When the daily grind gets to be too much, there is nothing better than a road trip to cure what ails you. We chose to visit northeast Georgia and had the chance to tour the area behind the wheel of a Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab. Our trek took us two hours from Atlanta, where this part of the state rubs up against the Carolinas.
Why northeast Georgia? It offers plenty of places to explore and endless backcountry opportunities for those who come seeking a respite from a busy world. For outdoorsmen, there's canoeing, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, fishing, camping, biking, and day hiking. Immersion into the more genteel side of Southern culture includes the chance to visit folk artists who still live in the hollers and along the numerous creeks that drain the southern end of the Appalachians.
Also awaiting travelers are the melodic sounds of bluegrass music endemic to this part of America and a burgeoning state-of-the-art wine industry. Grist mills dot the landscape and the skills associated with using them are being resurrected in the rural South. If those aren't reasons enough to visit, eateries with delicious barbecue and regional museums offer a peek into the provincial nooks and crannies that are such a huge part of the American scene. The country roads are lined with produce stands and impromptu farmers' markets.
Stowing our gear aboard a Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab, we were ready to take advantage of the 800-plus-mile odyssey to see how this latest iteration of Dodge's half-ton truck would fare. It came equipped with an all-new coil-spring multilink rear suspension, part-time 4WD, automatic transmission with tow mode, and the next generation of the 5.7-liter engine with MDS. We weren't on the road all that long before the Ram made its presence known: The aesthetics of the Ram emblem that crowns the front of its larger and bolder hood power bulge and the grille below that drops aggressively aft (giving it the profile of an in-your-face drill instructor) turned heads as we turned corners.
Like a giant spider web, the byways that crisscross northeast Georgia make touring this bucolic countryside a disarming experience. When possible, we skipped Interstates, opting instead for two-lanes and gravel country roads.
After spending a pleasant night at the Apple Pie Ridge Lodge just minutes northeast of Gainesville on Highway US23, we visited Toccoa, the town that was once home to the Airborne. Here, American paratroopers trained during WWII for the invasion of Normandy. The museum is in the old railroad depot and includes the actual barn (complete with thatched roof) used by the paratroopers as their headquarters in England leading up to the invasion. This is the kind of Americana that goes undetected if you stick to the Interstate. Toccoa Falls, a waterfall higher than Niagara Falls, is a 10-minute drive from the museum.