Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Summer 2017 Road Trip ~ Day 1: Lake County FL to Columbus, GA

I had a good night of sleep, thankfully!  I got up with Greg, packed hi lunch and prepped his breakfast as usual, saw him off to work, and then started packing my stuff since I hadn't done that yet :)

This is just MY stuff.  Well yes, I'm only leaving for 10 days, why do you ask?  This is why I prefer car travel to plane travel.
That took me pretty much until 8:45 or so, and then I loaded the SUV while Daughter and Youngest Son were chatting (he got up to see us off).  I cleaned the door contacts to minimize the constant beeping produced by the electrical problem that's 100 times worse when it's rained, but the SUV beeped pretty constantly all the way through Gainesville, mostly because it rained quite a bit on our way out of Florida.

Before we left, though, we topped up the SUV gas tank and then stopped by Walgreens to buy a selfie stick to use with my daughter's iPhone. We're glad we did as she took some good pictures today.

She and I took turns driving. We did hit a couple of spots of very slow traffic on I-75 in Florida, but nothing really bad. She drove through a pretty bad rain storm while we were still in Florida and I felt very uncomfortable (not that she was being unsafe but she couldn't really see anything) so I asked her to take the next exit so we could switch seats, but the storm seemed to stop right at the same time.

We did make several pit stops, which was nice and broke the monotony of driving on an interstate.

A lot of our pictures are crappy because they were taken through the SUV windows!

We stopped at the Georgia border to visit their welcome visitor and pick up some brochures about Columbus since we weren't really sure of what to visit when we got here. It's a very military town since Fort Benning is right at its door, but she's not very interested in military stuff. Thankfully, the visitor center had a booklet entitled "51 reasons to visit Columbus" and indeed, it sounds like a very cool city that we want to come back to on a weekend. It's a 5-hour drive from our house, which isn't too bad.

While she drove, I flipped through the brochure and asked her if she'd be interested in visiting Providence Canyon State Park, about 30 miles south of Columbus, and she was. So we left the interstate and took back roads to get to the state park. Georgia is very green!  This part of Georgia was very quiet, the traffic was extremely light, which was nice. And it's also sparsely populated and very pretty.

So green! Back then, Florida was still all brown because of the drought.

One of the smaller roads we took. It was lovely. I like driving on those so much more than on the interstate...
We passed a couple of towns with tornado damage, not sure when it took place. The pictures my daughter took didn't turn out, though. It was sad to see the destruction.  We also saw some architecture that was different from what we typically see in Central Florida.

One of our favorite stops was a gas station that had a very picturesque small store attached. Of course, I forgot to take a picture of said store, and the picture that I took of the inside doesn't pay it justice. Anyhoo, they sold Georgia pecans, and other Georgia delicacies, including some Georgia  Moonshine Jelly that I should have bought for Greg but didn't.

I don't know how I managed to take the one picture that didn't show anything picturesque about that particular store,  Darn it.
We got to the state park at about 3:30 p.m. and paid our $5 entrance fee. It was hot but not as humid as Florida.

We started walking towards the trail to go down into the canyon "gorge" and had started going down it when my daughter realized that she had forgotten to change from flip-flops to her sneakers!  So we had to walk back to the SUV.  She was already tired and hot by the time we did this (she's out of shape, like her mother) but the trail to go down, while steep, was shaded so it wasn't bad.

From the parking lot to the bathrooms... and beyond was the trail down to the gorge's floor.

We had just started on the trail when I looked down and noticed that my daughter was wearing flip flops!  So we had to trek back to the SUV.  Oh no, this didn't bode too well for the rest of the trip!

Ah, that's better :)

The trail was so steep (you can't really tell by the picture) that they had embedded plastic mesh in the ground to prevent erosion and people from slipping, I guess.  Luckily, it hadn't rained on that day.

It was a pretty trail.

Elevation!  We Floridians usually love seeing any kind of hill or mountain :)

Okie dokie...
The bottom of the "gorge" was interesting, as the soil here is mostly clay underneath the layer of soil and the rains had leached a lot of clay at the bottom of the gorge. Also some water was running at the bottom but only about 1/4 to 1/2 inch and you had to walk through the water to walk up to the canyons. There are 5 canyons to view. The vegetation was dense and there were small "corridors" to take to get there, which made it unusual and very pleasant.

The bottom of the gorge

Yep, we had to follow those small corridors through the "jungle" to get closer to the canyons.
It was actually pretty cool.

One of the canyons, The state park's website said that they were created by "poor family practices", whatever that means.
We never did find out what the deal was. I suppose this was a quarry at some point.
I think I might have seen some poison ivy at some point, Live & Learn, thanks for the mnemonic, which I remembered and told my daughter about.

Of course, people are idiots and had to ruin everything.  Here, some idiot fan of Florida State University had to leave "his/her mark".  They're the sworn enemies of the University of Florida's fans (where my daughter will be going to college in the Fall) so she asked me to take this picture and email it to her so she could taunt her friend who was accepted at FSU :)
This would have been a great location for the FFA Land Judging Team to come practice their skills back when she was part
of it!

These flowers were clinging to the side of one of the canyon.  Nature always amazes me.

Another picture where the layers of soil are pretty evident.

These tourists from Italy were more considerate than the FSU fan(s)!  We couldn't decide whether they made their own modeling clay with the clay from the canyon floor, or if they brought it along for this specific purpose. I suppose they made their own. How ingenious. They didn't ruin anything and it was pretty and unexpected!

This tree had all red leaves.  I pretended I was there in the Fall :)

Now I think I know why there were dangers signs on the trail.  This tree look like it could topple off the side of the canyon with a strong breeze.
We took some good pictures!  We did come across other tourists, but it was just a party here and there, it wasn't crowded. After that, we hiked back up which was a little more challenging but good for our glutes!

