Leaving home several days ago, we moved quickly (for us) through Florida and Georgia, stopping for family visits and then moving on toward North Carolina. In northern Georgia, we decided to check out the Islands of Lake Lanier. Created by the U. S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) in 1956, the 38,000-acre lake has over 600 miles of beaches and provides numerous recreational opportunities. Located near the southern portion of the Lake near Buford, the Islands are leased from the USACE by a large hotel firm.
Creating a resort providing a first-class inn, golf course, beach park and marina, they thankfully left a portion of the islands minimally developed for campground use. The nearly deserted campsite provided a lovely overview of the lake. On Holidays and weekends, nearby Atlanta undoubtedly fills the park, but during our stay there were only 2 other campsites being used. Taking advantage of our proximity to the lake, we launched our kayaks from the campsite into the peaceful, green lake. Certainly, during busy times, the lake is filled with hundreds of boaters, but we had the serene lake almost to ourselves as we paddled along the red clay shoreline.
Heading into North Carolina, we stopped in the small community of Brevard. With a year round population of around 7600, the town swells during the summer as Floridians (and others) seek out the cool mountain temperatures. Having visited last year, we were intrigued with the area and wanted to explore further. Surrounded by the Pisgah National Forest and the Davidson and French Broad Rivers, the vicinity offers unlimited opportunities for fishing and hiking. Within Transylvania County, the home of Brevard, there are around 250 waterfalls dotting the mountainsides. Fine classical music, ranging from operas to symphony performances, is offered by the Brevard Music Center throughout the summer months. Multiple art galleries line the streets of the downtown area.
While I fished along the banks of the French Broad River near our campsite, Alan took advantage of a private fly-fishing lesson with Bill from Davidson River Outfitters in nearby Pisgah Forest on the Davidson River. Quickly mastering the basic tenets, Alan was able to land a 20-inch, 4-5 pounder. The “largest trout I ever saw.” I’d love to share a picture of this accomplishment but the camera did not get packed with the fishing gear. So Alan has rendered a faithful copy of his catch in watercolor so you can get the idea of what his rainbow trout looked like. (He also has Bill’s phone number for those who wish further verification.)
Hearing about Thursday night Bluegrass music at the Silvermont Mansion, we decided to check it out. As it turns out the facility is for the use of senior citizens in the community. The musicians on the evening we attended, ranged from 60 to 90 plus. Talents varied greatly, but the joy created by the group was infectious. On a few of the more familiar tunes, the audience joined in with the musicians in belting out the songs.
Next, we wanted to revisit the Ashe County area in the northwest portion of the State. Offering a gorgeous countryside and cultural events in the West Jefferson area, we programmed our GPS and drove north. With a year round population of around 1500, this little town has less to offer culturally, but quite a bit when considering its size. With 15 galleries downtown, numerous festivals, weekly music events and the Ashe County Arts Council, there is usually something going on here.
The New River rambles through this region. Fishing, tubing, canoeing and kayaking on the river are a big draw through the summer months. Drives through the county are accented by frequent Christmas tree farms and, unique to the Ashe County area, the painting of quilt designs on 150 of the local barns. West Jefferson sports 15 murals on the buildings in the center of town.
Both areas offer cultural diversity and natural beauty. Guess we’ll need to visit again to check them out further. Maybe on our way back south.