Stone Mountain Park

It wasn't a "chill day" yesterday, but it felt like one. We started off with a trip to the grocery store. It was notable because we are in Kroger country now, and our own grocery store back home is owned by Kroger (although it goes by a different name). It was kind of nice to walk into a store and have it look at least a little like the one back home. From there, we put away the groceries, had some lunch, took naps, and then went on a little sight-seeing expedition around Stone Mountain Park.

This place was a bit of a surprise upon arrival. We found it on our Good Sam camping app. If you're unfamiliar with Good Sam, it's a network of campgrounds (and other services). We pay a yearly membership to join (although we've now opted for the "lifetime" option), and then we get a 10% discount at member campgrounds...and there are many. Their app works pretty well too. So, I found this place, and we had reservations. We were kind of surprised when we arrived and had to pay $15 just to get through the gate. The campground itself provided us with a pass so that we could go in and out. Nevertheless, the gate fee was unusual...and kind of annoying, if you want the truth. We thought possibly we were in a state park, but this place turns out to be a privately owned theme park.

We're not really complaining. It's lovely here. This was the view from our campsite as the sun was setting on our first day here.

Smitty has been out for several walks. Although we call these "walks," they're really "stands." Only on this particular day, we were on a "sit."

Sometimes he even "sits" facing in the other direction. If you were a lady cat, don't you think your heart would just go pitty-pat looking at this dapper gentleman?

But to get back to the park, it is a major Atlanta-area tourist attraction. Stone Mountain is a massive, bowl-shaped granite formation that formed beneath the Earth's surface some 300 million years ago (around the same time the Appalachians were formed), eventually becoming exposed through a combination of weathering and the passage of centuries.

Toward the bottom of the image below was one of the attractions...a sort of snow slide, and they were in the process of making artificial snow while we visited.

What we really came here to see was the park's namesake and focal point. This massive dome of granite 1,683 feet tall, rises some 825 feet above the surrounding region. Its lower slopes are forested with loblolly pines and Georgia oaks, but the summit is bare, pocked with depressions that give it the look of a lunar landscape.

Carved into the sheer north face is an enormous bas-relief sculpture of three major Civil War figures...Confederate president Jefferson Davis, General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, and General Robert E. Lee. It's rather an amazing feat of engineering. It's the size of a city block, but still looks small compared to the mountain's massive bulk. It was begun by Gutzon Borglum who later went on to complete the carving at Mount Rushmore. It took 57 years to finish, and that included a 36-year-hiatus.

The work behind this sculpture involved the labors of quarrymen who had to stand on open, wind-whipped scaffolding 33 stories above the ground. Roy Faulkner, the chief carver who finally brought the sculpture to completion, never had a formal art lesson, but displayed a mastery of the thermo-jet torch, which enabled carvers to exact fine details while still blasting away huge amounts of rock. It is the largest bas-relief sculpture in the world.

This formation reminded us a little of the Canadian shield. Even the flat areas around the bottom of the mountain were huge slabs of rock. There was even a small out-cropping in the parking lot.

Okay, so that happened.

There were all sorts of rides and lots of attractions, mainly for children. Our shadow selves were kind of intrigued by the dinosaur footprints that led to the Dinotorium. (Don't ask me.)

We were more interested in seeing other areas of the park, and so we dragged our shadow selves back to the truck and drove on to this covered bridge. We parked the truck at the parking lot and then walked along the road to see it.

It is truly lovely here. This is a view of Stone Mountain Lake. It's the same lake we see from our campsite, but from the opposite shore. There is no swimming here...we don't know why. Alligators? Someone needs to tell the ducks.

Finally, we came to the covered bridge.

Here's some information about it.

As it turns out, it's a bridge to nowhere. We walked through to find a fenced off parking lot on the other side. There is also a nice hiking trail that runs around the lake shore.

Covered bridges are so interesting. This next image was taken holding the camera through the slats so you could see the pegs holding it together from the outside.

Inside, they looked like this.

From the other side it looked like this.

From there, we could see the paddle wheeler across the lake. This was available for rides, but most everything was shut down for this day. We thought we might ride a gondola to the top of Stone Mountain, but it was shut down as well. That was fine because they wanted to extort us for $12 each to ride it. We tend to avoid those steep prices out of protest.

As we walked back to the truck, we could hear a disembodied voice calling to a cat, "Here, kitty, kitty, kitty...Me-ow!" We yelled to the voice, asking if he'd lost his kitty. He yelled back that there was a colony of feral cats living there and he was just out giving them food and water. We met up with him back at the parking lot. It was hard to see the cats through the brambles, but I caught a few of them with my camera. There were perhaps a dozen.

