Travel Log – April 2019

We arrived back in Florida on March 27 to spend two weeks visiting our son and daughter-in-law and Darlene’s sister, brother-in-law, and great nephew. We spent a lot of time at Disney and got to attend our church in Lake Alfred. We also got to see the Colorado Rockies play the Tampa Bay Rays.

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Inside Tropicana Field before the game. Unfortunately, the Rays were hot and the Rockies were not! The Rockies have improved since then.
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We ate at T-Rex café at Disney Springs and shared the “Chocolate Extinction” for dessert!

On April 10, we headed out again to journey toward Vermont, where I’ll be working for the summer as a park ranger. 

Apr 10

Our first day out, we stayed at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park in northern Florida. This park was established simply to honor and remember this great American song writer. It’s located on the banks of the Suwannee River, the inspiration for the Foster song “Old Folks at Home (Way Down Upon the Swannee River).

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The campground was very nice. We had a very spacious pull-through spot.
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This tower houses a 97-bell carillon which plays several Foster songs throughout the day.
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The museum in the carillon tower has a nice collection of Stephen Foster published songs and manuscripts.
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There are also a number of animated dioramas built to depict various Foster songs.
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In addition to the bell tower, there is a museum housed inside this antebellum style building
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There are several pianos either actually owned or played by Foster, or replicas thereof.
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This is a Steinway Grand piano sporting a rare keyboard layout designed by Paul von Janko in 1882. I’ve never seen nor heard of these before this. Here is a website about it and a YouTube demonstration video.
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This diorama in the antebellum museum depicts the Camptown Races.

On April 11 we moved on to stay in a KOA campground in Forsyth, GA, just south of Atlanta.

Apr 11

I didn’t like this campground very well. There were two areas in the facility, a wooded section and an open section. Both were very hilly. We were placed in the open section and I was disappointed in the quality of the sites. They were badly eroded from the downhill drainage and coarse gravel was being used to fill in the erosion, but the gravel was just washing back out onto the road. Sites were close together and left little room to walk between the RVs because of the steepness of the hill.

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Our campsite
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The site next to us uphill was unoccupied. You can see the general condition.
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In all fairness, the wooded section was pretty and I would have requested a site there had I known.

We stayed in Forsyth two days and took the non-travel day to visit Stone Mountain Park, east of Atlanta. I visited the park with my parents when I was in high school, only a few years after the completion of the carving. My initial impression upon visiting the website was that this was going to be a major tourist trap and I was probably not going to enjoy it. After visiting, though, I can say that if I lived in Atlanta, I’d probably get a season pass, especially if I had younger children. The park itself was a beautiful natural area with lots of trails, along with some entertainment/adventure venues that I can see would be very popular with kids.

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We rode the skyway to the top of the mountain.
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Stone Mountain is a granite monolith which formed deep under the earth’s surface. Subsequent overlying sedimentary layers have been eroded away, leaving this “heart” of the mountain. 
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There is a trail which climbs to the top. I did this back in the ’70s when I visited. We preferred the skyway for this visit! Note the pickup in the background and the yellow stripes painted on the rock surface. This is the auto trail that maintenance/crew vehicles use to drive to the top. 
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Stone Mountain holds the large confederate memorial carving, originally designed and begun by the same artist who carved Mt. Rushmore, but actually carved and completed by others. It depicts Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis.

On April 13 we moved to Payne Campground, an Army Corps of Engineers facility on the shore of Allatoona Lake, just north of Atlanta. This was a beautiful campground, and with our America the Beautiful pass, camping fees were half-priced!

Apr 13

 

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Our site was right on the lakeshore, had 50 amps electricity, water, level pavement, and plenty of parking space.
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The lake level was a bit low.
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During our non-travel day we visited the nearby Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History in Kennesaw, and also visited the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield (I forgot to take pictures there – but we saw a good movie explaining the battles fought there).
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This museum had a surprisingly large amount of artifacts and information. It was well done and very informative. The initial hall shown here told the story of the Civil War as it played out in Georgia. There was also a very good movie about the battles in the Kennesaw region.
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One of the highlights of this museum is the story (and movie) of the restored engine involved in the Great Locomotive Chase of 1862, in which Union spies attempted (and nearly succeeded) to steal a train in Kennesaw and use it to travel to Chattanooga and sabotage the track along the way.
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A battle flag from the Atlanta campaign
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Much of the museum focused on reconstruction and the importance of railroads to that process.

