I follow Kate on Instagram and Twitter where I learned about her adventure to visit 12 Georgia State Parks this year. It reminded me of our 2014 adventure where we did the same thing. I asked Kate to give us an update when she hit the half-way point. I’m honored that she agreed to share it with us. Here’s her story…so far!
A few days after the first of the year, completely on a whim, I said to my husband, Kevin, “I think our New Year’s resolution should be to visit a different Georgia State Park every month.”
I don’t know if I was craving being outside? Craving new adventures in the new year? Craving coming up with a resolution I would keep? But wherever that random idea came from, I am oh-so-thankful it did!
Because on a beautiful January weekend, we visited a Georgia State Park we’d never been to, but was a mere 15 minutes from our house — Sweetwater Creek State Park — and it was true love. It was the best.
I was totally embarrassed we’d never been there before. My then-4-year-old (Tom) and then-2-year-old (Alice) thought it was the best place in the whole world, and we agreed. We didn’t travel far, but we were experiencing a new place together — and that created an amazing bond that day, that I didn’t even count on!
We made fast friends with other families on the trail, and at the end of our day, my husband and I agreed that it was a really wonderful day.
A day where we were unplugged. Together. Having fun. No expectations.
It was an addicting feeling.
The rules for our state park adventures after that went like this:
–We all had to be there!
–We couldn’t repeat a state park. (We could go to a state park we’d visited again, of course! It just wouldn’t count.)
–We had to take a family selfie!
February was FDR State Park — a place I’ve been to about 50 times in my life. I used to camp there as a girl with my family, and it is definitely a park I feel great amounts of love for.
We spent a night with my parents in a cabin. Alice climbed rocks at Dowdell’s Knob. Tom (now 5) set up his dinosaurs around the campfire. We all spent the day at Callaway Gardens (free on weekdays in February — we went on a Friday!) and it was just wonderful. We hiked, and enjoyed just spending an amazing day together.
March was a state park I had been dying to go to forever. Forever!! I was just never in that area of Georgia, and never got around to going. So this plan of ours was the perfect excuse! Y’all. Go. To. Providence Canyon State Park!! You’ll be so glad you did.
When we arrived, all of us were just shocked! Tom actually said, “Oh my goodness, Mom! We’re at the Grand Canyon!!” We only spent the day, but it was a great one. We road tripped there, spent the day exploring and playing on the playground, and road tripped back. You can do it! And you should! Alice (now 3) got a splinter and an ant bite while there, and would still tell you it’s her favorite!
April was George L. Smith State Park. Y’all go here, too! No, really. It’s just the most amazingly beautiful place!! We arrived on Easter Sunday and spent two nights in one of their amazing cabins. We rented a row boat on the first day, and a 4-seated pedal boat the second day. We had beautiful weather, the kids loved the water, it was a gorgeous place, and everyone we met was super nice. I had high expectations for this park, and they were exceeded!
May was Tallulah Gorge State Park which found me chickening out on taking the steps to the suspension bridge! I was just so scared we’d be carrying the littles! Thankfully, you get beautiful views even without doing that, so we were saved!
And June was Watson Mill Bridge State Park — an amazing place!! We had so much fun exploring! And the bridge is absolutely breathtaking in person! The kids loved the water, and we had the most perfect afternoon there before a storm ran us off! We will be back!
We are halfway through this adventure, and I cannot fully express how amazing it has been for us. We have discovered new places together. Spent quality time together. Bonded in a way that only random bathroom breaks on road trips can do. I have met wonderful friends along the way, and have been able to experience some really great things. And the best part has been — that we have been together. Really together.
I’m a born and raised Georgia girl with A LOT of state pride, but seeing these six state parks so far this year, has given me an all new appreciation for how lucky we are to live here. How lucky we are to have these parks, and the amazing people who work there to make our visits so special.
I have loved going on these adventures with my little family. I have loved watching our kids discover new things, right along with us. I have loved our picnic lunches. I have loved our hikes. I love that Alice collects sticks and rocks. And Tom sets up “dinosaur worlds” everywhere we go. I love that Kevin and I have time to be together outside, without yard work being involved! I love our Georgia State Parks. And I know you will, too.
Many thanks to Lesli, for inviting me to tell our story, but also for blogging about her amazing family adventures! We do at least three of her adventures a month, and have always had a blast! Thanks so much!!