Georgia Road Trip: Part 1

I’ve been back in the USA over 7 months and COVID has hit the world. I’ve spent many months quarantined in my room or doing an occasional outdoor activity. I haven’t actually caught covid so far but I am still scared to travel (I had one pretty nasty illness in May that my doctor insisted was not COVID). I really need to get out of the house for a week or so. I finally get the courage to book a solo road trip to the nearby state of Georgia. I’ve noticed a couple of friends taking trips up there to do day hikes and it looks like a safe and interesting thing to do.

My first stop is southwestern Georgia at Providence Canyon State Park, a place many refer to as a mini grand canyon. It is a canyon caused by erosion from poor farming practices. Fortunately/unfortunately the end result is a neat little place to visit for the day to view and take a hike.

I am driving in from central Florida and arrive in the evening. I book a hotel in a nearby town that is actually in Alabama. Eufaula, Alabama is a small town that is very low-key and seems safe enough to stay for an evening or two (it is a good thing I booked two evenings, more on that later).

Driving into Alabama from western Georgia

The drive north, mostly highway miles, is where I think I notice a strange noise from my car (my car is quite old but a very reliable model and current on maintenance). I essentially do the equivalent of putting my fingers in my ears and try to ignore it. If I pretend the noise doesn’t exist will it go away on its own? I eventually arrive at my hotel and my car still sounds strange as I pull in the parking lot. “Maybe it is just tired and if I let it rest for the night it will be fine”. I check into my hotel room and rest for the evening. The next morning I am heading to the Providence Canyon. I wake up and start the 30 minute drive to the canyon, still ignoring the noise (I know, totally irresponsible). I arrive as the canyon is opening (since I read warnings that there can be crowds and they limit visitors for the day). It is impossible to ignore the noise anymore. As I park I get weird looks from others in the parking lot. I do an inspection to see what the problem might be. Luckily another visitor in the parking lot is knowledgeable of my issue and points it out right away. I have eroded a break pad and that is what is causing the noise. I am confused because I didn’t think my break pads were that old. This seems like a problem I need to resolve right away. I find a repair place who will take me immediately and drive back 30 minutes to the town I am staying. I need new break pads and rotor. The cost is ridiculously expensive to fix but it isn’t like I can comparison shop at this point. I get the service done and pay the price. I could head back to the canyon but it is already late in the day. I decide to wander around Eufaula instead. Luckily I have one more night scheduled in my hotel here.

I end up on a little paved trail that is mostly empty. This town is on the water so I can see boats on the water from the trail.

After my walk I order a pizza to take back to the hotel and go to bed early to return to the canyon in the morning.

The next morning my brakes are working great again and come in handy when I need to stop to make sure I don’t runover a parade of hogs on the road.

I am back at the canyon, this time for good. I start along the loop trail which slowly descends into the canyon.

I have the choice to explore the inside of the canyons from below or head up the incline to do the 2.5 mile loop trail. Today I decide to do only the 2.5 mile trail because I am out of hiking shape and I have longer hikes ahead of me on this trip.

The area used to be a settlement that had to be abandoned due to the earth collapsing. Left behind are some old cars.

Most of the loop is shaded and like a forest hike but the last part is mostly open but offers great vistas of the canyon.

There is an old church and cemetery on the walk back to the parking lot. I can never resist a peek at an old cemetery.

Overall it is a great visit. My only wish is that I would have spent the time to hike some of the canyons. Perhaps if I didn’t have the car issues I could have split the hikes over two days to make it more manageable.

I drove up to north Georgia afterwards to be closer to Amicalola Falls, the place I will start my adventure for the next couple days.

The Limelight Inn in Dahlonega, Georgia is a beautiful place to spend the night.

I enjoy my lovely porch view of the fall for a little bit then head into the town of Dahlonega for dinner. I find a nice little outdoor restaurant to enjoy dinner in this cute college town.

Gyro at Capers on the Square

After dinner I head back to my Inn and enjoy the sunset from my porch since it is COVID times and most places appear to close early. It seems like a cute town to do some shopping in, maybe during another visit.

Tomorrow I head out on a 5 mile hike to a lodge I will be staying for two nights. More on that later.

Narrows River Hike – Zion

Last fall my aunt was very sick in Las Vegas. Another aunt and I were out to visit to help take care of things while she was being treated. Times got very stressful so my aunt suggested I disappear for a couple days and hike the Narrows River at Zion National Park.

So I decided to get some water shoes, borrow my aunts hiking stuff and head out there for an overnight.

The drive to Hurricane Utah wasn’t too bad except it was boring and you have to watch your speed since you frequently pass by small town speed traps along the way.

I was happy to settle down at my sleepy motel.

I started early the next day to give myself time to figure things out. Most importantly I needed a map and to check what the flash flood forecast looks like for the day.

What you are essentially doing is hiking in a river in a canyon. The river can be shallow or deep in many places. I have been told the water can even be over your head in some places so you are essentially swimming.

Lower risk today so all good

I must have picked the perfect day to visit. Little threat of rain and the river level was low. In fact, the worst I had was up to my waist.

Be sure to not bring anything you don’t want destroyed by water and/or have dry bags.

Once you take the long shuttle ride there is about a mile hike to the river.

Jump right in, the water is fine.

The hike can be done in a day (up and back) or multiple days with camping (permit required). I had a guide to how far I could go before I should turn back but I ended up just turning back based on time. I expected to drive back to Las Vegas that evening so I hiked two hours up and two hours back. Not quite sure how far I ended up.

It was amazing experience. The weather was perfect, the river was perfect. I am so glad I got to sneak off to do the hike. If the stars align for you when you are in Zion then do it!

Out West 2017! Arizona

Our day in Arizona is a long one. We started early from the grand canyon to head north to Page, Arizona. Today we were going to see some really cool natural wonders.
First up is Upper Antelope Canyon, a slot canyon you can walk through.
We meet in the tour office and they take us in a back of a pickup truck a few miles away to the canyon.
These canyons are formed when water rushes through them time and time again. Luckily we are in the dry season so there is no reason to fear this visit.
After we finished our antelope tour we thought we would stop for some authentic Mexican food.  It was pretty underwhelming but at least we got in a full meal and dessert before moving on.
Next on the agenda is the Horseshoe Bend. You’ve probably seen it in travel articles and instagram. It really is that pretty in person.
Next on the agenda was supposed to be Monument Valley on the way to Moab. Unfortunately since it was late fall we lost our sun and lost our opportunity to see it.
I loved my trip out west so much that I am sure I will be back on that side of the country some day in the future. No reproductions of Forrest Gump today…..