Because the middle daughter is partially following in her dad's footsteps and planning to attend Valdosta State University, we took a day-trip last week down south for a college visit.
While I was fully prepared to regale my fellow travelers by pointing out familiar sites along the route, I soon had to admit: The only thing I remembered was the length of the trip.
It is a monotonous haul from here to Valdosta. Traveling down and back in a day is grueling. And because my trips there were nearly three decades ago, I'm sure much of what I could have remembered isn't even there any longer.
Without much memory sparked, this tour de Georgia thus offered some new discoveries. For example:
- I was surprised at the difference in growing seasons between Augusta, "The Garden City," and Valdosta, "The Azalea City."
While we reveled in the beauty of the azaleas at the Augusta National last week, only scattered blooms remained in Valdosta.
- Not all the blossoms were gone, however. The wildflowers growing alongside U.S. 221 are amazing.
There were mile after mile of what appeared to be Four O'Clocks. If you've ever grown Four O'Clocks, you know how they proliferate. I'm guessing mowing has spread them.
There also is some sort of lily, white with a little bit of red or pink, growing all along the roads south of Douglas. It looks almost like an Easter lily.
- Lots of small towns across Georgia are struggling - some recently, and some from decades of decline. Especially poignant are two long-dead country stores across the road from each other, just south of Mount Vernon, their competition in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere having ended years ago.
Speaking of Mount Vernon: If it weren't for Brewton-Parker College, there wouldn't be much left of the town named for George Washington's home.
- In addition to the ubiquitous and highly specialized historical museums, one little town seemed to have hit on an interesting gimmick for enticing visitors. Lakeland, about 25 miles north of Valdosta, bills itself as "The Historical Mural City." The walls of the town are painted with life-sized and lifelike murals from the 1920s when it was known as "Milltown."
Incidentally, changing that name to Lakeland created one of those oddities of Georgia geography. South Georgia's Lakeland is in Lanier County - not to be confused with Lake Lanier, which is in north Georgia.
- Finally, gas is no cheaper in south Georgia. And it takes a lot of it to get from here to there, which means unless the price drops, these trips down lack-of-memory lane aren't likely to be frequent.
Time to run
Meanwhile, on the roads well-traveled, two more political announcements were to take place this week from candidates who had already said they were running.
At noon Tuesday, former Harlem mayor Scott Dean was to announce that he is seeking the county commission seat recently vacated by Lee Anderson, who is seeking the state House seat being vacated by Barry Fleming, who is seeking the U.S. Congress seat held by Paul Broun, who won the seat vacated with the death of Charlie Norwood.
Got all that?
Later in the day, Lee Benedict was to officially display the lance with which he plans to tilt at the Ben Harbin windmill.
Benedict ran last year in the special election for the state Senate seat vacated by Jim Whitehead, who lost to Broun in the race for Norwood's seat.
Benedict came in third in that three-way race. Now he's taking on Harbin, the six-term incumbent and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
Harbin might seem to be vulnerable with his Atlanta DUI charge still unresolved. But the last time he faced opposition was in 2000 when he won with 70 percent of the vote.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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