Georgia. The Peach State. For us, a game of two halves. We had some really wonderful times and some less wonderful times but overall things were pretty…peachy.
We spent a peaceful Thanksgiving in a campground recommended to us by a friend – the brilliantly named ‘General Coffee State Park’, in Coffee County, with the irony being that every coffee shop within 40 miles had closed down. We were warned by the lovely Sherry who got in touch via the blog that it would be ‘in the boondocks’ i.e. it would be very rural, and that people might not be so friendly to ‘foreigners’. We didn’t encounter any animosity, though we did note a slight change in atmosphere from the regular chats we’d been having up to this point with pretty much everyone we came across.
We also made the mistake of entering Walmart on Thanksgiving Day afternoon, to find it full of people prowling like the Walking Dead, circling piles of discounted toys and electricals, waiting for them to go on Black Friday sale at 6pm. The sale items were cordoned off with black and yellow tape, so it already looked like a crime scene without the dozens (yes, dozens) of fully armed police standing guard with the Walmart staff. We paid for our cornflour and fled, our question of ‘where is the white wine please?’ having been met with a look of horror from the only employee we could find in sight of the food aisles. Roll up for your camouflage fatigues, cross bows and even rifles at your local Georgia Walmart but don’t ask for wine. “Waaaaaaahn?! We don’t seeelllll waahhhhhn!”. Exit the Sysons, stage left.
But the campground was very quiet for the holiday, we had a lovely big spot to ourselves and were really just there to catch up on admin, relax and plan our next adventures. John also received the best question we’ve been asked to date, while in McDonalds (home of the only free wifi in town). In response to John’s “Yes, we’re from England”, the guy serving asked “So did you drive from there?”. John politely said that no, we’d decided to fly, and to my great surprise did not launch into geography teacher mode and start discussing the viability of crossing the Bering Strait in a 4×4.
We had some very bad barbecue in Douglas, the nearest town. This was a particular disappointment to John, who despite my protestations on the calorie front, insisted that Georgia was ‘home of barbecue’ and that we couldn’t miss the opportunity. Sadly, we wished we had, as John looked at his very limp lump of brisket served on an even sadder looking slice of bread and regretted his dinner choice.
Good Georgia barbecue looks like this
On the up side, when we moved on to the Georgia coast, the barbecue improved significantly. It’s fair to say that when we’re on the look out for something specific, I am the queen of research. I google, I TripAdvisor, I quiz people, I read books/fliers/leaflets and things stuck in windows. And on this occasion my research had turned up a recommendation for ‘Southern Soul Barbecue’ on St. Simons Island, so (and this will come as no surprise to regular readers), we planned a day around going to a barbecue joint for our tea.
The day on St. Simons Island was not entirely devoted to eating. It was our first real beach opportunity, and we spent a lovely morning laying on the sand in the sunshine. The beaches on these barrier islands are so beautiful, as we found when we visited nearby Jekyll two years ago, and largely unspoiled. St. Simons is one of the bigger islands, with covetable houses lining the beach, and a lighthouse that you can climb at one tip. We made the climb, which wasn’t too painful but must have earned some barbecue calories, and had a great view from the top, over to Jekyll and all across the island.
The next day we were due to leave our campground in Brunswick. I was sad to leave the area but not the campground. In itself there was nothing wrong with it; we had a big, private spot, near a lake, and it was well located and priced. Unfortunately, being near a lake, it was a classic mosquito zone and I was unprepared so got bitten five times while directing John into our site. When I later went to do a workout on the other side of the lake (to combat the barbecue) I got covered in ants and flipped. This resulted in a meltdown about whether I could cope with this year as we enter warmer climbs. I’ve had a phobia of bugs/spiders/all creepy crawlies for as long as I can remember and I have known that this will be a huge challenge for me but this was the first time I’ve really had to confront it. Fortunately, John is a very calming influence so his confidence that I will cope, that I’m already improving (for those of you, like John, not bothered at all by insects, I realise that this will sound like the ravings of a mad woman), and a bit of a text pep talk from a good friend, had me feeling more chipper the next day. This, as Nadia reminded me, is an adventure, not a holiday, and there will be lots to learn about myself and challenges to face, and I will meet them one way or another.
So on our last morning in Georgia, my lovely husband got us all ready to go, rewired the errant brake controller for the trailer, and took me for breakfast on Jekyll Island. Here, on Valentine’s weekend 2013, we’d taken our coffee and croissants on a walk along Driftwood Beach, where John proposed with a rose-petal strewn heart in the sand, while I mistook “Will you marry me” for “Will and Mary”. I got the message in the end, and it was lovely to return to theoe special Georgia memories as well as taking this ‘relaxed and unposed’ photo below while fleeing from 10 year olds on their school field trip…!