beautiful niece and her handsome spouse joined us for more eating and relaxation in the ultimate Meyer Man Cave.  Details of the multiplex TV screen array and full instrumentation for a Motown recording are highly classified as the beautiful spouse has not yet totaled the bill, but there was this –- SuSu’s Deep Dish Cherry PIE!

And breakfast that would have made our sainted father proud.

Of course, it Rained all night and into the morning departure rituals, but we left warmed by the memories of good friends who may even be relatives and a larder stuffed with leftovers.  The sun broke out midmorning as we headed to Montgomery for a couple days of homework.  We were so blissed out that even the little incident with the dead end road hardly troubled us….

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Middle Georgia

Ah, the Arctic Jet was sinking South again making temperatures drop toward the twenties and  the  Weather Teams ecstatic. The “S”  word was bandied about, snappy parkas  were donned, the climatological superheroes stationed themselves and WE moved…NORTH.
Well, Sister Beth from the Frozen North was sweeping South with a jet steam at her back and a Family Gathering had been declared. 
We idled in Middle Georgia for  a few windy days with 24 degree nights  and learned quite a bit.

The Jimmy Carter National Historical Site

in Plains Georgia includes a Museum in the restored School building (with exhibits on Mr. Carter’s childhood, the Presidential Years, and his post presidential accomplishments) and his boyhood home at Archery.  Of course, the town of Plains itself, the depot, the main street and its churches all have their stories and we heard many of them from our new friend Ranger Randy Dillard.  Randy answered all our questions, added layers of stories to the information in the exhibits, and was generally great company. So we left after a full day proud of our president and very pleased with our National Park Service.IMG_7693



























Andersonville National Historical Site

recalls the horrors of the Civil War prison camp, includes a museum focused on POWs in all of history’s wars and a National Military Cemetery.  Well done, but heart wrenching. Patty cried a lot; it was hard not to.  Movies and Museum were excellent and a prison walk with Ranger Chris Barr was especially well done.

Georgia Veteran Memorial State Park

IMG_7682We are staying at a lovely lakeside State Park with all the amenities –- golf course, lodge, marina and a big yard full of war birds, tanks and such. 

The campground was full as we arrived for the holiday weekend.  It’s quiet tonight, but we do have a new member of the VERY exclusive Green Boat, Shiny Trailer Brotherhood, a beautiful 34’ Airstream with a Green canoe.  Now we have three members.

Flint Riverquarium in Albany Georgia

begins with the quote from Langston Hughes

I've known rivers:
I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
       flow of human blood in human veins.

It's a wonderful exhibit, well paced and organized for visitors of all ages. We wished we had a grandchild or three to share the day with. They thankfully had large specimens so that we oldsters got a clear view but we wondered WHY the tank of Piranhas was the only exhibit dedicated to the memory of a lost relation???

and another thing…


PORK (the other white meat) is everywhere in evidence in Middle Georgia.  Barbeque places pop up in sight of the last one. and, though each one has a special  proprietary sauce, each table has as many as 12 other bottles to match every taste.

IMG_7744There are Sausage Stores at roadside several miles from anywhere offering jerky, breakfast and dinner sausage and much much more, but WHERE ARE THE PIGS ?  We have neither seen or sniffed a single one in all  our wanderings. There are reported to be 300,000 acres of beautiful plantations in the Flint River drainage, lovely pines well spaced for maximum quail production, many times more Pecan Orchards and huge tracts of irrigated red clay growing cotton and  peanuts, a few pastures with Angus but where are the Pigs?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Fort Clinch State Park, Florida


I suppose there are other places where you can stand in the shadow of a 10” gun forged for the Civil War and proudly salute a Triton Class Submarine leaving port for a mission, but WE have never been there.  Here at Fort Clinch near Fernandina Beach Florida, we stood atop the Fort watching the Sub depart, lucky to have an ex submariner nearby to give us pointers. 


NOTE Big Red Numbers – more on that later. 2626

The Fort itself was built during the Civil War and seldom fired a gun in anger.  The park is equally peaceful with roads overarched by twisted Live Oaks, draped with Spanish Moss and Resurrection Fern. Our campsite overlooks the Amelia River and we prefer its shady niches to the more open Beach campground.
 The Weather has not been pleasant –- grey skies with sprinkles -- but compared to the rest of the country  we are FINE. Son Jeff dumped his rain gauge at 4.5 inches and restarted, we were well away from the Mississippi Tornadoes but Daughter Joanie lay just at the fringe of the huge eastern snowstorm.  Yes, it is good to be mobile.

  We have found diversions. IMG_7558
Like Barbeque?              
Like pimento cheese?
Like them TOGETHER??
Then head to The Happy Tomato.  We did.  We split a Platter and took home enough to eat lunch for two more days!

The Marina Seafood restaurant has been in business since 1960 in a building that was well over 100 years old then.  No real need to redecorate –- the walls are covered with “BEST OF THE BEST” AWARDS.  We enjoyed  our pre Valentine dinner and all the red hearts…

As usual, the best part of this stop has been the People and their stories.  We walked and talked with “Dirty Ernie” ( Appalachian Thru Hiker 2007) who thankfully has near total recall of his hike.  The stories were great, better because he was seasoned by his 65 years at the time of the hike.

