Cardinal Ridge Farm

July 1-14, 2020

When we were making plans to leave Springfield, we knew we’d have to be more flexible with our stops given the weirdness of travel right now.  We also knew we needed reservations for the 4th of July, THE top camping weekend of the year.  I decided to call our very favorite little place, Cardinal Ridge Farm in Franklin, NC, and just see if by some miracle this 8 spot private campground had an opening.  Imagine my amazement when Kathy said they could fit us in!

Cardinal Ridge Farm & RV Mountain Retreat

I think their name says it all.  We just love it here with sites as spacious as most state parks and peaceful grounds for hiking and gawking at the mountain views.  Plus the owners, Kathy & Kenny are just so welcoming and friendly.  It’s like going to visit your family.

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See what I mean?  Huge site and a perfect setting.  And how about a round of applause for Crunchy the camera just returned from a trip to New Jersey for repairs.  Hopefully you’ll notice a difference in the photo quality.

So what did we do here?  Well, in the beginning we agonized back and forth about traveling down to Florida which was our next big push.  I really wanted to get down there to get my Florida license back.  Of course COVID-19 had other plans and still had the Sumter County Tax Assessor’s office closed to in-person business.  Plus we’re really torn.  We want to visit my extended family and friends down there, but we’re also thinking that we shouldn’t take the risk for them or for us.  But the clincher is Florida weather in July.  You know what they say.  It’s not the heat it’s the humidity.  Well it IS the heat AND the humidity and we’re just not feeling it.  I’ll just stay a Missourian a little longer and we’ll continue to enjoy the cooler mountain temps, thank you very much.

So again, what did we do here?  Well that’s a very good question.  It was our intention when we left our wintering spot that we’d make the most of our forced eastern travel this year and explore options for a home base in north Georgia or Gainesville, Florida.  Yes, I know.  Completely different places, but each with their own pluses and minuses.  If travel continues to be weird (and we think it will be for a quite a while longer), then focusing on a home base would be a good use of our time right about now.  Since we didn’t even want to visit Florida, we decided to focus all our energies on exploring property options in the area.  North Carolina is grand, but north Georgia is more affordable and still has those lovely Appalachians that we just adore.

Fast forward and we drop in to a real estate office to inquire about places.  We get a printout of available property with the suggestion of scouting them out on our own.  And we’re off to the races zigging and zagging around to places like Young Harris, Clayton, Ellijay and Blairsville.  It was an adventure since half the spots we couldn’t find and the other half were split between water crossings that we couldn’t manage in Bitsy, scary mountain-top drives I couldn’t abide, or places that had us hearing banjo music.  I had us set up for failure according to Pat with all my criteria – must have a creek, must have mountain views, must be unrestricted (so we can be those people and park our RV there), must have roads that Lucy can drive, must be reasonably close to town, must be 5-10 acres, no power lines running through it, no derelict vehicles next door, and the list goes on.  A lot of those things got added as we visited, and eliminated lots of spots.  A few days were very discouraging and I was beginning to think that shangri-la did not exist or we were 50 years too late as Pat suggested.

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Then we found it.  A five acre wooded spot with an honest to goodness mountain view, Watts Creek running the length of the property, unrestricted land, paved county roads on two sides, no power lines, no banjos, no hairpin turns, and a driveway with a flat spot partially cleared so we could picture our little mountain oasis.  Of course when we called the realtor he told us the bad news.  An offer had already been made on it, but he’d show it to us anyway along with the adjacent 5 acres also for sale.  In the meantime we did some other stuff, so I’ll jump to that and leave you hanging for a while.

Gorges State Park

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Last year when Pat went backpacking on the Appalachian Trail, I took a day trip that included a hike in Gorges State Park in North Carolina.  I loved it and talked him into going back with me.  Not a hard sell since it involved a great hike and Rainbow Falls at the end of the trail.  The thunder started just as we arrived at the trail head, so most of the hike was in the rain.

