One of the highlights of our year is spending a week with our family, including our beautiful granddaughters (now 11 and 7), on a fun summer trip. My stepson jokes that we only invite him because he brings his boat since recent years have seen us exploring the lakes of North Carolina and Georgia by renting wonderful lake houses with private docks. This type of vacation is also easy to “sell” to my husband since, after decades of travelling the world on business with over 5 million airmiles to prove it, it is now pretty difficult to persuade him to get on a plane. Therefore, a road-trip vacation complete with boating, tubing, grill-outs, bright Hawaiian shirts, firepits and s’mores with the family is much more his ‘cup of tea’ as we say in England to communicate ‘highly acceptable for my personal preferences’.
I love living in Coastal Georgia, but I do thoroughly enjoy the tranquility of a lake view as it always soothes my soul and restores my spirits. The last few months have been extremely challenging on many fronts, as it has for so many people, so I was especially looking forward to a relaxing family vacation this year.
I have written before of happy memories of trips to the British Lake District, situated in the far north-west of England about 300 miles from London where we lived. I also love the work of William Wordsworth, the famous nineteenth century English poet who spent many years living in and writing poems about England’s 16 lakes which make up the Lake District. So as much as I love our local coastal waterways and the open sea, there is a special place in my heart for the peace and tranquility that a pretty and serene lake view brings.
Anyway, back to this summer. We previously have spent a couple of great vacations at Lake Lanier in north Georgia, but we did not enjoy the Atlanta traffic and seemingly endless road construction delays we had to endure to get there. So last month we spent the July 4th week on the much closer Lake Oconee for some much-needed fun in and on the water.
Lake Oconee is in central Georgia on the Oconee River about 200 miles from our home in Richmond Hill, located about halfway between Atlanta and Augusta. It is the fourth largest man-made lake in Georgia, created in 1979 with the construction of the Wallace Dam by Georgia Power. Lake Oconee has also attracted exclusive hotels and housing and golf developments including the Ritz Carlton and the Reynolds Plantation. The lake totals almost 20,000 acres, and is around half the size of Lake Lanier, Georgia’s biggest lake. The name Oconee takes its name from a group of Creek Indians that long ago lived close to Georgia’s Oconee River basin. “Oconee” means “great waters.”
The level of Lake Oconee is consistently managed to stay nearly full since it is used both for hydro-electric power generation and extensive recreational activities. It has three public campground areas on its shoreline along with the 7,400 acre Oconee Wildlife Management Area. It is exceedingly beautiful.
The nearby town and county seat of Greene County, Greensboro Georgia, is also a very pleasant place with real small-town charm. Full of interesting little shops, restaurants, and nooks and crannies, it is well worth taking a little time off the water and wondering around the town with the occasional drink or ice cream to beat the Georgia summer heat.
Any downsides to Lake Oconee? Only one that we could tell. When it was constructed in the late 1970s and early 1980s, a lot of trees and bottom materials were left in place to create habitat for the fish. Maybe the fish like it, but from our perspective there were a lot of submerged trees just below the surface of the water. Most areas were properly marked with “hazard” buoys but not quite all were highly visible. A submerged tree just below the surface claimed our boat’s propeller as a prize, but fortunately the local boat supply businesses plus my very capable stepson quickly replaced it so we could get back in the boat, on the tube, and into the water. All that said, I do admit it was a little disconcerting for the boat’s depth-finder to say you are in 40-foot waters but unexpectedly find yourself standing on a slippery old tree limb just four feet from the surface! There is more information at www.nationalgeographic.org and www.lakesonline.com.
I say goodbye this week with a quote from American author Ilam Shamir: “Advice from a lake: be clear, make positive ripples, look beneath the surface, stay calm, shore up friendships, take time to reflect, be full of life.” Not exactly Wordsworth, but great advice from a lake in any event!
God Bless America!
– ENDS –