We broke the drive into two days so we could relax and enjoy driving back roads and minimizing travel on busy I 75. As we drove over the skybridge crossing Tampa Bay we saw a flock of flying sails. There must of been over twenty kite boarders taking advantage of the great breezes blowing that morning! Pulling over to an area on the causeway beside the bridge we paused to take pictures—it was an impressive sight!
Driving on the Suncoast Parkway north of Tampa we encountered a Trump for President motorcycle motorcade. About 300-400 Harley-Davidsons in various forms of livery got on the road at Brooksville and clogged the lanes for miles, occasionally shifting from right to left lanes and making driving difficult. Thankfully they left us at the end of the highway near Homosassa Springs and we went right while they went left.
As we had Mia, our Benji Terrier with us we had to locate dog friendly restaurants to have our meals. Again the “Bring Fido
“ app proved to be very helpful in locating dog friendly restaurants and hotels. After locating the "Just a Cupcake Cafe and Bakery"
specializing in cupcakes and sandwiches in Dunellon, we continued north to Valdosta, Georgia and a stay at one of our favorite dog-friendly hotels-the Wyngate by Windham
. We dined that evening on the sidewalk outside at Steel Magnolias
, a southern style restaurant and another favorite of ours in downtown Valdosta.
The next morning we headed up I 75 for the mountains. The roadsides were lined in fields of white-it wasn’t snow it was the cotton crop ready for harvesting!
Leaving the interstate for good we traveled more back roads up the center of the state and having lunch outside of Athens in Watkinsville at a nice restaurant called “Chops and Hops’
before arriving in Franklin later in the afternoon.
We settled into our cozy little cabin and then food shopped before calling it a day.
The next two days were spent exploring the mountains. Winding dirt roads lead us to spectacular views. Fall had arrived in full glory atop the 5360 ft peak known as “Wayah Bald
”. A clear day with blue skies and we were able to see for miles across the Appalachians!
Later that afternoon I had wanted to take pictures of the sun setting over the mountains. Sadly trees blocked our views but we did discover a family of donkeys including a cute young colt!
After a cool evening fog had arrived the next morning and cloaked the mountains. We headed east and drove through the Cullasaja Gorge
on US 64. The road twisted and turned through the gorge yielding beautiful views of bright color amidst the series of waterfalls that cascaded down below us
After having lunch in Highlands at the Midpoint Restaurant
, we headed back down through the gorge,this time stopping at Bridal Veil Falls
. I loved the views of the falls and its descent over a sharp overhanging cliff
Late in the afternoon we made one more attempt to try and shoot the sunset. Parking at the top of Winding Stair Gap
on Chunky Gal Mountain
, we hiked the Appalachian Trail for about a mile up the mountain. The trail was pretty and we saw the sun but we still had trees blocking our view. We returned to the car and called it a day after dining in Franklin at a small Japanese restaurant called Kobe Express Japanese
Sadly we had to leave the next morning and head south for a long drive to Charleston, South Carolina.
More about that in my next newsletter.