After an emotional farewell with our friends in NC, we headed a short way into north Georgia. Tallulah Gorge had been on our radar for awhile: we found out about it in a book someone had given us outlining scenic drives, and had intended to camp there in 2013 before being re-routed by the prospect of camping with our brother & sister-in-law, Sterling and Teresa, of Where-RV-Now. Since Franklin, NC was so close, we thought, why not? Turns out it was a great decision. Tallulah Gorge is indeed a State Park, but the campground is operated by Georgia Power because the gorge has been dammed and there is a pretty fascinating power generation system in place (none of which disrupts the beauty of the place).
There isn’t good information available online, but the Tallulah River is dammed at the top of the Gorge, creating Tallulah Lake. From there, a 14′ high, 11′ wide, 6,666′ long tunnel was carved from the south edge of the lake to a holding tank below the Power Plant shown in the photo above. From the holding tank, the water is released to plunge down tunnels, through the turbines, to be released back into the river below the State Park. The State Park preserves the river gorge in its natural state (water level fluctuations notwithstanding) and the campground is well-maintained by Georgia Power. There are easy hikes along both rims of the gorge and, for the strong of heart, a staggering 1,099 step loop trail will take you down to the suspension bridge above Hurricane Falls and back up the other side. We spent a very enjoyable 4 nights there, walking, working, and resting up from the very social first leg of our full-time journey. Aaaaaah! For the first time, it started to sink in that we were really doing this – we were really full-timing and not just visiting family for the holidays! We had a few campfires, lots of walks, and in general we just enjoyed the solitude of camping in the SE in winter (our last 2 nights we were the only rig in the campground). We would definitely come back here again!
From Tallulah, our objective was actually Panama City Beach, FL and St. Andrews State Park, but it would have made for a long travel day for the kitties. We decided to stop half-way to visit Providence Canyon State Recreational Area. Providence doesn’t have a campground, so we stayed at nearby Florence Marina State Park. Providence Canyon bills itself as the “Grand Canyon of Georgia” which is, honestly, a pretty low bar. While it was indeed beautiful, it is only 150′ deep, the Grand Canyon being 6,000′ deep or so. So they’re the same, right????? Grandiose claims nothwithstanding, it was a beautiful landscape, even if it was created by people who didn’t know what they were doing. Yes, you won’t read that on any of the info at the Park, but searches on the InterTubes reveal that Providence Canyon was created by a bunch of settlers who planted cotton and then just decided to plow downhill (in soft sandy soil over limestone) because it was easier. The resulting erosion eventually swallowed the whole town, although the church was moved so that it could be saved and is now right outside the Recreation Area boundary. In an attempt to stop the erosion (seemed like a good idea at the time), kudzu was planted at one point and then the State spent the next 10 years or so trying to get rid of the kudzu. We didn’t see any signs of the invasive weed, but neither has the erosion been stopped: the protective fences keeping people from walking too near the undercut ledges of the Canyon have been repeatedly moved backward as the edges continue to erode.
Here’s a link to a panoramic photosynth that Eric did ( Needs MS silverlight to work, or open in Internet Explorer ) https://photosynth.net/view.aspx?cid=58b7e2dc-8ca8-4db0-aecd-0954e3cc47c6
On our second day in the area, we headed out on a grocery run and ended up exploring the little town of Richland. It was Sunday and most of the sleepy little town was closed for business, but a cruise down main street revealed a beautiful storefront with a sign reading “Richland Rum.” Not being inclined to pass by any rum distillery, brewery, or cidery if we can help it, we stopped to see what was what. The Richmond Rum Distillery was closed, but across the street a small retail store offers bottles for sale and happened to be open. We wandered in, had a nice chat with the proprietor, and ended up buying a bottle. Eric later pronounced it “smooth and tasty.”
With the threat of temps in the 20’s looming, we decided to head further south. Look out Florida, we’re coming back!