Sunsets and the Okefenokee Swamp

We are off again on our first RV trip of 2019. Our first stop was Laura S. Walker State Park in Hoboken, Georgia. We were there during the weekend and the park was full of families enjoying their days off. The park was a perfect home base to explore the Okefenokee Swamp Park which is a short drive away.

During the last 12 years we have visited the Okefenokee Swamp several times from the southern end in Fargo. I posted about our last visit there at The Land of Trembling Earth It’s been over 40 years since we visited the Okefenokee Swamp Park in Waycross. Our two young children were with us back then. Oh, the memories!

This well run and well maintained private park has been attracting visitors to the swamp since 1946. There are boardwalks with views of the swamp, a train ride, educational exhibits, and wildlife presentations which are all included in the entrance fee. For an additional fee, visitors can take a guided boat tour through the swamp.

Not all of the boardwalks were open when we were there. Some are closed due to the high water level caused by heavy rainfall in December and January. One of the boardwalks that is open took us by several American alligators in their native habitat.

After seeing an interesting presentation on native reptiles of the Okefenokee we took the train ride through the swamp.

After so many visits to the Okefenokee Swamp in Fargo, it was fun to see it from a different location.

Best Campgrounds of the year – 2018

These days we are taking shorter RV trips and staying close to our home state of Georgia. It’s no wonder that this year our top three parks are either in Georgia or Florida. All three campgrounds are parks we have returned to numerous times during the years.

Number 3 – Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, White Springs, FL

We’ve been returning to this park over and over since we first discovered it in 2009. This year we camped here twice. Spring flowers were blooming in late February and the Festival of Lights were the highlight of our December stay.

All of the sites are large with water and electric hookups, a fire ring and picnic table. The bells from the carillon tower can be heard all through the campground.

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Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park

Located on the Suwannee River, the park has a museum honoring Stephen Foster, hiking and biking trails (currently closed for maintenance), a gift shop and craft village with local artisans. Just outside the park is the historic Spring House and the town of White Springs.

There’s more about our latest stay at Festival of Lights and the Suwannee River

Number 2 – Pine Lake RV Campground in Bishop, GA

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Wandering Dawgs

Located less than 15 miles from Athens and the University of Georgia, this private park is well maintained with large sites, sparkling clean bath houses, full hookups, and fantastic staff.

Whether you stay here to attend a Georgia Bulldogs football game, to visit the University of Georgia or are just passing through, this quiet campground can’t be beat.

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Pine Lake Campground, Bishop, Georgia

Read more about our latest stay at A favorite campground and Georgia Bulldogs Football

Number 1 – Silver Springs State Park in Silver Springs, FL

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Silver Springs State Park

By far one of our favorite Florida state parks, we have returned to Silver Springs State Park a number of times since we first discovered it in 2009. The sites are all very large with fire rings, picnic tables, water and electric hookups. A few of the sites have been upgraded to full hookup. The bath houses are clean and each one has a washer and dryer.

Located close to the three campground loops are hiking and biking trails, an educational center, and observation decks on the Silver River. Just up the road at the Silver Springs Historic Entrance are the famous Glass Bottom Boat Tours, canoe and kayak launch and rental, more walking trails, a gift shop and snack bar.

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Glass bottom boat at Silver Springs
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Kayaking the Silver River at Silver Springs
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Silver River

Many birds and other wildlife can be seen in the park. Watch out for the monkeys!

There’s more about this year’s visit at Historic Silver Springs

Honorable Mention:

  • Always a favorite, we camped this February at Stephen C. Foster State Park, Fargo, GA, Number 2 in our “Best Campgrounds of the Year – 2016“.
  • River Vista Mountain Village, Dillard, GA – This large, well maintained private park  in the north eastern Georgia mountains is a great location to use as a home base to explore the area. There’s more about our latest stay at Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

Wishing you a very happy and healthy 2019 filled with safe travels and happy trails!

Festival of Lights and the Suwannee River

I love viewing Christmas Lights and one of my favorite displays is at the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center in White Springs, Florida. We first stumbled upon the festival a few years ago when we stayed at the campground on our way south. This December we met friends there for a few days.