We left Allatoona Lake on April 15 to travel to Pigeon Forge, TN. Unfortunately, Darlene became sick the night before and lost use of her legs for a couple of days. For those of you who don’t know, she has MS and whenever she gets sick, it is not uncommon for her to lose mobility for a period of time. She regained her mobility, but has since had the leg in which she got cellulitis last summer become inflamed and swollen. We’re pretty sure this is an expression of lymphedema. The cellulitis damaged her lymphatic system and, unfortunately, now that leg is prone to extra difficulty with the onset of any illness. We’d appreciate your continued prayers for her recovery!

Apr 15

We stayed at Clabough campground in Pigeon Forge from April 15 through April 23. We were unable to get out and about as much as we would have liked, but it was still nice to be able to see Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as neither of us has been there before.

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Our site was in the rear of the park next to the rental cabins.
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I was very pleased with this park. It seems much more reasonably priced and well maintained than others I checked in the Pigeon Forge area.
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It also has tent sites next to Waldens Creek
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They have a pool, another pool under construction, and this lazy river. There’s also a kid’s jumping bag nearby!
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In GSMNP, we visited this small schoolhouse marking the location of the small Little Greenbrier community.
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The school doubled as a church and has a cemetery next to it.
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The original desks and a blackboard still furnish the interior.
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The Ogle cabin is on the way to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, which, unfortunately, was still in its winter closure.
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We drove up the Newfound Gap road to the North Carolina border.
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The side road to Clingman’s Dome offers beautiful vistas.
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Cade’s Cove is an open valley occupied until the establishment of the park.
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There are several church buildings in Cade’s Cove.

We left Pigeon Forge on Wednesday, April 24 and drove to Wytheville, VA, where we spent the night at Fort Chiswell RV Park. It made for a fine stopover on our way to Pennsylvania.

Apr 24

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The park was nearly full for the evening, but cleared out nicely in the morning.
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They had a nice pool. The hillsides around the park were covered with lots of loudly mooing cattle!

The next day, April 25, we stayed in northern Virginia at Shenandoah Valley RV Park.

Apr 25

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Our end site had lots of room for Scooter to explore (Shhhh… off his leash!)
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It was a quiet well-kept little park.
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This was the “official” off-leash area!

We finished this segment of the trip by staying at the Elizabethtown/Hershey KOA campground south of Harrisburg, PA. It was hilly, but very nicely presented and maintained. We were here from April 26 to April 29.

Apr 26

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There was a lot of nice landscaping of the hills at this KOA.
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The RV sites, though were very spacious and level.
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They had a cute little miniature golf course.
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They also had a number of small cabins available for rent.
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Our main purpose for visiting this area this weekend was that I had purchased tickets over a month ago to the Sight and Sound production about the life of Jesus.
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The program
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This is a huge auditorium!

Our final leg of this journey took us to Promised Land State Park east of Scranton, PA.

Apr 30

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We were nearly alone in this campground. It’s pretty high in elevation (relatively speaking) and a little early in the camping season.
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It was a bit wet, but quite pretty.

The next day, May 1, we traveled to Bear Creek Campground near Bristol, CT. This private campground only opened for the season two days ago. It is adjacent to Lake Compounce, which identifies itself as the oldest continuously operating amusement park in America. The amusement park had not yet opened for the season.

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We were one of 4 camping units in this park. The sites were 50 amp with water, but no sewer hookups.
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They had teepees available to rent and camp in, pictured here on the other side of the volleyball court.
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A number of larger cabins are also available.
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The office/store/shower/laundry was pretty nice.
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Landscaping is pretty good as well.
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They also have these tiny “cub huts” for rent.
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They also had a decent sized and pretty tent camping area.

On May 2 we arrived at the Getaway Mountain Campground in Vermont where we’ll be staying for the entire summer. I’ll be starting a job as a park ranger at North Springfield Lake in just over a week. I’ll blog about how that’s going in a few weeks.

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The campground is also just getting going, but I’m happy with our campsite.

 

 

 

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