Thursday, April 12, 2012

Florida to Michigan To enlarge pic double click on pic

Florida to Michigan

Talk about a delay! It’s time I catch up on our journey north!

Northern Florida and Southern Georgia look the same. We were definitely out of sandy beaches and swaying palm tree territory. The Suwannee River State Park is about 20 miles south of the imaginary line on our Atlas that says Florida/Georgia, however it took a half of a day to reach that line. Rt 90 is the east/west route that leads from Jacksonville on the Atlantic, thru and past Tallahassee, the capital of Florida. And it is a lovely road to travel! Rt 27 is the north/south route that snakes up the west side of Georgia, thru red dirt farms and pine forests. I could have picked up another state park patch if I were collecting Georgia ones because we parked for the night at Kolomoki Mounds State Historic Park. A nice little campground nestled by the side of a small lake, the park is significant because it is the oldest and largest Woodland Indian site in southeastern U S. It was occupied as far back as 350-750 A.D. Georgia’s oldest great temple mound, 57 ft high, dominates 2 other mounds and several other ceremonial mounds.

South of Columbus, off of Rt 27 is Providence Canyon State Park, also called the “Grand Canyon of Georgia” and rightly so! Now, here’s a warning to any and all RV’ers who pull into the Visitor Center parking lot, expecting a place big enough to park a rig - - - - DON”T DO IT! Park in the lot when you first turn into the park! R&N have visited this park before us but failed to remember to warn us about the extremely short turn around area for trucks pulling trailers! IF the lot is empty of other parked vehicles – it can be done, HOWEVER – there were several vehicles parked closest to the pathways and ONE lone renegade SUV parked against the back of the lot about 5 or 6 spots from the furthest end. That left just enough space for H to pull in and hope for enough space to turn and escape. Not to be! We all know that H can back his way out of a tight squeeze blindfolded and he did great in wiggling out of this tricky bind with just a few well planned (lucky) maneuvers! I still held my breath, but he never even came close to scratching that SUV! With a sigh of relief, he parked along side the park road and off we went to explore a bit of the dramatic views spread before us! The official website for the park states that all of this magnificent beauty and vibrant colors displayed throughout the 1300 acres of canyon are all simply caused from erosion due to poor farming practices back in the 1800’s. The 3-mile hike around the canyon surround some of the awesome views that rival the other well-known Grand Canyon. The white, orange, red and purple colors are as vivid as any in Brice Canyon! The many well posted signs warn of steep drop-offs not more than 3 feet from the other side of that worn wooded rail! The park is just for hiking and viewing with no camping facilities so back on the road we went with plenty of time to explore more of Georgia’s back roads. Along the river that divides Georgia and Alabama, thru the Florence Marina State Park, “Lily” took us on a shortcut – over the river and up an Alabama road, adding to another state traveled before lunch! Gas was also cheaper in Alabama! We were back in Georgia at Columbus and back up Rt 27 to John Tanner Park (west of Atlanta) for our stop for the night. Until this spring it was listed as a state park but according to the young lady in the office, the park did not meet state park standards and is now listed as a Carroll County park. A pretty little park with two lakes and the usual hiking paths, it should be popular in the summer time. The campground is wedged on the side of a large wooded hill so many of the spots are terraced sideways down the gentle slope. The “facilities” are up at the top so there is plenty of cardiac exercise! H selected an easy in, easy out, pull thru and we never even unhooked. Since the only other rig in the campground was the camp host, we did not disturb anyone when we left in the morning!

Cloudland Canyon State Park was just a morning’s trip up the road, but the road from the entrance of the park to the campground seemed as long! Deeply forested and very curvaceous, it finally ended up at a double looped campground atop one of the crown like hills in the park. Terraced parking sites where built of railroad tie sized timbers and filled with stone to make level areas to park. New timber fences kept us from backing off and down the mountainside! Unlike the Providence Canyon, this area was thick with forest and hills and fog layered on the edges of the highest peaks. Since we had the whole afternoon to explore, H wasted no time in unhooking the condo and setting the Big Blue Ox free! Cloudland Canyon is on the south side of Lookout Mountain in Georgia and the north side is in Tennessee, facing the snaking Tennessee River and the sprawling city of Chattanooga. The views from the World Famous Mile High Incline Railway Observation Deck were gorgeous but the ride down the mountain in one of the two brightly painted trolley like cars fairly took our breaths away as the car first started to drop down the 72.7% grade! It’s the steepest passenger railway in the world and has been since it’s beginning in 1895! We found the ice cream shop at the bottom and then braved the ride back up the mountain. Literally – we backed up the side of the mountain, causing a weird feeling in the pit of our stomachs but it afforded another neat view while climbing backwards up the steep grade. We even passed the other car coming down as we went. On another corner of the mountaintop is Point Park, the National Park where the “Battle of the Clouds” was fought in 1863. We stood on the bluff where Ulysses S Grant stood and we read the history of the Civil War Battle that took so many Union and Confederate lives. And the views – phenomenal!

Our last day in Georgia – “Lily” led us down the west side of the mountain to the expressway below. Down some wonderful motorcycle roads - with more than just one 15 mph hairpin curve! We could see the taillights on the condo as it dutifully followed us down and around the zigzag curves! Yee-haw! Down on the busy expressway that we had just admired the day before from the top, we reversed our gaze and amazed at the views of the mountain ridge from the valley below. “Lily” took us from Rt 59 to Rt 24 thru Chattanooga and then I 75 north.

The fun and games of our winter adventure was over – we were going home for serious now. One more night out at the Kentucky Horsepark and then we gritted our way thru Cincinnati and Dayton and finally, Toledo, Rt 23 and Michigan. The few minor “adjustments” to the condo have been completed and it’s tucked away in the backyard, waiting for the next adventure.

Come with us again!