Monday, September 27, 2010

We Ride the Countryside

September 23-26
George L. Smith II State Park
We have just returned from our annual Coastal Bicycle Touring Club outing at George L. Smith State Park in the rural farming country of Georgia, just 85 miles northwest of Savannah. The centerpiece of the park is a 400 acre mill pond filled with stately Spanish moss-draped cypress trees. The pond was formed when Parrish Mill was built in 1880. The mill complex included a dam, grist mill, saw mill and covered bridge, and a refurbished version of it remains in the park, although the only traffic allowed over the bridge now is foot traffic.
When we weren’t riding, Dick spent a lot of time around the pond, where he took some beautiful pictures of the cypress trees, and of the harvest moon that shone bright enough to cast shadows at night.

Friday we rode rolling roads lined with boll-busting bright white cotton fields on our way to Metter, a town of 4,400 which has the slogan, “Everything’s better in Metter,” although the statistics might argue otherwise—nearly half the adults living there have not graduated from high school, and the median household income is $25,360. No matter to us--we lunched in luxury at the trendiest place in town--a pharmacy/cafĂ©/boutique, already being decorated for Christmas and full of lots of tempting gifts (including several displays of suggested gifts for named locals soon to be married and one who just had a baby girl). The temperature rose above 90 on our way back to the park, reminding us that Christmas is still three months away.

The massive spread at our Friday night potluck dinner replaced all the calories we burned riding 33 miles that day, and stoked us up for Saturday’s 40 mile ride to Swainsboro.
On Saturday we discovered it was peanut harvesting time when a truck passed us towing two hoppers overflowing with peanuts, and the aroma seemed to pull us along the road—too bad we couldn’t keep up. One of our favorite spots on the Swainsboro ride is a large pond that sits beside a big dip in the road. The pond is full of cypress trees and lily pads with hundreds of pure white flowers in bloom, and we actually stopped to admire and enjoy them this year, even though it meant we lost our downhill momentum to help us on the climb out of the valley. Cotton fields, in pink bloom and in white harvest-ready splendor; grazing steers and contented cattle; shady pine farms fresh scenting the air as they bake in the 90 degree heat; butterflies fluttering around the roadside blooming weeds—we love this ride.

Yet another highlight of the weekend is our stop at the Swainsboro Dairy Queen, where Dick and I shun the main course and treat ourselves to Blizzards for lunch just this one time every year.

May we have many more years riding these roads through the land of cotton, may our good times here be not forgotten, and may we never look away, Dixieland.

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