Pine Mountain GA
Our first destination since we became full-timers was going to be to the low country. We had been to Savannah 5 years ago and thoroughly loved it. Jimmie Kay’s childhood friend, Vannessa and her husband Todd moved to Bluffton, in the Savannah area about 2 years ago. One of the purposes of this trip was to give them some time together. Meridian to Savannah is about an eight hour drive, even longer in a motorhome. Since we try to limit our daily driving to 4-5 hours, we chose Pine Mountain as our stop over point. We knew little about it other than Callaway Gardens is there and it is near Warm Springs, home of FDR’s Little White House. We booked several nights so we would have time to explore.
Once we got settled in our site we started to earn about the area and plan our next few days. a good meal always sets the pace for the trip. We looked around and read some online reviews and found Aspen Mountain Grill. Rustic architecture and good food!
Callaway Gardens is a huge complex that offers golf, tennis, horses, beautiful gardens, hiking trails, biking trails and a butterfly conservatory. It would take days to see and do it all, so we tried the abbreviated tour. http://www.callawaygardens.com/things-to-do/attractions
We started at the gardens and walked in on the predatory bird show. It is an outdoor show where they bring several of the predatory birds of the area and show them and allow them to fly over the crowd. As we arrived, they were showing the barred owl. While this is not a good photo, it is probably the last photo taken of this owl.The owl would not return to its post and they ended the show early because of its cantankerous behavior. It was last seen up in a pine tree. When we returned through the area several hours later, one of the keepers was still patrolling the area looking for the bird. OOPS!
From the bird show, we walked about a mile to the butterfly exhibit. There are many of these around the country now, but this one has been at Callaway for many years. It is not the best exhibit we have seen, but it is worth visiting.
From there, we drove over to the Sibley Horticulture Center. It is a gorgeous exhibit of various types of vegetation. It had the largest dwarf banana tree I have ever seen as well as a large rock wall with Mediterranean vegetation growing out of it.
One of the biggest surprises of the trip was to find out that Bette Midler was doing a show at Philips Arena in Atlanta. We had not planned to go to Atlanta since it was about a 90 minute drive. With little deliberation, we both wanted to go. We both had wanted to see her live and let’s be honest, our chances are getting slim! Our seats were not very close, but the show was fabulous. She is a fabulous entertainer and had the audience wrapped. Honestly, if you have a chance to see her, go! You will not regret it!
Guess who happened to be in Atlanta at the same time as Bette? Bro was there from Austin, attending an American Institute of Architects convention. After his sessions and before Bette’s show, he met us at CNN Center for a quick supper and photo op.
Also in the Pine Mountain area is FDR’s Little White House. I really didn’t know much about it when we went, but I learned a lot and it is really fascinating. After FDR was stricken with Polio, he went to the tiny town of Warm Springs GA to bathe in their healing warm water springs. The house, grounds and museum were beautiful and informative. FDR actually died in the Little White House and that history is vividly detailed. He was sitting for a portrait at the time and that unfinished portrait is displayed in the museum.
The Little White House is adjacent to FDR State Park, a 9,000 acre park which is the largest of the Georgia system. Route 190 traverses the park in a general east/west direction and runs along a ridge overlooking the valley floor below. The park encompasses both the ridge and the valley and the road allows for several scenic overlooks. FDR’s favorite is known as Dowdell’s Knob. It sits just off Route 190 but is accessible via a park maintained road. It is the highest point in the county and is 1,395 feet above sea level. FDR would visit this area and picnic frequently. There remains on the grounds a stone fireplace/grill that he had built for entertaining at the site. Also at the site is a statue of FDR sitting on a bench looking out to the valley below.
Next stop, Low Country of SC/GA