Experimental music, photography, and adventures

9. How to find a remote cabin on a gravel road in the mountains at night, or: “Veer right where the old Citgo used to be”

Friday, September 7th, 2007

After hiking Whiteside Mountain, Sarah and I continued toward Franklin to find the cabin we had reserved for this night and the following night. The guy who owns the cabin had given us some directions, but we were having trouble figuring out from what direction he assumed we were coming. We stopped at a gas station and got some gas, beer for later (a semi-local extra pale ale from Atlanta, the name of which I’ve forgotten), and a map of Macon County, where Franklin is located. The map purchase ended up being a smart move, as we would have had a lot of difficulty finding the cabin without it. In fact, it also had bicycle routes marked on it, which would prove useful later on.

We decided to grab some food in Franklin before heading to the cabin, not having much of an idea how far it was, or how long it would take to find it. I was already nervous about finding it in the dark, and trying to get my 1996 Ford Taurus up the gravel road the owner said goes up the side of the mountain to the cabin. We almost got to a barbeque restaurant before it closed, but it was a little too late. We ended up eating McDonald’s, which was fine with me. We were hungry, and just glad to find some food.

By the time we got back on the road, it was completely dark. We found our way out of town to Highway 28, which is similar to 64 in its windiness and even joins with 64 for a while. It was a fun road to drive on, but in the dark, it was very challenging and a bit nerve-wracking. I got a lot better at driving on roads like this one over the course of the trip, but it was scary at first. We couldn’t really see the mountains, or much of anything, but we found ourselves pretty far out of town, in an area that felt very remote. This was what we wanted, but it was hard to find at night. We put in a Mercury Rev album, perfect for a warm summer night drive through unfamiliar country.

The directions got more obtuse, saying to veer right after Citgo station on the left. I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant, but as we passed the landmarks on the map, and then something that looked like what the owner described, only with a BP station, we figured that must have been the turn we needed. It turned out to be the right road; apparently, the Citgo was turned into a BP station. I cracked a joke about the directions saying to “veer right where the old Citgo used to be,” referencing an 80s comedy (bonus points if you can guess the movie).

We followed this road which I believe was Cowee Creek Road (there were also Cowee Valley Road, Cowee Vista Road, Cowee Lane, and other variants) and came to the Cherokee Ruby Mine. We turned left on the gravel road there as instructed, drove over a creek, and the road became very steep, went through several 180-degree switchbacks, and eventually came to the driveway to the cabin. After making that probably 150-degree turn, we drove up the driveway and saw the cabin!

The Taurus had performed admirably in conditions it wasn’t designed to handle. I was impressed. The cabin stood before us, illuminated only by the headlights of the car, but it looked impressive to my eyes. It was a real, honest-to-goodness log cabin. I sort of expected a quaint, small house that was only actually a cabin in name, but this was the real deal, as far as we could tell. We found the key under the mat, as promised.

We got inside and were even more impressed. The cabin had one large room that functioned as living room/dining room/kitchen, a loft, a bathroom, and one bedroom. The bedroom and large room had window AC units, so we turned those on. It had been a long, hot day in an un-airconditioned car. We had to turn on the circuit breaker to the water heater.

We drank some beer and attempted to write in our journals before bed. It was really difficult to do, though, and we soon gave up and went to bed. We were anxious to see what the cabin actually looked like, the promised mountain view out the gazebo in back, and what the area looked like, but those things would have to wait until morning. There wasn’t enough light to see any of it.

3 Responses to “9. How to find a remote cabin on a gravel road in the mountains at night, or: “Veer right where the old Citgo used to be””

  1. Christy Says:

    Veer right where the Citgo used to be.

    **Cut to me veering off a cliff**

    No, but in all seriousness, this is the making of a great slasher movie.

  2. John Says:

    Thank your lucky stars you had the Tarus. The Citgo station is one of the landmarks used for directions in my hometown too. It’s still a Citgo though, so there is no guessing. There are cabins close by, but you don’t want to go near those, if you know what I mean.

  3. Marty Says:

    I haven’t heard directions like that in a while. I’m surprised you didn’t have a “make a left at Old Man McDonald’s farm” or something, too.

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