July 3 – 6th
The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest provides many outdoor recreation opportunities in Georgia. There is nearly 867,000 acres of forest across 26 counties, thousands of miles of clear-running streams and rivers, approximately 850 miles of recreation trails, and dozens of campgrounds, picnic areas, and other recreation activity opportunities, this area is rich in natural scenery, history and culture.
Blue Ridge, Georgia has 106,000 acres located in the Chattahoochee National Forest, it is 90 miles north of Atlanta but it feels like worlds away. Winters are cool and will occasionally have snow, spring is great for trout fishing, native dogwoods are in bloom. Summer the rhododendrons are blooming, the warm weather out come the tubers, kayakers and rafters heading down the Toccoa or Ocoee Rivers. Blue Ridge and Lake Nottely lakes offer lots of activities, swimming, renting jet skis or a pontoon boat, paddle boards or kayaks. Fannie County is the trout capital of Georgia, there are over 100 miles of great trout fishing. For those of us who are into wine there are 19 Wineries and Vineyards in the surrounding area, with one Moonshine Distillery.
Two of the best hiking trails begin in Fannin County, the Appalachian and Benton MacKaye trails, with over 300 miles of hiking trails, for any type of hiker. Take one of the many scenic drives in the mountains, Georgia Mountain Parkway, Southern Highroads Trail, North Georgia Farm Trail to name a few.
The town of Blue Ridge is a beautiful little town, with lots of wonderful restaurants, great clothes and variety stores, antique stores, galleries, sports stores, coffee shops, ice cream!! There is something for everyone. Usually every weekend there is something fun to do, Classic Cars Cruise, Green Bean Festival, Butternut Creek Fair, Georgia Moonshine Cruiz-in, at the Blue Ridge Community Theater there is always some type of play or comedy happening. Sept 11 – 12 the town will be having the Blues Crawl, Blues Train, Contemporary Jazz and the Blue Ridge Blues BBQ Music Festival which will be held Sept 12, Guy and I are wishing we could be here for that.
The 4th of July weekend was busy and so much fun! Our son, Stephen, daughter in law, Dani and our granddaughter, Emma came up on Thursday night with their 5th wheel to camp with us for the weekend. Of course it was still raining and the weather reports did say it would rain all weekend. Yuck!
There is really only one rv pad with full hook ups and we had our coach connected to everything, we tried to get their 5th wheel as close to the electrical as possible. The best spot to park the 5th wheel was by backing up a gravel and muddy hill….mud and rain does not make backing a 5th wheel at 9:00 at night very easy!! I will say our son did a marvelous job!!
Our daughter, Kristi and her husband, Jason were coming the next day and were staying at the Blue Ridge Lodge in town. We had their children with us already. We were all in tight quarters, so our youngest grandson stayed in our coach while our two granddaughters stayed with our son in his 5th wheel. We were missing two of our grandsons, our 19 yr old, Stephen had to work and our 15 yr old, Ryan was at the beach.
After Guy and I taking a kayaking trip down the Taccoa with the grandkids, we wanted to go again with the whole family, we made reservations for Friday. Due to the rain over the previous days, the kayak company did not recommend young children going as the river was moving pretty fast and rough. Guy and I decided to stay home with our youngest grandson, Craig who is 6. I will say the kayakers had a great time, the water was fast and cold, there were many water fights between kayaks with everyone overturning kayaks many times, some lost items, multiple floating shoes.
The town of Blue Ridge is a railroad town, with 100 year old historic depot at its center. The train ride is a four-hour railway excursion along the beautiful Toccoa River from Blue Ridge to McCaysville. You have a choice of an authentic indoor car, open rail car or Premier Class, (18 or older). The train goes thru the Blue Ridge mountains to the town of McCaysville, Georgia, sister city to Copperhill, Tennessee. During the two-hour layover, there is time to have lunch and take a walk across the “Blue Line” on the street and you’re in Tennessee! You can actually stand in two states at once if you have one foot on the Georgia side and the other on the Tennessee side!
The rail adventure is a two hour 26 mile round trip, with a two hour layover to explore. The train runs from March through December, on weekends until June then daily through July, except for Wednesdays. In the peak month of October, trips are also daily.
Saturday, the 4th of July, we all decided to take the train ride and have lunch in McCaysville. We all did choose to ride in the open rail car, and yes it did rain, but that just added to the fun and excitement. While we were in Blue Ridge waiting for the train, the 4th of July parade was go thru town, we were lucky that we were in the right place at the right time so that the kids could watch it. This was a big event, it seemed like the whole town was out there watching.
As the train went thru town, along the tracks by the homes and businesses, many people were waving flags or something red, white or blue. Everyone was yelling Happy 4th of July which made it so much more festive. We all were given American flags as we boarded the train so everyone could wave them along the way.
The Tacooa river was pretty muddy and at the top of its banks, when we had gone kayaking a few days earlier it was so crystal clear you could see all the rocks and grass along the bottom.
When we got to the town of McCaysville, of course everyone is hungry!! If any of you remember what Guy’s favorite food is you know where we were headed!! As you board the train you are given a map of the town, so once we figured out where the Mexican restaurant was off we went. The food wasn’t to bad, atleast no one went away hungry!
When we arrived back in Blue Ridge that since Blueberries and blackberries were ripe we were ready to go do the picking!! So off we went to:
It was a beautiful farm!! It is family owned and in its 70th year, the farm was started in 1943 and has grown to 400 acres. The farm is u-pick, bakery/deli, market store. They have 38 varieties of apples, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and cherries as well. The farm is also a winery, they make hard apple cider, doing all of the processing right on the premises, growing, pressing, fermenting and bottling.
For $5.00 each they give you a cute white basket for you to fill, they have a tractor with a wooden trailer/ with seats that you ride on to out to the fields to pick the berries. You get a tour of the fields and a little history on the farm as well as a story about Johnny Appleseed. I was impressed with our grandkids as they knew the story of Johnny Appleseed and could answer the questions that were asked. I know personally that I ate more than what was in the basket! Guy and I only picked the blackberries, and have been enjoying them every morning for breakfast.
My camera was not working after these pictures were taken so I have none of us in the fields. I will say a good time was had by all, and by the looks of the kids faces I think they ate as much as they picked as well.
What would we all do with out having our favorite at the end of the day!! Good ole Ice Cream. We all wished we had some of our berries to put on the top!!
It was a wonderful 4 days with everyone as our last time to be together for a while. Its always fun to start new traditions so now is the time!! We spent the last 20 years on Lake Martin, boating and swimming, going to the fireworks show by boat. This was our first year that we did not watch any fireworks. We had a campfire instead with our own music and dancing.
Things are a popping here at the new Camp Alexander, come on back and find out whats going on next with the “Rovers”. Thanks for joining us and reading about our adventures.
Y’all have a Blessed Day and see ya next time.