Friday, May 27, 2011

Day 7: The Devil Zoom'd Down thru Gawhga

(listen to today's theme)

Very appropriately, I am currently enjoying the free WiFi in the Florida Welcome Center on I-75, in the border with Georgia. Many of the people I see around me, much like Chad and his wife will soon be, are proud parents taking their kids to DisneyWorld. I remember going to Orlando in in my early tens, and definitely recommend it. It's quite a blast, although my favorite childhood theme park still remains Futuroscope, in France.

I woke up in an moist oven, still at the shore of the lake. I lazily squinted at my loyal watch, and realized it was too late to take a swim, or even have a luxurious Round-Up shower. Got in the car, turned the key, glowed and departed towards the Peachiest State, Georgia!

My original plan consisted on visiting the (supposedly) official PeachParts central in Atlanta, but, a phone call before the trip revealed that there is no such thing as a brick-and-mortar PP headquarters. The other plan was to meet Winmutt, unfortunately I lost contact and never heard of him! Oh, well, in time we will meet.

The drive to Macon was nothing special to talk about, except for two very interesting highlights. The first one I found winding down a mountain road, at the side of it. All of the sudden, I see a very faint glimmer, and realize that it is a shiny airstream. Actually, more than one. Tens of them, all together like silver bullets in a magazine. I turned around, and decided to visit the camp. I was greeted by the manager and a friend of his, who talked eloquently about the history of the camp and Alumapalooza, meetup shrine for all things aluminum, coordinated by the Airstream Company. I was welcome to attend, unfortunately it was going to take place in Ohio! The manager told me I had to meet one of the campers, a young female, who "without trying to set you up or anything" (dear Bree, do not kill me) I would find very interesting to talk to. Sharon Pieniak, graphic designer by profession, had been traveling for three and a half years in her airstream across the USA, a truly admirable feat I hope to replicate one day.

Leaving the campground with a faint cloud of Anchorage-to-Argentina daydreaming around me, I got on the road, but not for too long. Around Alto, Georgia, I found a very interesting junkyard at the side of the road, and resolved to get some W123 woodgrain and a incline knob for my seat. A bearded man greeted me among the smithereens of a Buick, and ushered me towards a sunburnt 240D with 166k miles, from which I took some nice dash wood inserts. It is our mission to save these from the sun and the moisture, before they fade into oblivion and our cars become prohibitive relics that no average joe can maintain.

On to the highway, trying to make it on time for the meetup with Jim, username Engatwork. After mistakenly stopping at his neighbor's driveway (oops!), I drove down a pine forest and found a couple wood-beam houses, still uncertain whether I had arrived to his house or not. Two very friendly dogs came to, er, kiss me. A few seconds later, Jim came out to greet me, and showed me around the beautiful lake in the property and inside his 1930s home –a beautiful construction with large, open spaces– on its way to partial renovation.

Jim took his Harley and we headed to town, where we had some good fried rice, and talked about his plans to set up an import repair shop and a camping ground, following his true dream. Because, this is what America really means to me: the fact that nothing in the past conditions a person to take a sudden, unexpected turn to follow one's true passion.

After saying goodbye, a homeless man approached me, and politely asked me if I could show him "my home". I did, and shared a couple slices of my massive Pecan Pie with him. We talked about the economy, and complained about the price of things and people's selfishness. I then left towards the Florida border, with a small fuel stop where the cashier asked me in the smoothest of Southern accents: "You drive a DIESEL car?!".

It got dark. I drove on a perfectly straight highway for two hours and a half, occasionally rolling down my window and looking at the stars, or listening to the crickets and the clatter of my engine. Jim, in his outstanding hospitality, had offered me a place to stay in Valdosta; however, I declined, as I did not want to be an encumbrance by arriving there too late.

At midnight I got to the Flying J trucker stop in Lake Park, GA. A clean, waited-for shave put me quick to bed. The following morning I had some pecan pie and enjoyed part of the trucker lifestyle by trying one of the showers in the service stop, clean as a whistle, with towels and a bar of soap included!

Now, here I am, in Florida, ready to visit AquaticEdge and see the ocean, proof that I have practically bottomed out in this beautiful country, soon ready to head West until I bump into the Pacific.

I pulled over, just because this one was too good to pass up.

The South is the land of a Million Churches. I have never seen so many!

Dramatic Aristream camp.

Sharon's Silver Snail... ready for another adventure?

Helen, Georgia, modeled after a small German Alp town.

Junkyard wonderland, home to the most trashed school buses ever!

And then, it started pouring like crazy.

And then, I had some bumper-to-bumper traffic.

All clear now, ready to visit Jim!

I would have never guessed this was the way to a PP member's house!

Jim's peaceful lake. Aaah, if I had the time to stay I'd taken a bath!

The 1930s wooden palace in the forest.

Jim (Engatwork), on his iron stallion!

Swing low, sweet chariot... when will I find a home?

One out of the many intriguing rural Georgia scenes.

With plain lands come straight roads.

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