Gambling, Gold, and Weather. They all take LUCK!

We tried our luck at Gold Panning again. First we stopped at a roadside park for some lunch. It is so great to travel with a refrigerator. Saving a ton of money on food and enjoying places we wouldn’t normally stop at such as this roadside Dam.

We tried our luck at the Crissom Gold Mine. I liked this one a little better because you got to pan for gold and also mine some gems. Plus it wasn’t as “hokey” as the other place. So we did pretty well. Both of us got some specks of Gold and a bunch of gems. Have no idea what the gems are worth but we got an identification card on the way out so we will have to check our bag later.

We drove our way up A VERY STEEP MOUNTAIN!!! To the top of the Amicalola State Park which is basically the start of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. We spend the night in the Lodge. We didn’t sleep in the Lodge but we did spend most of the night sitting in the fancy lobby of the lodge, and enjoying all its benefits. At bedtime we headed out to our bedroom in the van.

We had a great nights sleep and in the morning, back to the Lodge we went for some coffee and more WiFi.

That morning, we drove the van to the waterfall trailhead at the Amicalola State Park.

We had a nice breakfast in the picnic area of the visitor center, refilled all of our water jugs and off we went.

We headed to North Carolina. A town called Murphy that has a Harrah’s Casino and hotel, which means for Van Dwellers like us, a free spot to park our home and still enjoy the amenities of hotel living, even though we aren’t actually sleeping in the hotel.

Greg did pretty good. He won a hundred bucks. I didn’t do so great but didn’t lose more than what a room would have cost us. Lol so it’s all relative.

I went to Mass the next day. I’ve been to a lot of churches through my life as a traveler and this is the first time ever that before the mass started they asked if there were any travelers joining them today?? I raised my hand and they asked me to stand up and tell everyone the name of the town and the name of the parish I belong to, which I did. Then they all clapped for me and gave me this awesome card.

So, if you ever find yourself in Hayesville NC, check out this church, it’s unlike any other.

After church, we did a little food shopping and then headed down a dirt road, actually up a dirt road into the Natahala National forest which means “ land of the noon day sun.” Because there are many gorges and the sunlight does not reach the bottom until noon. We found an awesome “Horse Camp.” This is where horse people can come with their horse to go camping. There’s actually a family here with a horse. It’s just them and us, for now.

We did a nice rim hike while at the horse camp and Greg panned for gold from the river bed. He also bought a bag of sand from the gold mine that he has been panning through in his spare time. He’s been adding to our little vial of Georgia Gold.

There are soooooo many butterflies at this horse camp. They all sort of congregate together at certain areas. It’s the weirdest thing to see them doing this.

We wanted to be in a town with a good WiFi signal on Monday because some of my former students made it to the Little League World Series representing the East and I wanted to be able to stream the game to Greg’s iPad. Can’t do that in the middle of the woods so back to the Casino we went. They have comfortable chairs and outlets in the Casino. So I set myself up, put in my earbuds and watched the game while Greg did some gambling. (He won ANOTHER HUNDRED BUCKS!!)

We found a better place to sleep in the Casino Parking Lot. They had an area set aside for “motor coaches.” It was more level and much quieter than the regular parking lot. We had a good nights sleep. Did a little gambling in the morning and head out.

We drove up the Dragons Tail Motorcycle Road. 316 curves in 11 miles. This road took us to the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest. Greg looked up the name. He is the guy who wrote the Tree Poem. I remember this poem from my childhood…..

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

We found a nice spot to camp right on this beautiful lake, Lake Santeetlah. This is dispersed camping at its finest.

Unfortunately it rained all night long and all of the next day!! That night we pulled a DVD out of our sleeve of unmarked DVD,s . The lucky winner was Talodega Nights starring Will Farrell. The longest movie in the history of movies!!! Woke up to rain and are deciding what to do and where to go today.

It just keeps raining and raining. Every time we look at the radar, it looks exactly the same way it did the day before. So we went to another casino in the town of Cherokee. Did a lot of sitting around. Greg actually won another $180 bucks! He is super lucky!! (In love and in gambling. lol) But not in weather. We are currently on our third day and third night of constant rain. Tonight we are staying at Moonshine Creek Campground in Silva, North Carolina. It is a really beautiful and thought out camp ground. The landscaping is gorgeous. Plus they have beautiful bathrooms, showers and a great laundry room. Our campsite has a small shelter too so we are able to get out of the rain.

Next we were off to check out the Cherokee Indian Museum and town.

It was packed with people so we drove up to the Great Smokey Mountain National Park which was also packed with people.

From there we decided to head up into the mountains and the National Forest called Pisgah. We found a nice secluded recreation area campground for 8 bucks. Plus as an added bonus, THE SUN CAME OUT!!

Currently in a town called Hot SPRINGS, sitting outside the public library typing away in the heat. The library is closed but I can still use their WiFi. the Appalachian Trail goes right through this town.


  1. Hi Guys!!
    Love reading these stories! Looks like you’re enjoying every thing you do. I love that!! It’s been raining here in Fla too. Every day for the past 66 days! At some point or another! Crazy!! Safe travels and keep the blog going! Hugs!


  2. Sorry to hear you’ve run into some bad weather. I actually rode the Dragon’s Tail on my motorcycle. I was a nervous wreck and it scared the hell out of me when Rice Rockets would whiz by, yes, they actually passed us. I gave out a huge scream when I finally made it back to “the tree”. Enjoy!!!


  3. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy reading about your trips. It ALMOST makes me want to go camping too. You always do the most interesting things. I’m so happy that you enjoy your summers so much!


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