Jun 17, 2011

Georgia on my mind.

We recently took a short vacation to Dahlonega, GA.  It's best known as the site of the first U.S. gold rush.  If you've never been there, and you can appreciate the "charm" of a small southern mountain town, it is worth a visit.  Just be sure to load up on Dramamine before you load into the car. 

Smith House  
We stayed at the Smith House, a historic hotel about a block from the town square. It is located directly above a gold vein.  You can go downstairs and see the mine shaft and a mini exhibit which is quite good.  In addition to historic lodgings, the Smith House also boasts of family style dining in the basement, all you can eat "home cooking" for a price.  Since our youngest(under 3) was free and dessert and drink were included, it ended up being not much more than a normal night out at a nicer restaurant.  The food was good and plentiful, but the decor was mid 1980's.  For some reason I was expecting Angela from Who's the Boss to walk through the door. 

The decor of the guest rooms was much nicer.  The beds were cozy and appointed with "luxury" linens.  We couldn't resist having a lie down before snapping the picture below.  Lots of charming details, and we enjoyed our stay.  However, this is a 100+ year old building and has many characteristics of an old building.  It had a clean, but old smell and some minor maintenance issues like a broken towel rack in the bathroom.

The fresh rose was a nice touch.
 Consolidated Gold Mines
The highlight of the Dahlonega trip was an excursion to Consolidated Gold Mines.  My husband and I went into this, eyes wide open that it was likely a tourist trap, but left rather impressed by the whole operation.  We ended up doing a tour of the mine, the complimentary sample gold panning, and gem panning which we paid extra for. 

Bottom of stairs leading into the mine.  Do you see the image in the shadows?  Is it a ghost, or just shadows on the rock?

The kids Gem panning.  The man is one of the friendly employees.  He was very good with the kids.
  All of the staff was very friendly and knowledgeable.  The tour was a quality experience and since a sample pan for gold panning was included, it was a great value.  It took the kids about 20 min. to complete their pan of gold and sand and each of us left with a few tiny gold nuggets as a souvenir.  The Gem panning although extra was a hoot!  We now have a rather large collection of precious and semi precious stones.  Days later, the kids are still talking about there "gems" collections.

Chestatee Wild Life Preserve
We also visited the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve, a non profit "zoo". It was small, and a bit confusing since there was no official ticket booth and signage was minimal. However, as "backyard zoos" go, it was really nice. The animals seemed happy, healthy, and well cared for. The enclosures were clean and well maintained. They had dispensers (like candy machines) where you could buy corn to feed some of the animals like the zedonk, miniature horses/ponies, turkeys and chickens. The ponies and zedonk were very tame and ate very gently out of my hand. There were plenty of places to picnic and even a nice little playground for the kids. However, if you are expecting a "big zoo" experience you'll be disappointed. But for the price, it was a fun way to spend a couple of hours and cheaper than taking the family to a movie.

This is what happens when daddy watches
the little guy. ;o)


Zedonk, miniature horse, and miniature donkey(?)

Stone Mountain, Georgia
On our way home, we made a detour to Stone Mountain, GA and took the sky lift all the way to the top where we found a visitors center and of course, the entrance to the top of the mountain where you can walk around or even picnic.  The top is rather impressive.  Not being a huge fan of heights or shear drops, it was also a bit creepy knowing the only thing between us and the edge was a short chain link fence.  

You can go all the way up to the fence.
It was only about 4 ft high.   

There is an alien quality to this place, the kids loved it.

Sky lift up to the top.  Don't miss the carving.

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