Georgia’s Grand Canyon

We have been trying to explore as much as we can and like to visit state parks that are underestimated or are not known of so much. We left Florida really early around 2 am at night. On our way to Whitwell, TN, we planned to stop by Georgia’s grand canyon- Providence Canyon State Park.

Well, no place can compare to the real Grand Canyon National Park, but… this place in Georgia is something unique and incredible. Providence Canyon State Park is considered “little Grand Canyon” for a reason. The state park’s little canyons are making a great scenery. Located in the South-west Georgia, the park covers 1,003-acre land. The park is also called Seven Natural Wonders of Georgia. The canyons formed after the exploitive farming practices in the area leading to the destruction of topsoil. The gullies grew into the 150-foot canyons.

The park provides tons of opportunities to hike, camp and site-seeing. We hiked down to the canyon floor. The Canyon Loop Trail is well marked and labeled. The puddles and streams on the trail add beauty. Make sure to wear rain boots! Enjoy the mud! The canyon walls are stunning, however, more prone to the erosion. We noticed many carvings on the canyon walls; however, the walls particles are loosely formed. The canyons provide small picture of Sedona, Arizona. The place provided a feel of grand canyon in Arizona. We were nostalgic but at the same time appreciative of the beautiful construction of nature.

We automatically tend to compare one place to another every single time. However, all places from little grand canyon to the real grand canyon, all have their own natural beauty and importance to that particular place. Knowing the fact, that this kind of topography exists in Georgia itself is a valuable knowledge. We could see people travelling from all around the states there. It’s worth the visit. As we left the place to travel to Whitwell from Georgia, we were on phone with our grand mother. She informed us that her parents used to camp in this state park in an RV. This just made us feel fascinated about the place even more.

Cabin Experience

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By the title of this post, you have probably already guessed what I am going to talk about today. Yes! our cabin experience. We travelled back to Tennessee again to unwind from our regular jobs. If you have been reading previous posts, we were hiking in the Great Smokey Mountains last time, staying at the Pigeon Forge in a beautiful Airbnb trailer home. We didn’t go to the Smokey’s again this time. However, we went to very quiet and secluded place located in the middle of nowhere at Whitwell, Tennessee. Whitwell is about an hour north from Chattanooga, TN. It was tedious winding roads from Chattanooga to the cabin. Local people drive very fast even in such winding roads, but be careful with the traffic. There are plenty of blind spots, and it will be even more challenging if you travel at night.

Let’s talk about cabin now. The cabin was located in the private camping area owned by Camp Chet. Camp Chet has huge area, I would say whole mountain designated for camping. We ended up reaching at the office, however, the owner made us drive around the mountain to where our cabin was located. The roads were unpaved and we were pretty nervous if our sedan could make it. It did! so Yay to that! It was pretty nerve-wracking though.

The cabin is so isolated in the middle of the forest. The forest probably doesn’t have a name. I don’t know. I have to check with the owner. The cabin was beautiful. It didn’t have any utilities- no power supply, no water supply. However, there was portable toilet available at the common area/ near pavilion. The whole camp site was basically for us because there were no any campers. So, we were alone without any other human beings. The cabin had nice bed with beautiful, cozy, warm comforters. The cabin can actually accommodate 4 people. They have 2 extra cots.

We had our own camping gear, although, the pavilion had emergency items available. We were glad to take our own propane gas stove (our first time with propane gas stove). It was very convenient and easy. However, we did not really have to use stove because grill was made available by the owner. In addition, fire pit was available with hanging grill. We utilized all because the place had plenty of firewood. The whole forest had tons of firewood available. It rained for two days. But, it was precious because we could still cook and stay warm by lighting the fire. As it rained, the little creek in front of the cabin started to flow at bigger force. It turned into a mini waterfall. We slept outside and inside with the sound of the water flowing. It was so relaxing!

As it stopped raining, we hiked from our cabin to the other side of the mountain where the Camp Chet office was located. The hike was about 2 miles. As we hiked up, we could see beautiful view of the forest and mountains. We did want to hike for the sunset view, however, we were also aware of the wild animals in the area. As we hiked up, we noticed several animal footprints- I think- was bob cat or Coyote print and deer prints as well. Some little ones and some big ones. Parents were probably teaching their kids to survive winter.

We did not have anything much to do in the cabin as we didn’t have power supply. However, we did not feel the need for electricity any way. We had battery operated lanterns and it worked fine. We engaged ourselves in cooking, eating, doing dishes by using the water from the nearest creek, and playing cards. I have played cards several times but experience was never like this time. I had never felt that good playing cards, cooking and staying near the firepit under the trees. One night I was on the chair feeling the warmth of the fire, slightly lied down against the chair, looked upwards and I could see that the sky was clear. I could see tiny stars twinkling and also two different planets that blinked. I told my husband how to differentiate between a star and a planet. As I looked up, I saw two shoot stars that night. And, I prayed. My husband was chopping some firewood for next day. I asked him if he was tired. And he replied “no, I like it.”

