Well, I finally had time to take the “mystery ride”. Today’s destination was Cleveland! No, not the one in Ohio, the one in Georgia. The thing is, Cleveland was actually the secondary destination. The primary destination will be revealed below. 😉
All in all the ride was a good one, yet in a small (very small) way disappointing. I left home early, in the fog… again. Not really a big deal as that happens a lot here in the mountains. I just make sure all of my lights are working properly, as I do before starting all rides, and put on my lime green safety vest with wide silver reflective strips. Perhaps it would be a good idea to invest in a jacket that does the same thing. 😉 All of the weather services, i.e. the local news, Intellicast, the National Weather Service, AND The Weather Channel told me the night before that “tomorrow” would be the best day of the week with sunny skies and absolutely no chance of rain. It’s hard to pass up a forecast like that when you’re looking for an excuse to ride!
My first waypoint was a tiny “mom and pop” restaurant called the Hollywood Diner. I’ve seen this restaurant dozens of times before but never had time to stop. About 15 minutes before I reached this waypoint the fog began breaking off and tiny patches of blue showed through.
Finally, a gorgeous day with plenty of wonderful views ahead! Not. By the time I got to the restaurant parking lot the fog was almost completely gone, and the sky above me was a deep blue, but virtually all of the sky surrounding that patch of blue was covered with dark clouds and thunder heads. 😦 I wasn’t about to cancel the balance of my ride so I just made sure my rain suit was handy, then went inside to have breakfast.
The interior was nothing like what I expected to see, and I’ve been in dozens of small town and/or mom and pop restaurants during my travels to well over two-thirds of the United States. There is nothing bland about the rustic interior here! Large inverted water buckets bearing Coca-Cola advertising, converted into light fixtures, were suspended from the ceiling over the counter. Behind the counter is a glass window with a view into the kitchen so customers could watch their meal being prepared should they wish to do so. How many restaurants do you know about that actually invite you to watch them prepare the meals?
All of the walls are covered with memorabilia, photos, signs, reproduction serving trays, etc. The wall to the left of the counter even had the famous classic “Hollywood Diner” retro picture that featured Elvis Presley, Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, and James Dean prominently displayed among other pictures of these same people, a classic Route 66 advertisement, and my favorite, an Indian Motorcycle picture. I don’t know if they planned it that way, but I liked the way they took pictures of the people featured in the primary focal point (the retro picture) and placed them around it. Good Job! 🙂
After enjoying a delicious breakfast, and conversation with a couple of their patrons I had never met before, I paid the tab and returned to my bike. By now most of the threatening clouds had moved away leaving a partly cloudy sky that would oscillate between almost completely clear to completely overcast during the balance of my trip. Just before I fired the bike up my waitress came outside and pointed at the bear on the back of my bike. “I saw that bear from the window and just had to ask… what’s its name?” Grinning, I responded, “Smoky”. “That’s a great name for your bear” she said as she turned to go inside, calling back over her shoulder, “Have a great ride!”
A couple of miles down the road I came to a historic marker which gave information about a nearby tiny dirt road that crossed the portion of “old” Historic US-441 that I was now traveling.
Unless one takes time to travel the back roads that crisscross this great nation a lot of history is lost in favor of the high-speed super highways that, in my opinion, quickly become boring routes filled with billboards, concrete walls, and impatient, often irritated, drivers. These smaller, lesser traveled routes have long been a favorite of mine, and probably will remain so.
After enjoying a few more curves and hills I came to the town of Clarkesville, GA. It’s a relatively small town to be the county seat, but it’s not tiny like many of the neighboring towns… “burghs” as we used to call them.
Clarkesville is actually an “up and coming” town. Not only does it have a memorial near the gazebo pictured above to give tribute to those in the area who sacrificed their lives in wars from World War I thru Vietnam, they also have a fair collection of shops and restaurants.
