Every Georgia State Park.
Got my Annual ParkPass.
Got my Annual ParkPass.
A.H. Stephens, #11
CAMP (Y/N?): Y (3 nights, HorseTrailer)
MY ACTIVITIES: Horseback Riding; History Tour
NOTES: Slow-paced and relaxing; Interesting History; Great Horse Trails and Facilities
Another horseback riding trip! I really appreciated the opportunity to explore another state park with my dad and his horses. This time, it was A.H. Stephens State Park in Crawfordville.
It was hot - so very hot for the drive through Atlanta then east on I-20. My dad (and me) like to ride with windows rather than AC typically, and during this trip, I recall the heat just being so heavy and dry.
We were worried about the horses in the back during the slower traffic, although they had a fan.
It was a quick easy ride after getting of the interstate. We turned right at the Dollar General, and then left at the red light to go under the bridge. This route led us right up to a stop sign with a view of the historic home of A.H. Stephens. We checked in just before closing, and got to the equestrian campground, which we had to ourselves. I had used the online reservation map to pick a campsite next to the stalls (#5/6/7 - we like to have the horses in sight), but the online map was slightly off as to layout. I checked online and the site we would prefer was vacant for the next several nights, so we moved to Equestrian Campsite #11 and let the Ranger know. (We later decided that we would have preferred Eq Campsite #9 with Stalls #1/2/3 if we came again.) The stalls here were nice and roomy as well - same design as Watson Mill Bridge State Park.
The bathhouse - it was a new design I hadn't seen yet. Regular stalls and showers in a traditional Men/Women format, but also two seperate single user or handicap or family, large one room bath/shower/sink/changing table. I liked it!
The trails were great - clearly marked and enjoyable sights, including a different type vine than I'd seen and CCC / history markers along the trail. We sat on boulders in the creek for our lunch break. My dad looks forward to going back to A.H. Stephens with my mom for horseriding and camping, which says a lot as he has ridden all over the US.
With 3 nights camping, we had plenty of time to explore and relax. Lots of great hammock reading for me, including a book I picked up at the museum gift shop They Fought Like Demons by De Anne Blanton about women in the Civil War.
The legacy of A.H. Stephens is not as straightforward as I first assumed. Famed for being the VP of the Confederacy, I thought his history would be limited to being a slave holder - and he was a slave holder and believed in the right to have slaves, else he wouldn't have fought for it. Now, it is hard to understand men's thinking in those times. What surprised me about A.H. Stephens (other than his name being Alexander Hamilton (A.H.) - and the fact that I love the musical Hamilton), was his intelligence (his library and folding ladder were delightful!), that he advocated against succession prior to the Civil War, and the fact that he survived politically after the Civil War on a national level (House of Representatives, he was elected Senator first but the US Senate refused him) and as the Governor of Georgia in 1882. He was a slight man, only 5'7" and 100 pounds or less, and had health problems which he cited as the reason he never married. I have not seen it published anywhere, nor have I seen any hinting to my next theory - I just have a curiosity to the possibility that A.H. Stephens was homosexual (or possibly asexual).
It was here at A.H. Stephens State Park that I first really paid attention to the surrounding community of a state park and how the interaction or lack of interaction impacts the park. Taliaferro County is Georgia's smallest county with only 572 people in the 2000 census. I researched and learned this after seeing the school building on the corner and wondering if it was the elementary, middle, or high school - it was ALL of them, plus Pre-K. Pre-K through 12th grade in one small school of approximately 150 kids.
We went out to the Dollar General at least 4 times during our stay (I laugh, but it is true!). Each time, the Dollar General had people out front or inside 'catching up' and swapping 'hello's' in a very genuine way. Once we drove out and turned left at the one red light, passing by the City Hall on the corner. The people on the bench and steps paused their conversation long enough to throw up a hand and wave to us, which we promptly returned with our own wave. Said in my best M&M commercial voice: "It does exist!"
Another link into the community was Park Interpreter Melanie. Melanie happened to be the one who gave us the informative tour at the house museum/grounds. She was also on duty in the office when I went to the park office to get my Jr. Ranger pin, which is when I asked her about the wide open field before the park office and it's use. Melanie mentioned that it was the location for the community Christmas event, which she participated in organizing. I was amazed that such a small community consistently put on an event with booths and rides and characters, and was delighted by Melanie's passion for the event.
I think about how the past and present merge and twine, and how the boundaries of the state park and surrounding area have impact on each other. I think I will be pondering this more and more with future travels.
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herbalist, locavore, engineer, mom, traveler