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Archive for the ‘Georgia’ Category

I’m looking at my state-by-state folders that I keep on these cross-country trips and am amazed to find thick batches of information on Alabama and Georgia. Surprised because I really saw nothing whatsoever in those states. But I’m a Visitor Center addict and if I cross any state line I load up on free brochures. I always save them, to use for future trips. (Don’t ask if I ever remember to bring them along.) I also never know when I might stop within a state for an impromptu exploration, so it helps to have them on hand. At least these are my excuses for loading up on pamphlets and maps.

Alabama and Georgia were sort of a blur this time. I was trying to outrun the weather reports and I had a clean window for highway time, so I blasted across this portion of the south, landing just below the Georgia/No. Carolina border. Unfortunately, I got off the road late, without much light, and didn’t have any time to explore the mountains of Northern Georgia, an area I’d wanted to visit for a long time. Still, I’ve been working on a writing project that involves old gristmills and, by chance, landed at a perfect accommodation.

Sylvan Falls Mill is an authentic, working gristmill, which has been in operation since 1840. Located in Rabun Gap, Georgia, it is run as a Bed and Breakfast by Linda and Mike Johnson, who offer four charming rooms, full breakfast, excellent hospitality and a fascinating close-up look at the inner-workings of a mill. As if that’s not enough, a private waterfall on the property and a pastoral view of cows, fields and an old red barn across the street make this quaint lodging a great rural getaway for those who are city-weary.

I stumbled in as the only guest on that particular evening, getting the coveted Waterfall Room, up a flight of stairs at the back of the house. Through a bay window across from the bed I could see the water tumble down across granite boulders. With the window open (and even with it closed) I could listen to the sound of the cascading waterfall as I drifted off to sleep. With a pitched ceiling, lace curtains, stacks of books and a candle beside the bed, this room had the feel of a secret attic hideaway.

A woodstove in a common room provided warmth and I was able to hook up my laptop to a phone jack that provides Internet for one of the downstairs rooms, since it was empty that night. With online access, a warm fire, great hosts and the sound of the waterfall outside, I was a happy camper.

I’d entered snow territory by this time – not enough to make driving impossible, but enough that chilly winds and slippery ground greeted me in the morning. Still, I ventured outside to visit the cows across the street and to breathe in some of the crisp mountain air.

Linda served an exquisite breakfast of fresh fruit crepes (one apple, one banana, with coconut and chocolate) along with raisin scones, orange juice and coffee. The china was Limoges and the food was delicious. In spite of the cold, I braved (at my request) the outdoor porch for this meal. Enclosed with plastic for the winter and heated by a gas fireplace, it was warm enough and let me enjoy views of the waterfall as well as the 27 foot waterwheel of the mill, one of the largest in the country. Stained glass turtles and whales, bird feeders and wind chimes added to the rustic feel of the porch-turned-room.

After this feast, Mike gave me a tour of the mill itself (not used commercially), where I got to see all the “mechanisms and technical stuff” up close. It was clear that he loves doing this, from the excitement and humor he wove into his presentation. It was fascinating.

Mike and Linda both have backgrounds in the hospitality business from working in larger hotels in Key West, Florida. They’re thrilled to now live in a small mountain town and be able to offer this unique lodging experience to their guests. They’ll happily accommodate special dietary needs – Atkins, vegetarian, wheat allergies, etc. They have rooms that allow pets and the check-out time is not until noon. One unique (and only spread through word of mouth) feature is that they are bike-enthusiasts and have the plates needed for guests who arrive on bikes.

Another night, another inn. This one I can easily recommend. Their website is located at www.sylvanfallsmill.com.

Linda sent me on my way with a care package of extra raisin scones. I nibbled on them constantly as I made my way north, bound for (I would find out) Asheville, North Carolina.

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