None of the surrounding towns have a tavern…
And another Oyster Bar/Tropical Themed Grille can’t be found for 60 or more miles in any direction.
The owners even want you to be able to find them again. If you’ll look closely at the Grille sign you’ll see the GPS coordinates. LOL There’s even one little shop (now closed and up for sale) that really brings back memories of the 60’s, and a song about a place bearing the same name.
Fifteen miles further down the road is the town of Cleveland, GA, and as you know this trips secondary destination. Cleveland is also a county seat (for White County), but significantly larger that Clarkesville, at least in area. Since it was founded circa 1859 it’s had plenty of time to grow. 😉
The courthouse is quite interesting. Not only does the exterior reflect the architectural style of its era, the inside has been restored and displays many items of interest, especially if you like antiques.
There are also displays of military equipment, uniforms, and materials spanning from the Revolutionary War to Afghanistan. Where else can you find an original Porta-Potty???
In most of the older courthouses the courtroom(s) is on the ground floor with offices on the 2nd, or higher, floor. Here the courtroom is upstairs and takes up the entire floor except for 2 offices at the back of the courtroom, one of which is the Sheriff’s office. Makes sense to me! I was a little perplexed to have not found some sort of small holding cell attached to, or even near, the Sheriff’s office. The view from the courtroom must have been magnificent in its day. Today’s view is nice, but without all the “growth” one can imagine a much prettier view.
After touring the courthouse I headed for the primary destination which was… The Babyland General Hospital!! If you have young children, or grandchildren, you probably know this is the home of the Cabbage Patch Kids.
I knew that Cabbage Patch Kids were B-I-G but I wasn’t expecting what I found here. I assumed this outlet was going to be some store in a strip mall or maybe in some now defunct grocery store. Instead I found what for all intents and purposes was a huge Southern Mansion.
The front walk is bordered by concrete castings of various Cabbage Patch Kids –
While the interior is, of course, designed for children of all ages, even down to the couches and chairs.
There’s a room set aside for the premature kids, complete with incubators –
A delivery room nursery –
And for the older “kids” there’s even a school bus.
The staff was very friendly and accommodating, and even as an adult I found the “hospital” interesting. If you’re trying to think of some place to go where the kids can have something interesting to see and do this winter I would suggest that you consider this as a destination.
When I finished my tour I headed off to White County Park to have lunch. I saw this on Google Maps when I got directions to the Babyland General Hospital. The park is fairly large, but doesn’t really cater to people who want an occasional picnic. There are picnic areas, but all of the ones I found were in large shelters with several other tables. From all appearances this is more of a sports oriented park. There’s a gym for basketball and other indoor activities, a baseball field, and I think a soccer field. Since I couldn’t have my lunch out in a field or by a pond or stream I continued on toward my next destination, Helen, GA.
Before reaching Helen I came across the Nacoochee Mound on GA-17 just a couple of hundred feet from where it splits off of GA-75. This is an Indian burial ground thought to be the resting place of two young lovers from warring Cherokee and Chickasaw tribes, as well as the burial site of at least 75 others from several different time periods.
As the plaque indicates, this site was visited by DeSoto in 1540, however it dates much further back than that. Tests on items unearthed there indicate it was built circa 10,000 B.C .
From the mound I rode on to Helen, GA, a German/Bavarian themed community, where I had lunch. I plan to re-visit Helen so I didn’t take any photos this time. If things go as planned this will be a “destination” city, and photos will be posted about that another time.
After lunch I resumed my trip toward home, crossing over Unicoi Gap on GA-75 about 9 miles North of the center of Helen.
Unicoi Gap is not only one of Georgia’s higher points, it also serves as a road crossing for the Appalachian Trail, a foot path that extends approximately 2,100 miles from Georgia to Maine.
This was the last stop for this trip, other than for fuel. I already know where the next trip will be. I’m sure you’ll find it interesting, and if the Fall leaf colors cooperate it will be a beautiful ride as well.