Over the last week, I traveled from Savannah to North Georgia with stops in Athens on the way up and Augusta on the way back down. It was an enjoyable and relaxing road trip through a spectacular landscape. I will admit, however, that my coastal flat land legs are having to recuperate from walking up so many hills! During my North Georgia Road Trip, I stopped at these locations and rode the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway:
- Dahlonega Gold Museum
- Amicalola Falls
- Anna Ruby Falls
- Brasstown Bald
- Miles Through Time Museum
Augusta I’ve travelled to and through before, so I was familiar with that area but other than a work trip to Clarkesville, GA a few years back I’d never been to North Georgia. As a result, I didn’t know what to expect in the area radio-wise. To be honest, I was too enthralled by the North Georgia mountains to really pay a lot of attention to the radios while driving, so I let the gear record and log while I drove and gawked. There was very little MilCom/MilAir activity heard; mostly due to the weather throughout the week and the fact that that there aren’t may training areas up that way. Most of the Public Safety communications were analog and DMR, but there were a few NXDN users heard. If you plan on traveling through North Georgia and want to listen to Public Safety, you’ll definitely want a DMR capable scanner, if not NXDN capable as well. As far as FedCom goes, the only thing I heard while in North Georgia was one of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park P25 repeaters, but it was very active and easy to hear while mobile almost everywhere I went. There’s a fair amount of amateur radio activity on 2 Meters and 70 cm in North Georgia; the 146.670 (PL 131.8) repeater in Gainesville was very active and seemed to have very wide coverage.
I used the QSO recorder function on my new Icom ID-4100A to log and record the amateur radio traffic I came across during the trip. As I mentioned above, I was so interested in the scenery during the trip that I only had a couple of QSOs, but I did listen as I drove. I forgot to set the QSO recorder on my way from Savannah to Athens, so unfortunately I don’t have a list of what I heard on that segment of the road trip.
443.2250 (PL 100.0) - Morganton (Fannin County) 145.3100 (PL 123.0) - Multi Mode - Clermont (Hall County) 146.6700 (PL 131.8) - Gainesville (Hall County) 444.9500 (CC1) - DMR - Clermont (Hall County) 443.1000 (PL 100.0) - Dahlonega (Lumpkin County) 146.9100 (PL 100.0) - Cleveland (White County) 440.5125 (K4GAR-B) - DStar - Cleveland (White County) 444.5000 (W4CBA-B) - DStar - Clermont (White County) 146.9859 (PL 71.9) - Evans (Columbia County) 146.9850 (PL 71.9) - Evans (Columbia County) 145.1600 (KR4AIK-C) - DStar - Aiken (Aiken County, SC) 443.4125 (KR4AIK-B) - DStar - Aiken (Aiken County, SC) 147.0300 (PL 156.7) - Barnwell (Barnwell County, SC) 147.3750 (PL 91.5) - Barnwell (Barnwell County, SC) 449.2500 (PL 156.7) - Barnwell (Barnwell County, SC) 145.4900 (PL 71.9) - Trenton (Edgefield County, SC) 146.8500 (PL 91.5) - Edgefield (Edgefield County, SC) 444.9500 (PL 71.9) - Trenton (Edgefield County, SC)
While I was in North Georgia, I heard very little MilCom activity. There are sites for the Fort Benning TRS at the Ranger Training Center in North Georgia, but while the radios picked up the control channels, no talkgroup traffic was heard while I was in range of the sites. There was fog in the mornings and rain/storms in the afternoons, so that may have precluded some MilAir activity. I did catch some aircraft transiting through the area with Atlanta Center and occasionally got some snippets of activity from the Bulldog MOA in East Central Georgia. While in the Augusta area, I monitored the Fort Gordon sites of the US Army TRS, but since it was a Friday evening and Saturday morning when I was there, it wasn’t particularly busy.
314.100 - 77th FS Air-to-Air 270.900 - 79th FS Air-to-Air 276.150 - 79th FS Air-to-Air 343.750 - Bulldog MOA Discrete 322.325/128.100 - Atlanta Center Augusta Low 327.150/120.425 - Atlanta Center Georgia High 353.925/124.375 - Atlanta Center Lanier High US Army TRS (Fort Gordon sites) TG 11 - Fort Gordon FD 1 TG 13 - Fort Gordon Fireground 1 TG 16 - RTS Medical TG 19 - 249th General Hospital (Fort Gordon) TG 27 - Fort Gordon Range Control TG 32 - Area Communications TG 53 - Fort Gordon EMS TG 54 - Eisenhower Medical Center Security? TG 60 - Fort Gordon Unknown TG 78 - Buses?
