Saturday, August 30, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
Jordano's is a fixture in downtown Helen...serving New York style pizza, sandwiches, salads and beer daily to both visitors and residents alike. It sits in a prime location alongside the Chattahoochee River with a nice, covered outdoor dining deck- a great spot to grab a bite or a brew and enjoy the sights and sounds of Helen.
We stopped in for lunch on a recent Saturday prior to tubing down the river. I had eaten Jordano's pizza in the past and considered it fairly average, so we went with the Caesar Salads and Chicken Parmesan sandwiches this go around. The salad was excellent with a very authentic tasting Caesar dressing and some kitchen-made croutons. The sandwiches were good as well..tasty, yet not overwhelmed with the sauce and cheese as I've found elsewhere. Also available on the menu are Calzones and Stromboli, chicken wings, burgers and an assortment of appetizers.
A lot of folks were sitting outside watching the stream of tubers that we would soon join floating down the river and the deck was comfortable even in the mid day sun of July. Prices at Jordano's are reasonable..a rarity in Helen where "tourist" prices seem to dominate the restaurants. Service is efficient and friendly....major credit cards are accepted. I think Jordano's is one of the better places in downtown Helen to grab lunch and enjoy a comfortable and scenic setting.
11 River Street
Helen, GA 706.878.7732
I often get asked about waterfalls to visit in the north Georgia mountains. My answer usually depends on how much effort I feel the person asking wants to take in finding the falls. Amicalola Falls, Anna Ruby Falls and Dukes Creek Falls are all splendid and easy to get to-so those generally top my list...but I also like to include my personal favorite, Horsetrough Falls.
Located near the headwaters of the Chattahoochee River about 12 miles north of Helen (by road-a little closer as the crow flies), Horsetrough Falls carries Horsetrough Creek down a series of rocky cascades on it's way to join the fledgling Chattahoochee about 200 yards below the falls. The setting at the base of the falls is cathedral-like due to the density of the forest in the summertime, which allows the sun to only break through completely in the opening created by the tumbling creek.
Horsetrough Falls can be accessed through the Upper Chattahoochee Campground, which is located on FS44, a gravel track that runs from Unicoi Gap to just north of Robertstown. For the more adventurous I would suggest approaching from Robertstown. To travel this route, take GA Hwy 75 north from Helen to alt 75 (left just past the flea market). As soon as you cross over the bridge take an immediate right onto Poplar Stump Rd. This road follows the Chattahoochee for about a mile before the pavement ends and it becomes FS44. FS44 is well maintained gravel. Follow FS44 to Low Gap Creek then follow the signs to the Upper Chattahoochee Campground. The 800' trail to the falls begins at the very back of the campground. An alternate route is to take GA 75 north of Helen approx. 8 miles to Unicoi Gap, then turn left onto FS44. Upper Chattahoochee Campground is 5 miles away from this point.
The trip is well worth it no matter which route you take-and this is also a beautiful drive in the fall when the leaves change, which won't be long now.
The 12 mile drive between Franklin and Highlands, NC on US Hwy 64 is sometimes a little treacherous, occasionally a little crowded, but always worth the time. This stretch of Hwy 64 runs alongside the beautiful Cullasaja River for most of the trip, allowing nice views of the tumbling waters and waterfalls along the way. Since I am usually coming from Georgia, I like to travel up Hwy 441 from Clayton to Franklin...take Hwy 64 east to Highlands, then work my way back down to Clayton on Hwy 106 over Scaly Mountain and through Sky Valley. The entire loop takes about two hours driving time, but there are a few stops you are likely to make.
Leaving Franklin, Hwy 64 soon enters the Cullasaja Gorge and, if you can find a parking spot on the narrow shoulder, offers a great views of Cullasaja Falls to the south. Heading further east there are a few pull offs and picnic areas offering access to the river. The next big waterfall is Dry Falls which has it's own parking area-but on a recent trip that area was closed with a lot of construction going on. It looks like the entire park area around the falls is undergoing renovation. I suspect they are aiming to have it open by fall leaf season if not sooner. This is a serious mountain road with a lot of twists and narrow shoulders that can be a little hairy if a 50' RV meets you on a curve, so keep that in mind. As you start leaving the gorge the road opens up a bit and you soon come to Bridal Veil Falls(pictured above), which is a landmark I remember from mountain trips as a child. There is ample parking here and you can even drive under/through the low volume falls.
