We originally booked Jetty Park hoping to see a rocket launch from Cape Canaveral as well as to spend some time on the beach. While we accomplished the latter, we missed the opportunity to see a rocket launch by just a few days and had to move on. Luckily we didn’t move far though and we plan to come back to Jetty Park on launch day to see United Launch Alliance send a GPS satellite into orbit aboard the final launch of a medium configuration Delta IV rocket. We will have more about that in a future blog post.
We weren’t too sure what we’d get into at Jetty Park since many of the sites including ours were grass and the roads were dirt. It turned out to be about as we expected with numerous small pot holes in the road and at least some of the sites were in bad shape due to recent rains. Ours turned out to not be too bad and we managed to get in and out without leaving deep ruts. The other issue was that we were only able to get a 30 amp site instead of a 50 amp site. Because of the way 50 amp connections work you actually get 100 amps of power to work with. So, 30 amps was less than 1/3 of what we normally have. What this means is that we could only run one AC unit at a time and with temperatures reaching into the 90’s they each run full time normally. We managed by just running the AC in the area we were using – bedroom at night and living room during the day. Lucky for us, we had rain nearly every afternoon and that helped too . The one night it didn’t, it took a while to get the bedroom cooled down from 90 degrees.
Once again, another beautiful park in Georgia. Extra large sites, full hook-ups, shade and miles of trails. Lots of wildlife, nesting turtles and alligators! It was a bit startling to see so many signs about the alligators along trails, ponds and the river! We had daily turtle visits to our site but no alligators (except one on the side of the road which had been hit by a car) and we didn’t allow Purdy out of the trailer, just in case. There were tons of short palmetto palms growing as a thick shrubbery and taller palms along with live oaks providing lots of shade. Just like in the South Carolina, the live oaks and palms have lots of Spanish Moss hanging in them which is a sight we are not used to seeing.
Live Oak Campground is one of two that make up Edisto Beach State Park. The Beachfront Campground was full when we made reservations so we stayed in Live Oak instead. The Beachfront Campground is about a mile away from the Live Oak Campground. We didn’t find out too much about the Beachfront Campground although we had coastal flooding all week due to high tides and have heard that some of the campsites on the beach are subject to flooding. Of course, on the beach you would be able to hear the ocean so there are tradeoffs to being safe from the flooding. There are nearly 4 miles of nice soft trails throughout the park winding through the salt marsh area.
Edisto Beach State Park is just outside the town of Edisto Beach on Edisto Island. This is a small town of about 400 permanent residents and numerous tourists. Most houses within the town seem to be vacation rental properties. There are no stoplights, and very few stop signs but there are several great seafood restaurants including the Sea Cow and local favorite (as well as our’s) Whaley’s. There is a small grocery and a few other shops as well as a few non-seafood restaurants there too.
The next stop on our trek to cover the southeast corner of the US was the Flat Rock/Hendersonville/Asheville area. We picked a great time to stay due to the higher elevation and an unseasonably strong cold front we had cooler weather and no rain. Daytime temperatures stayed in the low 80’s and nighttime temperatures were in the upper 50’s – not bad for the middle of July.
We first ventured out into the nearby town of Hendersonville with a population of about 14000. It was a great little town nestled in the foothills of the mountains and with a vibrant downtown area with lots of shops and restaurants. We stopped by the visitor center and had some lunch at a nice Japanese restaurant but we didn’t end up doing much more than just driving down Main street. With our big truck, the streets were uncomfortably narrow and parking was an issue as well so we just moved on.
On another day we went into East Flat Rock and ate at Hubba Hubba BBQ at the recommendation of one of our neighbors in the RV park. There were several highly rated small restaurants right there together and they all shared the same parking lot which was on hilly ground behind all of them. That too was a mess for our big truck but we managed to get out unscathed and we found a nearby shopping area with a nice empty parking lot. We were glad we did, the BBQ was great and the vibe was a lot like something you might see in Austin with outdoor seating and lots of people with their dogs.
As we planned our route east, one of the stops we wanted to make was to see a former co-worker at Dell named Bill along and his wife Sherry, north of Atlanta, Georgia. We booked a week at the Sawnee campground just a few miles from their house. Then we met with two challenges.
The first challenge came about a week before we were scheduled to arrive at Sawnee. One morning I got an email saying that our reservation had been cancelled. We panicked a bit at the thought of finding a place for a week on short notice in the busy summer season. After looking at a few commercial parks that didn’t look all that great we found Duckett Mill campground. Looking back, I think this was the best thing that could have happened as Duckett Mill was fantastic and our site was very secluded. Apparently the issue at Sawnee was that they didn’t have enough volunteers to run the park so they have closed it for the rest of the season. Sounds kind of fishy but who knows… We did notice too that the roads up to Sawnee were somewhat narrow and winding and through residential areas with quite a bit of traffic. There was also a 6 ton limit sign just west of the park that could be an issue. In all, we think Duckett Mill was a better place for us.
