Thursday, March 13, 2008

March 6-8 2008 – Road Trip – Part Two – Atlanta & Lake Allatoona

Looking at the map, I determined that Rte 278E looked like a good and attractive way to cross Alabama to the Atlanta area, and the choice was corroborated by the host of the Allegro Park in Red Bay. Our two GPS nav systems, however, wanted nothing to do with it. Both – the Streets & Trips program on the computer and the Garmin Nuvi -- wanted to route us out of our way north or south to a proper Interstate. We ignored both ladies (to their mutual frustration) and took 278, which proved to be a fine divided highway most of the way.

We came into Georgia northwest of Atlanta in the Cartersville area in order to camp in the only Army Corps of Engineers campground (of nine) open on Lake Allatoona. McKinney Campground is on the eastern shore of the Lake, just south of Red Top Mountain State Park. It has several sections, and though not all sections are open all year round, they had just opened the whole park up before our arrival. This was not in response to any evident demand, as, having walked the whole 155-site park, we counted fewer than ten other campers in the place. The lady that checked us in gave us what she said was the most sought after spot in the park which turned out to be a site all alone, 100' feet or so out on a peninsula with a 30-40' drop to the water on all sides. Even with the lake's water level down some ten feet thanks the region's severe drought, it was a spectacular spot with a helluva sunset view.

Not that any spot in this park wouldn't be special. By far the majority of the park's campsites are arranged along the water to maximize both privacy and view. Fortunately, the evening we arrived was still balmy enough to sit outside in shorts with cocktails. It was a gorgeous sunset, although the moment the sun got low, the temperature began to drop fast. Fortunately, this close to Atlanta, we had great TV reception for LOST on the batwing antenna. We slept well and woke with all out window shades open to the view.

Unfortunately, Saturday dawned gray and chill. Just as we had with our arrival in Red Bay, we had a forecast of another nasty weather front approaching, this time with strong winds and possible snow! The night's heavy rain had filled the bed of the truck, parked nose down on the slope, with about three inches of water. Given the forecast, we had left the Harley loaded, so to dump the water we took the truck and Harley for a spin up to Cartersville Harley dealer to get Don some heavier riding gloves.

In the evening we'd invited our friend Adam Royse, who sailed with us on several legs in the Caribbean and who now lives in Atlanta to join us for dinner in time for the sunset view. Batching it for the weekend while his bride made a 10K race in St. Augustine, Adam was game for the adventure, but got sufficiently lost in trying to find McKinney park (only 15 minutes from his house!) that he practically missed daylight altogether. It was little matter because Don has grilled in the dark before! At about 8:45pm headlights blazed in the windows and a knock on the door followed. It was the park host come to advise us that there were tornado warnings! Yikes. We were in a hellluva spot for a tornado. We turned on the local TV station for an update, and were relieved to find the tornado warning expired. Fortunately, we left Adam's car outside the park gates which close at 9pm because the three captains ended up eating, drinking and reminiscing until midnight! When Don drove Adam back to his car there was a herd of five deer grazing alongside the road who were nonplussed by his going or his coming back!

By God it got cold that night, and sure enough when we peeked out from under our down comforter in the morning there were bits of white stuff flying in the wind. It was also an hour later thanks to what feels like a somewhat premature daylight savings switch. We did NOT walk. Instead we tried to stay warm until it was late enough to drive to Adam's house for lunch.

Last we saw Adam on the pages of this website, he and his father were running a sailing school/charter/boat sales business in St. Augustine, FL. With the wisdom of recent marriage upon him, Adam was casting about for something more economically secure than the marine biz, and in the course of climbing the rungs of pilot's licenses, stumbled into a fabulous job opportunity – claims adjuster for a national aviation underwriter. This brought the move to Atlanta. With hindsight, it was a timely opportunity to sell off their tiny Florida house before the subsequent collapse of the Florida real estate market. Their new house is a pleasant two-story home with a charmingly wooded and private back yard. We are sorry we missed seeing Ilinke, but we met the two Yorkie puppies Marmot and Potcake, and Adam fixed us a mighty nice lunch.

On the way back to the campground, we hit no fewer than six big stores – from Target to Lowe's – hoping to buy a ceramic heater to bring some extra heat into the coach, especially at the front where I sit and work on the computer. I had just seen stacks of these things in Florida, but evidently Atlanta retailers had their eye on spring. Finally, in our second Walmart I ignored the head-shakes of the salesclerks, and canvassed the likely department, and scored! The rest of the afternoon and following night we gave that little sucker quite the workout.

Sunday morning dawned substantially warmer again. We had thought we might try a stop at one of the camps on Lake Lanier for some motorcycle riding there, but a check by phone revealed none of those campgrounds were open until next month. Instead, we hooked up and headed out bound for the mountains of North Georgia

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