Road School Day Trips in the North Georgia Mountains
2020 September Road School
I am non-traditional in the sense that I educated both my boys at home.Our school days found us tackling science projects at the kitchen table, huddled together on the couch with great literature, building tepees in the backyard, and getting out of bed on a snow-blanketed night seeking the sound of the great horned owl. Field trips exploring the North Georgia mountains were a part of our regular routine. Though I stopped homeschooling when my son turned 14, this past spring, I, along with the entire nation, found myself back at home seeking unique ways to inspire my son’s learning.
This fall finds many of us yet again choosing the socially distant option of educating our children from home. For a nation accustomed to 8 hours a day outside of the home, this predicament leaves many of us with a touch of cabin fever. Enter Road Schooling. Different from homeschooling, road schooling offers the opportunity to leave the comfort of couch and kitchen in search of new adventures. Road schooling means growing memories and an education, leaving the city and hitting the highway. If the open road is calling to your homeschool journey, then look no further than Union County where living history, science, and physical education opportunities abound.
Find history on the road at the red-brick Historic Courthouse built on the square in 1899. Built by renowned architect J.W. Golucke, the structure, now on the National Register of Historic Places, is maintained by the Union County Historical Society. While there, “breakfast” any time of the day across the street at the Hole in the Wall. Hole in the Wall plates up local chef's generous helpings of family-friendly bites as well as insight into Union County’s past with its historic location dating back to 1930, once serving double, even triple duty, as a restaurant, occasional dentist office, and Greyhound Bus Station. Even the local shops have their own share of history. Stop by Keen Creation & Co and hear the history of the magazine plastered wall a renovation uncovered in the back of the store. It’s located downstairs from what was once Hill Lance Drugs where you could get a fountain drink or cup of coffee for a nickel, a pimento cheese sandwich for a quarter, and an ice cream cone for a dime.
Just a block south of the courthouse stands the 1906 Butt-Mock House. The building located on 1.8 acres holds the Mountain Life Museum. You’ll want to stop by this site to see its two 1800’s log cabins and several historic farm structures. Then make your way to Track Rock Gap to discover a little ancient history where,tucked in the mountainside,you find Native American petroglyphs. Imagine standing where natives lived with your children reminding them of our past. The walk is easy and just across the road from Arkaquah Trail near where, though debatable, architect Richard Thornton believes there are ancient Mayan terraces.
For a twist on physical education, plan in advance and reserve a spot in a goat yoga class at Rhatigan Family Farms. Rhatigan Family Farms is a small dairy goat farm where you find Holland Lops, specialty breed chickens, and natural goat milk products. After assuming "tree pose"while goats gather at your feet, learn a little animal science, then bring home a bunny or chick for your own 4H science project. Before leaving Union County, picnic along the serene Nottely River at Meeks Park, then take the scenic path home across Blood Mountain, but not without first making one final stop at the top. Mountain Crossings is the perfect place for hiking gear and books for another day. Interestingly, it is the only covered section of the Appalachian Trail. The AT runs alongside the building, and while this trip might not allow time to walk the length of the trail, you can walk its width. Climb the stairs behind the building for yet more great views. But fair warning as you depart--Blairsville-Union County casts its spell on all who come. You’ll leave feeling not as if you’re going home, but rather that you just left it.
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