Let’s jump right into this one shall we. Two things to say first.
- If you live in Georgia and don’t go “drink” in this small town you are an igit.
- If you don’t go this weekend, you are a bigger igit.
Cave Spring, GA population 1,154 (2016) is a quaint little town on the outskirts of Rome, GA, in the area known as the Historic High Country. This place is is tiny and cute and awesome! The town has 1 full time police chief and a handful of part time officers. The grocery store is a ma and pa type shop. If you Google Earth the town you will see an “H” for the medical center which is a tiny walk-in clinic, the largest building appears to be a day care, this tells us what everyone does on a date night. There are old buildings covered with ivy, trees lining the quiet streets and a smell of honey suckle in the air. Surrounded by rolling hills and sweet Georgia pines this area is the quintessential small southern town you would expect to see in a movie about a big city doc from Hollywood, who had to move to a small town for one disastrous reasons or another. (please tell me you get the movie reference — Shane didn’t….)
In the middle of town square is a gazebo, seriously y’all, a gazebo. Two roads intersect here and are littered with a handful of stores selling antiques, flowers and clothing. There is even a general store that had three retired men sitting in rockers talking about how hot it was. Unbelievable! I fell in love with this town immediately! This place is currently in the number 1 spot for where I want to live out my retirement!
Currently, we were in search of breakfast, so we headed into a local restaurant called Southern Flavor. We entered and tried to head to a quieter area but the staff directed us, “Not back there, it’s cooler up front“, so we turned heels and went to sit with about 15 locals who
greeted (nodded at) us as we entered the dining area. It was crowded so we slid into a two top and glanced around. A number of the locals were seated around a very long table that took up the length of the room. They didn’t sit directly beside each other and the plates of food were all in different degrees of consumption. They came and went greeting each other or saying goodbye, all taking up a seat at this communal table. Fascinating! They talked about the weather yesterday, the fishing tournament today, and church tomorrow. Walking into this made me feel as if I had a glowing neon sign that flashed the word “Outsider” on my chest. Poor Shane, he is along for this whole “Wanderluster” ride and is not outgoing or a “step outside your comfort zone” kind of guy. So when I struck up a conversation with three local men, I am sure he was less than enthusiastically thinking, “Ok well, here we go, whoop whoop“. But look, you find the BEST information by talking to locals. I mean seriously, what better way to get in good with them, than gettin ’em talkin’ bout themselves. When in Rome, (GA) use your best southern drawl and drop your G’s!
We discussed The Trail of Tears that runs right through Cave Spring and the fact that you can see Chief Vann’s Inn (house) in the town square. They directed where the house lies “O’vr yonder” (I could see it through the window) and where the trail starts even though it is clearly marked right outside the restaurant. Such southern charm! The waitress came to and planted our breakfast in front of us and we dug in as the local men convinced us that we needed to research the Cherokee and Creek Nations history (I agree). Shane chimed in about his great great grandfather who was a Cherokee that married a white woman. Interesting fact: this was quite common in the late 1800’s because the natives knew that the best way to survive was to assimilate to the white man culture. Sad, but true. We drank our first and second cups of coffee from mugs that were obviously picked up at a local rummage store. Shane’s had “Delta” imprinted on it and mine, well.. I sure hope it was Christmas themed, because it had “hohohoho” printed all over it.
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We finished up our coffee and headed on out to take in the local sights, and there are TONS! I mean come on this is like going to Orlando! (just kidding) There isn’t much to see if you are into tourist stuff. But if you like exploring, then this place is a goldmine. In town there is Chief Vann’s home that was getting a spring cleaning. New turf and whatnot so all we could do was walk up on the porch. We meandered down the deserted street of the square (it wasn’t even 9am) and headed over to the general store. Well now, this must be where the restaurant purchased their coffee cups! This store is packed with all kinds of crazy odd and ins. It isn’t so much a general store as a yard sale on steroids. Fun to look at if you like all sorts of junk. Never know what you may find in these places right? I mean who couldn’t use a Papa Smurf glass from Wendy’s Collection circa 1984. Right?
