Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lake Allatoona - A Favorite Destination of North Georgia Natives

When the weather is hot in Dixie, Lake Allatoona is always a cool relief. On this hot trip, we stayed at McKinney Campground, one of our all-time favorite places to camp. Unfortunately, we decided to stay here at the last minute, so we got one of our last choices for a campsite. However, there really is no bad campsite at McKinney, so it was ok. No, we weren't directly on the water, but we had a very private pull-through site with wonderful view just walking distance from the beach and brand new playground.
While at Lake Allatoona on this visit, we had some great company. Some very good friends came and spent the day with us at the beach swimming, and on the boat tubing. All day long we alternated between the campsite (eating), the beach, and the boat. What FUN!

McKinney Campground has built a brand new playground near the beach. It's not as grand as the kids had hoped, but very entertaining just the same. (we'd been promised a new playground on our last visit)

 We always like to visit the marina at Allatoona Landing while at Lake Allatoona. They are our source for fuel and Slush Puppies (frozen drinks). However, thee are numerous marinas located all over the lake. On this visit, we made our obligatory stop at the marina for snacks and gas.

As usual, we saw deer and other wildlife on this trip to Lake Allatoona. McKinney is very unique in that aspect. Especially deer. Lots of deer.

Another unique aspect of Lake Allatoona is the abundance of rockhounding opportunities. Minerals abound -- quartz of varying colors, fossils, chert, and much more, maybe even gold! On this trip, we traveled up river to Kellogg Creek to check out Payne Campground. Kellogg creek is a known gold bearing tributary, and I figured Payne campground would be a great home-base for doing a little panning. Ideally, panning would be best in the Autumn and Winter months when the water levels are low. Unfortunately, Payne campground is closed in the Winter. Further investigation is required.

For more Lake Allatoona information and lots of pictures, click here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

John Tanner Park - a fun but busy county park

John Tanner Park is a "former" Georgia State Park located in Carroll County near Carrollton. Today the park is operated by Carroll County. This is a relatively small park with a unique history, there are several pros and cons to visiting here.

John Tanner Park has two lakes, one with a rather large beach and paddle boats. The story of John Tanner and his little "piece of Florida" in Carrollton Georgia is very interesting. During the 1950's, John Tanner decided to build a Florida resort in Georgia. He had 8 train-car loads of Florida sand hauled in for the beach, planted palm trees along the shoreline, and draped Spanish moss from the trees. During the 50's and 60's, the park was a popular destination. The park was even frequented by Carrollton native Rita Hayworth (a famous actress in her day to you youngsters).

Eventually, the resort became a state park. It's hard to imagine the park as a state park today. It is now very much a local county park with lots (and lots) of locals enjoying the accommodations. The beach is still there, but the palm trees and  Spanish moss are long gone. The campground needs some updating, but isn't half bad. The only draw-back to camping here (on the weekends anyway) is the large crowd of beach patrons.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

McIntosh Reserve - The Last Home of a Powerful Scottish/Creek Chieftain

We'd been concerned about a particularly vacant geographic area on the PB&J Adventures map, anxiously looking forward to an excursion to investigate the treasures of Carroll and Coweta, counties of west-central Georgia. A trip to this part of of God's country was inevitable.

In addition to McIntosh Reserve, our trip included a stop at the Gold Museum in Villa Rica, the site of Georgia's first gold rush, followed by camping at Chattahoochee Bend State Park, and a very long and enjoyable (albeit crowded) Saturday afternoon on the beach at John Tanner park (formerly known as John Tanner State Park).

On the first full day (Saturday) of our Chattahoochee Bend State Park camping trip, we headed for McIntosh park, mid-day. Our first stop was at the guard shack. The lady (guard) was so sweet. She told us all about the park, where to go, what to do. She insisted that the kids come in to use the facilities and have a drink of water. Very nice. We liked her a lot!

wandered around the park a bit, visited the river and the over-look, and checked-out the gravesite of William McIntosh. Visiting this park was of special interest to me. My mother's brother's wife is the great great great great granddaughter of William McIntosh. The family's history has a special personal meaning.

While visiting William McIntosh's gravesite, we also surveyed the old log cabin, similar to Chief McIntosh's home, located just across the country road. The doorways were designed for very short people, but there was a surprising amount of space in the cabin. Its design is almost identical to the cabin located at Red Top Mountain State Park near Cartersville, Georgia.  