All in all we walked for about 43 minutes and only 1.86 miles but it was quality miles, lol.

It was one of the only times that I actually had cell phone reception while
hiking so I could use the RunMeter app to track our hike.

Then we drove to Columbus.  We drove through part of Fort Benning and my daughter snapped a couple of pictures for me as I was driving.

We saw these tanks parked outside warehouses so I asked my daughter to snap a picture of them for Youngest Son.

Entrance to Fort Benning. It looked very impressive. We were driving away from it on a parallel road so we didn't get the
full effect.
We checked in at our hotel, a Country Inns & Suites, at about 6 p.m.

Our room is very comfortable and well-appointed.  We took a quick shower and went to dinner at Red Lobster, just a mile and a half down the road.

I did extremely well with my food intake today, I'm proud of myself. I had breakfast before leaving the house (a whole wheat tortilla with some turkey and 3/4 cup of blueberries) and had brought along a box of wheat crackers from Aldi and a bag of clementines from Save A Lot. My daughter snacked on some Pringles that I had brought for her but was careful with her intake and I had some wheat crackers for snack in the morning.  Then for lunch we stopped at Subway and I got a 6" Veggie Delight (and urged them to pack on the veggies, they were being very stingy and I wasn't using meats or any cheese so I was annoyed!) and had a couple of clementines. We drank water that we had brought from home (I bought a 24-case of water bottles at Aldi) and ate in the car.

I'd rather have this than what I had for dinner. In fact, I had the very same Veggie Delight sub all but one day on our trip.
In the afternoon, I bought a bottle of 2% milk from the gas station where we had stopped to use the bathroom (and some beef jerky for my daughter) and I had most of that with more wheat crackers.

Then for dinner at Red Lobster, I had oven broiled flounder and broccoli and splurged on buying an extra side of tomato mozzarella capaccio salad.  We drank water. My daughter had a chicken Caesar Salad and two biscuits, I didn't have any biscuits. I took screenshots of the nutritional value from the Red Lobster website and entered it into My Fitness Pal when we got back to the hotel.  I came within 30 calories of my goal, which was excellent, if I may say so. Also I had bought multivitamins at CVS earlier this week because I was worried that I wasn't getting my 100% of iron by just eating the foods that I eat so now I'm covered with that.

Well, this doesn't make me want to be on a diet, to be quite honest!  It was very bland and disappointing, too.
After dinner, we went to Barnes & Noble next door, which was a treat for us as we love bookstores but the one closest to our house, still a good 30 minutes away) closed in the last couple of years :(  So we did some browsing. I bought a laminated resource on French grammar for Youngest Son which seemed to summarize the main points while also explaining in English was a subject, verb etc is since American schools seemed to have discontinued teaching grammar altogether, grrr.  I hope he finds it helpful.

My daughter was looking for the test prep section and I was looking for the nature section... they ended up being right next to one another! I took pictures of a couple of books that I wanted to add to my library. I didn't need them right away and I can use Reward points on Amazon to get them for free. Sorry, Barnes and Noble!
Back at the hotel I called Greg to chat a bit, and then we got busy with our laptops. I made a hotel reservation for our night in Cherokee, NC on Sunday night, and highlighted our itinerary on the road atlas that we borrowed from Greg since we will be visiting Ruby Falls near Chattanooga before reaching our next hotel, but we want to take back roads to get there, which will add an hour of driving to our day but also should be more interesting than the interstate.

It's now past 11:30 p.m. so I need to get to sleep. We had a great first day!


  1. Beautiful scenery. Sounds like you have had a great 1st day of vacation. You certainly did a lot! I would have driven straight to the hotel and stayed there! LOL! I'm no fun to go on vacations with!

    1. Well, you do get out of your house more than I do during the year (what with all your doctor appointments and that pesky job of yours!) so I was happy to do something else than just sit on my futon :)

  2. Oops, I think I sent a truly anonymous comment, without identifying myself as bless in the body of the comment!

    1. That's OK, Bless, I knew it was you :)

  3. Oh thanks- I love reading about people's travels. I also read your other b log but no time to comment now. I forgot to shower last night and am leaving at 7 AM this morning so need to get ready. Instead of being frugal, I am making more money ha. My supervisor gave me 3 new clients yesterday- I have met them before so it won't be too difficult to work with them now. I do have to visit them before the end of the month though. I'll read your entries again!

    1. But more money is good, right? And from your comments I'm quite sure that you are indeed being frugal anyway so it's doubly good :) I hope your workload won't be too heavy, though. I know you love your job but you don't want to run yourself ragged either.

  4. Gorgeous photos of the canyon walls. Makes me want to visit. Love the pictures of your hotel accommodations. I always take photos of where I stay, and what I eat. It was also nice to do a little browsing in the book store before heading back to the hotel. I am loving this trip.

    1. Oh thank you. It was a pretty good first day! We loved that we were able to see something so different right off the bat. That hotel was a Country Inns & Suites and the best of that chain (I think we stayed at 3 or 4 different hotels from that same chain). The room was huge and fantastic, and the breakfast spoiled me for the other hotels, as far as the healthy choices were concerned. My daughter and I talked about going back to Columbus, GA for a weekend since it's "only" a 5-hour drive from our house and we really didn't get to do anything there. That "51 things to do in Columbus" brochure had quite a few things that we wanted to try out. Maybe if I had done research on it before we left, we would have stayed an extra day.

  5. I love your travelogue and look forward to catch up with the rest of it in the coming days. I really like how you document the stuff you did, the food you ate, and where you stayed.

    Dang, now I want to go on a road trip...

    1. You should go visit your little grand-daughter!


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