Drive Faster…I Hear Banjos

I have to admit that I didn’t come up with that title all by myself. It’s a twist on a popular saying printed on a line of t-shirts that I saw (and bought) in Ellijay. But it fits so perfectly in describing my little adventure in the mountains over Thanksgiving.

Photo: Panning for gold. Maybe will get rich..haha. #goldmineMy husband and I both had places we wanted to see and things we wanted to do. He wanted to go to Dahlonega, a town he had often went to with his family. I wanted to visit Helen, a town I had heard a lot about in magazines and from friends. So we all decided to make a day trip to both places.

My Dad agreed to drive, but only after he took a blood oath he wouldn’t drive a hundred miles an hour around the curves (only a small exaggeration here..haha).

I didn’t have too much anxiety about the roads today, because from what I could tell the roads to Dahlonega and Helen were nowhere near as curvy and treacherous as getting up to the cabin. Well…the Google maps sort of lied (or I just didn’t interpret the map very well). No, we weren’t dangling near the edge of the mountains, but the curves were never ceasing. It was an hour of side to side and up and down, which made me car sick.

I couldn’t believe how big of a wimp I had become just after a few years (okay more like seven, but still) of being on flat land. But either way we made it to both destinations without too much trouble.

I loved Dahlonega. It had the coolest town square with tons of interesting shops. Dahlonega is known for it’s gold panning and rich history in gold mining, so of course we had to go panning for gold. It was a lot of fun except for the whole putting your hands in freezing water.

If you know nothing about Helen, you need to know it came to fame because the entire town looks like a Bavarian Alpine village. Yep, that’s right, even fast food restaurants like Wendy’s have all the lattice work and decorative elements that you would expect to see thousands of miles away in Europe. It felt a lot like being lost in a part of Epcot’s world showcase. We ate at a German restaurant, where we ran into people who were actually speaking German, which I thought was pretty interesting. I don’t know the history of the town, but maybe it has some true Bavarian roots?

View December 29 2013 016.jpg

Helen, GA.

At night, the whole town lit up with lights to create a beautiful display for Christmas. It was a memorable trip and a new experience for all of us. My Dad had already asked me if I would drive back. I had already mapped out the route back and confirmed it with the GPS that it would take us back to Ellijay on a four lane highway. So everything would be fine, right?

We get out of Helen and for about twenty miles were on a fairly curvy road, but nothing I couldn’t handle. I would look at the GPS and see we only had a few miles left to go before we hit the highway, so no worries.

Only begins to describe the curves.

But those few miles turned into ten more, then fifteen and so on. With each turn the road got worse. There was a section of the road that was curvy that I literally did a curve to the right then a hundred feet later went into a left curve. I couldn’t go any faster than 25 miles and most of the curves required a speed of ten. I’m not exaggerating…you can ask my husband, Mom and Dad to back me up on this one.

I kept staring at the GPS and watching the number of miles go by, but with each turn onto a new road it seemed like I was only getting further and further from the highway. What was wrong with this crazy thing? Now I understand those commercials where the GPS sends you into a pole or a building.

After about an hour I started to lose it, because I knew we were going up and up into the mountains with no end in sight and very little way of a shoulder on the road. On more than one occasion, I was driving in the other lane praying another car wasn’t coming around the bend. The one thing I was thankful for? That it was pitch black out and I couldn’t see beyond the trees lining the road. For once, darkness was my friend, because otherwise I probably would’ve been hyperventilating.

More Accurate 🙂

I kept my cool…for the most part. But mile after mile, I started to get weary…and not in a figurative way. That kind of driving requires a lot of concentration and after an hour and a half I had about had it. I started asking when this was going to be over? We should have been to the highway by now!

Then the GPS told me to turn onto NF 15. Guess what? NF 15 is a gravel road. Since leaving Helen we had went from a two lane highway to a one lane to a gravel road. I turned onto it, still putting my faith in the GPS. Some of the roads to the cabin were on gravel so maybe we weren’t that far away? But this wasn’t the same kind of gravel road. There were no houses, no lights, no signs of life. Just a winding road that wasn’t exactly in the best shape. We went over more than one giant pot hole and that’s putting it nicely. Let’s just say, it was a good thing we were in a SUV with some ground clearance or we might still be on NF 15.

The only plus side? There was a giant dirt embankment separating the road from the edge of the mountains. They were so tall I could barely see over them even in the vehicle.

A new worry was the gas situation. What should have been an hour trip was now turning into two and the constant change in speed and altitude was guzzling fuel. There was a real chance we would be stuck out here and from what we had seen already meant there wasn’t anyone for miles.

I was starting to feel like we were in a B rated horror movie and some crazy psychos were going to jump out and get us or we were going to be eaten by bears… to be continued.


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