We spent part of the afternoon at the park. I was especially interested in camping here (Boondocking), but it must be in cooler weather. This was one hot weekend. We left McIntosh Reserve for John Tanner Park (formerly a state park) where the kids played in the water for hours. But that's another story.

For more information and lots more pictures of McIntosh Reserve Park, click here!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Old Stone Fort State Archaeology Park - Manchester Tennessee

(Flashback - 2009)
Old Stone Fort State Archaeology Park is located on the site of a 2000 year-old Woodland Indian ceremonial grounds. What's amazing is the fact that the perfectly flat 50 acre hilltop is almost completely surrounded by a rock and dirt wall. Where there is no wall, cliffs and rivers protect the area. As is the case of our favorite Georgia state park, Fort Mountain, the first non-natives to visit the area assumed the enclosure was a fort, and understandably so.

Although no one ever actually lived on the site, (according to archaeologists) it was constructed, maintained, and used for a period of around 400 years. The wall contains no rocks over 70 pounds. That means nothing placed in the wall was heavier than a single person could lift and carry 

There is a very nice on-site museum that describes the archaeological processes and findings very clearly, including a time tunnel that demonstrates what was happening elsewhere on Earth at simultaneous times related to the building of this old ceremonial ground.

Although some of the Richardson Tribe didn't think they wanted to hike, the 1.2 mile hike was very easy with lots of neat things to see. By the end of the loop, everyone wanted to go around again, but it was time for lunch. After lunch, we played around the campground, then drove about 20 minutes to Morrison Tennessee for some unusual fun the kids loved, a monster truck ride (more on that later).

The campground at Old Stone Fort is accessed by crossing an old-fashioned truss bridge that, at first sight, seems too small to fit or/support a large
RV. We were assured that the Tribe's Homer II would fit through the ironworks, and it did. Camping is just $17 a night ($14 for TN seniors), but don't expect any full hookups or pull-through sites. All sites are back in but most are pretty big and very level. There is water and electricity, but we were unable to get any television reception, which was just fine.

For more pictures and information about Old Stone Fort State Archaeology Park, click here.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Doll Mountain Campground on Pristine Carters Lake - North Georgia

The building of Carters Lake was a pretty big deal when I was a kid back in the '70's. The dam is massive, the largest dam east of the Mississippi. The lake is an incredible 450' deep at it's deepest point. Its capacity to generate electricity was welcome back in the day, but possibly more important was the dam's ability to regulate the frequent floodwaters that often caused damage to communities and crops in the valley below. Rebecca and I know. We grew up in that valley.

In the early years of our marriage, Rebecca and I came here often. We had a personal watercraft, and enjoyed the lake's many primitive camping opportunities. We could tell you stories of riding-out storms in our tent, snake encounters, and searching for missing personal water craft gone missing overnight, but...

Now we're much older and have an RV and four young children. So, a real campground with water and electric was our goal. There are two Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds on the lake. We opted for Doll Mountain because it's just a little closer
to home, and Woodring campground happened to be fully booked this weekend.

When we arrived at the campground, we were pleased with its layout. Our site, high atop a little branch ridge, had a beautiful view to the west, over the water (as in great sunsets). It was apparent that it would not be easy to keep the boat in the water overnight because of our distance "down" to the water., It was really no problem though, because the campsite's driveway was plenty long for the motorhome, the Jeep, and the boat pulled end-to-end. Wonderful!

It has been an unusually hot summer this year, so on our first evening at Doll Mountain, the entire Richardson Tribe was very happy to feel a steady breeze blowing cross the lake and up the ridge. It was the first pleasant evening we'd had in weeks, with regards to temperature.

Over the course of the next two days, we spent a lot of time in the boat. We never even set foot on the beach as planned. The beach is not a part of the campground, so it's either a short ride by boat, or a longer ride by car. We did some fishing, but kept the tube busy quite a lot. The kids are getting braver on the tube. Lee Thomas is even standing on it now.
Our meals were exceptional on this trip. The kids have grown very fond of salad, especially spinach (I'm shocked!). Rebecca used the cast pie irons to make calzones using canned pizza crust, turkey pepperoni, pizza sauce, and lots of yummy cheese.

 We are anxious to come back in the fall before the campground closes for the season. We'd like to get the very same site so we can enjoy the sunset through the colorful fall leaves. CAN'T WAIT!

For more information on Doll Mountain Campground and Carters Lake, including lots of pictures, click here.