The other challenge was the travel distance. Although the route from Rogersville, AL to Sawnee showed up as only about 200 miles we found that the shortest route would have taken us through some small local roads which would have been challenging for our rig. So we decided to take a longer route through Chattanooga, TN which was mostly US highways and Interstates but that added about 75 miles making this one of the longest legs we have driven pulling our rig so far. It took about 6 hours of driving plus we lost an hour due to a time zone change but we held up much better than we expected. Leaving earlier in the day definitely helped. Even Purdy the cat took the long day in stride.
Once we arrived, we had a wonderful afternoon and evening with Bill and Sherry in their beautiful home and look forward to keeping in touch with them. We spent lots of time going over old Dell war stories and talking about changes over the past 14 or so years since we both worked together. It got particularly interesting when Bill brought out some brochures he had for some time about Class A RV’s that even Sherry didn’t know about. Maybe someday we’ll be able to “glamp” together sometime???
At Sherry’s recommendation we took a day trip north up to the town of Sautee Nacoochee and to the Old Sautee Store. The store was established in 1872 and is a local favorite as well as a good place for adventurous tourists willing to get away from the beaten path. Sherry told us we had to try their Farmer Cheese which comes from Sweden. It is the store’s most popular product. It is very mild and VERY good. Of course we had to buy some! While taste testing the cheese the lady providing the samples found out we were full timers and she started telling us about all the places we needed to go in Georgia and Tennessee. I think we spent 30 minutes with her and we got a lot of tips including a nearby store called Mark of the Potter.
In 1928 Robert Watts and his father Allen “Grandpa” Watts purchased the Hill’s Mill property on the Soque River. Grandpa Watt’s knowledge of building and milling proved to be invaluable in the construction of the Mill. This was during the Depression when times were very lean for everyone. About the only businesses around were moonshining and some saw milling. Although wood sold slowly, grist mills seemed to grind on steadily. The Watts successfully ground corn until a flood caused them to close down. In 1969, a couple decided to create a pottery store in the old mill as a retirement project. The store is still open today as Mark of the Potter. Giant trout inhabit the river below the mill where visitors come to feed the fish. Different species like Rainbow, Brown and other types of trout gather below the shop balcony waiting for a feeding so we had to try it.
A final stop on this day trip was to the town of Dahlonega, the site of the first major U.S. Gold Rush and the Heart of Georgia Wine Country. Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Dahlonega offers expansive mountain vistas, roaring waterfalls and bubbling streams, postcard-worthy wineries and an abundance of restaurants and entertainment. We went through on a Monday and many of the shops and wineries were closed for the day but we were able to walk around the square, visit a few shops and eat dinner at an Irish-American pub called Shenanigans.
About 30 miles northeast of the Duckett Mill campground is a spectacular 729-foot waterfall called Amicalola Falls. It is the tallest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River and is breathtaking. It was well worth another day trip to see the falls and hike around the area. We took some extra time to drive through the campground in the park and determined that it wasn’t suitable for our rig. For one thing, the road up to it has some 20+% grades which could be doable as they are fairly short, but once you arrive at the campground it’s very obvious it was only designed for much smaller rigs. The road through the campground is small and somewhat winding and the sites are way to short for our rig. Most people up there were in pop-ups or very small trailers or motorhomes.
Gainsville area, Lake Lannier, and Northern Georgia was a new adventure for us and what a pleasant surprise it was. Georgia peaches, beautiful countryside and rolling hills has us writing this area down for a longer stay in the future.
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2 Site Quality: Asphalt roads and concrete pads. Type: Corps of Engineers Access: Easy access from GA-53 a bit west of Gainesville, GA. Staff: The staff were friendly and helpful. Amenities: Large sites (we were on site 92) covered in trees. Once in the site we could only see one other site through the trees. Our site had 50A power with water but no sewer. Each site had a picnic table and a fire ring. There were restroom/shower facilities that seemed to be clean and in good repair but we did not use them. There was a marked off beach area for swimming. Cellular/WiFi: Verizon was a bit slow at 2.2 Mbps. AT&T was acceptable at 6.35 Mbps with amplification. What we liked: Beautiful tree covered sites and most have some view of the lake. You could see the lake from site 92 but the view was substantially blocked by the trees. Some sites like ours were very secluded but others were not as much. Large park with plenty of room to walk. What we didn’t like: No satellite because of the tree cover. We did have marginal local channel reception, however. No sewer kept us from rating the park 5 stars. Due to the length of the driveways and the fact many were curved or had significant slope the long driveways can be considered both a negative and a positive. Another negative was the fact that the outside living space was made of sand and fine gravel. With rain, this mixture splashed up on the rig and was also carried inside on our feet. Verdict: Thirteen months into full timing, this is our favorite park so far. The sites say they are good for a 45 or 55 foot RV but most have very long driveways leaving plenty of room for parking. We saw some with an RV, a boat and a tow vehicle and plenty of extra room.
Some of the more secluded sites here would be great. Site 92 was near perfect if you want seclusion, other sites could be good candidates as well including 91, 93, 103-105, 1-8, 9-17, 24-29 and 42-44. Nearly all offer some form of lake view.