June 26, 2014: Today has been reminiscent of a day on my cross-country road trip a couple of years ago. After being there for almost two weeks, I left the farm at 10 this morning heading back to Atlanta. It’s a 2.5 hour drive but after five hours of driving, I’m an hour and a half away in a Macon Burger King where I stopped for libations and to Google the exact directions to the Otis Redding monument.
I exited I-16 in Dublin to take the US 441 Bypass to Ivey. It was a typical drive on a four-lane highway until I reached that stretch of road called Culver Kidd Highway that runs through Irwin County. The views of the valleys, what appeared to be a quarry, and the puffy white clouds were spectacular. I snapped a few shots but couldn’t adequately capture the magic of the moment.
Several minutes later, I was crossing Lake Tchukolako bridge into Ivey. Pronounced ‘chew-co-la-co’, the pristine lake, spanning both sides of the bridge, sparkled in the sunlight and boy did I want to stop!! Laws being what they are, however, I kept moving and found a place to park across the street from Ivey General Store near the river bank, made photos, and inhaled the beauty. The cashier in the store had recommended the best spot for making photos but unfortunate for me, the gate to the “members only” club was closed that afternoon.
A half hour or so later, I was on the road to Macon when I passed a sign to Griswoldville Battlefield monument, a Civil War battle site. I made a U-turn and was making a right turn onto Baker Road a few minutes later. Nailed to a power line pole at the intersection was a sign detailing the history of Baker Road so I parked and made a photo before arriving at the monument three or four minutes later.
Except for the house with a car parked out front about 200 feet from the monument, the place, in the middle of open fields divided by the highway and surrounded by woods, was deserted. After reading the markers and making photos of the monument and scenery, I went back to my car to read more about the battle and upload pics to Facebook. As I sat there engrossed in what I was doing—and I hesitate sharing this—I heard what sounded like marching but dismissed it because, like I said, the area was deserted.
A few minutes later, I heard footsteps and thought it might be a park employee or someone from the house walking over to tell me more about the battle. When I looked over my shoulder, however, no one was there. I heard those footsteps several more times before I left but never saw a soul! It’s a little spooky to think about now, but I wasn’t at all disturbed at the time.
Next stop on my trek to Atlanta was Macon proper. I say proper because instead of going back the way I’d come, I followed the GPS along the dirt roads of rural Macon, first on Mountain Springs Church Road then on to Old Macon Road.
Having decided to check out the monument late evening or in the morning, I drove to the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail and found the river level so low that families had made a makeshift beach on the river bank. I, too, left my shoes on the bank and waded in.The rain came, but I wasn’t quite ready to let go of the magic so I sat in the car until it stopped and the sun reappeared. I walked over to a nearby puddle to rinse the sand and river mud off my feet before heading to Vivian’s for the night.
I was out early the next morning but not quite early enough to beat the hot sun that accompanied me on the half mile walk to Gateway Park across the river. So, while ‘Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay’ and others of Otis Redding’s songs played at the monument, I found a spot under his namesake bridge to cool off.
I walked the half mile back to my car, retrieved my tablet, found a shaded park bench on which to read and soak up more of nature’s magic. An hour or so later, I reluctantly relinquished my seat and headed back to the city to help prepare for a weekend long estate sale. And that, my friends, is how to turn a two and a half hour drive into a two day adventure.