In her camping debut, Dottie proves her mettle!
We spent a few days in and around Pine Mountain, GA this past week, which if you are not familiar is where Callaway Gardens is located, near the town of Hamilton, all in Harris County. If you are not familiar with Harris County, it abuts Meriwether County. If you are not familiar with either of these counties, Pine Mountain is on the left hand side of the state (Georgia to be precise), not too far from the Alabama line, and halfway between Tennessee and Florida. Enough about you, let’s talk about me.
We camped at FDR State Park, which is one of our perennial favorite campgrounds, and as always had a great time. This is a great campground to chill and enjoy nature, and it is a great “base camp” for activities in the area as well. Water and electric is available at each campsite, if you are so interested.
Hikes are one of our favorite activities in the area, and specifically there are a number of great hikes right from the campground. As mentioned, this was Dottie’s debut to camping, and her first time hiking with the two of us. A yeoman’s job I might add – she did great, and seemed to enjoy her time. Not one to miss an opportunity to renew, she is quick to chill after a hike.
The Pine Mountain Trail traverses the park, and is joined by many other trails and many miles of hiking within the park. You can connect to most of these trails right from the campground, which is great.
Located in Pine Mountain is Callaway Gardens, which comprises a beautiful collection of gardens, walking paths, bike paths, and other activities situated on over 6,500 acres. In the spring the azaleas in bloom make for a most amazing experience – stunning.
Karen used some of her time to bike the trails within Callaway, and I used time to play golf on one of their two golf courses.
Here is a perfect example of how even a blind squirrel can find nuts in the woods. On a blistering pace, I managed to hit within a club length in 3 shots on a par 5 on the back nine and birdied the hole. For the purposes of brevity and in the interest of my own self-respect, I won’t be able to discuss the other 17 holes.
I went paddling a short distance away at Lake Harding, and more specifically I put in from the Blanton Creek campground, a Georgia Power run campground.
For those who are not familiar, this is a terrific campground. Many of the sites are situated on the lake, there is a nice pavilion if you have a group of people (we hosted a rally here years ago called the End of Summer Thang Thang).
There are a couple of quirks to the Blanton Creek campground you should know about. The gates close at 9pm EST, and they really do lock at 9pm. Don’t ask me how I know that. It can be a crash course in fence straddling.
The pavilion is terrific – lots of picnic tables, a splendid view of the lake, overhead lighting and bathroom facilities right near by. Just so you know, there are no electrical outlets there. Did I mention Georgia Power owns this campground? Bueller? Bueller? The other thing about this campground is it is only open from May 15th to Labor Day. Now, anyone who has ever camped in or near Georgia knows that the BEST camping is AFTER Labor Day, or before May 15th. I digress.
Also in the general Pine Mountain area is the town of Warm Springs, probably most well known as the home of FDR’s Little White House – and of course the warm springs he (and others) found so therapeutic. The town is cute, kind of kitschy, and worth a stop to explore.
While in town I was hoping to hit some golf at the local municipal Roosevelt Golf Course, but alas, its’ time has come and gone. You’d need a weed whacker to play here today. No comments about my swing, please.
How about dining? We cooked at our campsite, but we also took advantage of some of the great restaurants in the area. Let’s talk about three or four places that may well fit your culinary repertoire.
Hunter’s Pub (Hamilton). Oh, this is sick. It looks like a dump. Actually, it is a dump. You would barely know it was a restaurant unless someone told you.
But the food is unbelievable. If you looked at the menu you’d be tempted to jump out of a high building. BUT, the steaks are to die for, and as much as I love a good steak (and their steaks are SPECTACULAR), their daily fish special is always a must do. Get here early – the locals know this place and it fills up early. Oh, and their peanut butter pie? Whoa.
Oyster House (Pine Mountain). This is a relatively new restaurant, and let me tell you – fabulous! If it looks like it was once a Huddle House, there is a reason for that. Don’t be fooled. I started out with a half dozen oysters with their Bloody Mary, Vodka, Lime, Sea Salt topping and finished with a low country boil – the food was delicious, and the atmosphere was very cool. Raven and Brittany were a delight and added fun to the dining experience!
153 Main Bistro (Pine Mountain). With full disclosure, we did not eat here. However, this is another new (a year old) place that is right downtown in Pine Mountain, has a very cool vibe, and next time we visit this will clearly be on our short list of restaurants to try out.
Three Lil’ Pigs (Pine Mountain). Did someone say BBQ? While we did not eat here this time around, this is one of my favorite BBQ joints. Pulled pork sandwiches, ribs, you name it – this is a find. And to sweeten the pot, you can wash your car at the adjacent car wash after you eat. How does it get better than that?
On reflection, this was a nice little trip.
If you are looking for a little getaway, the Pine Mountain area is a great destination!