The trip was finally here! We bought passes months ago! Booked the campsite months ago! Now it’s finally here. A long weekend, a new campground, live music, SweetWater beer and more!
Cathy got off early. I packed the camper and had everything ready to go except for loading the kayaks and hooking up. We pulled out nine minutes later than my target and off to Hotlanta we went. Well, we had a quick stop at the dump station.
We had a two and half hour trip ahead, pretty much all interstate. I’ll be honest. Interstate driving is not my favorite hauling the camper but this trip wasn’t bad in the normal respect of big trucks going by. I ran 70-75 mph most of the way, which sucked down the fuel by the way. Cathy and I had a nice time. Traffic wasn’t bad, even as we got into Atlanta. We jumped off on the 285 bypass and still running nicely. A little over 20 minutes from our destination….
Insert Rant Here
You know. I’m basically a calm person. My friends even call me high road Honeycutt because I give people the benefit of the doubt. I’m rarely upset or mad, even less so since we have been camping so much. However, I do have a kryptonite. Stupid people, well more specifically stupid, self centered, no respect, only driver on the road, dumbasses behind the wheel of an automobile.
I mean it’s always amazed me that people can’t see that merging into reduced lanes miles back would allow traffic to flow and not stop because they felt the need to run to the end of the lane where someone had to stop and let them in. It just illustrates peoples lack of ability to thing past the end of their own nose. But even more frustrating is the total lack of respect for other human beings, which is the biggest problem in our world in my opinion. This lack of respect is perfectly illustrated on the highways of Atlanta and I’m sure in your hometown too. Mix in some poor road planning with the items articulated above and you suddenly have a 15 min drive that takes 1.5 hours. Yep. We pulled out at 3:09 on a 2.5 hour trip and arrived at 7:10
Needless to say Cathy got a little tired of grumbling. It always amazes me how people don’t think about the fact that it takes some runway to stop a vehicle. Throw 7,000 lbs behind it and it takes more. I could never be a truck driver for a living because I would absolutely, eventually just drive over the top of some inconsiderate person. Even worse, they absolutely will not let you change lanes to make or not take a wrong exit. Again a lack of respect for others. We share the roads and this earth people!
Well, I think I’ve spent enough paragraphs on stupid, self-centered people. So after a lot of grumbling about, bad words directed toward and a some non-verbal communication with the aforementioned stupid people. We arrived at Stone Mountain Park.
Stone Mountain Park is a large park that offers a wide variety of activities. The park may be famous for it’s Rushmore-esk carving of heroes of the Confederacy and it’s laser light show on the mountain face. But there are many, many things to do in this large park. There’s plenty of biking, walking and picnicking for locals and travelers alike. The park has a small Gatlinburg type village of shops and attractions including a 4D theater. there’s a couple of Dinosaur related activities, treetop style obstacle courses, a 5 mile locomotive ride, a lake, a museum, historic houses and antiques, mini golf, a golf course and a water park. You can hike or ride an alpine lift to the top of the mountain. This truly is a great day, weekend or week log destination. I’ve been to the 4th of July laser and fireworks show several times and I highly recommend it. I especially like the part set to Elvis’s “American Trilogy”. Cathy has never even seen the laser show so we are planning to try to grab a campsite for a 4th of July trip so she can experience the sweat, heat, people watching and everything else that goes with attending the 4th laser show.
Cathy and I did not get to really explore and enjoy the park. Our main purpose for the trip was to attend a music festival in Atlanta so we will share more on the park when we come back.
Lodging at Stone Mountain includes the Stone Mountain Inn, a Marriott Resort and the campground. The Stone Mountain Park Campground features over 400 RV, Pop-up, and Tent sites and yurt, tent and RV rentals. The park in general is very structured in their processes and the campground is no exception. Before I get into our experience at the campground there are some important things you need to know. READ the emails they send you and know they are strict about the rules. There are two big GPS related obstacles. The first one, depending on where you are coming from, relates to GPS and mapping apps. They may take you to exit 5. There is a low clearance point on this route. I think it was 12 feet. The Information from the park tells you to take exit 8 instead.
This exit is only for the main entrance to the park and places you very close to the campground. One note here. There is an entrance/parking fee for the park. If you are camping, you still have to pay this but only upon entry. You will get a parking pass to hang on your mirror when you check into the campground. I think the entry fee was $20. Once you enter the park via exit 8, STOP following your GPS/app. take the first left past the East Gate onto Stonewall Jackson Drive. This will take you right past the campground entrance. If you follow your GPS it will try to take on some golf course roads that are not open to non golf cart traffic and you will be in a tight spot that may have you backing a few hundred yards. Ask me how I know this.
Now you’re too hot to trot….baby!!! Oh, sorry listening to the Commodore’s while I write. Back in Stone Mountain. The park has 3 lane staging area for incoming campers on the left in front of the pavilion. Firewood is here if you need it on your way in and can be purchased from the General Store. Checking in was easy. We were after hours thanks to the traffic. After hours you simply draw a line through your name on a list, take a map and go setup. You come back in the morning and register. If you don’t have a reservation you can fill out a registration card and pay one nights fee, in cash, deposit them into a drop box and go setup on an available site. The instructions are on a big information board and easy to follow.