After leaving Bridal Veil Falls you are on the outskirts of Highlands. If you can time it so that you arrive hungry there are numerous restaurants in Highlands, from small coffee shops to fine dining. The bustling downtown area is a specialty shopping mecca in this area and it's worth getting out and having a look around. There is a lot to see and do in this area of North Carolina and it's only a stone's throw from the north Georgia mountains. We hope to do a lot more on specific places and actvities in western North Carolina on future Borders pages. If you have suggestions about or reports from the area, please share them with us!
Wow, what a surprise! A few friends and I ended up in Sylva, NC after a day of rafting on the Tuckaseegee River tired and hungry. We were not super familiar with the town and were really looking for a "Meat & 3" or a good sandwich shop, what we found really blew us away. The Guadalupe Cafe is located right in downtown Sylva on West Main St. and has a level of funk (the good kind) we were not expecting in this small mountain hamlet. The food is simply fantastic.
My friends and I started out with the Salsa Sampler platter that featured home made tortilla chips and a selection of the house salsas-guacamole, pico de gallo and scotch bonnet. All were good but the scotch bonnet mix is pure heaven (with a healthy dose of hell). From there we decided to each order a different item and share. Our Empanadas, Quesadillas, Tostadas and Falafel were delivered to the table promptly and we dug in. We also got an order of the coconut rice dish, Arrroz de Coco, which is Basmati rice cooked with coconut milk and tumeric. We all agreed that everything was great but the Empanadas were the consensus choice for dish of the day. As we talked to some of the locals we found out that the Guadalupe Cafe is a very popular music venue later in the evening with bands playing nightly-all of this in little Sylva! When I read that Mountainfreak.net had expanded it's scope a little beyond the Georgia borders I had to write and let the world know about this fantastic find.
I first listened to Royal Family at the Eco-Music-Fest back in June. They put on a good show there so I wasn't at all surprised to witness the same at Prospector Hall last Saturday.
Held down by some of the best drumming I've seen in a local band, their music is mostly raucous and intense-but they can also take the edge off when they want to which is effective at keeping the crowd involved...and they were, at both shows.
Royal Family is advertised as "Garage Rock", but I think they might be a little more evolved from my perception of that term. There is some melody to the madness and they put on a great show. They play regularly all around Atlanta and north Georgia-for more info and a sample of their tunes check out their MySpace page.
It's no mystery why Big City Sunrise has such a loyal following. They put on a high energy, sweat drenched show at Bigg Daddy's in Helen on 6/12 and I was glad to be a part of the crowd. This was my first experience seeing this band live and I have to say they are unique.
Fronted by Jeff Bynum and his electric violin, Big City Sunrise is like a dream where Led Zeppelin meets Vassar Clements...and the result is loud, rowdy and fun. Excellent musicians having a good time generally leads to a good show and this was one.
Bynum does a lot of the singing and is joined by Kevin Rainwater on drums, Doug Meads (a lot of the vocals as well) and Chris Thacker handle the guitars, Adam Kahn plays an excellent bass and is complimented by percussionist Sam Steele. Chris is especially impressive taking the lead guitar-but this is defintely a band that is the sum of it's parts. They work very well together.
The highlight of the evening ( and their fans were waiting for it) was a medley centered around the Marley classic, "No Woman, No Cry" near the end of the show that gave each member a chance to shine.
For our readers in the Atlanta/Athens area, Big City Sunrise has a CD release party at the Georgia Theater on August 15 where they will be joined by Blueground Undergrass. The will be back at Bigg Daddy's for another show in Helen on August 30. Find out more about BCS on their MySpace page.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Still working on a few things, but here is what to expect:
LexFest 2008 in Asheville
Wildcat Creek Recreation
Fort Mountain Report
Java Mama Cafe in Dillard
Batesville General Store "The Best Biscuit in Batesville"
Greenstone Soap Co in Sautee
Music from Dahlonega
Sautee Jamboree coming up this Month
September Live Music Calendar
and maybe a surprise or two;-)
Friday, August 15, 2008
Yes, we saw the photo. I'm skeptical;-) Might just be an old moonshiner with a steroid problem. There is quite a buzz about the creature, however..and rest assured that Mountainfreak.net is paying attention and will report any facts we come across. I just hope these guys give up the location.