Two weekends ago, me and my dad set out on a highly anticipated camping experience. We had planned to drive to the north Georgia mountains and spend the weekend. Visions of fishing, hiking, campfire watching, and above all seclusion filled our heads as we made the last minute reservations with Moccasin Creek State Park. We left early Friday morning for our two night stay and drove for hours across the state. The ride was nice --good conversation, a lot of singing, laughs, and water bottles-- and we were expecting that all would be well and right with the world, if at least for the weekend.
The countryside began to change as the Appalachians thrust themselves up through the fields and trees providing beautiful panoramas. As we saw the ridges, waterfalls, and the lookout points, we eagerly awaited becoming apart of them during our weekend of the land. The miles closed in and we finally arrived at the Moccasin Creek check-in station. They laid down the rules. We joked about leaving because they would not allow skateboarding. After talking to a few rambling old men, we headed for our campsite. I looked around, utterly shocked. The campsite was directly behind us --behind the check-in station --along side 50 other campsites. A gravel bed, bordered by wood planks and flanked by a water pump and fire area, was our wilderness. Being a boy scout, I was all too familiar with camping; this was not camping. We went back to the check-in and requested a more remote location. "Ahhh, you want the honeymoon sweet!" the old men laughed, their yellow teeth inches away from our faces.
The "honeymoon sweet" is NO place for a honeymoon, by any standards. Heaven help me, the children in the RV 30 feet away would be scarred for life. I was appalled. Is this what people do when they claim to be camping? Despite this complete disillusionment of what the reality of camping in a state park is, we decided to set up and make the best of it. After walking about a mile or so of trail and eating sandwiches by the fireside, we bedded down.
The next day, the weather gave us a slap in the face. the sky was overcast and the wind was getting it's money's worth. It was cold. Due to the wind and weather, we cut fishing out of the agenda. we checked the map for local sites and decided on Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia.
Cars upon cars were lining the roadside as we neared the peak. From every direction, people in skintight, synthetic blues and reds and greens were walking towards the mountain. These people had tried hard to be trendy --they had specialty items like "protein paste" and the like. We saw their license plates from New York and Oregon and all sorts of distant places. There was a definite buzz among them. Something was going down, or up for that matter. we felt like chance winners to a Trekie convention --completely out of our element, not understanding the excitement around us.
As we got out of out car and walked up the road, things began to become clearer. "he's number one" people said, "that's his number". "I hope I get a picture" said others. Nearly every vehicle was accompanied by a high priced road bike. We were in the midst of the Tour de Georgia, which was scheduled to finish, with Lance Armstrong in the lead, atop Brasstown Bald. What luck. Everyone has a certain thing that they are crazy about. Sometimes it's food, sometimes it's a girl, sometimes it's God. Yet still, when I see people who have taken something and molded their life around that something in such a way that is so obvious and one-dimensional, particularly financially, I have to cock my head a little bit. These people could ride bikes perfectly well without skin tight suits and protein paste, but in order to fulfill their inner biker spirit, they felt compelled to buy everything that their specialized magazines told them to. In effect, they looked both ridiculous and picture perfect.
Being that the road had been blocked off, we had to either wait for a shuttle bus or climb the 3.5 mile trail up the mountain. We decided to take the scenic route. 3.5 miles vertical is something entirely different than 3.5 miles here on earth. Aside from that, the weather was horrible. I wrote a short poem about the mountain experience:
climb the mountain
charge the hill
you stop and tell me how you feel
you tell yourself that you're too old
at last a break
from the trees
at last a place to rest your knees
what is the vista
that we got?
a lousy asphalt parking lot.
Turns out that 3.5 miles is half the trip. Our trek led us to a parking lot filled with more bicycle enthusiasts who were selling junk and making noise. There was a huge screen advertising the race and Dodge trucks. Apparently when people that ride bikes aren't riding bikes, they drive Dodge trucks. ba duh ba duh ba duh dah (the current Dodge theme).
Clear from the trees, the wind was a force to be reckoned with. We quickly made our way into a gift shop. Outside, a 100ft line awaited overpriced coffee. I took a few pictures as we waited for the shuttle bus to take us back down. A nearby thermometer read 34 degrees... KELVIN! no, not Kelvin, but 36 degrees is not what one would expect on the 23 of April. We crammed into the bus and headed down. The driver, who was somewhat less than chipper, narrowly missed a dozen bikers walking up the road. I sat beside a girl named Samantha who was reading "Samantha Saves the Day". It was her favorite.
We walked the mile back to the car and headed for camp. I let Dad listen to the Beatles on the way. We had to drive a good distance out of the way because the entire highway had been shutdown so people could ride their bikes. We were thrilled. Considering the weather above all else, we decided not to stay another night. I had a pretty rough headache and was ready to get away. We ate some more really good sandwiches and headed out. On the way home, we made a stop at "Fred's Famous Peanut Stand", the place where I had once bought my favorite shirt (a picture of me in the shirt can be seen earlier in the website), and ate some fried nuts washed down with peach cider.
We made it back to Statesboro around 9 and a half o'clock. I showed Dad some things on the telescope, we talked awhile, unloaded, and he headed home. All in all, it was a fun trip and the mountains were beautiful. However, next time I go camping, it will be on the Appalachian trail or private property, not a gravel bed placed between a public restroom and a family of 6.