The young lady in the form-fitted red dress calls it a “rain event.” She looks as if she is in high school, but she is the weather person for a local television station so I'm sure she knows what she is talking about. Just the same, calling the constant rain we've had for several days now a rain event doesn't require a college degree. It rained daily while we were up in Asheville at Lake Powhatan, and now it is raining constantly with only occasional breaks in the persistent drizzle. Constant rain really does dampen the camping spirit, so to speak, and we've seen many tent campers pack in early and head home. We left Lake Powhatan early Friday morning while it was semi-dry and got to pack away the mats and awnings while they were also semi-dry. We barely got out of the mountains before it came down again in earnest.
We opted to take a scenic drive through the edge of the mountains back to Georgia rather than heading back down US 25 to Greenville, a ride I thought was bland and uninteresting, even if trouble free. We picked up NC 280 just south of Asheville and cruised into pretty Brevard, a few miles down the road. There we picked up the “waterfall trail,” US 64 and headed to Cashiers, a road we last drove in 1980. The rain faded away so it was an overcast, chilly day, perfect for towing a trailer.
Back then, U.S. 64 was a narrow, twisty road that really suited the turbo Mustang Cobra I owned at the time. The McLaren orange sports sedan had a Michelin handling package and made mincemeat of the mountainous highway. It was an absolute dream to drive through the mountains. The countryside back then was still Appalachia, with roadside vegetable stands and people sitting on their porches watching traffic. It looked like it had in my youth.
The highway hasn't changed at all in thirty-three years. In fact, most parts don't appear to have had any maintenance since the last time we drove it. Beautiful drive, but definitely not the right road to tow a camper! It was a scenic, if somewhat busy ride, with many anxious moments watching high-dollar SUV's crossing the double yellow line while headed toward us.
What has changed, though, is the land scape. With sterile man-made waterfalls and gated communities dotting many corners along the roadside to Cashiers and Highlands, it looks like the money has found where to go for the summer. Asheville looks practically poverty stricken by comparison. There are more Audi's, Mercedes Benz and Lexus here this time of year than in Palm Beach or Naples. The highway traffic jams are made up of Porsches, BMW's, and Jaguars, many of which have Florida license plates. Appalachia has a new face, at least in the far southwest corner of North Carolina, and it doesn't spit tobacco anymore.
By the time we drop out of the mountains into Dillard, Georgia, the rains start again and it appears we are back in reality as normal traffic seems to be made up of Toyotas, Chevies, vans and pickup trucks. The ride down to Richard Russell State Park near Elberton is an easy, uneventful, if wet, drive.
Since rain is forecast for the next five days or so, we've decided to stay at Richard Russell State Park in Georgia instead of heading up the road a short distance to Lake Hartwell and Watsadler Campground, one of our favorites, as we first planned. Since we can't go outside to play, we'll stay inside and take advantage of the basic cable television service and the free Wi-Fi, neither of which are available at Watsadler.
Hopefully, the “rain event” will pass by before we all get cabin fever.
NEXT: Alone, At Last, at Richard Russell State Park, at: