24 October 2008

Tents, Campfires, and the Great Outdoors: A Few of My Favorite Things

I have been on fall break all this week, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank goodness for weeks off from a job like teaching! I love what I do and feel this career fits me in more ways than one, but that doesn't mean it doesn't cause me stress. There are sleepless nights worrying about my students, time crunches and deadlines on paperwork, and, of course, days where everything electronic seems to be on the fritz.

Since I was given a gift of 5 days away from the daily grind, I planned a 3-day/2-night camping trip with 2 of my friends--Janaki and Christy. Janaki had to work, so it ended up being just Christy and me. After a couple of weeks of trying to decide what camping locale worked best for the both of us, we decided on Fort Mountain State Park. It's located between Chatsworth and Ellijay, GA, and they had the option of walk-up camping (park your car and walk up a hill to your site). There's a lake in the park where people fish, as well as lots of hiking trails, overlooks, and even a couple of small monuments. Here's a link:

The morning I woke up ready to hit the road toward Christy's apartment, the temperature outside had dropped to the 40s. Michael, seeing this, took one look at me and sarcastically said, "Have a great time!" knowing full well that I get chill bumps if the temperature is below 85 degrees. I threw my gear in my truck and made my way to Atlanta, stopping first at Wal-Mart to purchase a set of thermal undies...just in case.

The drive to the mountains was beautiful, as the colors were changing on Georgia's deciduous trees. We stopped in Fairmount, GA for a tasty lunch. I believe we were the only ones under the age of 45. We were probably the only ones not wearing camo or a trucker's hat, as well.

When we drove into Fort Mountain State Park, we realized that the park itself is quite small, but the views from its cliffs are spectacular. We pitched out tent and set up camp, then set out on a short hike before dinner. Here's a look at our trip in a few of my favorite photos:

Our water supply.

The divining rod didn't work too well on finding water. Instead, it brought us to a bottle of rum and some Coke. I suppose if the campfire won't keep us warm, this will.
If our water ran dry, I had a divining rod to lead us to another source!

Christy and me at the overlook at the end of our first hike. It was rather short, but the view was incredible.

Coming back from the overlook, we ran into this tower. We weren't all that impressed, but it was something to see.

We hiked around the lake in the park as the sun was starting to sink. The water was so still, it looked like glass. This was a scene to be remembered.

I can't believe I spotted this yellow beetle on a yellow dandelion. I'm no photographer, but I can work the macro zoom on my camera. This was taken on a hike early the next morning.

If you went camping with us back in '02 to Cumberland Island, you understand the inside joke pictured here. Peanut butter and bread, anyone?

That's right, all you available bachelors out there...she can cook in the kitchen AND on a campfire!
Christy and I had a great time camping at Fort Mountain. We'd recommend it to anyone looking to camp for just a couple of days. There are sites with electricity hook-ups, in case there are folks who can't part from their TVs. Our biggest complaint was that the site where we stayed (walk-in site #2) wasn't prepared well. You couldn't put your tent anywhere that wasn't on a slope, and the ground was very rocky. We only had our sleeping bags (no pads or cots), so sleeping was tough. Turning over meant you had to fight with gravity so as not to end up on the other end of the tent. Rocks under the tent (they were EVERYWHERE, as well as unavoidable) made our bodies ache the next day. We were so frustrated by this, we attempted to sleep in Christy's car the second night. I couldn't catch a wink--I felt too closed in and was revved up on caffeine. We ended up back in the tent, this time lining our sleeping bags with all of our clothes for extra padding and comfort. I slept better this way.
Now I can't wait for spring break. I'm hoping another camping trip can be planned, especially one where folks don't get left out because of work. :)

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