I’m Not Lost, I Am Wandering! Come Wander down GA Hwy 60 With Us

When I am out exploring, I don’t really have a hard “to-do” list.  I have a rough idea of the things and places I would like to see and visit.  Case in point; on one of our recent trips to Blue Ridge, GA I wanted to see an “old iron bridge” I had read about. The problem was there was not a lot of information on the exact location of the bridge so I did a Google search and found “Iron Bridge Cafe and General Store”. Without knowing for sure this was, indeed, the Iron Bridge I was looking for, off we went to just see for ourselves. When we set out to see something, the “something” is very open. A 13 mile 20 min drive between two points may turn into a full-on three-hour excursion because I may get sidetracked seeing “other” things.

Within the Chattahoochee National Forest runs a mountain road called GA Hwy 60. It twists and turns through the treetops and along the Toccoa River. There are pastures, old homes, barns, and shacks: it is rural country. As we drove, whenever I saw something of interest,  I would snap a few photos. I thought I would pass these along to you.


So let’s go!

2017-09-19 10.02.57The map above shows the starting point in Morganton with the end point of the Iron Bridge Cafe & General store. We got off track during the route, and the story goes a bit like this….

We were camping on Lake Blue Ridge at Morganton Recreational Area, therefore we left from there.

Head south down Hwy 60 past Hoot Owl Hill (yes that is the name) and you will see a red barn.

A few miles past the barn just after Sourwood Lane, is an old cattle barn. It is just before Dial Road on the right.

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Skeenah Creek Mill

I planned a stop at Skeenah Creek Campground on the way in search of the bridge, because I wanted to see the old mill there. At 23300 Morganton Hwy, we turned on Skeenah Creek road and pull immediately into a driveway at 20 Skeenah Gap Rd, Suches, GA I got out of the car and asked if we could check out the campground and mill. We were granted permission to look around. Such a neat little place!

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There is a building directly across the street from Skeenah Creek Road on Hwy 60, where I took this photo. I got out of the car and walked down a little dirt road about 50 feet and stood in the midst of these wildflowers to capture this shot.

The address is close to 23394 Morganton Hwy and I am certain this is private property so do not venture too far, as it is illegal. Leaving Skennah Creek Mill, we turned left. Our GPS was struggling to load and we figured we should go the way we already were heading before our mill detour. WRONG. PROTIP: GPS Signal is limited in the mountains. Don’t depend on your maps to tell you where to go.

As you continue along Hwy 60, you will pass Cooper Creek Baptist Church on your right, just before you reach Cooper Creek Store. The church doesn’t have an address, but if you get to the store, you just passed it 20 seconds prior. The church was built in 1849 and has some very primitive headstones. As you head towards the church you will see a glimpse of the Toccoa River on your right.

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Old Gas pumps at Coopers Creek Gas Station

At this point without GPS we figured we needed directions, so stopping at Cooper Creek Store for a drink and a photo and directions made sense. Cooper Creek store is located at 27880 Morganton Hwy, Suches, GA. Directly across the street is Hemlock Lane, which we cracked up about because nearby is Tilley Bend where the Witch of Blue Ridge legend originated. We asked the store owner if he had heard of Tilley Bend or Tilley Baptist Church and he said: “no, that he had lived here for 40 years and never heard of either.” We find this hard to believe as you can’t throw a rock up there without hitting a Tilley. He did tell us that Suchee is home to Georgia’s smallest public school. “It’s just a few miles up the road” (by few miles he meant 10 and 10 miles takes 30 minutes in the mountains. We decided that the schoolhouse might be worth our time and that we would take the detour off our route. 2017-09-19 12.39.20As we were climbing in our car I noticed across the street from the store there was a set of steps leading nowhere, which I thought was cool looking. I am assuming they go up to someone’s home, maybe the store owner.

