Refresh in a log cabin in Thomaston

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Refresh in a log cabin in Thomaston

Refresh in a log cabin in Thomaston

February 20, 2011
By Christine Tibbetts/The Tifton Gazette

TIFTON — Logs felled in 1885 lulled me to sleep one February evening in a Georgia community far from anywhere familiar, and alluring because of

My log cabin was well chinked and the down comforter well stuffed, keeping me warm and contented.  I’m a city girl originally, so the log cabin holiday meant more to me than traveling partner husband who was born in one.

Serenity is what happens in this five-room cabin, and its next-door-neighbor log cabin, on a lovely diverse stretch of rolling land in Thomaston, 65 miles southwest of Atlanta.

Go because you’re calm and like life that way, or go because you want to discover how to be still.

Stillmeadows is what owners Rick and Mary Pat Jones call their place, with good reason.

Walking their land the mile-or-so circle from the cabin eased me into two meadows, a fairyland forest through which the light plays mystically, past a pond and near the fast-gush of water from their artesian well.

Drink that water from the cabin faucet, standing in a fully equipped kitchen or sitting on handsome antique chairs mixed with practical pieces, like a futon if you want to bring a crowd. I chugged a lot of it, cool and tasty…or maybe tasteless water is what was good minus the chemicals.

G.W. and I kept our cabin to ourselves, but could have invited four others. Upstairs bedroom with three beds — pair of twin sized and a wider one with a rope base for the fluffy mattress.

The bathroom is a masterpiece of thoughtfulness: accessible for roll-in travelers with smooth access, no threshold, hand held shower plus a rainfall shower head, a high sink to allow wheelchair underneath and a tall toilet.

Claw foot tub in the adjoining bathroom space for anyone preferring the mood of an old home.

Thoughtfulness greeted me everywhere at Stillmeadows. The deck on the lake and the smooth wooden paths to the water are wheelchair accessible too, even with a little raised edge on each side to prevent tipping or slipping.

I’ve seen lots of nice built pathways without that safety edge and they don’t provide confidence to challenged travelers.

When I chatted with the Stillmeadows owners, I figured out the source of this calming mood.

Good-looking tall people, Rick and Mary Pat, easy with a handshake and conversation. Looked me in the eye, not over my shoulder and there was plenty to distract if that was their nature.

The Golden Retriever named Georgia or the lab Wally, for instance. Five goats and a donkey named, of course, Jack.

Chickens of many colors and varieties and one proud rooster, strutting his tail feathers.

Stillmeadows is what they laughingly call a “bed and bread,” not bed and breakfast.  Bring your own groceries. But you might get lucky and help gather eggs, keeping a few for the morning.

Eggshell blue some of them, and definitely varied unlike the supermarket non-recyclable boxful. Flavor much bigger.

GW and I packed bacon and a bit of cheese with our tangerines, hoping we’d luck into farm-fresh eggs and we did.

We have a chicken-raising grandson so we were in the farm-fresh mode.  Don’t life’s experiences often set the tone for expectations and behaviors through the years?

Certainly does for Mary Pat and Rick who honor the son who died, quadriplegic challenges following an auto accident on his way west to start a film career.

They understand accessibility, not only the mechanics but the kindness and considerations.

Wally and Georgia are part of that too, family pets for sure but also students at Stillmeadows, spending 18 months learning to be service dogs for people with spinal cord injuries.

The dogs’ lesson the day we visited was learning to open doors. My goodness.  The things I don’t appreciate enough through my days and nights.

Here’s what you do when you rent one of the two cabins for $125 a night.  Sit and rock. Light a fire. Stare at the lake. Read a book. Be romantic.

Peek in the potting shed if it’s winter or stroll the rose, herb and veggie gardens in spring and summer.  I hypnotized myself a bit staring at the horizontal rows of dark logs and white chinking.

Cook because eating in is the right choice.  Might find some fried catfish in downtown Thomaston but the cabin kitchen is equipped so why disturb the calm.

Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson have portraits on the living room walls but I didn’t chat with them. George Washington hung next to my bed.

Stroll that mile around the property, or walk it at a fast clip.  Maybe both. The five goats inspected me gently.

Wish for more nights. Stay the week for $550.

Nearby Sprewell Bluff State Park is reason enough to stay longer; we got there in 10 minutes, driving back roads.

Lovely little gem in the Georgia State Park network.  This one’s 1,372 acres, supporting three hiking trails, easy parking and a cheery red picnic table overlooking the Flint River. Rushing and raging the day I visited, but my friend Bret Wagenhorst tells me a six-mile canoe paddle there can be quite lovely.

“Sprewell Bluff is a good lesson in Georgia geology,” he says, “as you witness the fall line topography.”

I didn’t try paddling that day but I did figure out something else special about this spot: north and south converge here and as a native Yank now living way south, I like that.

Species native to North Georgia and South Georgia overlap at Sprewell Bluff State Park. See northern mountain laurel and galax here, plus dwarf palmetto and water tupelo.

Happy to see the plants and glad I didn’t see the other overlap; Sprewell Bluff is the farthest north to see an Eastern coral snake, Sprewell Bluff signs declare.

I’d have been fine with the wood frog, and this is the furthest south  to see one of them.

Long leaf pines grew here in abundance but logging changed that so now 34,000 seedlings have been planted on 100 acres.

Following the long leaf pine trail sounds like a worthy endeavor for me another day. I’m always wanting to return to good places; trouble is, there are so many good ones in my world.

The Flint River offers up an expansive view on the approach to the park; looking to the right just before the entry gate is a good plan. Fine spot to simply gaze and be in the moment, and a valuable place to contemplate Georgia, Florida,  Alabama and the ways this water could be shared.

Delightful covered bridge to see on the way to Stillmeadows Cabins, on Allen Road off Highway 19 south. Built in 1892 and restored in 1997. Park and walk through; seven ofGeorgia’s 15 covered bridges support cars I think.

This one is called Auchumpke and the builder Ithiel Town patented the lattice truss system used here; it’s credited with transforming the way bridges have been built ever since.

G. W. and I chose the route to Stillmeadows from our south Georgia home through Fort Valley to dream of peaches which will be budding out soon, and to eat lunch.

Lane Southern Orchards is the spot for fine sandwiches year-round, and an incredible soup bar.  Peach cobbler and ice cream too.

We detoured on departure day to Woodbury and the High Cotton antique mall. Cotton doesn’t grow so tall any more but we felt great about the wooden baby swing to hang in a tree and the hat rack for our guest bedroom.

Liked a whole lot of High Cotton antiques we resisted buying.

Upson is the county name for the Stillmeadows address, with a handsome courthouse built in 1908 in neo-classical Revival style.

The downtown Ritz Theater is restored as a single-screen movie house and occasional live theater.  I skipped the skydiving school because I did that 44 years ago and once was quite enough.

There’s also a healing place in Thomaston, been there 20 years, Stillmeadows cabin owners Rick and Mary Pat told us.  Be in Health is the name and at least 50 people come for a week, several weeks each month. Teaching, healing and curing is their goal, seeking principles of healthy relationships and disease prevention.

International, this organization. Who knew? Travel for one reason. Learn even more.