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November 19 thru 22, 2009 -  Old Stone Fort State Park - Manchester, Tennessee
A friend of Daddy's told him about Old Stone Fort State Park, a very very cool place about an hour South of Nashville, Tennessee. It is the site of a 2000 year-old Woodland Indian ceremonial site. What is amazing is the fact that the 50 acre perfectly flat hilltop is almost completely surrounded by a rock and dirt wall. Where there is no wall, cliffs and rivers protect the area. As with one of our favorite places, Fort Mountain State Park, the first non-natives to visit the area assumed the enclosure was a fort, and understandably so. Although no one ever actually lived on the site, it was constructed, maintained, and used for a period of around 400 years. The wall contains no rocks over 70 pounds, in other words, nothing placed in the wall was heavier than a single person could lift and carry. There is a very nice museum on-site that describes the archaeological processes and findings very clearly, including a time tunnel that demonstrates what was happening elsewhere on Earth at simultaneous times related to the building of this old ceremonial ground. Although some of the Tribe didn't think they wanted to hike, the 1.2 mile hike was very easy with lots of neat things to see. By the end of the loop, everyone wanted to go around again, but it was time for lunch.  After lunch, we played around the campground, then drove about 20 minutes to Morrison Tennessee for some unusual fun that Daddy thought we'd all love, a MONSTER TRUCK RIDE (scroll down).

The campground: The campground at Old Stone Fort is accessed by crossing an old-fashioned truss bridge that, at first sight, seems too small to fit or/support a large RV. Daddy was assured that the Tribe's Homer II would fit through the ironworks, and it did. Camping is just $17 a night ($14 for TN seniors), but don't expect any full hookups or pull-throughs. All sites are back in but most are pretty big and very level. There is water and electricity, but we were unable to get any television reception, which was just fine.

Side Adventure - Monster Truck Ride
After our hike and lunch on Saturday, Daddy and Mommy took us to "Cobra Monster Truck Rides" in Morrison, Tennessee (931-635-3123). The initial interest was mixed until we got there and saw the truck. Suddenly all the Tribe wanted to ride. At first we thought it would be just a short ride, but it seemed Mr. White (owner and driver) was having as much fun as us. He'd look back to see if we were smiling, and he'd grin ear to ear. We drove over old cars, through mud, went fast, went slow, went up, went down, every which way. Everyone had a blast and wanted to do it more. The cost was a very reasonable $30.00 for all six Tribe members (multi-passenger discount). The regular cost is $6.00 per rider. The pictures tell the story. Sorry about the blurred pictures. It's hard to focus when you're laughing and screaming simultaneously.


November 13 thru 15, 2009 - Fort Mountain State Park - Chatsworth, Georgia
In the days before white men, and for some time after their arrival, Fort Mountain was known as "Cohutta", which most closely translates to "Mountains that Hold the Sky" in Cherokee. After some research, Daddy discovered Cohutta mountain is the source of several legends about a lost Native American gold mine. he also discovered proof that a working gold mine was producing significant ore on the mountain in 1906. Gold had apparently been successfully panned there prior to the discovery of the veins and the opening of the Cohutta mine around 1905. Mysteriously, and to the surprise of USGS surveyors visiting the mine, by 1910, it had been closed. 19 years later, Ivan Allen, a wealthy man from nearby Dalton, donated the top of the mountain to the state of Georgia as a state park. Sometime between 1906 and 1929, Mr. Allen acquired the land. (Note: For many years, trucks hauled load after load of "talc" from mines deep in Fort Mountain. Wouldn't it make a great novel that somehow they were actually mining gold, and Ivan Allen donated the mountain to the state to keep nosy prospectors out?) 

This whole scenario, to Daddy, seemed like a perfect mystery and challenge. Somewhere on Fort Mountain is gold. Daddy planned this trip for the purpose of doing a little prospecting. Saturday afternoon, with gold pans in hand, Daddy and Super Dave began the hike up Gold Mine Creek. Unfortunately, no gold was found, but fun was had anyway. Daddy hasn't given up yet though!

While at the park, we hiked around the lake, casting our fishing lines in from place to place. We played ladder ball and Frisbee golf, build a little bridge over the stream behind the camper, and found lots of insects hiding in old trees. We sat by the fire and talked until we all got a little chilly. 

November 08, 2009 - Yellow River Game Ranch - Lilburn, Georgia
The Yellow river Game Ranch, located just a few miles East of Stone Mountain, is a great place to visit when in the area. When the Tribe visited, the facility had been hit hard by the recent flooding of Yellow River, and some habitats were damaged or destroyed. frankly, there were other aspects of the facility that were in need of repair and maintenance unrelated to flooding, but none that should discourage you from visiting. All the Richardson Tribe loves animals, and this place did not let us down. We could go on and on, but we think the pictures tell the story.

November 07, 2009 - Lula Lake Land Trust - Lookout Mountain, Georgia
This is a place that Daddy has wanted to visit for a long time. The Lula Lake Land Trust, a privately owned preserve, has a lot to offer as far as natural beauty and neat things to do (hiking, mountain biking, wildlife watching, fossil hunting, etc.). The land is open to the public the first and last Saturday of every month. Just show-up and enjoy. If you want to make arrangements for a group field trip, the land manager will let you in on other days. The property was the home to a coal mine around the turn of the 20th century, and the old mine tailings have tons of fossils. The part of the property that contains the mine tailings is not typically open to the public, but the Land Manager told Daddy arrangements could be made for small groups. On this day, a high school geology club and the Rome Georgia Mineral Society were there. The Tribe was unable to participate in the fossil hunt, but we'll come back. We did have a nice little hike to Lula Lake and Lula Falls just beyond. Daddy climbed down to the base of the falls and took some pictures. Then he complained a lot about sore legs after climbing back out. We saw a snake and some other critters too, but not nearly as many as we saw on Sunday.   

Side Adventure - Chattanooga, TN
After the nice little hike, we drove down off Lookout Mountain and discovered that there was a huge rowing regatta called Head of the Hooch happening on the Tennessee River. We all marked this experience up as a new and unique one. Seeing all those sleek hydrodynamic boats slicing through the water was awesome. After a couple of pizzas at Lupi's, we headed home.

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This site was last updated 01/18/10