Back in June, Trey and I finished our tour of all 63 Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites. The Friends of Georgia State Parks organization asked me to write an article for their quarterly mini-magazine. The publication arrived in the mail today so I thought I’d share it online. You can receive their quarterly magazine by becoming a member – there are lots of other great benefits as well!
I’m going to be honest. I’m a bit of a Scrooge. I don’t like to spend money. It took one visit to a Georgia State Park after our move from Florida for me to figure out that I’d get the biggest bang for my buck with an annual pass. Little did I know at the time how much of a bang that would be!
With our annual pass hanging from our rear-view mirror, we pulled into Indian Springs State Park on July 17, 2008. A few weeks later we visited Sprewell Bluff, then Georgia Veterans, then Jarrell Plantation, then Panola Mountain… before I knew, it I had gotten my money’s worth. I also got an idea – why not visit all the parks and historic sites before my annual pass runs out?
My son and I began criss-crossing the state visiting one park after another. My wife joined us on weekends when she was not working and we would hit 3-5 parks in just a few days. Road trips to visit our extended family in Tennessee and Florida were planned around what sites we could visit along the way. An entire week of vacation was spent visiting the sites along the Atlantic coast from Savannah to the Florida state line.
After visiting each park, we would post a story and photos on our family blog to allow friends and family to follow our adventures. Several months into the project, my brother-in-law asked me if I was almost done. We must be close, I thought. I pulled out a list of all the parks and started marking off the ones we’d visited – a total of 24. Georgia had 63 State Parks and Historic Sites – we weren’t even halfway.
Road trip after road trip, adventure after adventure, our family got to know our new home state better than we’d ever imagined. We hiked down into the deep gorges of Providence Canyon, we climbed to the peak of Black Rock Mountain, and we explored the salt marshes of Sapelo Island on a grey and foggy day. We wandered the grounds of New Echota as its trees exploded with autumn colors, we chased little crabs on the shores of Skidaway Island, and we made a movie with big movie stars Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, and Bill Murray at Pickett’s Mill Battlefield.
On July 11, 2009, we finished our tour of all 63 State Parks & Historic Sites with a celebration cookout attended by over 30 friends at High Falls State Park. That day’s gathering summed up what the State Park system is all about to me – friends and family from all sorts of backgrounds enjoying each other’s company in the great outdoors with which this state has been blessed. Some of our friends spent time photographing the falls, those with kids enjoyed the playgrounds, a few went hiking along the river, others just socialized around the grill – and everyone had a good time!