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Carol's 70th Birthday

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S: Carol's 70th Birthday

FC: Carol's 70th Birthday

1: July 2010

2: Helen Georgia | We had planned to go tubing on the first day of our trip but unfortunately, it was chilly and raining when we arrived. A few brave but cold teenagers went by but we decided not to try it. Instead, we walked around town, did some shopping, went to a winery and then the model railroad. | Habersham Winery

3: Helen | Charlemagne's Kingdom is a scale model of Germany from the North Sea to the Alps. The detail is amazing!

4: Dahlonega | We drove to Dahlonega where we were spending the night at the Historic Worley B & B. The inn is over 150 years old. Our room was full of old family pictures - very interesting. Breakfast was fruit, french toast and a cheese and sausage casserole.

5: Happy Birthday! | We celebrated my birthday at the Oar Restaurant which is located right on the river. Pretty scenery. The waitress overheard us talking about my birthday and asked my name. I wondered why until she came out with this decorated dessert plate. | Atlanta | World of Coca Cola | Coca Cola Art | Chocolate Rum Cake | 63 varieties of Coke to try!

6: Red Top Mountain State Park | We walked the Homestead Trail along the lake then reached a spur trail which took us down to the lake shore where we found a bench to eat lunch. Enjoyed the peaceful setting. Walked almost 6 miles. Returned to the motel and spent some time at the pool.

7: Cloudland Canyon State Park | We planned on hiking the West Rim Trail - about 5 1/2 miles - but first we went down to see the waterfall - 300 steps! It was quite a climb back up! This was the most strenuous hike of the entire road trip - took over 3 hours but well worth it. | 300 steps!

8: Chattanooga Tennessee | Waterfront Park | We arrived in Chattanooga in time for lunch and found a nice restaurant called '212 Market St'. We had quiche, salad, soup and a turkey wrap. We walked along the river front and later took a shuttle to the Chattanooga Choo-Choo. The old train station is now a hotel. We had an ice cream sundae and then returned to the Aquarium for our tour.

9: Tennessee Aquarium | Chattanooga Choo-Choo

10: Tennessee Aquarium | The Aquarium consists of two large buildings; one traces the course of the Tennessee River down to the ocean; the other is devoted to the oceans. It took us hours to see everything. | Sea horses and Sea dragons | Rays and Skates | Turtles

11: Hermit Crab | Coral Reef

12: Butterfly Garden

14: Southern Belle Riverboat Sunset Dinner Cruise | Tuesday was 'Country' night. A three-man band played guitars and banjos and sang old-time country songs. Dinner was fried chicken, barbequed pork, several salads and dessert. We had a very lively and enjoyable cruise. | Our Captain

15: Tennessee River | The Delta Queen Riverboat is now a hotel. | Aquarium

16: Alabama | DeSoto Falls | DeSoto Lake

17: Little River Canyon Scenic Drive | Little River Falls | Little River Canyon | Little River

18: DeSoto State Park | After the senic drive, we drove to DeSoto State Park and had lunch at the lodge. The food was excellent. Our room is very comfortable - we even have a small porch with rockers overlooking a stream bed. We took a dip in the pool and then had a delicious dinner. | Park lodge and restaurant | Is this a waterfall?

19: Azalea Cascade and the Lost Creek Trails | Unusual sights along the trail | We started our hike on the Lost Creek Trail to see the waterfalls. Passed five falls - all of which were dry. Very disappointing. We continued walking on the Azalea Cascade Trail - no cascade. We found out later that it had been a very dry spring.

20: Huntsville | U.S. Space & Rocket Center

21: We were driving to Mississippi when we saw a sign for the Space Center. We decided to stop and enjoyed the visit very much. Lots of interesting exhibits. | Moon landings

22: Belmont Mississippi | Belmont Hotel | Tishomingo State Park | We arrived in Belmont in the late afternoon and had dinner at the Belmont Restaurant. They served very good country food. Friday night is entertainment night; we heard the Pine Ridge Band playing old time country music and bluegrass. When we walked in, everyone in the restaurant stopped eating and checked us out. I guess we passed since they did serve us dinner. | Swinging Bridge

23: Canoe Trip Down Bear Creek | There were about 20 people on the canoe trip. The float was very peaceful but there were many, many rocks in our path. Naturally, we got hung up on a few of them, but the other canoeists heped us get free. A very enjoyable morning!

24: Outcroppings Trail | After our canoe trip, we had a light lunch and then took a short - 2 miles - hike on the Outcroppings Trail. It was fairly easy but we had to climb over a lot of rocks.

25: Disc Golf | Missed an easy putt! | After our hike, we decided to play disc golf. We were awful! Only played a few holes and then went back to the hotel. We had dinner at the Belmont Restaurant again and our waitress recognized us from the park. She chatted with us as if we were old friends.

26: Natchez Trace Parkway | We decided to drive the Natchez Trace today. We went north to milepost 330 stopping at several overlooks - took pictures and did a little walking. Climbed one hill to get a view of the mountains but the trees were so high that we couldn't see much. | Indian Mound

27: Indian Mounds | The next day we drove south on the Trace heading toward Tupelo. Our first stop was the Bay Springs Lake and Dam overlook. The Visitor's Center wasn't open but we did find a trail that went along the shore. Very pretty lake. | Bay Springs Dam

28: Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo

29: Tupelo | We stopped at this small park and zoo on the way to Arkansas. We saw lots of animals and birds; the bison were far away but we did see a lot of zebras, a few donkeys and even one camel. The goats wanted to eat whatever was outside their pen and the giraffes were hiding in the barn. It was a very hot day!

