Weekend day trip
To my wife and I, Labor Day weekend means exploring. Over Labor Day weekend eight years ago, we got engaged on a roadtrip to Chilliwack, BC (we picked that destination simply because the name made us laugh).
This Labor Day, we decided to go somewhere close to home. We took a look online and discovered that there are some covered bridges nearby that we had never heard of before. Those became our destination. Now, as we often do, we didn’t print directions. All we knew were the names of the small towns near the bridges. We planned to make it that far and just wing it from there. To make it more exciting, we set the GPS to avoid major roads, since the side roads are where you find the interesting stuff.
Our first goal, the Elder Mill covered bridge, is outside of Watkinsville, GA. This is just a little outside of Athens, where the Bulldogs were playing today. Luckily, we missed most of the traffic by skirting Athens. We hear that Watkinsville has a thriving artist community now, but all we saw was a sign for a pottery sale - of course, we didn’t drive around all of the side streets. We did however see some of the old historic houses that looked nice.
Heading a few miles out of town, we followed some signs to a small dirt road that took us to the bridge. Pulling up, there were a number of warning signs about how narrow the road was. They had erected steel barriers to prevent large vehicles from going through. We made it across with no problems, and it was pretty neat to drive across.
Here a couple of pictures of the bridge. Note how there are no steel supports underneath. Usually, these have some sort of reinforcement, but not this one. Good thing the diet is going well!
Our next stop was the Watson Mill bridge in Comer, GA. But first, we had to stop for lunch. So, we made a quick stop at a Southern favorite, Chik-Fil-A. We were still in a suburb of Athens where they have painted bulldogs around town - apprently, one escaped and took up residence at this Chick-Fil-A. Ain’t he cute?
With full bellies, we got back on the road. We drove through Smithonia, GA (sometimes called Smithsonia). This town was created around the turn of the last century - Colonel Smith bought 30 acres for a farm, and a town eventually developed on the property. At some point, Kenny Rogers bought the town and worked to restore it (this was a bit of a walk down memory lane for D. since she went to a charity event on Kenny Rogers’s farm in Smithonia when she attended UGA in the early 90s).
We saw this neat old house that was being restored - it had an interesting brick tower next to it. We assume it was an old silo, but we really don’t know.
Getting back to our bridge quest, we got a little turned around and felt the need to stop for refreshment. (AKA a Diet Coke and Moonpie.) Finally, we guessed that it might be in a state park about 7 or 8 miles out of town. So, we headed in that direction. (Don’t forget, we don’t have directions, just guessing based on what we see.)
… And, bingo, there it is. This bridge is really long, over 290 feet. There are even windows halfway across just to get some light in there.
Prett neat! We didn’t go hiking on the park’s trails, but we did spend a little time looking at the area around the bridge. The river is definitely affected by the drought - in the picture on the right, you can see the dam that was built to the side of the bridge - normally, that looks like a waterfall - today, there is not a drop of water going over it. One family was playing on the exposed rocks of the river below the bridge, using the granite as a water slide. Looked fun, and considering it was over 90 degrees out, it was tempting to join them.
Heading home, we stopped at a flea market. It was kind of scary. Things weren’t really displayed - there were just piles of junk to dig through. The guy running the place was a nice old small-town Southerner. He shared stories about some Coke memorabilia he used to have. Alas, nothing jumped out at us, so we continued home, ending our day trip.
The drive home took a little longer than necessary because we somehow managed to find outselves in downtown Athens after the game ended (UGA won - yippee).
Oh, and no road trip in the South is complete without seeing an old chimney in a field, and true to form, we saw one - actually about 30 seconds after saying “Hey, we haven’t seen a chimney in a field yet.”