2013-05-24 Friday to 2013-05-27 Monday (Memorial Day Holiday)
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I am a member of a meetup.com group called Singles Outdoor Atlanta, SOA. Barbara and Roxanne were co-hosts (also called “Upper Management”) for the camping outing and the location was near Lake Russell in Georgia, outside of Cornelia. We were assigned to the “group camping area” and had concrete picnic tables, a shelter in case of rain nearby and a really nice, forest-service style outhouse (with no-smell). We had GREAT weather and it was PERFECT camping. About 18 people were there for the Saturday dinner. “Upper Management” had collected money and assigned each camper some “group duty” such as helping with cooking or clean-up. Also, each camper was assigned a ‘dish-to-share’ such as a starch (corn, potato, etc), or dessert (I took grocery store bakery cookies) and other items. Also, each camper was asked/demanded to bring wood for a fire. I didn’t have any wood from my yard that was acceptable, and when I stopped at the grocery store for provisions, I was in the city of Atlanta and there wasn’t any firewood for sale. So, I chipped-in $5 to the group (with several others) and our co-host helper was dispatched to a local store for a supply of firewood. The group had previous camping equipment of a double-burner butane stove, ice chests and cooking utensils. We didn’t have drinkable water in the camp, but we had several 5 gallon collapsible containers that were used to get water (from the nearby single-site camping area). When water was used for cooking corn, it was gathered from the nearby creek because it would be boiled for at least 20 minutes. (Note: the North Georgia mountains have giardia microscopic intestinal bacteria that can wreck havoc with human bodies. Do NOT drink any water without first filtering and/or purifying it OR boiling it for 20 minutes.) After the water was boiled, it was re-used for the first-cycle of dishwashing (with soap). The second cycle of dishwashing used drinkable water.
Most of the others in the group brought tents, pump-up air mattresses, camp chairs, and personal items. Many brought kayaks and/or canoe (one person, resident ‘paddler’, Dick) and bicycles. The first day was a “get there” and “set-up” day. I have to make a NOTE on the “get there” part – I got lost on the way to the campground. We were given directions “From Interstate 985 via exit 113. Interstate 985 will eventually become State Highways 441/365. Continue north for about 5 miles to Cornelia, then take the Clarkesville/Highway 197 exit and turn right. Turn right again at Dick’s Hill Parkway. Continue approximately a mile and turn left onto Lake Russell Road. Then go 2.5 miles and follow signs to the group camping area.” Notice that there are no mileage numbers for Highway 197. My GPS didn’t have Dick’s Hill Parkway in the database. There were also Latitude and Longitude numbers given for the directions to camp. I drove first to Cornelia, then I stopped and input the Latitude and Longitude numbers the best that I could for the GPS that I use. I drove according to the directions – but, having a complete map on the GPS wasn’t available since it only maps the current turns. I drove for a while and thought that “Things didn’t seem right” so, I decided to “enjoy the journey”. After the latitude/longitude was undoubtably wrong, I reprogrammed the GPS to return to Cornelia. After returning, I tried to input Dick’s Hill Parkway without any response. Next I tried Lake Russell Road and got a HIT! So, I followed the GPS instructions again and found Highway 197 and the proper turn. I was able to find the group camping area without further incident. Some of the other campers indicated that they had driven out-of-the-way also.
We met each other and enjoyed a fire in the first evening. On the first morning, the breakfast chefs had scrambled eggs and other breakfast items ready about 9am. I was in the van and had just gotten up when someone knocked on the door telling me that breakfast was served. I quickly dressed and joined the others enjoying the great cooking. Afterward, we had a ‘long-hike group’ (6 miles to a waterfall and back), and a ‘short-hike group’. I joined the ‘short-hike group’ and enjoyed seeing another property shelter and hike to the top of the Lake Russell Dam. I enjoyed talking with others until the long-hike group returned. A carload of campers drove to the near Chatuge River to look at the rafters which wasn’t far away. The day passed quickly and supper was started. The firepit provided a main source of cooking for hotdogs and hamburgers. Our chef, Gordon, did an excellent job cooking for many people. At night, we sat in a circle around the fire for hours. I had my first-time taste of homemade “lemon cello”. I decided that it would make an excellent sore-throat and cough medicine. You could really feel it go down your throat after a sip. Thanks Clement – I found the recipe on the internet. (Note: Google search provides many answers to questions when you know how to spell it!) We also had a fabulous round of singing “Allouette” (French-Canadian song) . I went to bed about 11:15 and was told the next morning that many had stayed to enjoy the fire to the “wee hours”.
The next morning, breakfast was served again about 9am. The group had decided to go biking for those who had bicycles and some others were going kayaking. I decided to just ‘hang around’ the campsite. Some others took a hike around the lake – a couple of miles. After everyone left, I got out my camera to take pictures of the lake and shelter. As I was snapping the photos, the hiking group came into focus and I got great couple of pictures of them “in the wild”. The whole place was beautiful and very picturesque. Tom offered me some of his homemade, wonderful egg salad and bread for a lunch sandwich. It was very good. The group enjoys a cardgame with a special deck ordered from the internet that involves starting with 3 cards on the first round dealt, 4 cards on the next round and continuing up in card count until a final card count hand of 12 is reached. The object of the game “to win” is to get the lowest number score. Barbara kept a count and the players were allowed to ‘swap people’ in the middle if they were needed for chores. I played in-substitution for someone for a while, then I was needed to help with supper, so I conscripted someone to take-my-place and left on the final hand. The game progess was “VERY SLOW” as many times it was the card-playing turn for someone and they had left the table to go somewhere. The others had to wait on them to return and play their hand. The game involved more waiting than playing. Anyway, it was fun and the winner was “King or Queen” until the next game.
Another wonderful supper was consumed and another wonderful campfire night was enjoyed. At one point of the night, a group left the campfire in order to see the full-moon rise over the lake. They returned without seeing the lake moonrise, because many trees obscured the view and it would take a while for the full-moon to rise above them. We enjoyed a passing of a bottle of Peppermint Schnapps from Louis. I’ve had Peppermint Schnapps in my hot-chocolate in the winter, but this was the first time that I’ve had a taste of it without the hot-chocolate. I love peppermint and thought that it was good.
The final day was sad because we had to pack and go-home. Breakfast consisted of bagels and creme cheese. It took a while for all of the group gear and personal equipment to be packed. We said ‘bye’ and Tom reminded me that there are other group camping opportunities scheduled for the summer. I returned with many new camping friends, some good pictures and great memories. (And the GPS “go-home” button worked without any wrong turns.)
<Historical Note: During the “Great Depression”, the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) built many parks that are in use today. I’m pretty sure that the campground that we visited was one of the construction projects.>
2013-05-27 Monday. I travelled to Ellijay and camped with friends for a few nights. We enjoyed several meals and a ‘show-and-tell’ with an American Indian friend. She showed her ceremonial outfits and some jewelry. She makes jewelry and leather goods and is relocating to Cherokee to be near her tribe. Good luck with your new life after your move BW!
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