It wasn’t that cold at all inside the wooden cabin. They did provide propane heater, but we didn’t have to use at all. By 7 pm we were already inside our cozy bed because it would be dark by that time. We again used to talk and play cards. We got up by 7 am next morning. We are used to getting up at 5 am due to our work life. We always rushed to get up and get ready for work and leave on time. But, it was unusual experience at the cabin because even though we wanted to get up early, and tried to be productive, we could not. We realized that it was dark outside and it was better for us to stay inside. We did not miss our morning cell phone scrolling routine at all. We did not miss our TV time. We did not miss Wifi. We did not miss our fancy breakfast at all. All I could hear was that my husband telling me how rested he felt because he slept very well. I felt same way. I mean who gets so sleep in such environment with background music of the flowing creek.

It is so funny that one night my husband asked if he could play some music from the car. It was new years eve day. I said “okay”.But it was only “okay” because when I am in nature, I feel like playing music is disrespect to the nature. I don’t know if any one ever feels this way. I think it disturbs creatures. I think it dominates natural sounds coming from the forest. Anyways, he turned on the car and played music but he quickly turned it off. It was not worth it. It actually was more disturbing than soothing. I said, “there is nothing more soothing than listening to the creek sound, under the tree, listen to trees move”. We laughed.

We had our own drinking water but we did not fully want to use it for dish washing purposes. We went down to the creek and fetched some water for cleaning purposes. It felt amazing. We felt so connected to the nature, and I thanked it for welcoming us and letting us do what we were doing.

I have realized that these tiny little things make us happy. We were more happier than before. It was a simple life. There is hardwork but it is still therapeutic because hardwork is done being connected to the nature. I don’t know about you all but it gives me some power and some positive energy which is why I keep on telling everyone that God is nature and nature is God.

Fort Gadsden: Forgotten “Negro Fort” history hidden in Apalachicola National Forest

We decided to stop by Fort Gadsden while returning back from our trip to St George Island. Fort Gadsden is located in the Apalachicola National Forest. This fort is quite deep in the forest.

If you google search for places to visit in the Florida panhandle, you would probably not get Fort Gadsden listed. At least, we did not. We got to learn about Fort Gadsden in one of our travel guide books published by travel journalists. It is effortless to miss the road to this fort. We found a brown sign that said, Fort Gadsden. We just followed it. Deep in the forest, the road was unpaved.
On top of that, it was a rainy day. My husband doubted if our sedan would be able to drive on all the thick dirt. We kept on moving, and nothing to be seen. There was no service on our cell phones because we were so deep in the forest.
The white truck driving in the opposite direction was the only vehicle on the dirt road. We stopped our car and asked the man about how far the fort was. He was a hunter. He informed us that it was only about a mile. He said that our car would be able to handle the dirt road.

Hopeful enough, we decided to move further. We thought we almost reached the fort, but in vain. We noticed the signs that warned hunters to keep their weapons away from the residences there. Well, we only saw a couple of houses. At a point, I thought to stop and ask the resident. We saw the man in one of the houses who was doing dishes. We stopped our car but in a dilemma whether to proceed and ask him. My husband thought it was not safe to get out of the car as he could have firearms. We kept on following other signs with anxiety. We reached the park entrance, but the gate was closed. After driving all the bumpy roads, my husband was in huge disappointment and not ready to believe that the empty ground that we were seeing was a fort Gadsden. He didn’t want to give up yet. But, I pulled him away because the big “closed” sign at the shut gate said it all.

Fort Gadsden

Although Fort Gadsden was closed, here is what we know about this hidden historic landmark.

The fort is located on the eastern bank of the Apalachicola River, accessed by Highway 65. In 1812, British Royal Marine built the fort on recruiting Seminole Indians and escaped black slaves allies to fight against America. The fort was called British post. However, the British left the fort around 1815. The fort, now, was occupied by 300 escaped slaves and 30 Seminole and Choctaw Indians. Thus, the fort was known as the Negro Fort. The Negro Fort was a symbol of rebel and freedom from slavery. Seminole women, children, black families in Florida took refuge in the fort.

However, the U.S. Navy attacked the Negro Fort and left no trace. The American soldiers raided the surrounding settlements, burnt everything, and returned black families to the white slaveholders. The Indians were sentenced to death. The Americans continued the raid along the bank of the Apalachicola River for the next few years. James Gadsden, in 1818, built Fort Gadsden on the site where old Negro Fort was. The fort, a home, a place to fight for freedom for the black community was destroyed.