Part Four: Heading Back North

        We started our day with yet another of those wonderful $3.99 breakfast buffets. Then we headed eastwards and followed the coastline most of the way up north. We started at Daytona Beach and went pass Flagler Beach and numerous others. Lots of beautiful little homes for sale right by the beaches. Would be lovely to have a little getaway along there. We stopped at one little beach area where the waves were crashing in powerfully and the pelicans kept soaring by overhead. (Despite my expression in that middle photo, I actually had a lot of fun there!)

        Before long we left the coastline and Florida behind and made it to Brunswick, Georgia in the afternoon and decided to stay there for the night. They had an outdoor pool that was covered in a fine layer of bugs and such. I took a very quick dip but the sound of thunder in the distance cut my swim short. We were all pretty exhausted. We even got distracted and missed catching "The Amazing Race" so I had to download it once again. The next morning we set off once more and took some smaller roads because Dad was hoping to see a bit of the "real" Georgia. We did find some beautiful areas but nothing that was really what one could call true Georgia scenery. One thing we did notice was that there seemed to be one Baptist church for every 5 or 10 houses. They seem more popular than Tim Horton's coffee shops in Canada - one on every block. Since we are headed for Chimney Rock Park we spent the day traveling westwards, catching glimpses of the Savannah River at times. A pretty uneventful day of driving. We finally settled down in Anderson, South Carolina for the night. No pool this time.

        On the road at 10 the next morning, we made it to Chimney Rock Park by noon. Dad and I planned on hiking the trails while Mom would take the elevator up to the upper gift shop / cafe and enjoy the view from there and busy herself with a crossword puzzle book. We all waited in a line for about 10 minutes with a group of screaming kids on a school trip to take the elevator up to the chimney rock. The forecast said a 60% chance of thundershowers but there had been a similar forecast for the day before and it had been lovely, so we hoped for nice weather for a hike. After we took in the lovely view from there, Dad and I took the elevator back down and started on our trek.

        We began our trek with the hardest part of the climb, going up a near vertical set of winding stairs called the Needle's Eye. Being both out of shape (especially after all those evil buffets) we took our time going up, stopping numerous times to "enjoy the view". Although the sky had been clear in the morning, it had begun to cloud over when we got to the park and seemed to be threatening rain. As we climbed to one of the lookoff points we saw a flash of lightning in the distance followed by crack of thunder a few seconds later. Then, just as we reached the lookoff point there was a flash of lightning right overhead followed immediately by a loud crack. We quickly got down from the exposed rock area. There was no more lightning after that but the rain did begin to fall. We contemplated going back and saving the hike for another day but after a few minutes the rain began to peter out and we continued walking along. We were a little damp but still enjoying the walk.

        We slowly made our way up the trails, following the various spots where memorable scenes from "The Last of the Mohicans" were shot. Once we got to the top of the waterfalls (we never did get a chance to follow the lower trail to get to the bottom of the falls) we continued along the Skyline trail, which I wasn't able to take when I was here last time. It was a much easier trek as the bulk of the climbing was already behind us. Still, it offered some beautiful views. Finally, after close to 2 hours of hiking, we completed the circle and made it back to where Mom was waiting for us. Another trip down the elevator and we were off once again, this time to Cherokee.

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