Monday, February 8, 2010

Along the Road in North Georgia: More Adventures, Great and Small...

Rain, rain and more rain. Having moved here less than two months ago from Southern California, I am still enjoying the liquid sunshine, even though Black Betty (my aged Cabrio convertible for those of you who don't know her) is leaking in places she shouldn't.

The rain has interfered with some of our activities, but on Saturday, determined to buy blueberry bushes, we set out underneath swollen skies.Our home is just a short jog off Hwy 52, so we turned east and made for Ellijay, passing the entrance to Amicalola Falls on our way to Johnson Nursery. One turn on to Big Creek Road and we were there, and parked amidst puddles the size of small ponds.

In the office, we met the owners, Mary Jo and Bill Ford...delightful, engaging and informative. Mary Jo recommended Rabbiteyes, Delite and Premier, which we paid for, then collected outside. When I remarked on the occasional snow flake drifting down, Bill said "ssshhhh, don't encourage it!"

With our prizes tucked behind the seat of the truck, we slip-slided through more puddles (after a running start), then drove in to Ellijay. By then, our bellies were growling, and rather than settling for Arby's or Hardee's, we agreed on a gastronomical adventure. Parking on River Street, just off the square, we walked by a place boasting the World's Best Chili Dog and a BBQ joint, then spied a white board across the street touting daily specials, including strawberry cake. Looking at each other, we decided to give it a try.

And, boy oh boy, what a treat! The sign on the door said "Hours: 11ish to 3ish" (my kind of hours!). It was just past 11, and, because it was early, we got our choice of tables, under the 'specials' chalk board on the wall. I chose a cup of the Baked Potato Soup; Randy, an Erie-sized bowl of the Tomato Basil. We both had the ham and swiss, which was lightly toasted, with the swiss melted atop a generous pile of thinly-sliced ham.

I ate only half, to save room for a piece of the buttery strawberry cake, with cream cheese icing and fresh strawberries. The food was so yummy, the atmosphere and help so warm and friendly, we've added the Cantaberry Restaurant to our list of favorite eateries, and will, no doubt, be back.

Tucking away leftover boxes of cake and the rest of my sandwich, we shivered back to the Ranger. Up Hwy 515 we trekked, spying several Log Home dealers, took a spin through the town of Blue Ridge past the historic railroad depot (can't wait to go back to browse the shops when the weather warms!), across to Blairsville, then struck south on Hwy 129.

Not far from the summit at Neels Gap, it started to snow and, by the time we braked to turn in at Mountain Crossings at Walasi-Yi, it was slick enough to make a slide-ways entrance in to the parking lot. We clambered out of the car to the sight of a tiny snowman atop a fence post (which I would've missed had Randy not paused to take a picture.)

I could feel the history at Walasa-Yi, feel the thousands of hikers who've passed through there as they hiked the Appalachian Trail. I've never had a desire to hike it, myself, but now...a need is stirring inside me. I wish I'd picked up a copy of "Just Passin' Through" by Winton Porter, the owner of Mountain Crossings Outfitters, and, when I go back (soon!), I shall. I looked up the meaning of Walasi-Yi and here's what I found: "WALASIYI INN, Vogel State Park. This lodge was named after the legendary great frog that the Cherokees called Walasiyi, which was described as being "as big as a house and would hop across the valleys."

Warm again, and relieved, we left reluctantly, stopping for more pictures of the hiking boots hanging from tree limbs and the overlook, then headed down the other side of the mountain. Close to the bottom, was the entrance to Boggs Creek and, on a last-minute impulse, we turned off the highway and down the one-lane road that rambles alongside the creek, stopping on the way to enjoy the bubbling serenity of water rushing over rock.

The rest of the journey took us to Pappy's and then Turner's Corner, where first the BBQ joint and then, the restaurant overlooking the creek, have shut down. Hopefully, some other adventurous souls will buy them and provide sustenance to the nature crowd, those of us who love afternoon jaunts through the wild.

Back home, we called it a day, ready for more adventures on the morrow...

Pictures courtesy of Randy Jeffers, photographer. From top: Cantaberry Restaurant in Ellijay, GA; Mountain Crossings at Walasi-Yi; Hiking Boots at Walasi-Yi; and Boggs Creek.

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