And what a lovely thing to do, taking care of these orphans. We got into a political discussion with him, which started with a question about how the cats ended up there. "Were they dumped here?" And even though we agreed with him about certain politicians, he had some odd ideas about some historical events, bringing them forward to today's world. After a time, we found ourselves plotting our escape. We moved closer and closer to the truck...open the door...put one foot on the door frame..."Nice talking to you!" In and off. Geez. Probably a nice man, but we weren't going to solve all the world's problems standing there in the cold.

So we drove on to the next parking lot and found another grist mill.

It was peaceful there. I was motivated to take a video so you could see the wheel turning. If you can't see the video, then click right here.

Here's some information about it.

Although the grist mill wheel is turning, it isn't actually operational. The door was locked, and so we couldn't go inside, but we walked around the platform that surrounded it. Here's how it looks from the other side.

There is a flume, apparently built after the mill was relocated here. We weren't clear if the intent was to bring it to operation, but it seems it could be. The flume extended off quite a distance in the opposite direction.

We walked on a short distance and located this structure, which Mike believes was a still for making moonshine at one time. The upper portion is made of copper.

We wanted to try to get back and get another view of the whole of Stone Mountain, and we ended up going to a Marriott Conference Center nearby to get far enough away. You can read more about the mountain at its Wikipedia entry right here. This picture was taken from a patio at the rear of the conference center.

From there, we could look across the lake and see our campsite. It's a little hard to see the RV in the picture below, so I've marked where it is with a red arrow.

Walking back through the conference center to the truck, I noticed the carpet on the floor. It looked like feathering on a quilt to me. Heck, I'd quilt that!

So that was our day. We headed back to the campground and got Smitty out for another walk.

Today we're moving along to Magnolia Springs State Park. Originally, we'd wanted to go north and see a waterfall trail in the northern part of the state. There was quite a bit of snowfall there from a recent storm, and all the areas we would be traveling were above 1,000 feet. We were a little nervous about getting into snow up there, and so we decided to go east from here instead. We're on our way to Savannah eventually, but we'll make a couple of stops in between. Our next stop is the state park. As I always say, it's anybody's guess whether we'll be able to get online from there, and so if I'm gone for a few days, you'll know why.

9 comments from clever and witty friends:

DeeDee said...

I just love all the pictures you take. They are beautiful. And yes, Smitty is incredibly handsome. I often share your blog with my husband, and he agrees. Of course, we may be biased because we are cat people. We have three of our own and think that there's nothing in the world like a handsome or beautiful cat.

Anne Kirby said...

If I was a lady cat I would date Smitty!!! I like his handsome white chest and sense of humor. And his love of the outdoors. hahahaha cracking myself up. He is a handsome feller tho.

QuiltShopGal said...

Looks like a beautiful camping area. You and Mike made a great escape. Too funny. Have fun as your amazing adventure continues and you get to explore Georgia on this leg of your trip.


Sandra W said...

You mention Jefferson Davis. If ypu are ever near Biloxy you might consider visiting his "presidential library." It's pretty impressive which seems to indicate there is still support for that political trend. There are applications there to join Daughters of the Confederate and when we went you could buy the flag. The military exhibits are straightforward and not biased but demonstrate how brutal things were. It's doable from anywhere near New Orleans.
I'm very geographically challenged so this may be thousands of miles from your planned travels. If so, just ignore.

WoolenSails said...

That looks like a beautiful place to camp, but a fee for the gate, makes no sense to me if you are camping?
Even with camping, they seem to be jacking up prices and adding on costs, some places it is as much as a hotel. Is the lake a reservoir? It is amazing to see the bridges and mills in the southern areas, they are in much better shape than ours, love places with history and hiking.


Brown Family said...

Stone Mountain has really commercialized since we were there! Granted that was 20 years ago, or more. We did take the Gondola but it could not have cost that much or we would not have! We did have the option of walking up the back said, the less steep side, and we did that several times! I can not remember if we had the kids or my parents with us! I do not remember a gate fee, but I was not driving, so what do I remember!

piecefulwendy said...

I've never been to Stone Mountain, so I found this post interesting. The size of it is amazing. Your chat with the fellow had me smiling; you were probably the first people to stop and chat with him in, well, a little while? Haha. Bless his heart for caring for those kitties though. Looking forward to your next stop!

Susan said...

That carpet looks like an appliqued quilt and it has one of your favorite fabrics-stripes.

quiltzyx said...

More beautiful photos! The first one is especially moody, isn't it? Wow - you got to see dinosaur tracks! I wonder who left the green paint out that it stepped in?
The feral cats do look healthy, glad someone is looking out for them. of course, they aren't nearly as handsome as Smitty.