Thursday, June 12, 2008

Georgia - Not just Red Clay Dirt and Peanuts

We drove south from Nashville on Monday morning driving down the 65 where it met up with the 75 just outside of Chattanooga, TN. The drive was pretty: hilly with woods and fields. As we neared Chattanooga the hills became near mountains. We didn’t have to time to stop this trip but plan to return to see Rock City Gardens, Lookout Mountain, and Ruby Falls (“the world’s largest waterfall contain within an underground cavern). All three have been tourist stops since the 20s…we’re sure there is more than a little hokieness to go with them, but we want to see them anyway. Jerry remembers all the barns painted “See Rock City” when they drove from Ohio to Florida in the 40s…the barns were everywhere!!!! And many are still maintained.

From Chattanooga, we drove south on the 75 through Atlanta (Hotlanta indeed…it was almost 100) and Macon and stopped for the night in Warner Robins (about 30 minutes south of Macon). North of Macon it was hilly…the Chatahoochie River winds through Atlanta (the river of Alan Jackson song fame). Atlanta has some beautiful and interesting downtown buildings. Ted Turner’s broadcasting headquarters is located there. We are going to stop for the CNN Tour our next time through…I wonder if they give tours of the Weather Channel too?? Atlanta AND Macon are growing cities (if the amount of road construction on the interstates is any indication). Atlanta has 7 Costcos in the greater Atlanta area…we of course stopped at one…in Kennesaw (of Civil War battle fame).

The face of Atlanta is also changing if the waitstaff at the Sonny’s BBQ was any indication…2 southern women, a Hispanic woman, and 3 russian women provided service at Sonny’s…the new face of the south!!!

And Warner Robins was an odd (but pleasant) spot. We saw signs for hotels on the interstate and got off at the interchange expecting them to be right off the freeway. Nope…3 miles east we drove and then rising up out of red Georgia clay was the sea of new hotels, Hampton, Quality, Comfort, La Quinta, etc. etc. plus an assortment of new restaurants and suburban tracts. We had to ask at the hotel desk…what are all these hotels for? Answer, first..the Warner Robins airbase…must be doing a lot of business there!! Then agribusiness: Frito Lay, Planters, and ?. The essence of Georgia: corn, peanuts, and ? toss in pecans, tobacco, and peaches and you’ve got the agricultural history of Georgia…

Tuesday we headed down the 75 across much flatter land. It must have been the perfect weather to bring in the hay because fields were strewn with new round hay bales and trucks created to haul the big round bales were traveling off to the local farm supply store. We got off the interstate at Tifton and headed east and southeast to the Okeefanokee swamp. Gone was the deep red Georgia clay replaced by brown dirt. Pine forests mingled with fields of tobacco, corn, hay, and blueberries!!! Who knew blueberries in Georgia…there were a lot of fields at one point. Oh…and HUGE Pecan trees.

Jerry remembers driving across Georgia in the 40s and all he remembers is the heat and tar paper shacks. It is still hot, but the shacks are gone (mostly) replaced by mobile homes (mostly) and small tidy homes and fields.

Oh by the way, one of the many special license plates you can get in Georgia is apparently one that is the solid color of red Georgia clay

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