One of the things that I love about my wife Sandy is her love for planning “FUN” things for us to do. She’s an organizer. She’s always thinking three or four months ahead.
She’s also great at just deciding to do things at the spur of the moment. And I’m very good at saying, “Yes!” It’s an excellent partnership.
Last Friday afternoon, Sandy came home and said, “We’re going to the mountains on Saturday.” Not “Would you like to go…” or “What do you think about…” It was, “We’re going…”
We woke up pretty early on Saturday morning. I’m the breakfast chef on weekday mornings so on Saturdays, Sandy spoils me.
After a hearty breakfast and then packing a picnic, we said a little prayer and began our daytrip. Our destinations – Tallulah Gorge State Park.
We live in Gainesville which is a small town about 45 miles NE of Atlanta. We have the benefit of being a “suburb” of Atlanta without the traffic. Gainesville is on Lake Lanier, a huge lake that has 692 miles of shoreline. To put that in perspective, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina combined have only 588 miles of general shoreline! It’s a big lake . . .
We left the house around 10:00 a.m. The temperature was about 55° and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky! Perfect hiking weather!!!
This was the last Saturday of October—peak season for the fall colors in the N. Georgia Mountains. We drove 40 miles to the entrance of Tallulah Gorge. As we turned into the park entrance, we knew we’d picked the right day. The leaves were bursting with color. After a short drive and a $5.00 parking fee, we came to the Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center, which is also where you begin your hike. It’s a must see!
Our goal was to enjoy each other’s company, get some exercise, take a few pictures, and just enjoy God’s handiwork.
After talking with one of the rangers, we learned that there are two paths in the park—the North Rim Trail and the South Rim Trail. She told us that if we wanted to do both, it would take about two hours and that it would be “strenuous.”
Okay . . .
We then continued on the trail enjoying one overlook after another. I can try to describe to you in words what we saw, but will just let the pictures do the talking…
Part of the hike was down to a suspension bridge which crosses the river. It’s down very steep stairs—645 of them to be exact!!! (That’s up and down combined…) Sandy and I decided to do that part too, but if you have any knee problems, I’d suggest that you just enjoy the views from the overlooks on the rim. It was just what the ranger promised—strenuous!
When we got back up to the Interpretive Center, it was close to 2:00 in the afternoon and it was time for lunch. We found out from the park rangers that there is a great spot nearby with picnic tables.
While driving to the picnic area, I remembered a place that is dear to my heart—Black Rock State Park. We checked the GPS and found that it was only 13 miles north of where we were, so we decided to postpone lunch, and head up.
Over the years, I’ve helped lead several large camping trips from our church to Blackrock, sometimes hosting as many as 60 men. They were great times and I have many fond memories from those trips. It’s also one of the prettiest places in North Georgia, just a mile or so north of the small town of Clayton.
On the way, I saw a “Hole-in-the-Wall” restaurant that I’d stumbled on several years ago with friends, and decided to stop and get a little BBQ to go along with our picnic. The lady who took our to-go order was so sweet—the kind of “nice” that only Southern, country folks show. She really made us feel welcomed. She even gave us extra sauces to let us see which ones we liked—for free!
As we drove up Black Rock Mountain, there were several overlooks to enjoy. When we got to the entrance of the park, we found that our parking pass from Tallulah Gorge was still valid, so we saved $5.00! It’s a neat deal that Georgia State Parks do–they’re transferrable from park-to-park on the same day!
We walked out to the overlook next to the Visitor’s Center. I knew it was beautiful from my past experiences, and was excited to show it to Sandy. But it was even better than I’d imagined it would be with the stunning fall colors and the brillient sunshine. The temperature was in the low 50’s but there was no wind at all . . . Perfect!
By now we were HUNGRY! We set up two folding chairs, spread out a blanket, and began enjoying our feast:
- Fresh cut apples with smoked gouda cheese
- Sandy’s homemade Creamy Tomato Basil soup
- Fresh Curry & Exhols Hot & Spicy pickles
- Chopped pork BBQ from Oinker’s
- Guylian dark chocolate squares for dessert.
- (I also enjoyed an ice-cold ‘beverage’ – but that’s beside the point!)
We then pulled out our books, put our feet up, and read for about an hour and a half, enjoying the sunshine and the birds singing in the nearby trees . . .
. . . It won’t be long until it is too cold to sit out like that. Winter is right around the corner. So how about putting a little spontaneity in your life this weekend? Grab the one you love, put on your hiking boots, pack a picnic, and take a little “fall getaway.”
If you live close to Atlanta, it’s just a short drive up to the mountains. The leaves are still in full color. If you’re one of my readers from another part of the country, I’m sure you have beautiful places close by that you can visit this weekend . . .
. . . And I’m going to ask you a favor. Drop me a line next week, and tell me about what you did and where you went! I’m serious! I’d love to hear about it!