Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Fernbank Museum of Natural History

  A model of Argentinosaurus, the world’s largest fossilized dinosaur skeleton yet discovered, fills the airy center hall of the museum and reaches almost to the third floor balcony. This dinosaur never lived in Georgia but the “Walk Through Time in Georgia” exhibit features many fossils and models of dinosaurs that did live in Georgia plus detailed explanations of the how sea creatures evolved to live on land and how reptiles evolved to become mammals. Other exhibits explore cultures around the world and the development of pottery by the Native Americans on St. Catherines Island.

  The museum is all accessible.

   After turning onto the museum road look for a right turn into a parking lot. This lot doesn’t get much use and is fine for RV parking. The security guard asked us to park backed up to overhang the grass strip between the rows. He also said that it would be alright to park along the edge of the lot near the back. The parking lot has a slight slope down to the sidewalk which leads to the museum entrance.  Museum
33.77411, -84.32976

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Stone Mountain Park

  Stone Mountain is an impressive mound of granite rising over 800’ above the surrounding ground. The carving on it’s face of Confederate leaders Davis, Lee and Jackson is controversial. In 1915 a group of men re-established the KKK complete with a cross burning on the top of the mountain. The Venable Brothers who owned the mountain gave the KKK a perpetual easement to use the property so when the state purchased the mountain and surrounding land in 1958 it had to be condemned to remove the easement. The work on the carving, which began in 1923 but was  not completed until 1972, struggled through changes of design, project leadership, and master carvers. Funding  was also a problem with money coming from many sources including the KKK and school children.

  The park surrounding the mountain is fairly big and has a conference center, golf course, campground, restaurant and numerous attractions. The ten dollar parking fee includes admission to  Confederate Hall Historical & Environmental Education Center,  the Quarry Exhibit, the laser show, and the trail to the top of the mountain.  For an additional $30.00 you can purchase a Adventure Pass which includes admission to 10 more attractions. Check carefully because all of the attractions are not opened everyday and it may be better to buy individual tickets for the attractions that you want to see.

   Most of the attractions are not accessible so we just paid to park then viewed the carving, visited Discovering Stone Mountain Museum at Memorial Hall ( this seems to be a paid attraction but we didn’t realize that and just went in) and saw the laser show.  All of these are accessible and located in the same area but the park is hilly so most wheelchair users will need to have some help getting from the parking lot to the viewing area. The Summit Skyride is accessible.

  Parking for RVs is located on the road next to Triangle Lot. You may have to drive through the lot to access it. This is the only area specifically for RV parking. Parking may be available in other lots on non-busy days but because of the hills and over all size of the park visiting other areas might be hard if you don’t have a car that can fit in the smaller lots.  Park
33.82299, -84.15282

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site

  Martin Luther King Jr. grew up in this neighborhood on the east side of Atlanta at a time when segregation dictated all aspects of life. His father was a pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church located just a couple blocks from the family’s home. MLK Jr. graduated from seminary school, earned a PhD and became a pastor in Montgomery, Alabama but as the struggle for civil rights began to occupy more of his time he moved back to Atlanta along with his wife Coretta and their children and served as co-pastor at Ebenezer.

  The visitor center has six very well done, informative displays which follow a timeline of King’s life, the civil rights movement, and the important role that King played in it. Several videos are shown in the theater. Tours of the house where King was born are free but only a certain number of tickets are given out so get them early if you want to go. The King Center has a couple of small exhibits in Freedom Hall and a memorial area containing Martin Luther King Jr’s tomb. The Ebenezer Church, which still functions as a church, is being restored by the National Park Service and is opened for visits. An 1894 fire station has exhibits about the history of Atlanta and early fire fighting.

  The visitor center is accessible. The theater has wheelchair spaces at the ends of the last row of seats. The fire station is accessible. The house where MLK Jr was born has an accessible entrance in the rear. A lift accesses the second floor but it was broken when we visited. The church has a side entrance with a bell which must be rung for access. Once inside there’s a lift but it was broken too. The sidewalks and curb cuts are all in fairly good condition.

  The parking lot is large enough for RVs. Small RVs can be backed up to overhang the grass strips. Large RVs can be parked lengthwise across the spaces.  Historic Site
33.75842, -84.37351
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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Jimmy Carter Library

  Bogged down by the energy crisis and the Iran hostage crisis, Jimmy Carter didn’t accomplish much in his four years as president. However the Carter Center, founded by Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter after he lost his second run for president, has been very successful in it’s mission to eradicate diseases in developing countries, monitor elections in newly democratic counties and resolve conflicts between countries. The library covers Carter’s childhood, his career as a naval officer, peanut farmer, senator, governor, president and then his very busy life after his presidency.

