The hike from Amicalola Falls to Springer Mountain was just a stop on the way to our true destination – John’s second hometown of Blue Ridge, Georgia. He spent his childhood in New Port Richey, Florida, where we spent a month preparing the van for this trip, but moved to Blue Ridge for those oh-so-important formative teenage years. I really appreciated the opportunity to see the place where he grew up, and to meet the many family and family friends who live there.
John’s uncle purchased a large lot of land some time ago, and throughout John’s life has been parcelling out lots, building houses and selling them, primarily to family and friends. The people that live off the road named for John’s uncle are a close-knit group. When John lived here, he helped build some of the houses. Located in a lovely forested mountain setting, many of these houses are vacation cabins and unoccupied most of the time. Since it is such a close group, John’s uncle knows where everyone’s hide-a-key is located and he was able to show me the interior of a house where he laid the wood floor. We also peaked at a house where the main section is a giant, two story octagon with wrap-around porch. I want one! I don’t even need the extra rectangular part that comes off the main space with more bedrooms and bathrooms – I just want the octagon with kitchen, dining room, living room and entryway laid out around a center axis, with a loft above as a bedroom. But John says I can’t have it because it is too hard to build, and it is too big to put on wheels.
We stayed at his mom’s cabin, our last chance before she sells it. It was great having a house to ourselves to spread out in – after a couple weeks living in the 100 square foot box we call home, we were ready for some space.
In addition to the full tour of the neighborhood he grew up in and meeting several relatives, John showed me around the rest of the town as well. We drove through his high school on the way to visit Aaron’s mother working at the Amish Market, where we had loads of fun sampling all the delicious natural snacks and loading up on dehydrated foods for backpacking. The next stop was a visit with a college friend who runs the local computer repair shop. To relax, we spent one afternoon at the local swimming spot, Blue Ridge Lake.
It was really special to see this place that I have heard so much about, and I look forward to returning for visits in the future!