We got up around 7:30 and joined LuAnn and Jerry in the living room/kitchen for coffee and chitchat and the Sunday paper; Jerry and Mark called their dad for Father’s Day, and then we took off for an over-the-top sumptuous Father’s Day Brunch buffet at Pappadeaux, a Louisiana-style restaurant that is clearly hugely popular. We got there right around 10 am and met up with LuAnn’s daughter Timoree and her husband Andy, whom neither Mark nor I had ever met. (He works abroad for 3 months at a stretch, and just got home from a stint in Venezuela; in another week, he and Timoree take off again for another 3 months there.) We had a lot of lovely food (we should have treated it like breakfast food, but apart from Eggs Benedict I also had shrimp etouffee and dirty rice and cheese grits and other Southern food I never have. Not to mention halves of a lot of small desserts that Mark and I both wanted to try.) and chatted at leisure – while the waiting lines outside were getting longer and longer. When we left at 11:30, there were lots of people waiting outside for a table, and they actually had a temporary gazebo set up and served people ice water outside and had live music to bide away the time!
Mark and I had packed up before we left LuAnn’s and Jerry’s house and took off right from the restaurant. We went to a REI store to buy some of the camping supplies Mark will need to next month’s trip to Madagascar, since LuAnn had told us that there was one nearby (in Nebraska, the next REI store is Denver’s!). I had never even heard of quick-dry underwear (although I knew about the camping towels and the UV-resistant “sun shirts,” which are also super lightweight). Mark also bought a waterproof Go-Pro that he wants to test a bit in the next few days, but then also take to Madagascar. After an hour, we were equipped and very much done with our shopping, and we left for our true destination, the North Georgia Mountains, glad to finally be a bit further from the buildup that stretches from the outskirts of Atlanta clear to the foothills. For today, our goal was just the very edge of the mountain region, a state park with a lodge that we discovered on the Internet yesterday while driving, with a lovely waterfall as the main attraction. It’s called Amicalola Falls, and apart from the waterfall also has the 8.5-mile approach trail for the very southern tip/tail of the Appalachian trail, which starts at 3782 feet on Springer Mountain. We checked in around 2 pm, There were a lot of visitors at the falls, but at least out here it’s national forest and not one house next to the other with green space in between. From our room we have lovely view of the mountains / rolling hills covered with mature forest, and they really do fade in layers from bright green vegetation to the misty blue that comes with the distance.
We went for a little afternoon hike after we had settled in, and that was really lovely – we went to the top of the falls, and then down a set of many, many flights of stairs (allegedly 625 steps) along the waterfall, with a lovely view from the midpoint and then the bottom of the falls. Then the path went to the visitor center, and in a 1-mile loop back up at a longer, more gentle slope. We are readjusting to hiking up and down and maneuvering rocks and roots and windy paths, rather than walking along a straight line on a very flat, smooth beach, so we didn’t do more than just the two miles or so, but it was really fun. Beautiful landscape, very quiet on the second half, and gorgeous weather – sunny, but we were protected by shade trees, and it was just in the mid-80s at about 2800 feet. We then went for about a 20-mile drive to Dalonegha, the cloest town, and discovered that their cute litte antique-shop-and-restaurant downtown was just right for finding a little Italian place and have salad and gnocchi for dinner. (The lodge also had a restaurant, but they were still serving a Father’s Day buffet, and we were about done with that!). We walked around the downtown / village square for a few more minutes, and then drove back to the lodge, after we got some gas and had the Prius tell us, for the first time ever, that our full gas tank would get us 400 miles down the road. (When we were going downhill and the car was recharging its batteries from the downhill push, we suddenly got 98 mpg! We do have fun with this car.) We got back to the lodge around 7 and decided to just hang out in our room with the fabulous view until bedtime.