   The library is accessible. The theater has spaces at the ends of the aisles where a wheelchair will fit but it has a slope so brakes must be used. A short paved path leads through beautiful landscaped grounds with a view of downtown Atlanta.

  The parking lots are pretty big and don’t get a lot of use so just park out of the way. The security guards may direct RVs to the bus parking lot.  Library
33.76658, -84.35574

Friday, April 25, 2014

Zoo Atlanta

   This is a fairly small zoo but it still includes the larger animals such as giraffes and elephants plus a family of cute pandas. Most of the animals have large enclosures and appear to be well cared for.

  The zoo is on the edge of Grant Park which is hilly so all of the paths are sloped to some extent. Most wheelchair users will need to have some help. The walkways are in good condition. Most of the enclosures have at least one viewing area with plexiglass so children and people in wheelchairs get a good view of the animals.

  Of the two parking lots at Grant Park, the one on east side is larger and may be best if you want to park a RV but the path down to the zoo is fairly steep. The west side lot has a better path but may be too crowded for RVs.  Zoo
33.7338, -84.37318

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Atlanta Cyclorama & Civil War Museum

  The Atlanta cyclorama is a 358’ painting on linen (no photos allowed) that has been hung to form a cylinder. The audience sits in the middle on a slowly rotating theater platform and experiences the Battle of Atlanta from a vantage point at the center of all of the action. The painting, which was the work of German cyclorama painters, was completed in 1886. The 128 plaster foreground figures were added in the 1930s as part of the Work Progress Administration to provide jobs for artists during the depression. The Civil War museum is fairly small with many Civil War era photographs, information about the painting and a display about the Texas, a steam locomotive used to chase down another train that the Union troops were using as they destroyed the train tracks leading to Atlanta.

  The museum is accessible. Visitors in wheelchairs must use a lift to access the rotating platform. Seating is in the front of the theater with an excellent view. Other members of the party are supplied with folding chairs.

  The cyclorama is in the middle of Grant Park. Of the two parking lots, the one on east side is larger and may be best if you want to park a RV but the path down to the cyclorama is fairly steep. The west side lot has a better path but may be too crowded for RVs. Cyclorama
33.73392, -84.37263

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ocmulgee Flats Hunt Camp

   Mature fir and hardwood trees form a shady canopy making this a beautiful campsite. The large,  flat area with little underbrush is roomy enough for many campers. Since it’s a hunt and horse camp it may be busy at times but we had it almost all to ourselves. A few people with horse trailers pulled in for day rides and left at night. Trains in the distance are the only noise disturbance. Poison ivy is prevalent.

  The campsite is a mile in on a one lane gravel road with enough room to allow oncoming traffic to pass. It’s very hard to spot the access road from Route 83. From Ocmulgee River travel one mile northeast on 83 and look for the access road on the left.  Camp
33.17976, -83.81774

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ocmulgee National Monument

  17,000 years of evidence of human habitation has been uncovered at  Ocmulgee but the park centers around the period from 950-1150 when the Macon Plateau culture people built the seven mounds that are on the grounds. About 5 miles of trails loop around and on top of the mounds. The visitor center has artifacts from an archeological dig sponsored by Roosevelt’s depression era Works Project Administration.

  The visitor center is accessible. The theater has movable chairs. One trail, from the visitor center to the earth lodge, is paved but has a very steep down and then up grade. All of the other trails have soft, uneven, hilly ground or steps. It possible to see the mounds from the park road.

   RVs can be parked across the spaces in the visitor center lot. Do not drive any farther on the park road with a RV. A railroad overpass with a 8’ 6” clearance is located a short distance in. The road is about a mile long with no sidewalk but it can be walked.  Ocmulgee
32.84205, -83.6032

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Museum of Aviation

  More than 90 airplanes are on display in four buildings along with interesting exhibits about the Flying Tigers, a group of skilled fighter pilots hired by China to stop attacks from the invading Japanese;  the challenge of delivering supplies to US bases in China which involved flying above 15,000’ over the Himalayan mountains on the Indian border;  the role of paratroopers in the D-Day invasion; and the creation of the first black flying unit known as the Tuskegee Airmen.  Allow three or four hours to see everything, more if you read all of the exhibit signage.

