I climbed Curahee!! I really did, all the way to the top, the very same trail Easy Company did back in the 1940’s. I was more than winded when I reached the top, but the view was exhilarating and well worth the effort. The climb wasn’t made alone. A young woman, originally from Idaho, now from just over the border in South Carolina accompanied me. She ran while I walked our paces similar but she was able to hold a conversation the entire way up. I was reduced to monosyllabic responses. We stopped for maybe a minute to talk with the Ranger. He had just told the campers who’s fire I could smell that they had to leave. It seems that they wanted to get a jump on the eclipse and this looked like a great place to watch it. I believe it will be between 95 and 100 percent coverage here. We continued up the mountain, the road getting steeper as we climbed but she kept her pace. We talked about homeschooling her three children, and how she was introduced to Curahee. A WWII vet friend had mentioned the Military Weekend held here every Fall and she just happened to attend when General Petraeus was present. She met him and has had an interest ever since.
“Just a little further, right around the bend.” she tells me. I have no idea as my view for the last few hundred yards has been of the rocks in the road. Head down and in low gear I push on, trying to do service to the men who climbed before me. I am not going to stop even though I start worrying about a heart attack. I wonder how they would get me down, maybe this nice lady would carry me. Finally, we get to the top, a small parking area shadowed by the cell phone towers and their cinderblock support buildings. She turns, says goodbye and heads down; not even a water break. The view is amazing even with all the graffiti and trash. I sit and drink my water, wary of the edge, staying far enough back to feel comfortable. There wasn’t a rock to touch like they did in the movie (I watched the scene on YouTube), in fact all the rocks seem to sport a coat of multi colored spray paint. I am thinking time has erased the reverence that was once put on this place. The accomplishments, like Kansas sang were blown away “like dust in the wind.” I take some pictures and prepare to descend. For some reason, I thought it wouldn’t take as long but I was wrong. Three miles up also means three miles down and some of that down also went up. I passed people on the way, one asking if they were close. They weren’t and I nicely explained there was still some ways to go.
Back in the parking lot I think of the differences between the para troopers and me. They would run up the hill in full 1940’s military gear; helmet, pack, and leather combat boots. I walked up it and felt like death warmed over. Of course, I am, and I hate to think about it, double their age, so I will use that as an excuse. But there is no excuse of how badly I am out of shape. The walk shouldn’t have affected me as it did so I am taking a rule from ZombieLand -“Cardio”. Hopefully by the end of the trip I am less on the scale then when I started.
We pack up after a quick shower, an RV waiting to pull into our spot. I pull out and park at the field so Mabel can get some off-leash exercise. She sticks close until something gets her attention and she races back to our campsite. More cardio for me as I finally catch up to her. The new owners not thrilled that their purebred was greeted by my little fox like dog. Now we are off.
Heading towards Roswell to see one of my oldest friends, Mike Deubel and his wife. Both are teachers and school has started so they have a late afternoon event. I am running late, what else is new, and I can’t chew up pavement on HWY 23 to HWY 19 quick enough to stay on schedule. The GPS delivers us to their door, at least it is for today, they have sold their home and are in the process of packing. We are in time for some catching up and then lunch. I fill Mike and Dana in on my doings and they fill me in on theirs. We talk about classmates and Sag Harbor, Mike doesn’t do Facebook and was surprised on a few things. It has been more than six years since we last saw each other and I am glad that we just fell back into the old ways. Lots of laughing and a familiarity bred from growing up together. Mike’s laugh is infectious and I would have loved being one of his students. Dana grounds him and his wacky comments roll off with no response. Time dictated we hit the road and they make an appearance so we said our good byes. I hope to see them sooner than six more years.
I must go through Atlanta as my destination is Andersonville, GA, home of the Civil War prison. As I get on the highway I see a large hook and ladder firetruck in the slow lane. Sitting behind a barricade of cones, it’s ladder extended. I wonder why they are doing drills at this time of day. It wasn’t a drill but an accident scene; a white pickup truck on the side of the road, the driver covered with a sheet. He/She lost the battle with a semi and I wonder what the person’s family will think. I perk up as I navigate traffic, driving white knuckle, one eye on the GPS the other on road signs. Eventually we make it through Atlanta and onto highway 19.
We stop at Thomaston for some exercise, their big red courthouse dominating the scene. There was a neat little Ritz theater showing the Dark Tower. I am so out of date when it comes to movies and will have to catch up when I get home. It is dark when we pull into Ellaville where I intended to camp, but Sprints lack of coverage left me with out the address. I should have written it down but it is easier to blame Sprint than myself. I ask at a convenience store about camping and I don’t get the most confident answer. A man at the pumps tells me about camping South of town and I start that way only to change my plan. “Why not search closer to Andersonville so I don’t have to drive a long way to the park?” The darkness doesn’t help navigation but I do find a sign for the Andersonville RV park and follow the arrow. We come upon a touristy Civil War town recreation that creeps me out so I continue driving eventually passing the National Park.
I had enough of wandering so decided the safest bet was the Americus KOA which I could plug the address into the GPS. A back road led us to the entrance but I didn’t see the usual triangle guest house. The welcome board didn’t give much info and my call to the manager went unanswered so I decided to pull in and find a spot intending to pay in the morning. There were loads of spots as I drove the wrong way on a one way and my headlights must have alerted the night manager. He met me with his golf cart, his authority stopping the evil campground invader. I got the stink eye treatment as he told me they were closed but warmed when I assured him I wouldn’t skip out on payment. I was led to a nice spot with a tree, close to the dog walk but far from the bathrooms. The campground was quiet and very unoccupied. Mabel and I were in Southern Georgia and would sleep well.