While I was in North Georgia, the only FedCom activity I heard was from one of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park repeaters, but it was pretty active and I was able to hear it with the mobile radios pretty much everywhere I went around the mountains. On Friday morning, it was fun to listen to park rangers dealing with a mother bear and cub that were deemed to be too close to one of the park’s trails.
While I was in the Augusta area, the Savannah River Site P25 TRS was the only FedCom activity I heard. For a Friday evening and Saturday morning, it was more active than I expected. On Friday evening, their Fire Department and Forestry units were busy with trees that had fallen due to storms in the area.
169.5500 ($4C5) - GSMNP Clingmans Dome Rptr; unenc Savannah River Site P25 TRS TG 3005 - Savannah River Site Unknown; enc TG 3009 - Savannah River Site Unknown; enc TG 3015 - Savannah River Site Fire/EMS; unenc TG 3037 - Savannah River Site Unknown; enc TG 3087 - Savannah River Site Unknown; enc TG 3164 - Savannah River Site Unknown; unenc
Public Safety and State Parks
As I mentioned above, most of the public safety traffic I heard on the Road Trip was analog or DMR (both conventional and trunked), although some counties were using NXDN and the larger urban areas were using P25 trunked systems. Of note, Augusta and Richmond County have moved off of the Palmetto 800 system onto their own system and all of its traffic seems to be encrypted. Athens/Clarke County FD on the Clarke County P25 TRS was also encrypted. Hart County EMS communications on the Hart County DMR TRS was a mix of encrypted and unencrypted traffic.
154.8750 (RAN 36) - Victoria Bryant State Park; unenc 155.1000 (DCS 245) - Vogle State Park; unenc 155.8950 (PL 110.9) - Unicoi State Park & Lodge; unenc 154.3250 (PL 146.2) - Banks County Fire Dispatch; unenc 460.1500 (S1 C6) - Burke Fire/EMS Dispatch; unenc 154.2200 (PL 141.3) - Cherokee County Fire Dispatch; unenc 155.1600 (PL 151.4) - Cherokee County EMS Dispatch; unenc 154.4000 (PL 110.9) - Dawson County Fire Dispatch; unenc 155.5275 (PL 110.9) - Dawson County Fire/EMS Dispatch; unenc 154.2200 (PL 179.9) - Elbert County Fire Dispatch; unenc 151.4300 (PL 173.8) - Emanuel County EMS Dispatch; unenc 154.4450 (PL 127.3) - Fannin County Fire Dispatch; unenc 156.1800 (PL 167.9) - Franklin County EMS Dispatch; unenc 158.8125 (DCS 131) - Gilmer County Fire/EMS Dispatch; unenc 155.3100 (PL 186.2) - Habersham County Fire/EMS Dispatch; unenc 151.4975 (CSQ) - Jackson County Fire Dispatch; unenc 155.0550 (PL 167.9) - Lumpkin County Fire/EMS Dispatch; unenc 154.1300 (PL 179.9) - Oglethorpe County Fire Dispatch; unenc 154.4300 (PL 146.2) - Rabun County Fire Dispatch; unenc 155.6625 (PL 192.8) - Rabun County 911; unenc 151.4225 (PL 210.7) - Stephens County EMS Dispatch; unenc 154.2500 (PL 85.4) - Stephens County Fire Dispatch; unenc 155.9400 (PL 233.6) - Stephens County 911; unenc 154.1900 (RAN 50) - Union County EMS Dispatch; unenc 155.0850 (RAN 50) - Union County Fire Dispatch; unenc 155.7150 (CSQ) - White County Fire Dispatch; unenc 152.5474 (S1 C15) - White County Fire Dispatch North (Dispatch Radio ID is 911); unenc 152.5325 (S1 C15) - White County Fire Dispatch South (Dispatch Radio ID is 911); unenc 154.3100 (RAN 5) - Clay County NC Fire Dispatch; unenc 155.3850 (PL 203.5) - EMS Medshore (Anderson County, SC); unenc 154.1300 (PL 103.5) - Oconee County SC Fire Dispatch; unenc Augusta/Richmond County P25 TRS TG 3800 - Unknown; enc TG 3802 - Unknown; enc TG 3803 - Unknown; enc TG 3805 - Unknown; enc TG 3808 - Unknown; enc TG 3813 - Unknown; enc TG 3900 - Unknown; enc TG 4055 - Unknown; enc TG 4066 - Unknown; enc TG 4207 - Unknown; enc Banks DMR TRS TG 80 - Banks County Fire/EMS Dispatch; unenc Clarke County P25 TRS TG 10070 - Athens Clarke County Fire Dispatch; enc TG 10198 - Ben Epps Airport Ops; unenc Habersham DMR TRS TG 301 - Habersham Fire Response Hall County P25 TRS TG 5031 - Hall County Fire Primary; unenc TG 5136 - Event 3; unenc TG 5175 - Interop Backup 2; unenc Hart County DMR TRS TG 170 - Hart County EMS Dispatch; enc/unenc TG 173 - Hart County EMS Ops; enc TG 179 - Hart County EMS Dispatch; unenc
