The River Falls at the Gorge Campground promised to be a lovely place to be along the Tallulah River this past week. Our reservations and multiple modes of directions were in tow with the GPS programmed to get us there, MapQuest directions handy between the seats, US Atlas turned to the State of Georgia, verbal directions written on our reservation confirmation sheet, and a back-up of directions from a Google search if needed. But it was the map linked to the website of the campground that eventually got us there around 6:00 in the morning. Yes, the River would be beautiful at sunrise . . .
But it didn’t go the way we had it planned! Of course we knew that it would be a 12+ hour drive from Indiana but not over 15! Well that sum includes completing the hook-ups once we arrived of water, electric and sewer. O.K. so it’s kind of a modern way of “camping” yet still more rustic than the Bed-and-Breakfast accommodations to which I had become accustomed many years ago! This is my version of “roughing it!” There still is a lot more interaction with the elements than you might expect, (more on the mud another time!) especially trying to find a place in the dead of night on a long and twisty dirt road somewhere in northeastern Georgia.
“Something just isn’t right,” confessed my beloved Steve when the horse paths we were travelling on for almost 30 minutes ended in in 3 driveways, 2 of which were blocked by metal gates. All of them had signs posted next to them from respective security companies. Oh dear. That would not be typical for a campground for sure! It had been raining for hours and the dirt road was largely ungraded for heavy traffic, especially for a wide range of local to out-of-State travel trailers and motor homes. How in the heck would a bus-sized RV ever make it up the road we had just traversed? Yes indeed something was very wrong!
We decided to take some time to assess our situation. We had already turned around twice on the main road, trying to find the campground which was supposed to be “one mile past the State park and off Highway 441.” Well that just wasn’t our reality. I reprogrammed the GPS and the scavenger hunt in backwoods was our third attempt to find our river-front paradise. We had no other ideas at that time: about 5:30 a.m. We got out our umbrellas, Sure Fire flashlights, and hiked around. Probably no one would mind at that hour that we were blocking everything with the 40-foot total length of my mid-size pick up truck and our 16-foot Camplite! Steve walked closer to one of the open gates as I exclaimed, “don’t go in there! There’s probably a laser light across the road that we might activate if we cross a line hidden by the trees!” (I had seen this before in the homes of my home health care patients who lived in more remote areas.) We backed away and looked up the rutted road that had led us astray. We would need to re-trace our course.
Steve decided to pull out the manual for the brake controller and make some adjustments right there in the wilderness. The timing was as crazy as it was brilliant. An adjustment was sorely needed to manage the hills and valleys of our obstacle course back to the highway. We were also concerned about the softening of the terrain as it continued to rain; four-wheel drive was already engaged. And what if we were not alone out there? I thought for a moment what I might do if a bear or wild hog might greet us before we had made our decision to get the heck out of there. I was packing a pistol in my pocket but the caliber wouldn’t do much for a beast taller than my knees. Oh yeah, I could flap the umbrella around and make a lot of noise. Sure, that’s it! Gratefully, we were alone out there having another Steve-and-Julie bonding experience and never encountered another soul.
Back down the road we went. Steve made an incredible 5-point turn with the trailer in-tow with me scouting out the lay of the land outside in the dark. I was never so grateful for having decided to wear my hiking boots during this trip. Kind of odd, really, to wear them in the truck. Kind of extremely helpful though in these conditions! We bid our unknown neighbors “good night” as I hopped back into the truck whilst the sky was lightening slightly: morning was breaking.
By the grace of God we found the campground with the re-programming of the GPS and retracing our original steps. Funny, the campground was 1 mile from the State Park in the OPPOSITE direction than we had been instructed. Had not we mentioned we were coming from Indiana? Oh well. We probably drove right past the place on our first pass through the area. Chalk it up to the folklore of giving us directions with landmarks as if we were locals. Sish.
While the light was out that illuminated the lettering on the building, the other lights clearly identified a big building just 200 feet or so from the road. It was the office of the River Falls at the Gorge Campground! We had made it! A little more scouting, misinterpretation of a parking lot for the camp road, and final identification of our campsite out in the rain with the umbrelli brought us to a real stop for the next three days. Steve hooked us up and I prepared the inside for us and our pup, Elle. By 7:30 a.m., we were showered and asleep.
So what is the moral of this story? Probably nothing! We always seem to get lost trying to find our way in the wee hours of the morning in rural Georgia. Yes, this has happened before when we landed at the end of a road in the woods just before daybreak trying to find Phil and Judy’s place a few years ago. Maybe we will wait awhile before heading back to the land of boiled peanuts and peaches. Yeah, that’s it. Hey Babe, it’s time to GO WEST not South, my dear! JJ