Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life-and travel-leaves marks on you.
----Anthony Bourdain

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Camping Vacation 2021: DeSoto Falls National Park, GA

We had big plans for our summer of 2021 vacation...and then life happened. We decided to stay closer to home instead of leaving the country, but we knew with it being summer in the South, we needed to head north or higher in elevation.

We found DeSoto Falls National Park near Dahlonega, GA. The location is more in-between Dahlonega and Helen; the Appalachian Trail crosses the highway just up the road from the park. This was a smaller campground than most of the National Park Campgrounds we've been to. We were there at the beginning of the week; there were a lot of empty sites. 

As you drive on US Hwy 129, you may almost miss the turn. Coming from Blairsville, it's a sharp right to turn into the park.

The campground is divided into 2 separate parts: one section has outdoor shower facilities available with flushable toilets and the other section only has "chemical flush" facilities. We had potable water just across the road from our site.
Potable Water Spigot

Shower Facility

Outdoor Shower

Chemical Flush Facility

The sites are large and the ones in the loop where we stayed were wooded, with Frogtown Creek to the back of them. Picnic tables, fire pits, and a lantern stand are provided. There is no electricity or water at the sites.
Our site

The site beside us

One of the sites in the middle of the loop

Road view of our site
We stayed 2 nights. The first night was the best night's sleep either of us had in a long time. Unfortunately, the second night a family with 3 young children stayed. I say "unfortunately" because I don't think the parents knew (or cared) about camp etiquette. The youngest daughter (who we estimate was around 3 or 4 years old) screamed and cried until around at least 11:00 pm with the parents sitting around the campfire. We aren't sure what they put in their fire, but whatever it was blew into our tent and caused Robert to start coughing. Let me just say that if we had planned to be there another night we would have said something to the ranger. The people who were there our first night also had small(ish) children who were well-behaved and calmed right down when it was time to go to sleep. 

Enough of that; camping etiquette with children will have to be another post. There is a very nice, well-kept trail on the other side of Frogtown Creek that leads to the waterfalls. It was an easy hike. We had nowhere to be so we just took our time and enjoyed the flora along the way. The rhododendron wasn't blooming yet but I would say when it does it's absolutely beautiful. 
An easy hike with a well-kept trail

It had been a little dry, but after a rain I'm sure the fall are spectacular!

The rhododendron were just about to bloom

Our campsite from the trail
We met Laurene and Shirley. They've been visiting the campground for well over 20 years. Their sons bring their campers up and set them up for them and they spend the summer there. 

If you're looking for something to do during the day, Dahlonega is close by. We drove in to reminisce about a couple of July 4ths we spent there. We didn't stay long, though. We found Frogtown Winery in between Dahlonega and the campground. It's well worth a stop!

Now the big question: Would we camp there again? Absolutely, without a doubt. The only downside we saw was the unruly neighbors we had that one night. We would definitely try to get our same campsite. There's just something about having the sound of the creek lull you to sleep at night!

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Ireland Adventure Re-Cap

This is exactly how we felt about Ireland
This was one of the best, if not THE best, vacations we've ever had. It was, quite honestly, planned at what some might say was the last moment. As in, 3 or 4 weeks before we left we began seriously planning. We tossed the idea back and forth for a few months but then we decided to just go ahead and do it, and I'm glad we did.

Renting the campervan from Bunk Campers was a brilliant idea, so thanks, John! I've said this before: the van we rented was just the right size. Having a toilet at our disposal was exactly what we needed. The bed was so very comfortable that I had no trouble going to sleep from the beginning and I didn't wake up with my back hurting. 

Robert did a great job driving with the gear shift on his left side and driving on the left side of the road. He was already used to driving on the right side of the van, but it had been some years since he had driven a manual for any length of time. He only ground the gears twice and never stalled the engine. The round-abouts were no problem at all; I think we only had to stop at a couple during the whole trip. In fact, he found that driving on the left side of the road and all of the round-abouts were easier than driving in the US, partly due to the courteousness of the Irish drivers.

The prices of everything seemed to be comparable to or less than what we would pay in the US, especially once we left Dublin. Diesel was, as you might imagine, expensive, but we only had to fill up 3 times and spent less than $400. The campervan seemed to be relatively fuel-efficient. 

Favorites of the Trip

My favorite part of the trip was steering away from most of the tourist traps, going "off the beaten path", meeting the Irish people, and taking our cues from them. I never thought I would enjoy not planning a trip! Yes, I know by doing this we missed some things but that just means I need to go back and do it again. I think my favorite place was the Beara Peninsula. It's hard to say for sure, but just the beauty of that area of the country stole my heart.

One of Robert's favorite parts of the trip was being able to see our British friends in Dublin before we picked up the van. Another favorite was visiting Ross Castle in Killarney and walking back through the park back into town. Seeing the Irish Red Deer and getting a view of St. Mary's as we walked into town was very special. Ladies View (in the Killarney National Forest) was his favorite scenery. The real surprising part to him was how genuinely friendly the Irish people are. He had heard about the friendliness but to experience in person was something!

The Big Question

Now for the big question: Would we do it again? Most definitely! We're already talking about renting from Bunk Campers again and traveling through Northern Ireland and the northern part of the Republic of Ireland, Scotland, or Southern England.

Next time, I will plan out our dinners and breakfasts to make sure we didn't waste so much time in the grocery store. I don't think I will even plan where to go next time; we should just go where the road takes us and where locals suggest we go.

Our biggest piece of advice is to just do it. Go while you can, before you get too old. Even if you have to put everything on a credit card and pay it off later, do it. The memories we have from this trip will last for the rest of our lives.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...