May 16, 2021
I was up as usual at 6:00 am. I’m always nervous on the first day of the trip. Did I get everything important packed? Will Pumpkin cooperate and be inside when we are ready to leave?
Today, everything went well. We got the car packed while Pumpkin was outside. He came in about 10:00 and knew something was up when we would not let him back outside when he went to the door. He got frustrated with us and went to take a nap. We were able to leave at 11:00 with no angst. I knew our cat sitter would come by at dinner time.
We drove down US 27S and stopped at Bremen for lunch at Wendy’s around 1:00. I was taken aback at the line of people waiting to order. There was also a number of cars in the drive-thru line. Just another example of more people on the move. We were two of the very few wearing masks inside.
As we got near to Pine Mountain, I activated the GPS. She tried to route us into the Cottages entrance and not the main Lodge entrance. I kept going. The main lodge entrance was obscured by large trees on the left and the only sign on the right said “Wildlife viewing” so I overshot the entrance and had to turn around. Need to trim the trees or install better signage on both sides of the road.
We got there at 3:00. We parked in the circle outside of the Lodge. Check-in was 4:00 but fortunately our room was ready. Couldn’t find a luggage cart so the kind desk attendant helped us take our luggage to the room. COVID restrictions were in place. There was no valet service, but we could park in the valet slots. There would be no daily housekeeping, but we could call and get anything we needed. Masks were required indoors in public areas.
The room was nice but not luxurious. King bed, two bedside tables, chair, lamp, and small table in the corner, desk and office chair, and dresser with a small refrigerator, a place for the coffee maker, drawers, and a 50” TV on top. The bathroom was nice. Had a large shower separate from the tub. Only one sink but it was okay. The best part about the room was the balcony. The maid was working on another room so we asked for more coffee as we knew we would need more packages of it.
Once unpacked, we fixed ourselves a cocktail and sat outside to listen to the fountain bubbling and look at Robin Lake. Shady and a nice breeze. Perfect. Wasn’t long before the people who had the room next door came out on their balcony. They were from Americus, Georgia, and come to Callaway Gardens quite often. We enjoyed chatting with them.
Eventually, we wandered down to look at the pool. The pool area had two hot tubs in addition to the 5-foot-deep pool. The area was open every day until dusk but there was no bar/food service at the small pavilion. I assume it will open after Memorial Day. They did have beach towels for use at the pool. Couldn’t get into the pool area without your room key.
We kept walking to the lake area. Very nice white sand beach. Lots of people enjoying the water and playing on the beach. I wasn’t surprised at seeing geese near the beach, but I was very surprised at seeing buzzards on the beach.
We didn’t walk far. Decided that it was time for dinner. We had the choice of Piedmont Dining Room or Cason’s Tap Room on the property. Didn’t realize until we got over there that the menu was the same for each. If you wanted to eat inside, you were in the Piedmont. If you wanted to sit outside or at the bar, you were in Cason’s. We chose to sit outside as it was shady and a pleasant temperature.
I ordered the Winter Strawberry Salad with grilled shrimp and a glass of water. Chuck ordered the fish and chips and a glass of wine. I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner. He was not impressed with the fish or the wine.
We noticed a large grey cat sitting on the wall giving himself a bath. He wasn’t bothering anyone. The people at the table below him finally looked up and noticed him. They gave him some of their food and he snapped it up. I asked the waitress and she said that she thought it belonged to one of the houses in the area. However, Callaway’s policies were not to trap or bother any animal on the property, so he was there most every day. Said that she witnessed customers who actually bought a restaurant meal specifically for the cat. He definitely didn’t look like he had missed any meal. No chasing squirrels for him.
Eventually, he caught our eye and trotted over to see what we had. We gave him some shrimp and fish. He seemed to enjoy it. I noticed that that he strolled from table to table but never jumped on any of them. Some people fed him. Some ignored him. Very polite cat. If it had been our Smoke, he would have jumped on every table and snatched whatever food he wanted. He had bad manners.
Came back to the room and sat on the balcony until nearly dark. Looking forward to hiking around the Gardens tomorrow.
Callaway Gardens was founded in 1952 by Cason J. and Virginia Hand Callaway to promote and protect native azalea species. Their dream began in 1930 when Cason discovered a rare azalea growing in the area. As the large farm area began to take shape as a Garden, they decided they wanted to share it with the public. Today Callaway Gardens is a non-profit organization that covers 2500 acres and offers numerous outdoor activities.