Unicoi State Park, Georgia


As noted in the previous post, Mr. CurbCrusher is suspended from writing the blog until further notice. Here’s LadyCurbCrusher’s take on our trip to Unicoi State Park in north Georgia.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Today we drive around Atlanta and check in at Unicoi. The drive was mostly uneventful except for all the white vehicles that went from one side of the interstate to the complete other side often without any warning. When we got off the Interstate the fun started with the ups and downs and double S curves of the mountain area. After 3 hours we arrived in the town of Helen and drove through it to get to Unicoi SP.

Campsite 26
At Unicoi you check in at the lodge then go to your colored site. Our site was white for full hook up (water, electric and sewer). The sites are much closer together than in the other camping areas but we do have sewer so we don’t have to watch our tanks as closely here. When we arrived there were only 3 sites available to chose from so I picked site #26. It looked the longest at the time. One benefit was there is a small stream called Big Brook that runs behind our site and we have a cleared access to it. The mountains are not cool this year; they seem even more humid than FL right now. The outside temps are in the upper 70’s to mid 80’s but with the humidity it seems more.

Anna Ruby Falls
After setting up we took a short tour of Unicoi. We started back at the lodge(which has free wi-fi), drove to where the beach is and then moved on to Anna Ruby Falls next door. We had stopped here previously about 4 years ago so we knew what to expect. We paid our admission($2 pp) and then parked and started walking up the trail to the waterfalls. This is a nice path that is paved until you come to the platforms with stairs right at the waterfalls. the path is only 4/10 mile so it is not too hard to walk but it is steep in several places.

After picture taking and walking back down we went into the store and bought ice cream to enjoy after the hot walk. They have a very nice store at the base and they carry a variety of merchandise. I really liked the pottery that comes from this area.

After returning to the campsite CC and I walked to the store and interpretive center in the campground while TCC went to the playground nearby. Then we had dinner and CC and I walked around the lake and went out on the docks to see if we could find fish. We met our neighbors from the Tampa area. They have a famous Golden Retriever named Rusty that has his own sidecar and trailer towed behind their motorcycle. He is so cute sitting up with his goggles on as he rides behind them. They told us he had his picture on the front page of the paper during bike week.

Monday, July 11, 2011

We started today by having our usual pancakes then going into Helen to look around. The traffic really seems to die off after the weekend is over. We just came off a holiday week as well so that probably slowed things down some. A few of the shops weren’t even open so it made the shopping much easier on the pocketbook. We saw some T-shirt shops we want to return to. CC saw a t-shirt that said “I’ve hiked the entire (width of the) Appalachian Trail” that he wants to acquire after doing so. TCC seemed fascinated with the glass blowing shop but no one was making glass figurines when we were there. After walking the entire length of the street we stopped at Troll Tavern which is right on the Chattahoochee River to watch the tubers go by and have lunch. We spent an enjoyable hour there and caught some pointers for when we tube tomorrow.

View from the road

At lunch, we decided that we would go today to Blue Ridge to go check out Mercier’s Orchard. We stopped there years ago when we were in the area and wanted to go back. But first we stopped at Habersham Winery for me to try the wines. After purchasing a bottle we went across the street to Nora’s Mill and bought some of Grandpa’s Flour for making pancakes. Then another stop at The Willows Pottery for a beautiful plate and we were on our way. So after taking the scenic route, and stopping for a picture at Skeenah Gap Campground, where CC almost slid off the mountain in our previous 5th wheel, we arrived at Mercier’s.
We looked around and taste tested many great foods and decided we needed a strawberry/apple slushie for the ride home, as well as a jug of apple cider and some delicious pound cake. Taking another scenic route back to Helen we made our final stop of the day at Fred’s Famous Peanut Stand for hot boiled peanuts. TCC and I were still full from lunch so we went to the Lodge so she could log onto the wi-fi to check for some things. And CC made himself dinner and then when we got back he and I walked around the lake again.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Today started off exciting. CC was outside having his bagels and milk when a black bear walked up to him. He saw it out of the corner of his eye and he thought it was the neighbors letting Rusty, their dog, out in the morning. Only it was a young black bear. CC grabbed his bagel and ran back into the RV shouting “It’s a bear! It’s a bear!” I grabbed my camera and headed out to see if I could get a picture but when I peeked under the RV I saw its feet behind the RV and so I came back inside to get a picture out of the window. It was drinking the milk from CC’s glass he had left behind when he ran. I got a couple of pictures but we stayed inside until it took off. They did warn us at check in that the bears were active right now.

After breakfast we loaded up the car with our hiking poles and water shoes to go tubing on the Chattahoochee, also known locally as the “Hooch”. We chose Cool River Tubing based on some reviews we saw. We were expecting to pay a lot more but it was only $5 pp to tube either 1 or 2 hours. Since we brought our own sticks that’s all we paid. We elected to do the 2 hour tour so we and 6 others jumped on the old school bus and were driven up the road a ways to be let off at the starting point.

The first hour was great, since it was early there weren’t too many people on the river to bump into. Then we came to the mid point for the 1 hour trips and a cross country camp let about 100 kids into the river. After that it was hard to find a space on the river where you didn’t bump into someone. We had a great time and since the tubes had a bottom we didn’t even really get that wet. The water WAS very cold though.

We came back to the campsite and had lunch then decided to go to Goats on the Roof and the antiques store we saw yesterday but didn’t have time to go into. So we stopped at Goats on the Roof and there really ARE goats eating grass up on top of the store. You can pay a quarter and pedal a bicycle that will move the food can up to the roof where it dumps out and feeds the goats. The Weather Channel was there filming local GA interest stories, so they were up on the roof as well. Normally people cannot go up there, only the goats. Inside the store you can mine for gemstones and geodes. They also sell jams and jellies with ice cream and fudge. We bought TCC an ice cream cone and CC and I shared some peanut butter fudge on the way to the antique store.

