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We started the day driving south toward Georgia.  On the way, we stopped at Tellico Lake.  The lake was formed by damming the Little Tennessee River.  The land beneath and surrounding it was once owned by the Cherokee Indians and its capital, Tanasi, (the word from which Tennessee evolved) stood nearby.  I was hoping to see a memorial of eight stone pillars commemorating the eight posts that supported the tribe’s meeting house, but I only found a reconstructed fort with another school bus in the parking lot.  Apparently the week before Thanksgiving week is a good time for field trips!

Instead of visiting the fort, I took advantage of the morning sun and a mowed path through a field by the lake so the dogs could have some fun.  I also stopped at a highway bridge that crossed the lake to finally pick up a cache in Tennessee.  I didn’t have much luck with prior attempts.  The cache was part of the state quarters series, meaning the owner planned to hide 50 caches, each one with a different state quarter and trivia related to the state.  I thought that was quite clever.  I found the cache for Illinois…at least I think…someone took the coin, but the owner provided some lesser known facts about the state in the post such as, “home of the first McDonald’s”.

On our way to Dahlonega and the North Georgia Highlands, we took the Ocoee Scenic Byway from Ocoee to Ducktown.  I like those names…particularly Ducktown!  Scenic certainly is the operative above word.  The Ocoee Lake was just beautiful as was the rocky Ocoee River, the site for the 1996 Olympic canoe and kayak slalom competitions.

Dahlonega, a Cherokee word meaning precious yellow, is home to the Gold Museum State Historic Site which is domiciled in the old court building, currently complete with Christmas decorations!  Built in 1836, the courthouse is the oldest public building in North GeorgiaDahlonega is an appropriate place for the Gold Museum given America’s first major gold rush occurred here.  The Federal Government even operated a mint pressing gold coins from 1838 until the Civil War in 1861.  Over $6 million of coins were minted here before the building was eventually donated to what is now the North Georgia College and State University.  I walked the dogs around the campus and past this building before I found out its history at the museum.  When I visited the museum, the price of 10 year gold was at a high of $1,497 per Troy Ounce which is equivalent to just over 31 grams…oh the dismal dollar!

The dogs and I turned north to DeSoto Falls Recreation Area in the Chattahoochee National Forest.  We walked the mile long trail to the Upper Falls, 200 feet high, and skipped the quarter mile trail to the Lower Falls, 20 feet high.  The falls are named for Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto who searched for riches in this region during the 1500s.

By the end of the hike, it was nearly 4 pm, so we took the Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway Loop for 38 miles up 4,784 foot Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s tallest mountain.  I thought as it was getting near dusk, I might catch a glimpse of some wildlife, but instead enjoyed some nice overlook views as the sun set before retiring in the Walmart parking lot in Blairsville for the evening. ETB

websites:  http://georgiatrails.com/trails/desoto.html, www.gastateparks.org/dahlonegagoldmuseum

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