Black Rock Mountain Meerkat Rally

Posted on 06/11/2024 in misc

Nights: 144-147

Back in 2020, I met somebody in a Meerkat camper at a campground and we became friends. And now I get invited to her annual Meerkat camper rally, which is always a lot of fun. This year, they met at Black Rock Mountain State Park in North Georgia, which is also about 2 hours from my mother. So of course we went this year, camping with 13 or 14 Meerkat campers, and my mother. It was a good time.

We left Wednesday after work, driving about ½ way and overnighting in somebody’s backyard, courtesy of Hipcamp. It worked out great, he had a 50 amp connection and it was nice and quiet, for about ⅓ the price of the nearest KOA. On Thursday we only had about 3.5 hours to the campground, so we took our time, making several stops along the way.

Lunch was at Cafe Rel, in Franklin NC. Cafe Rel appears to be a gas station diner, which technically, it is. But it is one hell of a gas station diner, opened by a classically trained french chef, and featuring a variety of sandwiches and entrees. A+++, would eat there again. Just down the road from the cafe is Ruby City Gems, a jewelry store that also houses an interesting small museum of gemstones and various artifacts collected by the proprietor’s father. The museum is free, although Michelle did find a couple of pairs of earrings she wanted in the jewelry store, so it wasn’t free for me. And finally, just a few minutes from the campground is 3 Legge Art Gallery, the studio of noted folk artist Eric Legge. Eric was hanging around so we got to chat with him a bit too.

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Black Rock Mountain is a GA State Park in the NE corner of the state, about 3600 feet above sea level. So even in a hot humid GA summer, the campground is comfortable. Our campsite was secluded and private, although that came at a price as I had to back the camper up a narrow and steep driveway for about 40 yards. We didn’t leave the park once we arrived, spending all 3 days hiking, exploring, birding, and lounging around the campfire with my mom, all within the park. There were also several social events with the Meerkat rally, including two happy hours and a pancake breakfast. It was one of those camping trips where I did little reading, as we were always busy right up until bedtime.

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The most notable event of the weekend was bird related. Our last several birding outings we have heard but not seen the Northern Parula, a colorful warbler. My wife had declared the bird her white whale. She managed to get a good look at one in a cemetery across the street from a lake we were hiking around. I still have never seen an owl in the wild. That is my white whale.

The drive home was uneventful, which is the best drive home. We’ll be home for 10 days then we are off to PA for the NE Aliner Ascape Rally, where we are expecting about 30 people.

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