Saturday, January 16, 2016

Stone Mountain Georgia

Stone Mountain Monument to the Confederacy
Washington was a great experience but we needed a little downtime after that whirlwind of National Monument sightseeing. We started a slow move south by spending 3 nights at one of our favorite military fam-camps, the Westin Lake Recreation Area at Fort Jackson South Carolina.
Westin Lake is a beautiful and at this time of the year peaceful place to stay. It was just what we needed after a busy week.

We took te opportunity to hike again in the Congeree National Forest. We found many closed trails due to recent heavy rains and flooding but managed to have a great walk just the same.
we headed to Woodstock Georgia next to spend a lively and wonderful Thanksgiving with the Luse/Autry clan. It was fun to get to spend some time with Fred's extended family.

Stone Mountain has been on my list of places to visit for quite some time. it is an amazing sight. I should have realized from the name but the mountain is quite literally one huge chunk of granite. It looms in the landscape like a bald headed man in the company of the Beatles.

We could really see the depth of the carving from our sky ride gondola.

This is much more than a mountain. We followed signs and entered into a complex that included a Conference Center, a golf course, an RV Park and at it's center an Amusement Park dressed up for Christmas. To get to the mountain you must pass through the Amusement Park.
High above the twinkling lights, the gift shops and a snow tube run, in the center of the granite rock face, the huge high relief sculpture of Jefferson Davies, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E Lee looks down over the park. 90 feet by 140 feet huge.
This monument to the Confederacy is impressive. Looking at the carving from 400 feet below we were amazed at the detail especially in the faces of the men and the bodies of the horses. From the ground it looks almost like a monotone painting.  We were surprised to learn that the carving is recessed 42 feet into the mountain.

The top of the mountain was cold and barren.
We decided to take the sky ride in order to get as close to the art work as possible. The sky ride is like a gondola on a ski slope except the ride is much shorter. It took us up the mountain to the left of the sculpture and close enough so that we could see the depth and intricacy of the carving. i even managed to stop clutching the rail long enough to snap a few pictures.

Atlanta Skyline from the top of Stone Mountain
The top of the mountain is barren of trees and has few plants. we saw some lichen and a few hardy grasses but everything else was discouraged by the strong winds and lack of soil. The views were quite spectacular. We saw Atlanta's skyline to the Southwest and Allatona Lake to the North.  Our campground was located on Allatoona Lake but we had no idea how large the lake is until seeing it from this perspective.

We decided to walk the 2 1/2 miles down the mountain and back to the parking lot. It was a beautiful day for a short hike once we got out of the wind.

Stone Mountain Express
Once off the mountain we grabbed something to drink and walked around admiring the Christmas decorations. Fred believes the designer was influenced by Clark Griswald. We rode the old train around the mountain ans sang carols with a family that we met while waiting in line. I was surprised to find myself tearing up, missing Mom and the kids.

We had a great time at Stone Mountain and were happy to see this controversial monument and enjoy it for the impressive artwork that it is.

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