  Everything indoors is accessible except for a few exhibits where it’s possible to climb into the seats of the aircraft or trainers. Most of the planes displayed outside can be seen from the road or paved path but some of the signs are in the grass and too far away to be easily read.

  The parking lot is huge with a section for RVs and buses.  Museum
32.59185, -83.5888

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Kilbrew Park Campground

   The county power commission manages this little campground. Set up on a site and an employee will be around to register you. The sites have tables, fire rings and water. Some are large enough for any RV. Two have accessible tables but they aren’t marked as accessible sites. We didn’t see any type of toilet facilities.

  The campground is located at the base of a dam and seems to be a popular fishing area. We camped in the middle of the week.  Most of the sites had tents set up on them but nobody camping so it appears that people are “saving” the sites for the weekends. Campground
31.8476, -83.94457

Friday, April 18, 2014

World's Largest Peanut!

  Georgia grows over 3 billion pounds of peanuts a year, almost half of the nation’s peanut crop. This big peanut, built in 1975 is 10’ tall, sitting on top of a 15’ tower. It’s right off of I-75, actually visible from the interstate, so you don’t have to drive far to see it up close.

  The parking lot is pretty small. Large RVs can be parked in the sausage store lot.  Peanut
  31.70633, -83.63555

Jefferson Davis Memorial Historic Site

   After the Confederate army surrendered to the north, Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, went into hiding and fled south from Richmond, hoping to escape overseas. He was captured by Union troops on May 10, 1865 at this site. A monument and a small museum were built in the 1930s. The museum contains artifacts from the war and a few personal possessions of the Davis family.  A short film is shown. The museum curator is extremely knowledgeable but expect a slightly southern slant.

  The museum and theater are  accessible. Some of the displays are difficult to see from a seated position. The monument is located in the grass without a path to it so it’s difficult to get close and hard to view from a distance.

  The parking lot is small but there’s enough room for large RVs to park and turn around. Museum
31.66365, -83.38699

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lowndes County Historical Museum

    The exhibits and artifacts in this small museum cover local history. The displays aren’t very informative but a couple of them caught our attention – the sad story of Gypsy, a circus elephant, and the early life of Doc Holiday who spent his childhood in Valdosta and worked as an apprentice dentist before moving west to become a gambler and gunslinger.

    The accessible entrance is on the left side of the building. There’s a button to push to unlock the door but it’s located too high for a person in a wheelchair to reach. Once inside an elevator provides access to the museum. Some of the displays are hard to see and some of the aisles are too narrow for easy wheelchair access. The paths in the outdoor display area are covered with pine needles which makes pushing very difficult.

    RVs can park in the large lot across the street.  Museum
    30.83037, -83.28292

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dudley Farm Historic State Park

  Three generations of Dudleys lived and worked on their 640 acre farm, raising livestock, fruits, vegetables, sugar cane, cotton, tobacco and peanuts. Eighteen original buildings along with 325 acres were donated to the state by Myrtle Elizabeth Dudley, the last Dudley to live on the farm. The buildings, which include the farm house, general store, hay barn, canning shed and numerous outbuildings, were built between the 1880s and 1945 and allow visitors to experience how farm life has changed through the years. A small visitor center has a short film and displays about the family and farm.

  The visitor center is accessible. The trail to the farm site is paved for a short distance then becomes sandy and uneven, grassy ground. A couple of balloon tire wheelchairs are available to use. The farm house has a lift which requires a key  to operate. It looks like it might be out of commission but we didn’t ask. The general store has a few very uneven steps. It’s fairly east to peek inside most of the other buildings. The nature trail has some roots and a lot of poison ivy.
  Smaller RVs will fit in the main parking lot but large RVs may have to park in the bus lot.
29.65655, -82.5419

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sawgrass Lake Park Trails

  This little island of maple swampland is surrounded by interstate highway and industrial development. There’s quite a bit of traffic noise which distracts from the experience but the amount of wildlife that can be spotted while strolling along the trails is surprising. Round trip along the boardwalks is about 1 1/2 miles. A loop trail through the woods adds another 1/2 mile. A few outdoor displays are located at the nature center.

  The boardwalks are accessible and in very good condition. The top board of the railings blocks the view somewhat for wheelchair users. The loop trail is hard packed sand with few roots and is fairly easy to push along.

  RVs can park lengthwise across the parking spaces.  Park