We are rerouting our trip to take in the boyhood home of President Carter in Plains, and the Presidential Library and Carter Center in Atlanta.  This, after a delightful night listening to stories of the Center’s construction  from the man who built and managed it. Pat and I are big Jimmy Carter fans and we were like groupies hanging on every word from this delightful warm new friend. 

There are shark teeth littering the beaches here and more if the dredges have been at play.  Patty felt that a direct approach would yield fresher specimens.


As is her custom, Patty went hiking with grumpy.

Part of our Historical research at Fort Clinch revealed the original use of a common euphemism.  Observe…


….and right next door “POWDER ROOM”

We haven’t seen much of “town” at our last two stops, but Fernandina has so very much to recommend.  “400 years of recorded history, under eight flagIMG_7660s”.  We walked streets platted by the Spanish, ate in buildings nearly 200 years old and walked streets of restored Victorian beauties.


The shops were gorgeous with red hearts and roses, but my honey and I went for the deserts.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Returning to the road after a layoff of several years is like reestablishing intimacy with a wife or lover.  There are a hundred things once known and long forgotten that crowd forward upon the senses, and there is the sharp thrill of recognition in all of them.

                   Wallace Stegner in The Rediscovery of America: 1946    

It was a familiar tow along the Big Bend Scenic Byway (Hwy 98), glimpses of flat grey water through a fringe of Sable Palms. It was drizzly and cold and we were playing  tag with another Airstream also traveling East along the Gulf Coast.  The predicted heavy rain caught us as we turned into the little county park at Newport.


This is new spot for us but SO well located –- across from the St Marks NWR, close by Wakulla Springs and the St Marks bike trail, and right next to the St Marks River.  Oh Yes, Tupelo Honey roadside just  short walk away.  It’s a short four day interlude before proceeding on the the Atlantic coast but we are returning …

IMG_7487 - Copy - Copy

St Marks Bike Trail traces the first Congressionally  authorized Railroad.  Back in 1835 there were no steam engines, so the rails were wooden with iron strips on top.  The carts were pulled by mules.  Cotton bales moved South to the port of St Marks; firebrick, salt and other commodities  went North to the capitol and the plantations. The railroad builders were authorized to cut the big timber for 100 feet either side of the right of way.  Seems congress got a lot more generous with the land grants to build the trans-continental railroads.  Patty and I took our first overnight bike tour here years ago –- “High Adventure.” We have been back several times and it was wonderful to see the surface so smooth and the cyclists having a great time.

Tupelo Honey is in short supply this year –-confused weather last year confused the bees and we were lucky to get our stash of this wonderful product and catch up with all the vagaries of the industry.

al and tupelo honey - Copy PATTY TUPELO

St Marks National Wildlife Refuge feels like home to us.  Its vast panoramas of marsh grass, wide water management dikes, and patches of  pine and palm are hard to capture in a picture and, of course, those  sparkling  close ups of eagles and wading birds require equipment, talent and PATIENCE that I will never acquire. We walked the dikes and lingered near the eagles nests and watched the changing light paint the marsh.


Patty preparing to launch at a photo blind



Wakulla Springs is one of the great places on our planet – deepest single outlet spring in the world pumping  250 million gallons plus into  three miles of  untrammeled river,  home to nearly every tropical species including MANATEES!!  Patty loves Manatees and  we saw a dozen or more on the “Jungle Cruise.”


RETURNING brings the new and the familiar, new friends and well worn paths.  We will leave tomorrow with another layer of memories and some leads on new places to see next time....and predictions of yet another rainy drive.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

St Joseph Peninsula State Park

This is a very friendly place.  In fact, we picked it as our first landing spot this year because we loved the familiar Michigan cadences of the  couples who volunteer at the park. Each morning they are cheerfully clearing a couple truck loads of vegetation just because it makes this place they love seem more orderly. 
There are lots of IMG_7319Northern Migrants -- Minnesotans, and Nova Scotians, and many from the snowy Midwest.   We have Great Horned Owls hooting across the campground and sometimes resting in the tree behind our site.  Coopers Hawks that drink from the little dishes we all keep filled below our water taps and deer which pass us just beyond the edge of the Palmetto. Many of the Migrants return each year and form close associations, but they welcome other wanderers readily. 
Two great nature photographers are working in the park and it has been fun meeting them and checking out their work.  Bill Gladish is at William Gadish and  Pete Dubaj is at Peter Dubaj 

Fishing with a big exclamation point was the first thing we heard about as we set up. 

“Someone just caught a 38”  Redfish in the Surf!” 
That fisherman turned out to be our neighbor Kent from Minnesota.  He and Kathy were eating a lot of Whiting all week, but the Redfish was a real trophy.

The Peninsula has close to 20 miles of shore, half gulf beach and half bay side.  There is lots of room to wander.


BIKING is back on our agenda, so we have been  riding the park roads and venturing on to the the bike trail outside. but mainly we have been enjoying new friends.