Driving the Georgia Backroads

Murphy and I spent this Labor Day Weekend visiting my girlfriend and her German Shepherd in Athens, Georgia, which is about three-and-a-half hours from Lamar.  As such, I spent a solid seven or so hours on the road this weekend, not counting time we spent tooling around Athens.

For a three-day weekend, that’s not much driving, and I’ve driven longer distances.  Way back in the mists of graduate school, circa 2006 or 2007, I drove from Knoxville, Tennessee to Rock Hill, South Carolina (not far), then from Rock Hill to Richmond, Virginia and back just to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra with a friend.  She took the wheel only for the last hour of the drive back, and apparently as soon as I got into the passenger seat, I was out cold.

Granted, I was twenty-one or twenty-two at the time.  In the intervening fifteen years, my zest for driving all night to hear live symphonic holiday power metal has waned considerably.  Now I’m lucky if I can make it to 10:30 PM without falling asleep on the couch, my multiple after-school drives to Universal Studios notwithstanding.

But I digress.  While I may lack the stamina of my reckless youth, I do alternatively loathe and appreciate a long drive.

The older I get, the more I dislike Interstate driving.  Driving on the Interstate is like eating fast food—it’s quick and easy, but kind of boring and unfulfilling.  It gets you where you need to go quickly most of the time, but can also result in painful, tedious blockages.  It also seems that the Interstate always runs through the most boring sections of any State, county, or city.  In the South, that usually means hundreds of miles of endless pine barrens (I-95), or long stretches of wilderness punctuated with exits full of fast food joints and gas stations (often in the same building).

But we put up with the drudgery, the boredom, and the highway hypnosis because it’s way faster than driving thirty-five miles per hour through every backwoods speed trap between here and Buttcrack.  When trying to get to work or travel long distances, it’s usually worth saving the time (which can really add up over long drives) to drive the Interstate.

But the back roads—even the federal highways—are where the real hidden gems are.  The drive to and from Athens requires a little over an hour on backroads, winding through a number of small towns (the aforementioned “backwoods speed trap[s]”).  It is easily the most pleasant part of the drive, and it’s so nice, it makes the drive seem shorter.

On the way to Athens, this portion makes up the final part of the drive, and it makes the prior two-hours-and-change of tedious Interstate driving worth it.  Almost immediately upon exiting I-20, the road unfurls into beautiful, bucolic countryside.  This part of Georgia is in the Piedmont Region, a broad region that makes up the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains (my hometown of Aiken, South Carolina is right on the edge of this region).  It’s full of rolling hills, roiling creeks, and wooded glens.

This time of year, the trees are still green, but the first slightest hints of golden fall leaves were beginning to peak through on Labor Day.  I could already get a sense for how beautiful the drive will be in another few weeks.  This section of the trip has something of the magical feel of driving in the Appalachian Mountains, without all the switchback turns and car sickness.

The towns along this route are themselves quaint and ramshackle.  The word “nestled” comes to mind, as the homes and old businesses in the little towns all seem to be tucked into the sides of their little hills.  Several of the small towns seem to have a mix of rundown ruination—all-too common in small towns throughout the South—and quirky revitalization.  One of the larger of these towns, Crawford, has a funky little pizza place I want to try (Papa’s Pizza), as well as a chic looking barbecue joint.  Another town near Crawford seems to have some elderly hippies, as some of the businesses had that vibe.

There’s also a good stretch of the drive that is bounded on either side by a massive Black Angus ranch.  Murphy seemed to appreciate the smell of the cows and their leavings, as well as the scent of the land itself.

On returning yesterday, this pleasant drive really made the last two-thirds of the trip—almost all Interstate—that much more bearable.  It has me itching to get back to Athens, and to go further up into the mountains, which I miss dearly.

Well, it’s back to work today.  Future drives will have to wait until future holiday weekends.

Until then, happy trails!

—TPP

30 thoughts on “Driving the Georgia Backroads

  1. Brilliant article! Thanks PP and for the picture which I’ve saved. 🙂

    I absolutely love driving and will take that route as soon as we’re able to come to the States. Granted, I’m still a newbie in driving terms – just touched two years – but it’s one of the most relaxing things you can do, chilling in your seat with the window open, some good music on the player and driving through gorgeous places. The back roads of Georgia look very appealing indeed. All I’ll need to do is learn how to drive on the wrong side of the road! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    I’ve bookmarked this article for future reading or as I see it, to experience a journey I might never undertake.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Pontiac! Before you get too excited about that picture, it’s a generic one from Pexels, haha. But I will take some real pictures the next time I go to Athens. It’s truly gorgeous.

      I agree—driving can be a very relaxing and fun experience, especially if you’re not in any particular hurry to get anywhere. I enjoy my morning drive to work—a leisurely twelve minutes with only a couple of stop signs and no traffic lights—but it’s considerably less enjoyable if I’m up against the clock. It’s nice to be able to drive without feeling rushed, as I often do.

      Here’s hoping you can come over! I should have included a map of the route, but I was slapping this together late last night and wasn’t feeling up to adding the extra touches (like, you know, maps and actual pictures from the drive, haha).

      Liked by 3 people

    • P.S.—If you subscribe to the blog, Pontiac, have you been receiving e-mail notifications of new posts the past few days? I haven’t been getting them in my inbox, which concerns me. Need to make sure I haven’t turned something off on accident.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I don’t subscribe unfortunately. Tina and I are pretty limited on the sites we use and send donations to some – though we did drop one recently. My job doesn’t pay much and we have to watch what we spend.