30: Arkansas | Buffalo River | We drove to Tyler Bend - checked out the exhibits at the Visitor's Center and then walked along the river for a bit. After lunch, we continued on to the Tiger Refuge. We spent the night on the grounds listening to the lions and tigers roar. Our room was just like an African tent lodge - no need to go to Africa.

31: Eureka Springs | The refuge has over 100 large cats and other animals that have been rescued from roadside zoos or owners who abused their animals. Wal-Mart and Tyson donate all the meat. As funds are available, the animals are moved into natural habitats. | Too hot to eat.

32: Eureka Springs | St. Elizabeth's Church

33: Crescent Hotel | We walked around hilly Eureka Springs, saw the sights and did some shopping. We visited St. Elizabeth's Church which we entered through the belfry and then went to the Crescent Hotel for lunch. We ate in Dr. Baker's Lounge and had a good view of the surrounding area.

34: Branson Missouri | This B & B was a real find. The rooms were nicely decorated - we stayed in the Payne Stewart room - the food was outstanding and our hostess, gracious. The best B & B we've stayed at. | Grand staircase | Lobby

35: Our room

36: Branson Belle Dinner Show | The first show we saw was a sunset dinner cruise on Table Rock Lake on the Branson Belle steamboat. Dinner was salad, beef, chicken and dessert. Good but rushed. Our show was a very spirited Broadway Revue. | Table Rock Lake | White River Landing | 700 seats in the theater

37: Yakov's Moscow Circus | Cirque Montage | Both of these show were great - very energetic performers. Steve was part of the pre-show at the Moscow Circus. That's what happens when you're in the first row.

38: Noah: The Musical Backstage Tour | It was a very hot day so we had to find something to do indoors. The tourist center recommended the backstage tour of Noah: the Musical. It was free of charge and so facinating that we got tickets for the evening performance. We were in the upper level and could see everything. The show was fantastic.

39: Branson | Dancing fountains | We drove to downtown Branson to see the sights and to have dinner at Landry's Restaurant. Food was good especially the dessert. We walked around, got rained on and then returned to the B & B. | Titanic Museum

40: Springfield

41: Mizumoto Japanese Garden

42: Osark National Scenic Riverway | After stopping for ice cream, we spoke to a ranger who mentioned the Big Spring. Since it was only 5 miles away, we decided to see it. Nice walk along the river.

43: Kentucky | Mr. Bill's Restaurant | Elk & Bison Prairie | We drove into Kentucky and had lunch at Mr. Bill's Restaurant. Then drove to the 'Land Between the Lakes' area and through the Elk & Bison Prairie. There were supposed to be a lot of animals but we saw only one bison.

44: Grand Avenue Tour Entrance | We took the Grand Avenue Tour which was 4 hours and 4 miles long. It was rated strenuous but there were only two or three sections which were a little difficult.

45: Mammoth Cave National Park | We had lunch half way through the tour at the Snowball Restaurant. The box lunch was surprisingly good. | Snowball Restaurant | Entrance to the Wild Cave Tour

46: Echo Spring River Trail | Echo Spring | Mammoth Cave National Park | After exploring underground yesterday, we hiked some of the above ground trails. In the morning, we hiked the Echo Spring River Trail - about 3 miles long. We saw the Green River Car Ferry and then tried to find our way to the lodge. We made a wrong turn somewhere but eventually found a trail back. | Green River Ferry

47: After lunch, we hiked two trails for another 3 miles. The bluffs trail was all uphill but the river views were nice. We were very tired by the end of the day. We returned to the lodge and relaxed before dinner. | Historic Entrance to Mammoth Cave | River Styx Trail & Green River Bluffs Trails | Underground river

48: Sterns Kentucky | Bartell's Coal Mining Camp | We stayed at an old mining camp in a cabin modeled after an old company house. We had to cross RR tracks and climb up some very steep steps to get to our cabin.

49: Big South Fork Scenic Railway | The scenic railroad went from Sterns, through Bartell's Coal Mining Camp to the Blue Heron mining town. The train followed a creek down into the gorge. | All aboard!

50: Big South Fork Recreation Area | Coal miner's lunch | Singing Rangers

51: Blue Heron Mining Town

52: Tennessee | We drove through the Great Smokies and stopped at several overlooks; then decided to hike the Kephart Prong Trail. The trail followed a creek with several ruins found along the way. Unfortunately, it was extremely buggy. Insect repellent didn't work. We turned back after about one mile.

53: Kephart Prong Trail | North Carolina

54: Cherokee | Bryson City | After our buggy hike, we drove to Cherokee for lunch and then continued to Bryson City to our inn. | Train ride to the Nantahala Gorge

55: Nantahala Gorge | Our last day was spent white water rafting on the Nantahala River.

56: McCormick South Carolina | Great trip but good to be home!

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Carol LaPonte
  • By: Carol L.
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  • Title: Carol's 70th Birthday
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