Wayah Bald

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On another random day we drove up the mountain to Wayah Bald for expansive views of the surrounding mountains and a brief hike on the AT.

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The observation tower here is the highest point in the Franklin area and was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937.

Pat’s on the AT again and me, too.  We checked out a shelter and admired all the Rhododendrons in bloom.

Other Outings

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It was a quick trip back to Georgia with our goal being a hike to Angel Falls.  Turns out we were Googled again, but luckily some kind soul helped us out.  This sign keeps you from heading down what we assume is a messy gravel road to nowhere.  Or maybe to someone’s house and they’re tired of us tourists showing up?  Anyway, they even put maps in a Ziplock baggie so you know where you really should be.  Quite helpful!

With the trusty map in hand we’re happy to report that we made it to Angel Falls without too much trouble.

Then there’s Black Rock Mountain State Park also in Georgia.  We’ve been here before and felt bamboozled when we thought we’d made it to the top of the tallest mountain in Georgia.  Well it’s really the tallest mountain within a state park in Georgia.  We felt terribly cheated when we found out, but it’s still an excellent park and mountain hike.  And we ruled out camping here.  The road up is just too scary for Lucy.  Honestly it’s a little hairy in Bitsy!

On The Farm

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We just loved the surrounding area in Franklin, but the farm is so inviting that you never have to leave to enjoy the time.

Most evenings we hiked up the trail behind our site to catch the breathtaking views.

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And my favorite two sunset shots from those hikes.

Finally, The Littles.  The mushroom flower, my little magic mushroom, and the perfect pattern of mushroom gills.  Told you I would bore you with lots of fungi.

Parting Shots

There’s a sign in Franklin, NC that just makes me laugh.  It was at a good spot for connecting Lucy and Bitsy, so Pat promised me a photo op with the sign.

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So here’s my shot with the muscle man.  Stripping indeed!

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And here’s my muscle man.  There are just no words…

Next Up:  More news from the Georgia property hunters!  See you on the way!

Cloudland Canyon

June 28-30, 2020

This spot has been on our list since we acquired Lucy back in 2014.  It was just a little too far a stretch when I was still working, so had to wait until we had more time.  Well guess what?  We have more time and all the regular plans went out the window.

On The Way

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It was a quick trip from Huntsville, Alabama to the peach state.  Georgia is on our minds and welcomes us!  We’re getting spoiled with these short travel days.

Cloudland Canyon State Park

Cloudland Canyon State Park has a Rising Fawn, Georgia address which conjures up all kinds of cute spotted images for me.  It’s also on the edge of Lookout Mountain and a bit steep to get up to the top, at least driving big Lucy.  I let Pat do all those tricky drives and try not to look down or mention the lack of shoulder on the road.  These are the kinds of drives when Mom would threaten get down in the floorboard if Daddy didn’t quit looking around while he drove.  Those were the days.

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The best view in the park and they even say so in the park brochure.  So unexpected, but that’s north Georgia for you.

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Hemlock Falls wins the “favorite in the park” award.  Very few people to avoid and a lot less screaming.

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And this shot of Cherokee Falls to explain the screaming comment and why we liked Hemlock so much better.

Hiking the West Rim Loop Trail formerly touted as one of Backpacker Magazine’s top ten in the US.  It was pretty great.

And the other trail.  So, do you think that big rock looks like a turtle or dinosaur head?  We have a difference of opinion although a little girl on the trail agreed with me.  Dinosaur of course.

And “the littles”.  Proof of my new obsession with fungus as promised.

French Fries

This was the stop where we experimented with the Ninja Foodi Grill and perfected our french fry cooking.  Steak fries with avocado oil were the bomb.  No photos since we scarfed them down so fast.  Move over Instant Pot.  We’ve got a new favorite gadget.

And that’s it for the quick stop in a beautiful spot.  We’ll be back.

Next Up: Our happy place – Cardinal Ridge Farm in Franklin, NC.  See you on the way!