Saturday, May 01, 2010

Tall as a Georgia Pine

When I was just out of grade school I went through a period during which I was fascinated with maps and geography, especially of the United States, and mostly of the Appalachian region, and more than anything else of the mountains of Georgia.

In those days I'd spent very little time in anything close to high country, so a chance to see anything that resembled a mountain was an exciting event. And I had noticed a place not far from Columbus Georgia on one of my maps that showed mountains. If you're not familiar with the geography of Georgia, the north is where the mountains are; one was not supposed to see any mountains in the southwestern part of the state. However, after some research (in books--there was Internet in them thar days) I determined that, indeed, there was a small range of mountains on the Georgia/Alabama border far from where one would suppose to find any such terrain.

So after showing the location to my parents they decided a trip to that part of Georgia was in order.

My dad was born, raised, and lived almost all of his life in Georgia. He loved the state. And he had what is to me now a very strange habit of wanderlust when it came to our home state. He would be sitting at home and suddenly say, "Let's go for a ride." Now, you never knew quite what he meant when he said "ride". It might mean a trip of twenty miles or so. But sometimes it meant a trip of several days. You never knew until he might suggest packing a bag.His favorite destinations were basically anywhere in Georgia that he'd never seen, or had seen only briefly or not for a long time. Georgia being the largest state in the eastern USA, there is a lot of territory to explore.

Thus, my pointing out what looked like a mountain in a place in Georgia where there ought not be a mountain...that was a good reason to go look. On this trip my mom joined and we headed off in the general direction indicated on the map. At that time we lived in Macon so we had to drive west and south to get where we were going...not far from the Alabama border and a bit north of Columbus Georgia. We stopped a couple of times to ask for directions and soon enough we were on a winding country road that indeed took us up some impressive slopes to a ridge that was, to our flatland sensibilities, a mountain range.

The road eventually took us to the highest point in that weird little range of mountains. It's called Dowdell's Knob and on its summit is a barbecue pit and fireplace built by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This little mountain was near his Georgia stomping grounds where he often went to take the waters at the thermal springs in Warm Springs. The view from that spot is quite beautiful.

I wanted to visit that little mountain again when we were heading back to North Carolina from Florida, but a cold front had come down and it was raining heavily. Any trip up there would have been in a downpour so we decided to pass up the opportunity and continue our journey home. But I hope my path takes me down that way again. I'd like to visit the little mountain range again and think about that first trip I took there with my parents.

Picnic spot in FDR State Park where we stopped to have lunch. Surrounded by big pines.
A small stream near the picnic pavilion.

One of the CCC-built cabins in FDR State Park.

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