The antique store does not look as big as it is from the outside. It is 3 floors and probably 6,000 sq ft of old stuff. They carried old linens, plates, glasses, furniture, and toys. We took awhile and looked around but didn’t see anything we couldn’t live without.

On the way back to the campsite we stopped at the picnic area to take a picture of the lake, the dam and Smith Creek. Then we chilled out reading and eating Fred’s peanuts at the RV.

Before dinner we were sitting behind the RV chilling out when I heard a weird whirring noise. CC got up and went to investigate what it was. I promptly jumped into his new gravity chair I had bought him for our anniversary since I hadn’t tried it yet. TCC was sitting with me when she said :There’s the bear!” It was walking down from the bathhouse area right next to our RV. I immediately jumped up and ran into the RV to get my camera. The camp host came running up and was trying to scare it away. I didn’t get any pictures because of him. The bear has done nothing wrong. It’s stupid campers who would won’t put their food away that attracts them. They have every right to be here in woods where they live. The weird whirring noise was the hosts making ice cream. No, we did not get a taste.

We also got to see the fireflies tonight. We don’t seem to be able to see those in FL. They seem to like meadows and forest areas which we don’t get to very often.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

We all got a late start today. CC made cinnamon rolls and then we left for Brasstown Bald, which is the highest point in GA. We got there and walked the 6/10 mile to the top. We could have taken a van for a cost of $3pp but we needed the exercise anyway. The walk was very pretty much like Anna Ruby Falls without the river next to it. The walkway is paved and does incline the whole way up and down and has rhododendrons growing over the path. At the top is a movie about the area and an interpretive center with displays like bears and a locomotive. On a clear day you can see Tennessee, Georgia (to Atlanta), North and South Carolina. They also had a small store at the bottom of the Bald.

After we finished there we left to find a section of the Appalachian Trail to hike. We found a section near 75/17 where it crosses the Unicoi Gap and found the marker rock and white blazes. We went up the trail for about ½ mile and then turned around. The next stopping place was about 2 miles away from there. And that was one way.

We went back to Helen to get gas, and stop at Betty’s groceries. If you ever need anything while in Helen this is definitely the place to get it. Even the wines were cheaper than the wineries. They have it all. Food, sundries, firewood, bakery, alcohol and toys.

On our way back to the campsite we also stopped at Fred’s peanuts again to reload our supply of boiled peanuts. Then TCC and I spent some time at the lodge using the wi-fi before dinner.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Today we got started late as well. CC made us pancakes and then we headed out to Helen to pick up his AT t-shirt and whatever souvenirs we wanted. But we walked the whole town and they didn’t have the shirt in his size. We watch the tubers again before leaving and heading back to Goats on the Roof because he saw the same shirt there. We were able to find his size and bought more fudge this time, we purchased a variety of Butterfinger, peanut butter and regular chocolate because it was so good the first time.

Beach and lake area
We came back and had lunch then CC and I went to check out the lakefront beach area. I was sure the water would be cold because the stream behind our RV is really cold and it dumps into the lake, but the lake was cool not freezing like I thought. The water was a weird green yellow color though, but only in the swim area. The rest of the lake was a darker green. They rent paddle boats and canoes there as well as have picnic pavilions and a cafe with decks to eat outside.

After we spent about an hour or so there we came back and got TCC to go up to the Lodge and use the wi-fi and finish up our souvenir shopping. The clerk was telling us all about their intern program, where the students live in cabins at the park and do various jobs for the park. I think one of the craft rangers at the Nature Center is probably one of these.
We got back to the site and started cleaning up to head home tomorrow. CC looked at the weather forecast when he was at the Lodge and the weather will be much cooler next week. Too bad we already have something planned for then.
Our week here has been great. I always prefer to be on our own schedule and not those of other people like when we have visited this area before. It just makes the trip so much more relaxing for me.

Friday, July 15, 2011

We are on our way home now. It rained all night so everything around us is soaked. Good thing we packed all the outside stuff yesterday. While we were pulling out the group next to us was trying to hitch their travel trailer. The guy backed all the way into his hitch and bent it. His wife wasn’t giving him directions at all. I think the grandparents were actually still inside when we heard the loud boom of him hitting it. The hitch was bent down at an angle. Hopefully they were able to fix it. The mist was really pretty on the tops of the mountains as we drove down them. I tried to get some pictures of it but I don’t think I was very successful. We were listening to the radio and heard there was a horrible crash on I-85. We were lucky that we were taking I-985 instead it seemed like it was backed up for 10 miles.

We stopped once again at Lane’s Peaches to get our peach ice cream and some snacks for the trip home. We were able to see the production line start fresh with new peaches on it. It’s pretty cool to see it start at the beginning. The only real slow down we encountered on our trip home was an accident at mile marker 304 on the FL Turnpike. It looked like an Albertson’s 18 wheeler had clipped a mini van and crunched the passenger side in. I think 4 cars were involved. Traffic was crawling for a little while but there was nowhere to get off until just before the accident so we had to wait. That’s the second time this summer we had a slowdown on the Turnpike. Lucky we weren’t coming through earlier in the day. There were cars racing and one’s wheel came off causing a bad accident that closed it down for hours. We finally made it home around 8 pm and are unloading the RV. It will be nice to sleep in our normal beds again. Back to doing chores tomorrow.

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