Those looking for inexpensive vacation ideas may want to consider perusing www.recreation.gov for more than 60,000 facilities and activities located in every area of our nation. Under the banner of recreation.gov are entities such as the National Park Service, Army Corps of Engineers, Fish and Wildlife Service, the Smithsonian Institute and the National Archives.
Federal facilities in the metropolitan Atlanta area managed by recreation.gov include the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, High Museum of Art, as well as lakes Lanier and Allatoona.
These properties are supported by taxpayers and managed by our federal government. We should take advantage of them more frequently. The possibilities are almost limitless.
I recently had the pleasure of spending several days at Duckett Mill and Bolding Mill campgrounds. Both are located in Gainesville on 38,000-acre Lake Sidney Lanier—an Army Corps of Engineers managed lake just north of Atlanta.
Both campgrounds offer sites for RVs and tents; most of which include full electric and water connections, and are lakeside. Aside from the sheer natural beauty of the lake and the well-maintained grounds, the price can’t be beat—a mere $20-30 per night depending on the day of the week and whether one is camping in a tent or an RV.
Both campgrounds offer plenty of lakefront acreage, sandy beaches, fishing, playgrounds, boat ramps, and bathhouses with toilets, showers, and even laundry machines. As added bonuses, there are security guards at the gated entrances and no firearms, fireworks or alcohol are allowed.
To be able to escape the city in less than an hour and be immersed in a lakeside forest-like setting is truly worthy of the effort.
Waking to a view of a pristine, calm lake with no noise can give one a sense of connection that we rarely have the opportunity to experience. In addition, watching the sun set reflecting on the water as it descends behind the tree line is about as relaxing as one can imagine.
Campgrounds are typically safe for all. Children can play in open spaces or enjoy the pleasures of the lake and trails. Our group of youngsters recently spent almost every moment when there wasn’t rainfall, floating and splashing along the lakeshore—in sight of adult supervision—but experiencing the freedom of wide-open spaces. Adults can enjoy all the pleasures of the lake or simply relax in the shade knowing that the children are nearby.
For the most part, if there are encounters with neighboring campers, the campers are friendly and helpful. As I was struggling in my first attempt at reversing an RV into a site, a neighbor came over; he laughingly commented that it appeared that I might need some help. I explained that it was my first time and would greatly appreciate his assistance. He got in the truck and had me parked in no time. His kindness was appreciated and I knew immediately that we had good folks nearby.
On our most recent excursion with four generations of family members in attendance; after a group dinner overlooking the lake, the adults enjoyed our time sitting and talking. We discussed the memories the youngsters were making and that those few hours of frolicking in the water and exploring the nearby trails with their cousins would likely be remembered for years.
It was almost dusk and one of the adults mentioned that the young ones were nowhere in sight—they had all left together after dinner to play in the nearby green space and walk around the campground. There were also four responsible teenagers in the group who had agreed to look after the younger ones. We felt confident that they were safely exploring and likely talking to other youngsters in the campground. One of the mothers in our group asked if we thought someone should go check on them. I told her not to be concerned, and explained that those very moments of freedom are what memories are made of.
Just before dark, the youngsters returned—all were safe, tired and happy.
Another added benefit of most federally operated campgrounds and facilities is that pets are welcome as long as they are leashed. There are no breed or size restrictions.
If we make an effort, we can find amazing places and activities within easy driving time of DeKalb County that are inexpensive, entertaining and educational.
Go out and see what your nation has to offer.
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