It’s been a rainy spring in Georgia. But that didn’t stop us from going camping during a rare free Saturday night. It’s the first time I’ve been camping in about 12 years.
It was really a spur-of-the-moment trip, and was certainly not frustration-free. Originally, we had planned to camp at our favorite north Georgia park, Cloudland Canyon. It’s been on our to-do list for years prior to the 30 before 30. However, it turns out, national parks require campers to reserve a two night stay…seriously, more rules than some luxury hotels! We didn’t have two nights. So I looked at some of our other favorite GA parks, but found the same story.
The trip was quickly becoming a headache. I decided to look across the border, into the parts of Alabama we grew up visiting. But, unfortunately, Mt. Cheaha also requires a two night stay on the weekend. So annoying. Kinda like vacation rentals that want you to stay for a whole week. Not everyone has a week. Not everyone has a whole weekend. Not everyone has two days. Some people want to camp Saturday night, pack up Sunday and get ready to go back to work.
Sadly, it’s kinda no wonder parks are not used as often. And it’s kinda sad they’re certainly not important enough to some state governments. As you read this, Alabama is planning to close over a dozen parks, including Mt. Cheaha. It’s heartbreaking. We take a trip to Mt. Cheaha every year. We got engaged there. And now our dreams of taking our kids there is up in the air. You can read more at: The Anniston Star. Depressing, all the future memories we could have made there. Personally, I think the government could scale down the park, before closing it all together. I could understand closing the on-site hotel, gift store, pool, and restaurant. There are people who want to view the overlook and walk the nature trails.
But, I digress. The camping trip was saved when my mother-in-law suggested we look at a local city park. I discovered that city parks are easier to work with when you don’t have a lot of time. For about $15 we stayed at the Little Tallapoosa Park in Carrollton, GA. This included firewood, a fire pit, an electrical outlet, and a heated bathroom/shower building. Copying right from their website, the park has:
- 256.25 acres
- 7 miles of natural trails
- 2.5 miles of paved trails
- 7 acre open meadow for events, disc golf, etc.
- 32 tent/pop-up campsites with 120 electric hookup
- 23 RV campsites with water, sewer and power hookups
- All sites have picnic table and fire ring with grill
- Equestrian parking
- Comfort station with bathroom, showers, washer and dryer
- Small pond for fishing
- 17 Geocaches
Happily, it’s a very clean park. Only open since 2013. Not very crowded. Really nice for families who just want a neat and safe place to visit and experience some of the great outdoors.
So, we went tent shopping Friday night. It was a learning opportunity. Bass Pro Shop is very high on their camping equipment, unless there’s a sale going on. We decided to do a price check at Dick’s Sporting Goods and saved $40 on the same 6 person tent. With the savings, we were able to buy fire starting sticks and metal poles to roast marshmallows. I packed a variety of clothes, including some long pjs, even though at the time, I didn’t know I’d need them.
Saturday morning, the husband went into work. When he got home, we made the 3+ hour trip back to our old stomping grounds. Got groceries for our camp dinner: hotdogs and chips, and for our camp breakfast: eggs and bacon (plus a protein bar for me because I don’t eat eggs). Then we picked up my brother and headed to Little Tallapoosa Park to set up camp. After so many residency interview trips, we are logistics experts.
As it grew dark, the in-laws drove over to inspect our camp. I think, mostly to make sure we’d survive the night. Although we’re both nearly 30, my husband has never been camping without his family, and I’ve never been camping without mine. I guess parents worry no matter how old you are. They stayed for a hotdog and went about their way.
Although the weather was clear for the weekend, it had rained nearly all week. The wood was very damp and green. Thank goodness for fire starter sticks, charcoal, and lighter fluid. We sat around the fire, roasting marshmallows, talking movies, games, music, Apple products, and stocks. Honestly, at 11pm I was sleepy. We decided to turn-in. It had grown colder. It’s easy to forget how cold spring nights can get when you live in the city. And, I’m cold natured. So I ended up putting on three layers of clothing to sleep in. It’s a good thing I always overpack.
Other than the cold, I slept well on the air mattress. Some campers below us, obviously night owls, decided to chop wood and keep a blazing fire until 1am. The likes of which could be heard over our noise canceling ear plugs. When they finally stopped, I feel back asleep until dawn. I kept one eye open as the colors changed from dark blue to light blue. I was proud I didn’t have to make a run for the restroom area in the middle of the cold night, but could wait no longer. I knew if the guys weren’t going to get up and start a fire, I would. I imagined that I was Ma Ingalls, rising early in the morning to start my pioneer day. But in reality, I dragged the quilt around my shoulders like a long cape and swung my pink and black striped Victoria Secret’s bag to the restroom area. I put on jeans and a sweater over my three layers of pjs.
Then I started the fire, as I announced to the tent, “Guys, I’m up and starting a fire, but by all means keep sleeping. I’m just cold.” They got up. Either they were cold or didn’t trust my fire building abilities. My brother helped build a larger fire while my husband started cooking breakfast on the Coleman grill. By 7:30am, I ate my Powerbar and drank my DaSani sparkling water. Then when it was ready, I had two strips of turkey bacon and two more marshmallows. Our breakfast and fire woke the night owls, who gave us sour, sleepy looks. Um, yeah we didn’t go to bed at 1am, you thought we’d sleep until 10:30? Early to bed, and early to rise makes campers warm, fed, and ready to pack up.
We were packed up by about 10am and decided to walk around the gentle, paved nature trails to burn off breakfast. Heard lots of birds, saw tons of fat squirrels (who we threatened to eat), and what was possibly a hawk flying away from us. Also saw one wild, stray bicyclist who came out of nowhere rapidly.
If we had known what Geocaches were, we might have tried it. Apparently, it’s a GPS treasure hunt? I don’t know anyone who goes Geocaching, but I want to in the future.
All and all, the trip was a success. Memories were made and important lessons were learned. Always over pack. Especially blankets. You really do need more blankets. My husband and brother agree. I, personally, learned that I could never make it as a pioneer. After one day, I was ready to take a shower and go back to normal. For years, I’ve had this vision that I’d like to reenact the Oregon Trail…not going to happen, lol. I’ll just read about it in books and enjoy nature whenever I get the chance.