This however still confused the guy in the big grey A-Class with Tennessee Checkerboard stripes all over it. He parked in front of the office, clear view of the don’t park here signs. He walked to the registration station and back several times and stood looking bewildered in front of his rig. He was parking there as we entered the campground. I checked in and returned to the Gladiator. He was still standing bewilderedly as I squeezed my rig past his improperly parked RV. We were almost setup by the time he came driving through the loop in the wrong direction and then back through in the right direction. When we initially squeezed past his rig. I told Cathy. “I hope that UT Orange thing isn’t parked next to us”. Those of you from the south will understand. Well, he ended up in another loop.
We had both missed lunch and were starving so we made our way the short 6 minute trip to the Metro Cafe, Diner & Bar. The food here is excellent. They have a full bar and some craft beer on tap (not much). It was so good we took our friends back for breakfast on Saturday morning.
Stone Mountain Campground is large. It’s nicely laid out and most of the sites have full hookups. Don’t forget to order your “Full Hookups Are The Shit” Tee from our store. At first our site appeared small but once we were setup it was decently roomy. The sites along the lake are nice with rock walls and they are small but the views are nice. The bathhouse in our loop was well located. This is a hilly campground and if you were downhill you did have steep walk up to the bathhouse. The bathhouses were very clean, in fact one day we entered just after they had been cleaned and our eyes were burning from the cleaner. They obviously dislike germs. Like a lot of old campgrounds the shower stalls could have been upgraded but they appeared to be mold/mildew free.
The sites were not steep but not level. I did have to put a board under my leveling wedges but I didn’t see anyone in our loop having to make any big adjustments. I mean we have been on sites with a 7+ inch slope. I will say the camper pad was paved but in disrepair. lots of potholes. In fact, I initially backed into one of the grooves where camper tires had obviously caused a sunken groove to form. My level was off the chart so I repositioned over a tire width and easily leveled the camper. The paved roads throughout the campground were the same way with busted pavement, pot holes and large bumps in the road. I know both the campground and park are profitable enterprises. This should be remedied. It would elevate the appeal and experience to match the camping fees.
Garbage service was throughout the day. you just placed your bag by the road and they picked it up. All the sites are highly shaded. Overall our experience was very positive. The conditions of the pads and roads was really the only negative and they could correct that easily. Staff came around often cleaning or picking up garbage and we say law enforcement regularly on the main road just outside the campground. The General Store had many items you would need to camp and enjoy the park. It’s small but a wide selection. The staff were all friendly, helpful and diverse.
I want to point out here that just because the park highlights the souths Civil War history that it is not in an offensive way. This park provides lots of jobs and money both in and outside of the park. The staff was diverse. Part of history is not forgetting our mistakes and measuring our progress. Yes there are people wanting the carvings removed from the mountain and this in my opinion would be a crime.
Regardless of the right or wrong of the customs of the time. The Civil War was a huge turning point in reaching the enlightenment we enjoy today. Men and women on both sides fought and died bravely for what they believed in. Often against their own family members. This history has to be embraced so we don’t forget the sins of our pasts. Some of the men on that mountain fought and served as Americans prior to that war. Robert E Lee, often vilified these days, worked hard to help mend the wounds of our divided nation after the war. My only point here is history is important and shouldn’t be forgotten or rewritten simply because it’s painful or the morals of the time do not fit our standards today. That’s why it’s history. It happened, we learned, we are different today. Ok, I have a habit of getting off into lectures, as Cathy calls them, moving on.
I’ll summarize. The campground is great overall with room for some improvement.
Our main reason for the trip was to attend Sweetwater 420 Fest. This is a three day music festival with a 420 theme. Now, you should know that we are not into the cannabis lifestyle. I’m a big fan of Sweetwater Brewing and we are both fans of music festivals. We do have friends who have children that own CBD based businesses and one had a tent at the event. So we decided to go with friends.
The festival had a huge lineup of bands playing on three stages. The only one I was familiar with was JJ Grey and Mofro. If you haven’t heard or seen them, do yourself a favor and remedy that. Now I will say there were some great musicians at this event. They talent level was high. The music for the most part other than JJ and and a couple of other groups, was what’s called Jam Bands. There was one very talented band that their whole 1.5 hour set, I think was one song. This is probably related to the 420 culture. Maybe if we had been high the music would have made more sense but for the most part it wasn’t our cup of tea.
The festival is well laid out with a large court of food trucks, drink stands and pop up beer stands (A guy or girl with a cooler) when lines would get long. there are vendor tents everywhere, most based around the hippie culture. Lots of tie-dye, Grateful Dead etc. The crowd covered all ages and yes some people brought small kids. I will say this. It was the nicest, most well behaved crowd at a large festival I’ve ever seen. Maybe we should be high more often if we could get along so well. Especially during elections.
