When I titled my last article “42”, I had no idea that 6042 would be the starting odometer reading on my car as we rolled out of the driveway on our way to the mountains of north Georgia. Four days and 1149 miles later, we made it back home.
The mountains of north Georgia have a lot of memories. We hiked the southern part of the Appalachian Trail multiple times as scouts while growing up. In the 80’s, my dad got the bug to build a cabin outside of Blairsville. Back in the 90’s, my sister-in-law Patricia passed away and Russell spread her ashes a bit of a hike up the Trail from Hog Pen Gap. My mom expressed a wish to have her ashes spread in the same place, so last summer, Russell took them up there. Given that it was the height of the COVID surge, neither Carolyn nor I felt comfortable going up with Russell.
Both Carolyn and I have been fully vaccinated for over a month, so we figured that it was time to enjoy a road trip. My brother Russell has an RV lot between Helen and Blairsville, so we loaded up the car and hit the road. The only extra preparation for the trip involved loading a heavy duty extension cord, a TT-30 (“travel trailer 30 amp) extension cord and a TT-30 adapter for my car’s charging cable into the frunk (front trunk).
Our first day’s journey took us to Macon, where we stayed with my cousin Suzanne and her husband Bob. It was fun to have a few hours to relax and chat.
Friday morning, we headed out to my brother’s place in the mountains. As a lawyer, he has discovered that Zoom appearances in court don’t necessarily require that you be anywhere near the courthouse. We plugged into the TT-30 socket next to his RV and went with him and his wife to a local BBQ place.
After lunch, we headed for Neal’s Gap. After hiking up the mountain to see where my brother had spread my mom’s ashes, we visited the cabin my dad built, including the trout pond he had constructed. The trout pond was well known to the locals and they would routinely fish it out while dad was back home in Florida.
We went back to the RV, enjoyed some time on his new deck, and headed to Helen for a walk around town and dinner before turning in for the night. Carolyn and I stayed in a small motel and spent a bit of the evening enjoying the fire pit.
We got out of the mountains Saturday morning before the bad weather rolled in and made it to Buford.
Buford is a small town that has become part of the Greater Atlanta metro area as Gwinnett County has grown to over a million residents.
We charged up there, visited the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center, went to downtown Buford for lunch at the Main Street Deli, and then went to the Mall of Georgia, where we walked end to end, checking out the stores on both floors. The place was packed, with everyone wearing masks.
We walked over to the gas station next to the hotel and had an amazing chicken sandwich at the locally owned restaurant, Feast 26. It was one of the best, if not THE best chicken sandwich I’ve ever eaten. After a big day, we had no problem sleeping that night.
We drove home from Buford on Sunday. The car’s nav system gave us instructions, including where we needed to stop to charge.
There are several take-aways from this trip:
We really need to visit Helen and the surrounding area more than once every 20 years.
More generally, we need to take more weekend getaways.
Eating at local restaurants almost ALWAYS beats eating chain food.
Being vaccinated against COVID makes it a LOT more comfortable to get out and about. Interestingly, folks in Georgia are significantly more likely to be wearing masks than folks around here.
Working from home doesn’t necessarily limit where “home” is. I had my notebook with me, so I could have connected to my office, if necessary. If you live in an RV, the view out your windows may change from time to time.
If you want to make long trips without stopping to eat or hit the rest rooms, EVs are not for you. Get a diesel with a long range tank. Those of us who aren’t in a hurry will do just fine in an EV. As a general rule, we needed food and bathroom breaks more often than the car needed recharging. We typically stopped for a break every two to three hours. We would plug in if those stops happened to have charging stations. Charging times typically ranged between 20 and 30 minutes, which gave us a chance to stretch our legs and grab a bite to eat.
EVs are viable options for most folks who travel long distances on the Interstate system. This is especially true driving a Tesla, with the Tesla Supercharger network offering fast charging every 100 miles or so. We had no significant issues charging the car. A couple of the stations had balky chargers, which was easily cured by changing spots. We didn’t have to wait to plug in anywhere, although admittedly we weren’t traveling on a holiday weekend. The fast charging networks for other makes are rapidly growing, eg. the Electrify America network, so long distance driving in other makes is becoming easier by the day.
Fast charging options are less common in rural areas. We made sure we had enough of a charge leaving Bufford on Friday to make sure we could get to my brother’s place and back without having to charge. Likewise, when the car decided to route us the back way through north Florida, it directed us to stop and charge in Lake City so we’d have plenty of range to come down the west coast to New Port Richey without needing to charge again. (Crystal River has a Supercharger that will open when the WaWa opens there in the near future.)
Carolyn and I are working on some ideas for future road trips. For the time being, we’ll likely concentrate on trips we can do by car over a three or four day long weekend. That pretty much covers all of Florida and a good part of the of the southeast US.
So let us know what your favorite destinations are that we can check out on future trips.
Rob Marlowe, Mayor