This summer we loaded up the Honda Civic (I understand the humor in that), and headed north to the Georgia Mountains for a much needed escape into nature. We hopped between two Georgia State Parks and then I surprised the boys with an extra special stay on the last night of the vacation.
Our first destination was Amicalola Falls State Park. The campground at Amicalola can be found on top of a mountain. One thing about this lady is that I do not do heights. Or crazy mountain roads. However, this is 2020, and I figured it was either the absolute best time to take risks or the worst. So, up the 25% grade, two lane (barely), twisty mountain road we went. Guess what, you all- we survived! My bravery was rewarded with a panic attack and magnificent views. Once I could feel my hands again, we set up our site, and we went to the tip-top of the mountain to visit the lodge to get some ice and some firewood.
The view from the lodge was breathtaking, with gentle rolling mountains stretching out as far as the eyes can see. The Lodge at Amicalola is unique in that all of their rooms have a mountain view. While that means that the lodge does not have as many rooms as most resorts, their rooms are often larger and can house entire families.
Check out the Lodge at Amicalola here.
After we finished exploring the lodge, we journeyed back down the mountain a bit to our campsite. I had already chopped up all the ingredients for dinner, so all I had to do was empty the ingredients into my aluminum baking pan and put it on the campfire grill grate to cook. I found a recipe for campfire queso and it was delicious and so easy to do. I highly recommend doing the prep work so that all you have to do on-site is dump it in a pan. The boys went exploring and while they were gone, the campsite host stopped by our site to greet me. If you are not familiar with camping, the campsite host stays for long durations at the campsite and is the resident expert and is helpful with tasks such as locating ice and firewood.
This particular campsite host immediately pointed out that we had the best site in the whole campground for bear activity. She matter-of-factly said that they just come parading down that hill over yonder on their way to that bear-proof trash can that is 25 yards from your tent. Mind you, she pointed to the hill that the mini and the husband were currently climbing. Then she asked me if I needed anything.
Yes. There was so much that I needed… a guide on hand-to-hand combat with a bear so I was prepared when it meandered into our tent because it was looking for a human snack to cope with the frustration of the bear-proof trash cans… a hotel room. However, I just smiled and thanked her and said we were all good. While the queso was melting, I broke the camping rule and busted out the Android so I could Google everything about black bears in Appalachia… which is why I went to sleep with a hammer under my pillow that night.
I joke, not about the hammer, but about the sleeping part. I was wide awake until about 12:00 p.m. I could hear branches snapping and I swore I heard bears breathing. I mean, I have never really been up close to hear a bear expel and intake oxygen; however, I was convinced their hot furious breath was feet away from the tent. So much so, that at around 12:15 a.m. I grabbed the keys to our car and used the key fob to beep the horn. Take that bears… and neighbors.
Lulled into a fall sense of security that our car horn had showed those bears a lesson, I somehow actually fell asleep. It felt like I had been a sleeping for all of two seconds; however, the time was closer to 3 a.m. and Steve and I both sat up with a start as we hear the loud metal of the bear-proof trash can handle being tugged up and down. Seeing that this trash can was right at the end of the driveway to our campsite, I think I had an out-of-body experience for a moment. I honked the car horn again- don’t worry, at this point, I realized that several people had followed my strategy and were doing it throughout the night as Yogi and his friends searched for midnight snacks. Steve saw the shapes of bears as he looked out the tent screen at another point in the night. I woke up for good around 4:30 a.m., but remained in my tent until about 6:00 a.m. until it started getting light outside.
When the boys woke up a couple hours later, I had made a light breakfast of cinnamon rolls and orange juice. I had already talked to a couple of the surrounding neighbors and they had heard the bears too. However, most everyone at this campsite was sleeping in the comfort of their Airstream or large recreational vehicle. We were only among a few other tent campers. After breakfast we packed up the site and went to see the falls. I dropped Steve off a the top of the falls and he took the stairs down to the bottom so he could take pictures. The mini and I drove down the mountain (after the first time, I knew what was coming and it didn’t bother me as much) to meet him. The bottom of the falls had a huge stocked trout pond and we had fun watching people catch fish until Steve met up with us.
All in all, I actually REALLY did enjoy this state park. The facilities were super clean and the campsite was really small (which I was actually grateful for due to the bear situation). While it does seem to have a slight bear problem, I realize that we were the ones invading on their turf and that since we did not bother them, they did not bother us… much. I would love to come back and stay in the lodge, just to have a another experience, but I would definitely camp here again.