If you like craft beer the Sweetwater Experience tent is your destination. All the other beer in the venue is four standard Sweetwater beers. At the Experience Tent there were probably 20 other beers on tap or in cans. They don’t allow you to bring in folding chairs but you can bring in inflatable couches. We didn’t have these but I highly recommend the ones you just wave in the air to inflate and it makes a lounge. There is plenty of parking including a lot right across the street from the event we parked in. Plan $50-90 for parking unless you get a hotel in walking distance.
We enjoyed the festival. It was an adventure and you know we like adventures. I’m glad we did it and you should at least once. If you don’t like the smell of marijuana you might want to skip as I think everyone but us was smoking, out in the open, with police walking around ignoring it all. I will say that this was not what I would call a counter culture crowd although I’m sure some were. This was a hugely diverse crowd from all walks of life. We did see unshaven legs and hairy pits. Yes there were some She-squatches but that’s ok. There were fat old white guys like me and everything in between. Again it was a great friendly crowd where you felt a part of what was going on. It was great for people watching also. Humans are interesting to say the least. I will say it was one event where I didn’t feel self conscious about my dancing.
We decided to skip the festival on Sunday and check out the local brewery scene. We started at The Village Corner Restaurant, Tavern and Bakery. It was brunch and this was some of the best German food I’ve had. You don’t have to like beer to enjoy this place. I had Jaeger Schnitzel and their Pilsner to start. The food was great. The pilsner was interesting and I thought she had brought me a Hefenwiezen accidentally. The brewer let me know that it was a pilsner but non-filtered. I swear it had the look and taste of a Hefenwiezen. It was very tasty. I then ordered a flight. You can see my thoughts in the images below. What was good, was good, what wasn’t, wasn’t. There wasn’t any middle ground here.
After a great brunch. I was almost too full to explore the local breweries. Cathy was insistent that we had not done this in a while and after all it’s a big part of our blog. So we hit up a couple, both were within 10 mins drive. We started with Outrun Brewing. This is how they describe themselves:
We are a brewer owned and operated small-scale production brewery that focuses on approachable and highly drinkable small-batch brews. We put our own spin on a variety of styles, old and new. Our beer is brewed in house and only available in our taproom. We take our beer seriously, but not ourselves, and are dedicated to brewing rarities, untasted originals, and re-imagined favorites.taken from website
Before I get into the beer I’d like to give these guys kudos for their establishment. It looks like an old Dairy Dip or gas station. They have a great outdoor area that’s got a combination of picnic tables and chairs grouped in seating circles. It has a cool 80’s themed vibe. This includes Outrun arcade games and the beer names. This small brewery has excellent beer and you tell they are serious about having good beer.
Next we ventured to BlueTarp Brewing Co. and hit the jackpot. Two breweries were sharing the same building. Each with their own bar and taps. High Card Brewing was the other brewery sharing the space and their beer was very good. We played Connect four and Heads Up while I sampled beers. I had not realized it was two breweries when we ordered. So I didn’t notice that I had chosen all beers from BlueTarp but the brewer that was working was from High Card. He noticed and starts giving me 5 oz fills of High Card beer, for free. It was very, very good and one of them has one of my favorite beer names so far, “Tell Jabba That I’ve Got His Money”. This was a Milkshake IPA which is not one of my favorite styles, but I really liked this one.
The venue was nice with a cool patio out through a garage door. The Beertender was really nice, informative and engaging. If your in the area you need to give them a try.
It’s always fun to have beer around the campfire so I’ll share a few here from the trip.
We decided to eschew the interstate and headed up 140 toward Woodstock, GA. We have friends there and one even came over and chatted with us while we ate lunch at a place he recommended. Pure Taqueria is in the heat of Woodstock on Main St. This was our first time to eat there and my friend didn’t steer us wrong. The food was excellent and so was the staff. Be sure you put this one on your list.
Note to RVers. Main St is small and there isn’t much in the way of parking for RV’s that we found. We ended parking on the very back of the parking lot at the funeral home and I bent one of our stabilizers going across the railroad tracks. It was a Monday so it luckily wasn’t busy. I did find a better parking place within site of Reformation Brewery. It was a couple of blocks from the brewery on a side street.
We hit Reformation Brewery before lunch. I’ve had their beer and knew they were a very good brewery. They have several locations and I hear the Smyrna one is really nice. The Woodstock location has a great outdoor area. I thought I took pics of it but evidently not. I’ll just tell you to go. Chairs, benches and tables spread out all across the lot all shaded by a massive tree. They have a BBQ restaurant but it was not open the day we were there. Below are my beer samplings.
We finished off our trip with a stop for gas and more at the infamous Buc-ee’s that recently opened in Calhoun, GA. It was my first time to experience and I kinda see what the craziness is all about. Never seen anything like it in a travel store. So loaded up with some groceries and other purchases we headed on back to Chester Frost Campground in Chattanooga, TN.