It was good to get back to something close to normal, with everyone (mostly?) vaccinated. The Southern Leisure Travelers had 17 coaches with 18 couples when we got together April 22-25, 2021, at Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park in Georgia. This is Georgia’s largest state park, with several amenities, including over 40 miles of hiking trails. It is also very near FDR’s Little White House, the hot springs baths that FDR visited to soothe his polio symptoms, and Callaway Gardens. There is also some very good food in the area of all forms and fashions just waiting to be eaten.
On April 21, 2021, members of our group started arriving. Our leaders came without their 2010 Serenity because they suffered through a severe hail storm on the Gulf Coast just a week and a half before the Rally. The Serenity protected them very well, but the roof openings and windshield did not survive, as well as several other things.
On the 22nd, the first couples to arrive went to The Iron Horse Grill for lunch and enjoyed catching up with members and getting to know a couple of new members. This restaurant is on the main drag in Pine Mountain, providing us the opportunity to see our members as they were arriving at the park. Pine Mountain is a small town and is right on the edge of the state park, so we had a good view.
By the time we returned to the state park campground, nearly everyone had arrived. We began to catch up with the veteran members (people don’t like being called “older members”) and to get to know the newcomers. Out of 18 couples, 9 were new to the chapter. That night we got together as a group and discussed the outings planned and some of the logistics. We also discussed the need for additional support for group leaders and some potential locations for future rallies.
Friday morning, the 23rd, involved more visiting and touring some of the coaches to see how the different floor plans look. With so many new members, there were several opportunities. People got together to look at and resolve some minor issues on their vans and to discuss their adventures. Then, we all headed to Callaway Garden’s Country Kitchen restaurant. The restaurant is part of the Gardens, but it has easy access from outside the park and does not require an entrance fee. Several couples had cars, but parking for the conveniently sized LTVs was just across the street from the restaurant.
People were on their own to visit the Gardens and many of us did. Driving through the Gardens with the LTV was not a problem, and several of the stops have good parking for the compact RVs. Most everyone visited the Butterfly House, which is an enclosed tropical wonder with lots of butterflies.
One couple decided to visit the Wild Animal Safari in Pine Mountain. You can drive through, feed the animals, and really get up close and personal with them. One nice feature of this park is that they rent vehicles to use on the drive through the park if you wish. They rented one of the vehicles and were glad they did. It was a fun trip and they thought it would be a good place to take grandchildren.
That evening, we got together again as a group, to discuss the plans for the next day. We then discussed options for supporting the group leaders and had a “Tech Talk” where each couple shared some ideas, techniques, or accessories that they have found to personalize their units. Before going to bed for the evening, everyone “battened down the hatches” in anticipation of potential severe weather overnight. It turned out that there was quite a bit of rain but nothing severe, and the rain quit fairly early the next morning.
On the morning of the 24th, several of us met at FDR’s “Little White House”. Everyone watched the site movie narrated by Walter Cronkite, then we toured the museum, grounds, and house on our own. It is a very well-done museum, and it was interesting to walk around the grounds and through the house and imagine the President of the United States occupying such sparse accommodations.
After the tour, some went to visit the hot springs baths which currently have no water in them because the walls of the pools are not overly stable at this time. While there was no large amount of water, there was a fountain available for you to test the water coming from the spring. It was quite nice.
Other members drove over to downtown Warm Springs and wandered about a bit, exploring the quaint shops and then went to the Bulloch House Restaurant for lunch – and what a treat it was. We had 32 people for lunch where we enjoyed a southern-food buffet including: collards, fried chicken livers, catfish, fried apples, black eye peas, and so much more. It was really good.
After lunch, it was back to the campground to get ready to leave tomorrow and to visit just a little more until we meet again in the fall.
Written by Barbara and John Kammerud