All the buildings were decorated for the holidays. Christmas music from the Carillon tower could be heard all around the park several times a day.

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Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center Museum

During the days we enjoyed exploring in and around the park. The weather was chilly and the Suwannee River was high.

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Suwannee River in White Springs, FL

We were able to explore the historic Spring House on the Suwannee River early in the week before the river level became too high to reach it.

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Spring House in White Springs, FL

The Suwannee River level kept rising all week. By the end of the week the Spring House was surrounded by water. The photos below illustrate just how high he river rose. On the left is the way it looked when we were there in February earlier this year, and on the right is the way it looked at the end of our stay in December.

One day we enjoyed a picnic under the oak trees after walking along a trail beside the river in Big Shoals State Park. The river was swift and so high we couldn’t see the shoals.

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Big Shoals trail on the Suwannee River

One afternoon we stopped at the Carillon Tower to hear Jan play her Mountain Dulcimer and play the Steinway Grand Piano that was once owned by Andrew Carnegie. I’ve never heard a piano that sounded so beautiful.

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This Steinway Grand Piano in the Carillon Tower was once owned by Andrew Carnegie

White Springs was once a thriving tourist destination with several hotels. A fire in 1911 destroyed all the hotels except for the Telford which is still standing. We took a walking tour of downtown White Springs and enjoyed seeing the historic buildings.

At night, the park came to life with the Christmas light displays.

We had a great week hanging out with our friends and exploring the park and White Springs.

I posted about our 2016 visit to the park at Way down upon the Suwanee River and our February, 2018 visit at Spring Flowers and the Suwannee River

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

For the second year in a row we made a fall trip to River Vista Mountain Village in Dillard to explore the beautiful north Georgia mountains. Last year we explored Black Rock Mountain State Park, visited waterfalls in North Carolina and wandered around Tallulah Gorge State Park.

This year we had adventures in two new places. One day we went to the top of Brasstown Bald. Another day we drove an hour and a half to Blue Ridge, Georgia to take a ride on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.

Our seats were in an open air car for the hour long ride beside the Toccoa River. The train departed the station right on time at 11:00.

As we traveled along at a whopping 10 mph we were able to enjoy the scenery and snap a few photos. A few trees were starting to show signs of autumn but we were too early for the brilliant oranges, reds and yellows that will come later in the season.

Our destination was McCaysville, GA/Copperhill, TN. There was plenty of time to explore the town before the scheduled 2:00 departure. It’s hard to tell which town is which since the state line runs right through the middle of town.

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GA/TN state line

As we wandered around the town we crossed back and forth between Georgia and Tennessee several times. The state line even runs through the middle of some buildings. “Dine on the Line” is the motto for the Copper Grill restaurant where we had lunch. Their address is Tennessee but the state line goes right through the restaurant.

It was nice to sit back and relax on the return trip to Blue Ridge. Before driving back to Dillard we walked across the street from the depot for some fried apple pies from the Mercier Orchard downtown restaurant and store. These pies have been featured on the Food Network and are melt in your mouth delicious!

What’s not to love? A scenic train ride, cool mountain air, beautiful scenery, fresh trout and catfish for lunch, going back and forth between two states just by walking through town, and delicious fried pies! A great day!

Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s Highest Point

Located in the northeast Georgia near Blairsville, Brasstown Bald is the highest point in Georgia at 4,784 feet.

Just getting there is quite an adventure. We drove west from Dillard on beautiful Georgia mountain roads. The last few miles we drove on narrow Georgia Spur 180 with sharp turns, switchbacks, and steep grades before arriving at the parking lot for Brasstown Bald.

The parking lot is located .6 miles below the top of Brasstown Bald. We could either hike up a steep trail or take a shuttle. We chose the shuttle.

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The observation deck as seen from the parking lot

After the shuttle dropped us off at the top we walked up a few steps to the observation deck where the views were spectacular in all directions. On a clear day visitors can see 4 states. It was cloudy that day but we were able to see three states – Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. We also toured the museum and watched a short film about the mountain.

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Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia
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The tower is closed to the public
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View from top of Brasstown Bald
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View from top of Brasstown Bald
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Wandering Dawgs at the top of Brasstown Bald