We headed off to check out the local architecture of the buildings that seem to date back to the 1800’s. GOLDMINE! I couldn’t resist the ivy covered buildings and snapped some photos of the town’s old mill and may or may not have trespassed a little to get some of my shots.
If you like this type of thing the Town Hall (at least I think it is the town hall) is something to see. It appears to be an old wood mill of sort. There are these old creepy stairs leading up two a second floor that I just had to go see! They creaked and were broken in places. It was fantastic!
Now here’s the best part of our trip. Rolater Park, is the gem in the middle of this quaint town. This is the reason we came. It is this small park that drew my attention, weeks ago. Within Rolater park resides a tiny little limestone cave. Visible inside the cave is a natural spring that produces over 2 million gallons a day. It is this spring that gives the Cave Spring it’s name. This natural spring water is the purest water I have ever put in my mouth. There isn’t any additives that coat your tongue. It is cold and pure. It comes out of a grate right at the mouth of cave where you can fill up your bottles.
It was crowded at the park that morning. The Veterans Administration was hosting a fly fishing tournament and it was in full swing. Men were fishing, children were splashing in the water and women were fussing at children. The freshly caught fish was fried up right there and eaten on the spot. Just as we found a park bench and sat down to watch the spectacle, a flock of geese made their way on to the scene.
The cave doesn’t have any business hours posted so we were a bit concerned that it would not be opening that day. We spoke to a few locals who said, “I reckon they’ll open it today with the tournament and all….just giv’em a bit.“
Southern small town y’all, they do things on their own time stamp not yours.
Finally, at 10:30 A.M. an elderly gentleman announced that he was opening the cave. It took him 15 minutes to open the door, count the money till and turn over the sign. It was like opening the gates to Disney World, y’all a mass rush of people swarmed the entrance separating Shane and myself, who were waiting patiently to enter. I think you will agree that it was in our best interest to let the group of 25 people go on ahead of us….
The cave has stalactite hanging from the ceiling and is coated in Georgia red clay. The day was beginning to get hot but as soon as you walk into the cave you are blasted by a draft of cold air. We both were sweating and it felt really nice to have some of God’s natural air conditioning blowing on us. We were hoping for a quiet meander into the cave but we heard a lot of children’s holler’s echoing throughout. They were hoopin’ and hollerin’ listening for the echoes. They climbed on the stone steps and rolled on the rocks and got good and dirty. That bath water is going to be brown tonight. We could have waited for the rush to die down and enjoyed the silence, but hey you gotta live on the edge baby! The cave itself is tiny. It is a quick walk from entrance to the back of the cave. The tunnel gets very small in the very back. Shane, being 6’2″, decided to passed on going through the final crawl space. Even I had to scrunch down to squeeze through the opening and I am short. We hung out in the cave for about 10 minutes hoping to enjoy it in silence but with this many people at the fishing tournament it just didn’t happen.
There is a short nature trail outside the cave but we decided to pass on it. It was muggy and hot here in July and I was recovering from being ill the previous week. On our way out of the park we stopped the Hearn Inn Bed and Breakfast that oddly wasn’t open, like I said, small towns operate on their own agenda. I guess if there “ain’t a guest, the B&B ain’t open” . Makes perfect sense to me. I peeked through the windows and then we sat on the porch a few minutes rocking in the chairs and enjoying the seen and silence. Before leaving we checked out the 2nd largest swimming pool in the state of Georgia. This pool is really cool. The natural spring water from the cave feeds the pool so it is a very cold 68 degree dip on hot summer days here in Cave Spring. People say the pool is shaped like Georgia and I can kind of see it, but.. no.. not really.
If you are looking a quiet laid back few days, come to Cave Spring, GA y’all. We stayed right outside the city in a small loft cabin on Dry Creek. We meandered through the town, ate with locals, sat on the porch, drink from the springs and enjoy the people and the southern charm of the small town.