        Plus, I tend to find that it’s good to traverse a new site for a while before deciding whether to spend anything on it. I doubt we’ll ever subscribe but we don’t mind throwing the odd donation out once in a while. If that’s an option, we might do that at some point.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Oh, no, you’re fine. I was asking if you subscribed to the free e-mails from the blog—the “Follow” feature on WordPress that sends you an e-mail with a preview of my posts whenever they are published. I certainly don’t expect you to subscribe to my SubscribeStar page, although that is certainly welcome.

        Please, do not feel compelled to donate (although, again, the “odd donation” is always welcome). I was merely asking for technical purposes, not as a backhanded sales pitch. I want to make sure that WordPress is sending out the daily e-mails for when new posts go live, as I haven’t received them the past few days. That’s a big way most readers know that new content is on the site.

        Liked by 3 people

      • WP coughs occasionally. I’ve had it happen a few times where it unsubscribes people. And once they unsubscribed me from NEO. If a commenter suddenly drops out it’s worth looking for us small guys. It’s part (but only part) of the reason that I went to using RSS for my daily rounds, it’s much less cumbersome.

        That said, sounds like a lovely drive, but I’ll bet Ponty wouldn’t make it with the windows rolled down, except maybe in January. AC is a wonderful thing, no wonder Packard introduced it in 1940, for cars.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Yeah, I think you’re right. I’ve witnessed some WP coughs, farts, and belches over the years, too. I remember when I first started, linking to my own blog posts counted as a pingback, and would show up as a “comment” on a post. At some point that stopped, then mysteriously started up again for a few days, then stopped again. That is bonkers that you were unsubscribed from your own blog. Maybe that happened to me!

        Yes, it was a very pleasant drive, and while it was a cool weekend, it was warm (low nineties) and humid yesterday. There were a few mornings, though, that felt crisp and autumnal, and reminded me of the mountains.

        Kudos to Packard for putting A/C into cars. Thanks for the factoid, NEO!

        Liked by 2 people

      • It’s said that it was really clunky and not very efficient, and only available on the 180 that was the base for the custom limos. but it was a start. Probably had to do something after dropping the V12.

        Liked by 2 people

      • 473 du in. about 6.5 compression (gas wasn’t very goo back then. Mileage, probably 5 at best IDK, but the cars are still beautiful and expensive, I saw a stock 1937 (well as stock as a custom car gets) listed for $132,000 or so recently. I think it’s worth it. I’ve read that a brake upgrade is in order, as is an overdrive or lower rear end ratio, otherwise they are completely competent on the Interstate – up to 90+ mph. When new,the magazines rated them as better than Rolls Royce.

        “Ask the man who own one”, wish I did!

        Liked by 2 people

      • My understanding is that it’s a torque monster. Originally it was called the Twin Six because it is two Packard sixes cobbled (very well) together back in the 20s. It’s gotta be a very big thrill to drive.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Jaguar had one in the 70s and 80s (much smaller, of course), and Dodges V10 is not far off the mark. Gotta love Dadge, still building cars for people who love cars.

        Liked by 2 people

      • They’ve made some good stuff. Mynext one would likely be 4X4 pickup with the Cummins, unbreakable practically. Had a company service truck like the back in the naughties and loved it.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Long drive from St. Pete, Fl to Conyers, Ga. for a religious retreat. It was in October and fall color was amazing and soothing and enriching. We had to travel through “downtown Conyers” (about the biggest overstatement I’ve ever encountered, lol): it’s real ‘small town’ with a big commons (grassy area) in the center, around which the stores and restaurants and various companies are situated. The entire ‘downtown’ was decorated for Halloween and not one place of business failed to join in the fun – every establishment was decorated. But we had to get to the retreat on time and after the retreat, it was such a long drive we couldn’t stop and walk the commons so missed the opportunity to enjoy it both sides of the trip. I think about it often since then, and about missed opportunities … grab the joy when and where you can.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I am familiar with Conyers, Georgia, and would love to witness their Halloween spirit. I am sorry you were unable to stop. I feel the same way going to and from Athens to see my girlfriend. I’m eager to get there while I’m on the way; then I’m eager to get back home on the return. I’m going to stop at Papa’s in Crawford, though, the next time I am heading to Athens; gonna pick up a pie for us to enjoy.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. No, I don’t subscribe to the emails. The reason being that since I did that for TCW, I get not only all emails but other notifications across the day. I seem to spend half my time deleting ‘someone liked your comment,’ ‘someone liked your article,’ ‘new articles from…’ every day. I wish I knew how to turn them off.

    Like I said, I’ve limited my time online so I know which sites to visit and which to avoid. I don’t need notifications so apologies that I can’t help you to identify the issue.

    As for donations, I won’t mind sending the odd one through now and again. If I’m going to use this site, I should at least help to pay for its upkeep. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hahaha, dude, I definitely understand. I am going through the process of unsubscribing to notifications of that ilk as well. Too many junk e-mails to delete every day.

      Thanks for your help. I’ll check with Audre and see if she is getting the notification e-mails.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Hello PP. I subscribed for notifications and I have been receiving emails for new posts with no problems.

    I drive because I have to not because I enjoy it particularly but it gives one a freedom non drivers don’t have. I don’t do many long trips now and by long I mean over fifty miles in any direction but when I drive to the homeland – Wales – I do occasionally take the scenic route which takes me up through the Brecon Beacons. It is more miles and takes longer to get to my destination in South West Wales but it is such a joy to see those ancient hills once in a while and to remind myself of days out with my parents and sister over fifty years ago now.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks, Alys! That’s good to know. As long as e-mail subscribers are receiving the e-mails, that’s all that matters.

      I do enjoy a good scenic route. Any drive that goes through something as auspiciously named as the “Brecon Beacons” must be worth the extra time and mileage. It’s wonderful when scenery can take you back to the past.

      Liked by 3 people

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