May 17, 2021 – Hiking the Trails
Sunlight sneaking in around the black-out curtains made me ready to get up and have some coffee on the balcony. It was cooler than I expected but so nice to see the sun rise over the lake.
We were ready to leave the Lodge about 8:00. We decided to try the Country Kitchen for breakfast. It is a restaurant outside the grounds about 3 miles from the Lodge. It is owned by Callaway Gardens. According to its description, the Kitchen is one of the original buildings of Callaway Gardens and was converted to a restaurant and gift shop during one of the expansions. We could have had breakfast at the Piedmont, but they serve a buffet and we were not interested in that much food.
We made a good choice. The view from the restaurant was lovely and the food was very good. I had a vegetable omelet, hashbrowns, and rye toast. Chuck had the two-egg country ham breakfast. He quizzed the waitress on whether or not the grits could be eaten with a fork. She assured him they could. They couldn’t. We both like the Muscadine preserves that were served with the toast and biscuits. We were able to charge the meal to the room. Convenient.
After eating, we drove back about a mile to the main Garden entrance. You can, of course, visit the Gardens without staying at the Resort. The cost is $25.00 per person. The Lodge resort fee covers the admission each day of stay and the day of checkout. We also discovered that you can enter the Gardens from behind the Lodge near the Golf Course as long as you have your room keycard.
We drove around the perimeter first with the windows down enjoying the breeze and listening to the birds. We realized that the majority of the lakes in the property are named for birds (11 of the 14 lakes).
Our first stop was the Overlook Azalea Gardens Trail. We were the only car in the lot and the only people on the trail which I found unusual. Most of the azaleas had already bloomed but we still saw some nice ones. The trail was an easy 1.5 miles. It connected to the Whippoorwill Lake Trail so we took it back to the parking lot which was another .25 miles.
Our next stop was the Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl. Again, we were the only car in the lot. We went through the entrance and I smelled my favorite flower – the gardenia. Huge bushes of them. The entrance was beautifully landscaped with numerous benches all around the flower beds. We walked the 1.2 mile azalea trail. Along this trail, we saw many chipmunks, birds, squirrels, turtles, and geese. We also heard rustling in the tall grasses that I convinced myself was just more chipmunks. We then took a spur trail to the Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel which sits on the edge of the Lower Falls Creek Lake.
It was stunning in its simplicity – all wood, metal, and stone. The stained glass was designed to represent nature and the different seasons. We were the only ones in the chapel, so we were able to take our time and give thanks for all of our blessings. We knew we would definitely make a visit back here before our trip was over. It was just that peaceful.
When we got back to the Bowl entrance / parking lot, there were several people milling about. They asked about the trails and how far. They decided it was too far to walk and seemed disappointed that they were going to miss the chapel. We told them that they could drive to the chapel if they turned left out of this lot and went back about 1/2 mile. There was a small parking lot near the building. I was glad we are still in good shape to walk the trails. I hope they got to go.
Our last stop was the Pioneer Log Cabin. It was built in the 1830’s and moved from Troup County in 1959. It housed a 15-member family. The whole cabin didn’t look bigger than our hotel room. We hiked the 0.6 mile Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Trail. It is a sister trail to the one in Texas. Has only native plants. There were several small ponds with fish and turtles along the trail.
Once we got back to the parking lot, it was close to 2:00. We decided to call it a day and go back to the Lodge. It was warm so we went to the pool. There was only one other couple there. We got in the hot tub for a while. Chuck got in the pool but I thought it was too chilly. We enjoyed relaxing and listening to the music playing over the speakers. I thought “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” was an appropriate song for our day.
Afterwards, we spent happy hour on the balcony chatting with the neighbors again. We walked back to Cason’s. Neither of us were that hungry so we each ordered a glass of wine and an appetizer – a charcuterie board and chicken wings. We should have only ordered one appetizer to split. They were both large appetizers.
The restaurant cat was back. Found out from our waitress tonight that he was a she and her name is Callie. She came over to see what we were eating. We gave her some chicken and a little bit of cheese. She turned her nose up at both and decided a nap was in order instead. I hope she had better luck with later diners.
Tomorrow we are thinking we may rent one of the golf carts called the Callaway Cruisers to see more of the park that we can’t get to in the car and it is too far by foot.
What do azaleas, blueberries, cranberries, and mountain laurel have in common? They are all members of the Ericaceae or Heath family.
Azaleas are technically rhododendrons.
The Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl feature both exotic Asian evergreen azaleas and North American deciduous azaleas.
Inspired by 16th century Gothic chapels, Cason Callaway designed the chapel in honor of his mother.
Today, the chapel is used for small weddings as well as a non-denominational service each Sunday at 9am throughout the Summer and during the Christmas season. Organ concerts, featuring the chapel’s custom-built Möller pipe organ, are held each weekend – Saturday and Sunday afternoon, 2pm until 4 pm – as well as during some holidays and special events.
*trivia provided by Callaway Gardens documents