To be honest, I didn’t think to do any railroad monitoring during my trip except when I was riding the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. I took the BCD436HP along on the ride and was able to listen to their rail operations on 160.5600 (AAR-30). The 436’s Close Call feature also found 456.525 (PL 192.8), which seemed to be used by the railcar attendants. I was unable to find a license for that frequency, but I noticed that several of the employees had Baofeng radios on their hips and some research found that 456.525 (PL 192.8) is a factory testing preset in Baofeng radios. I suspect that they bought some Baofengs and are just using one of the frequencies that came preset in them.
I was wondering how Brasstown Bald would be for radio monitoring. When I visited there and got up to the museum and observation tower at the top, I had my misgivings. You certainly can hear quite a bit, but you also have to deal with some interference caused by the plethora of transmitters and antennas up there. It’s wasn’t terribly bad on VHF/UHF, but I didn’t have the opportunity to hang around and try other bands.
Before heading back south on Friday afternoon, I stopped by the Miles Through Time Museum, a car museum in Clarkesville. I found a car there that might be of interest to radio hobbyists – a 2004 AMG Mercedes CL55 that was used in a record setting run of the Cannonball Run route from New York, NY to Los Angeles, CA in 2003. It’s equipped with 3 radar detectors, 2 laser jammers, a CB radio, a scanner, public safety traffic light changer, and kill switches for the rear lights. It’s not particularly legal, but still an interesting car. Sharp eyed radio hobbyists might notice the Austin Spectra scanner antenna on the right rear.
There are two roads that you must travel if you visit North Georgia. They are the Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway and the Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway. The Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway is Georgia Highway 348 and winds through part of Appalachian Mountains in the eastern side of the Chattahoochee National Forest and features a number of scenic overlooks where you can stop and admire the views. Georgia Highway 348 forms the Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway along with parts of Georgia Highways 17, 75, 75 Alternate, and 180, also winding through part of Appalachian Mountains in the eastern side of the Chattahoochee National Forest. The scenery is simply spectacular, you won’t be disappointed.
No road trip is complete without great food, and this one was no different. I had two excellent meals in Helen. At Paul’s Steakhouse (top photos below), their Broiled Fresh Local Rainbow Trout was the best trout I’ve ever had. At The Bodensee (bottom photos below), the Jaeger Schnitzel was outstanding.
Who would have thought you could find a terrific Cuban Sandwich in the north Georgia mountains? The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway stops in McCaysville, GA/Copperhill, TN. While I was there, I went to the Rum Cake Lady Cuban Cafe and had one of their Cuban Sandwiches for lunch. There is now a tie for the best Cuban Sandwich I’ve ever had – theirs is at the top of the list along with The Spanish Bakery in St. Augustine, FL. Like The Spanish Bakery in St. Augustine, you won’t have a problem finding the Rum Cake Lady; just follow the delicious aroma of baked goods!
Anytime I find myself near Augusta, I have to visit Big T’s Seafood in Grovetown. Big T’s has the best fried shrimp that I’ve ever had. Some folks may not like that you eat from a Styrofoam plate with a plastic fork, but don’t mind that – you don’t need fancy plates and forks – you just need great fried shrimp, and that is exactly what you get.