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Escape from witch mountain

The old Lumpkin County courthouse houses the Dahlonega Gold Museum. Photos by Melissa Lowrie
  Melissa Lowrie

Canoe Kids
By Melissa Lowrie
It is my solemn prayer that as you read this edition of Smoke Signals, we are all basking in the sunny warmth of a pre-spring day. Hopefully we will have traded heavy coats for short sleeves.

However as I type, we are on the tail end of the second round of Big Canoe snow this year. This has resulted in a total of seven and a half snow days away from the classroom, six pairs of wet ski gloves, one broken bone and improvised sledding. Oh, and a touch of cabin fever.

Thankfully, the plows came and the rising temperatures made it possible for me to escape from witch mountain, where I may or may not have been living this past week.

The aforementioned cold weather and hazardous driving conditions impeded the Canoe Kids from activities off the reservation. On the day of our escape, I blindly headed to Dahlonega looking for something to do.

I’ve passed the sign a hundred times for the Dahlonega Gold Museum. This is the one in the courthouse in the middle of the square. It’s the oldest surviving courthouse in Georgia at more than 170 years old, and the museum is run by the fine folks at Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites.

"Shake with Uncle Sam’ is of the working vintage games at the General Store."   A five-stamp mill used at the turn of the century to test ore for gold content.

Honestly, this was a tactical mistake. Beyond the short film upstairs and a very small collection of pickaxes, there was not much to see. A handful of gold coins made from gold mined in Lumpkin County does not qualify for entertainment. Skip this and head for Consolidated Gold Mines; it’s way more fun for the kids. Although I already knew, I asked ... “I thought it was boring.” Swing and a miss.

Out 30 minutes and admission fees, I needed to redeem myself. We walked through some of the shops on the square starting with the General Store. It’s a favorite and treasure trove of interesting things. You’ll find barrels full of marbles to buy, suckers with scorpions, fetching caps and old-school candy and games. When you visit, and it’s worth a visit, be prepared for a lot of, “Mom, (or Grandma) can I get this?” because you’ll be hearing it a lot.

Canoe Kids take a few minutes to decide which treat to sample at Paul Thomas Chocolates.

Throughout the store are working vintage games. Think Zoltar Speaks from the Tom Hanks’ movie “Big.” There was also a slot machine ... the old non-digital kind with actual spinning dials and a handle.  

In need of a snack, we located a primo chocolate shop: the divine Paul Thomas Chocolates. From truffles to chocolate covered bacon, don’t even try to stop in without pulling our your wallet. I did and was glad for it; we sat outside on a bench and enjoyed some baseball-sized chocolate covered strawberries; it went a long way helping to relieve my cabin fever.

The last stop was a toy store, Giggle Monkey Toys. Such a wonderful alternative to big chain stores, this shop was delightful with games, puzzles and toys you don’t often see. We spent more time browsing there than in the museum.

We weren’t in town for a meal, but there are some super choices in Dahlonega. Only a short ride up the road from Big Canoe, this is a fun place to spend the afternoon shopping and strolling.

Here’s to warm temperatures and budding trees in the days ahead. And when your first idea is a bad one, redeem yourself ... chocolate works wonders.

Paul Thomas Chocolates on the square is a fine cure for the winter blues.



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