When we arrived at Holiday, it was paradise. The expansive views at the point, the big wafty breeze, the calm swimming waters. Sheri was ready to cancel the last leg of the sojourn and book into Holiday for another 3 days. And as we packed up on Sunday morning, the wind shifted to a heavy mug, the thunderous storm the night before disturbed the bugs and they were out in force, looking for comfort all around us. Tybee, here we come.
Holiday hook-up was water and electric only, so we conserved water during the time we were there. After a visit to the dump station, we headed East out of LaGrange on a 285 mile journey to Coastal Georgia – Tybee Island, where the Savannah River and Atlantic Ocean meet.
Google Maps plotted our course – 100 miles of low speed county roads snaking east on 18, 109, 41 with 166 on high speed I-75, with the final 16 on 404 into the tiny Tybee.
LaGrange had 4 distinct areas – West Point Lake, decayed/segregated housing, plantationettes near the College, correctional and treatment facilities and finally 2 miles of rural suburbia with it’s fair share of fast food and casual dining chains and businesses that keep a town running – gas, propane, automotive, Home Depot. The mall housing JC Penney, TJ Maxx and other retailers of the typical strip mall were shuttered in favor of Dollar General and Walmart. It was the largest small city we would see on the 100 miles to I-75.
The white line on the right and the yellow line on the left hugged the Pace Arrow with little room to spare as we rolled down the Peach Blossom Highway, State Route 109, which winds through the heart of Dixie. We imagined that this is what it meant to travel by car before the Eisenhower interstate system was built.
Woodbury, Molena, Meansville passed at 10 mile intervals before we rolled into the rail depot of Barnesville. It was a metropolis. It had a McDonalds. Being a Sunday morning, the roads were clear with the cars parked at either a Baptist or United Methodist church which dotted the landscape like Starbucks in Seattle; often with Mt Olive Baptist right across the street from Antioch Baptist. Out of Barnesville, we paralleled the rail line for miles. There was so much to see. From the beautiful southern architecture of the large homes with their stately two-story columns and large wrap around porches to the two block towns struggling to stay alive. Or perhaps they weren’t struggling at all and this is what small town rural life in Dixie looks like. A man on a front porch gave waved from his rocker. We waved back feeling like the Pace Arrow was a float in a parade on Main Street. We imagined that he wondered where the Class A was headed just as we wondered what life was like in the heart of Georgia.
Homes had dozens of natural gourd birdhouses hung high in the yard providing homes for Purple Martins, nature’s Mosquito control service. Graveyards graced every home and every church, different from what we know as the cemetery. Some looked like civil war era headstones scattered in the yard and others were paved and divided into squares about 20 feet a side like a checkerboard. Each square was bordered by a low brick fence no more than knee high. Inside the square were multiple flat granite markers. It was the family homestead in the afterlife.
A few peach tree plantations and cattle ranches occupied enormous swaths of land, while manufactured came in many varieties on their acre lot with four out buildings and four derelict vehicles. We approached Macon where we would hit the Monroe County Rest Stop #22 for a lunch break then pick up I-75. With mixed emotions we traded the panoramic views of the deep south for speed and large signs high in the air marking the next BP. Suddenly Georgia looked the same as the rest of America, a sea of chain brands vying for your attention.
The descent into Tybee took us through downtown Savannah, with it’s mossy tree lined streets, quaint shops and bustling restaurant district. The RV was a bit out of place rolling past walkers with strollers, tourists in trolleys and hipsters sipping skinny espresso lattes in tragically hip coffee shops. We agreed it would be all we would see of Savannah and we’d get to know as much of the 3 miles of Tybee as we could.
We pulled into River’s End Campground around dinner time then hopped on our bikes to get our bearings. North Beach, River Beach, Bathhouse, Lighthouse. Monday will be a good day.