Thursday, April 21, 2016

Our Maiden RV Voyage Was A Success

We finished up our test run a few days ago after 3 weeks to Florida, Georgia, and back home. We returned the RV to the dealer to make a few necessary adjustments that we found on the trip, very minor stuff.   We just parked in Madison RV's parking lot Sunday night and spent the last night there. They have already addressed those issues, and we have nothing but compliments for Madison RV. They have been great and are allowing us to leave her there until we head out again next week, this time westward-bound to new territories.  We are very pleased with the RV also - it appears that Grand Design's Momentum toyhauler line is a quality product.  Here she sits in the parking lot of Madison RV for our only night of "dry camping."  We are learning so many new terms!

Back to the last leg of the trip.  After we left our friends' home in Metter, GA, we headed to Dahlonega, GA as previously noted in the last post.  Besides the motorcycle riding, we had lots of fun with 3 primary activities - gold mining, Amicalola Falls, and the annual "Bear In The Square" festival.

It turns out that Dahlonega has quite a gold mining history. The first major gold strike was in Dahlonega in 1823, the phrase "thar's gold in them thar hills" was coined there, and Dahlonega was the heart of that activity before the California gold rush took the lead (and the miners).  If I understood our tour guide correctly (and he by the way holds several Guinness world records in the gold mining specialty area), gold is generally not found as a stand-alone mineral/gem/or whatever it's called. (After consulting Wikipedia, I am reminded that gold is a transition metal and a group 11 chemical element, with an atomic number of 79, identified as Au, and that is about all I need to be reminded of).  Anyhow, it mostly attaches itself to other minerals/elements/whatever, with quartz being a common one.  A normal vein of quartz would be a few inches wide but there was one in them thar hills of Dahlonega that was about 24 feet wide - that is the gold mine we toured.  I will spare you a lot of cave/mine pictures since they generally are all about the same, but here is where the main quartz vein was before being mined to make lots of money for the miners!

I believe the tour guide (who holds several Guinness world records in that specialty area) said there are 5 stories/levels of this mine, several miles total in length.  Pretty cool stuff, but not near as cool as panning for gold ourselves!  We netted 3 very small "nuggets" valued at about $1.50. 

Dahlonega is also a college town with the University of North Georgia and The Military College of Georgia.  It is a very large and beautiful campus.

College towns are always cool even though I still have occasional nightmares of final exams at Wake Forest.  I always hated having to cram and read CliffsNotes the night before those exams (you know, the ones designed to ruin a perfectly good 3.0 GPA), just never felt really prepared I guess. There is so much to learn in just one night before a final. 

And now to tie the college town with the gold-mining story - this is one of the main campus buildings and the gold leaf finish on the steeple is only about 1 ounce of gold!  Now that is interesting. 

We spent part of another day at Amicalola Falls.  There were several options on just how adventurous we could choose to be getting to the top.  Most of the people choosing to hike to the top looked a lot younger than us and had water, food, and camping equipment on their backs, so we decided on what we thought was a better option - get in the truck and ride about 3/4 of the way up, then hike (walk) horizontally on a cushioned pathway to where these pictures were taken.  It really was cushioned, you know, like kids' playgrounds these days.  Waterfalls are a lot like caves - they all look about the same but here are a few nice shots.  

We also decided against the 435 steps from this point to the top and the truck took us to a point about 50 horizontal steps to this view from the very top.

Moving on, it turns out that about 20 years ago, a bear showed up in the city square one day, so the powers that be in Dahlonega decided to start an annual festival on that premise and called it "Bear On The Square Mountain Festival."  

It was a typical festival with vendors of all sorts, great food, storytellers, and music.  Now, we do like good music and have been known to hang out at festivals all day just for the music.  However, also in them thar hills is a lot of bluegrass and folk music.  Sorry, but after about 10 minutes it's just not entertaining for us.  That is not to be critical of those who like it, we just don't.  There was plenty of it and the problem was that there was nothing else. They had regularly scheduled performers throughout the day and individuals from wherever just brought their instruments and ended up in a group of usually 4 to 12 who just gathered on the street and played and played and played........

Here's the bear, still looking pretty good after 20 years.

Pottery was a popular item for sale, with potters and demos to show how it is made. 

So now our expectations for festivals are high - one in Darien for the shrimp fleet and one in them thar hills for bears in the square and bluegrass music.  But before I close this post I have to put in a plug for R-Ranch In The Mountains.  It is a first-class and beautiful 500-acre equestrian and RV setting, mostly equestrian with signs like these to substantiate it - WHOA Pardner!

The Clubhouse - inside are two different ballroom/event areas, TV and theatre rooms, pool tables, bar, etc..  Very nicely done.

The pool area shaped like the letter R behind the clubhouse  (still a bit cool for the water yet).

And the chapel on the hill.  We attended church there on Sunday morning.  Some of the local churches support this as a mission opportunity and they usually have about 25 folks, some regulars and others as campers for that particular time.  

Speaking of campers, Rhonda decided to get some shots of what you need to be REAL campers since we are still learning.  This family obviously needs a lot of propane.

Nice grills to fuel with those propane tanks.

Golf carts.

Bigger golf carts.


Fire pits.

Satellite dishes - just put them anywhere.

Trailers to haul all of your trailer stuff.

Assorted items you haul in your trailer of trailer stuff.

And last but certainly not least, a pen to keep your pets and small children in.

We are still rookies at this but learning more and more.  The next time we post we will be west of Athens, AL heading west to new territory. Hope you will join us.

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