It’s been a L-O-N-G time since our last trip (May, to Land Between the Lakes), which is probably why I’ve been spending hours and hours (and more hours) relentlessly planning future trips. Month after month of no real RV’ing demands at least a virtual substitute. But now we’re here, for real, at Riverbend Campground in Hiawassee, Georgia.
But first — a digression. People often say that RV’ing is as much about the journey as the destination. So far, though, I’m not sure I’ve really figured out the journey thing. I think I’m pretty good about the destination part, and very good at figuring out how to get to the destination, but not so good at unplanned stops in the middle, much less a significant deviation that would take me off-route, delay the arrival, and (heaven forbid) potentially cause a rewrite of the entire plan.
This trip has taught me a lesson about the “journey” aspect of RV’ing. En route from LaGrange to Hiawassee, our practice of stopping every couple hours was thwarted by the fact that the portion of the trip in the 1-3 hour slot was all Atlanta urban hell, with no real place to take a relaxing break. Not even a rest area or tolerable gas station. So we found ourselves coming up on Blue Ridge, Georgia, after four hours of driving, road-weary, hungry, with both us and the dogs ready for a potty break, when Wendy spied a sign that said, “Fannin County Veterans Memorial Park.” “Turn here,” she said, and off we went on a “it’s all about the journey” detour down some narrow country road.
What a treat! Off the path, in Blue Ridge (population 1290), is a memorial to those men of Fannin County that have died in this nation’s wars. One obelisk for every war, with the names of the dead inscribed on each. Surrounding the park, all of the flags were at permanent half-staff. A plaque proclaims Duty-Honor-Country. And a Huey UH-1, with 1st Air Cav markings, sits on display.
And here’s the best part. The Memorial Park sits next to the Fannin County Middle School. Which means that every day, those kids go to school under the shadow, literally, of those who died so that they could go to school. Do the kids of that school realize the significance of what stands across the parking lot? Probably not. But will they someday hear an echo of voices telling them that duty to country sometimes demands the last full measure of devotion? I’m sure they will. In my mind’s eye, I can see a day when America is attacked and, for reasons some guy can only vaguely sense, he feels compelled to take up a gun and fight for his country. And those ghosts in the memorial who watched over him as a kid can rest well knowing the enduring influence of their sacrifices. Maybe what this country really needs is a veterans memorial on the grounds of every school in the nation.
Back to camping…
This trip was to Riverbend Campground, near Hiawassee. Very nice campground, with the Hiawassee River running right behind our site.
By chance, the FMCA Georgia Mountaineers chapter was at the campground, so we sat around and chatted with them for a while. One benefit of traveling with fellow RVers, it seems to me, is being able to pick their brains on an infinity of RV topics. One topic we discussed was the best timing and route for touring the Utah National Parks, and the President of the chapter even sent me a fully fleshed out itinerary based on his experience. We may have to link up with such groups regularly in the future.
Saturday we hiked Brasstown Bald, and learned that it’s amazing how strenuous it can be when two old geezers try to walk one-half mile up a steep path to the observation deck. But what a view!
Sunday it was off to see friends and go to church with them in Hayesville, NC (about 20 miles away), and then lunch, and then a couple more hikes.
Which is cause for another digression. Over the years, I seem to have lost touch with lots of people … no excuse, just too much to do and a procrastinating personality. But as we travel around, it’ll be fun to reconnect with friends and distant family in California, Colorado, Arizona, Washington, the Northeast, the Southeast, and wherever else our mobile society scatters us.
Statistics for the trip:
Trip distance: 439 miles
Campground cost: $32 x 3 nights.
Mileage: 8.45 mpg (all but the last 100 miles towing the toad)