Saturday morning ramblings

It was chilly and windy morning, but the countryside was calling me l. I suited up, grabbed my camera, and answered the call. I went first to Little Ocmulgee State Park. The wind off the lake was COLD, and the water was choppier than I’d ever seen it.

I headed home from there by way of Hwy 341, this weekend’s Peaches to Beaches route. I slowed for the traffic but didn’t stop. I made a left further down onto SR-149 then a right onto County Road 173 after passing through Scotland.

I passed Davis Chapel Church Road but since I was in the mood to explore and had never driven it, I made a u-turn, went back, and hung a left. It’s a long, winding dirt road (my favorite kind), and I saw beauty all along the way. I backed up a few times to make pics.

Making a left onto Springhill Church Road, I headed to Hwy 19, stopping along the way to make pics. I must’ve been driving 35 or 40 mph so when cars approached, I slowed to let them pass.

At the intersection of highways 19 and 126, I crossed 19 and made a right onto Jordan Road, another dirt road. Yes, I was enjoying my dirt road cruise! A couple of miles later, I made a left onto Beetle Road (y’all know that’s another dirt road, right?), and followed it home.

Yes, gas is high right now and we’re probably all inclined to conserve and make fewer trips. But when it comes to roaming the countryside, cruising these dirt roads (or highways), and soaking up all that beauty, it’s worth every minute, every mile, and every dollar.

Another dirt road kinda Sunday

It was a dirt road kinda Sunday again today, and it started the same way the others did: at the garbage dumpster. I drove St. Paul Church Road (SPCR) again but this time, I drove roads I hadn’t been on since the 70s!!

My route took me from SPCR, past Rabbit Road then onto Opossum Road, which I drove until I reached Meadowlark Road. I made a right onto Meadowlark and drove it for a mile or two before making my way back to Opossum Road. My travels then took me down Coyote Lane, a road I hadn’t traveled since the 70s.

I made these shots along the way and stopped to visit a friend, but she wasn’t home. CL didn’t appear to be home either so I kept moving.

On my way out of Coyote Lane, Ernest J. was sitting on his porch so I visited with him from the car.

The lane to Terri’s home place was nothing like I remembered, but it was good seeing it nonetheless.

I asked Ernest about Jackie’s home place, but I didn’t make it by there today. Maybe next time.

PS: I headed home via Hwy 19 to County Road 75 and passed a pond on my left. I backed up, stopped IN the highway, and made my pics.

On the road again…

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.

Quarry

Quarry (?) on the US-441 bypass

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.

Baker Road marker

Baker Road marker

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.

Battle of Griswoldville monument

Battle of Griswoldville monument

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.

Otis Redding monument

Otis Redding monument

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.

 

 

On the road to Houston

I left Dallas for Houston this morning but decided after stopping in Ennis for breakfast that I didn’t want to make that drive today. It had been a relaxing but sometimes busy and emotional week, and I didn’t get much sleep last night. So, I took the Highway 84 exit and traveled the back roads through Teague, Mexia, Bellmead then I-35S to Waco.

After driving through “downtown” Mexia, I was excited to see signs to Lake Mexia and Booker T. Washington Park. It was to Lake Mexia that I went first, walked about and took several pictures. I then headed to Booker T. Washington Park but there was only one sign directing me to it, and it was another road. Having grown up on a farm in rural southeast Georgia, I’m no stranger to back roads, dirt roads and deserted roads so I was in my element looking for the park. There was a moment, though, when I saw a bridge about 500 feet ahead on one of those roads that I got a really creepy feeling. Instead of proceeding further, I turned my car around and headed in the opposite direction. Yes, I’ve learned to follow those instincts. I don’t know what was on that bridge this afternoon, but I wasn’t curious enough to ignore that feeling.

Actually, that’s the second time since I began my road trip that this has happened. The first was in Oklahoma. I’d left Pauls Valley that morning and was headed to Dallas but decided to drive to Ardmore since my niece had lived there as a child and had mentioned it to me earlier that day. Gene Autry, OK was also in the area as was a park whose name I don’t recall. Instead of making the left turn toward Gene Autry as the GPS directed, I decided to go right. Why? Because there was a lake in view, of course. After making the right turn, my GPS recalculated and pointed me in an alternate direction that included a few deserted roads. I drove for several miles and saw only wide-open fields. After making the second turn, I drove about a quarter of a mile, spotted what looked like two trucks stopped in the road several hundred feet ahead, and a helicopter circling overhead. That creepiness surfaced, I slowed then turned my car around and headed back to the beaten path. I was curious, yes, but have learned over the years not to ignore those feelings.

I’m sitting in my hotel room in Waco now and it’s only 7 pm, but I am ready for bed!! From the title of this post, you’re probably wondering how I ended up talking about trusting instincts. I am, too, but I’m trusting this is what I needed to write.

But wait, I need to tell you about Booker T. Washington Emancipation Proclamation Park. After traveling those roads and not finding it (I got some good pictures, though), I reluctantly gave up. But just as I was heading back to the main road, I spotted a historical marker, and it was for Booker T. Washington Emancipation Proclamation Park. No wonder I couldn’t find it!

The marker reads in part:

“Set aside by deed in 1898 as a permanent site for celebrating June 19th– the anniversary of the 1865 emancipation of slaves in Texas. It was 2.5 miles south of this site that slaves of this area first heard their freedom announced… Even before land was dedicated for the park here, this was site of annual celebration on June 19th. For many years the honorable Ralph Long was the featured orator, speaking at times from bed of a wagon parked in the shade. As many as 20,000 often gathered for the occasion. On July 7, 1912, the 19th of June Organization was chartered, to administer the park and perpetuate regional history…”

I’ve heard of Juneteenth celebrations but despite wanting to, I have never attended one. I came close in Alabama many years ago but we arrived a day late.

A friend emailed me a few days ago saying, “I am glad you are enjoying your travels. I am sure you are seeing a lot of interesting places.” She’s right, and though I sometimes miss home and friends, I am grateful everyday for the opportunity to live this dream.