Exploring the back roads

 Exploring the back roads

We've been down South most of the fall and driving each weekend back and forth from our condo in Northwestern Florida to our grandson's football games Southwestern Georgia. It's a little over 400 miles round trip and the route takes us through some very rural parts of Georgia.

As we've driven the two lane state roads in our RV, we couldn't help but notice the names of some of the towns and communities we passed through. 

So during the last couple weeks, we decided to spend a few minutes trying to learn a little bit about those places. Using the Internet as I drive, Jennifer would look up the communities online just to get a feel for each town. Often, we wondered how they got their names. Usually, we'd find the small downtowns and at least drive through them, taking photos, reading any historic markers, just trying to get a feel for what life is like there. 

Some places, like the sign on Highway 91 in the middle of nowhere for a community called Little Hope, were a mystery. We never discovered why such a pessimistic name was chosen. Did something bad happen there? Or did “Little” mean “small,” as if the place was named in honor of a larger place called “Hope.” Whatever, there's nothing there but the sign now.

Not far away, we found a community called “Hopeful” and that place we learned was named for the “hopeful attitude” of its early settlers. Like may of the towns, tough times were evident in closed and abandoned businesses. But hope springs eternal in Hopeful as there we found the Hopeful Baptist Church celebrating its 175th anniversary and, just down the road, a friendly farmer named Antonio and his family planting row upon row of baby lemon trees.

In a town called Donalsonville, we learned how the devastation of Hurricane Michael last year was still very much evident, even though Donalsonville is almost 100 miles inland from where Michael came ashore along the Gulf shore. Majestic pecan trees, over 100 years old, lay uprooted in a tangle of roots and limbs along the highway. In town, the Lions Club hall, once a central gathering place for the town, is but a shell of itself after having the roof literally peeled away like a sardine tin. The town is just now getting back to normal.

In Colquit, we appreciated the way the downtown is laid out in a perfect square around a beautiful courthouse named after a judge who, in the mid 1800's, championed for married women to have property rights.

Anyway, we thought you might like seeing a bit of our explorations. Ou hope is that you, too, will drive the back roads and learn a bit about the story of the places you travel through. As our friends Tom and Patti Burkett say, every town has a story. Discovering those stories is another reason why we love the RV Lifestyle,

Here's a video that gives you a flavor of what we've found.

Mike Wendland

Mike Wendland is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road at RVLifestyle.com. He and Jennifer also host the weekly RV Podcast and do twice-weekly videos on the YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel. They have written 10 books on RV travel.

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