We passed a restaurant out in the middle of nowhere. called the WildCat Cafe. It was closed when we stopped, or we would have grabbed some lunch on the patio. It looks like such an eclectic place, right up my alley (cat). Check out the neat photos I took here. Next time we are in Blue Ridge, we might just have to stop by here for lunch. The address is: 7475 State Highway 60, Suches, GA

Right past the WildCat there is a road called Johnny Cap Road, on the corner sits an old abandon barn. As you near it you will see some bee hives on a little hill.

I couldn’t help but stop and take some photos of rural mountain life on Hwy 60 near Harkins Road. I parked the car on the dirt road and took the photos below without intruding on the owner’s property. Please remember to be respectful when photographing peoples land and buildings.

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If this photo is enough to make you happy about seeing Georgia’s Smallest Public Schoolhouse then don’t even bother putting in the location and carry on the route without visiting.

Woody Gap School located at 2331 GA-60, Suches, was less than exciting. Honestly, I was hoping for something a little bit older and rustic. Like you know a log building from 1890. But it’s kind of neat to think that kindergarten through twelfth grade is housed in this one little building. At the beginning of October, they host a square dance at the Indian Summer Festival that everyone is welcome to join. I would have loved to go get my square dance on, but we had other plans, maybe next year.

Finally, our GPS kicked back on and pointed the way to our original location, The Old Iron Bridge Cafe.

We had veered off course quite a bit, but by doing a little exploring look at what we saw! From Skeenah to the school is 16 miles. We had been on the road for two hours, it was time to head to our original destination, Iron Bridge Cafe & General Store, 8436 Aska Rd, Blue Ridge, GA and hope that there was indeed an iron bridge there.

Doubling back means that we had to go all the way back past Skeenah Mill to Dial road. Then onto Aska Road. The Old Iron Bridge Cafe was on our left. I parked the car and went to ask if there was an iron bridge anywhere in the vicinity and…..


Want to know if we found the Old Iron Bridge on this adventure? Click “Follow blog” below to find out next week!

Keep the Lust for Wandering Y’all


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Drive-in Anyone? See a Drive-in Movie While You Still Can!

There are only 336 drive-in theatres in the entire United States left, 3 years ago there were 348, in 1980 there were over 2400. It is a dying pop cultural theatre technique and you should take your kids to a drive-in before they are all gone! With movies going digital, it is too costly for drive-in’s to convert and more and more of them are closing. Georgia has 4 remaining drive-in theaters: Jesup, Atlanta, Tiger, and Blueridge. If you live in Atlanta, you know about the iconic 6 screen theater located here. Does the thought of going to Starlight Drive-in, in south Atlanta kind of scare you? After all, it is in a pretty rough part of Atlanta and my cop husband says, “absolutely not” to it. Like me, do you really want to cross Watch a Movie at a Drive-in” off of your bucket list? Well, there is another drive-in that is within driving distance of Atlanta, up in the rural mountain town of Blue Ridge, GA.  Come take a tour of Swan Drive-In Theatre with me.

The theatre was established in 1955 by  Jack Jones and W.H. Tilley, Jr. Dang those Tilley’s and Stanley’s they have their hands in everything up here in these mountains! If you haven’t read my ghost story about the Tilley’s click here.  Mr. Tilley named the drive in Swan because while stationed in England he liked to watch swans elegantly swimming. They were so beautiful and peaceful he suggested this name “Swan” for the new drive-in. He also thought a nice short name would be easy to light up in neon lights. 

swanToday, more than 62 years later, it still has a “retro” feel. You enter through a single gate that accepts cash only and as you wait for the movie to begin, oldies play on your car radio. You can almost picture the jocks, the leathers, the good girls and not so good girls, hanging in their t-birds, coups, and daddy’s Oldsmobile’s. I could picture Danny singing, “stranded at the drive-in” and Risso making the walk of shame from the ladies room as all the kids spread gossip about her from car to car. “News sure travels fast!”

2017-09-17 19.27.01There is one screen at this drive-in and the lot is pretty small, but the view of the screen is pretty awesome no matter where you park. When you pull into your parking slot, pull up the little “hill” as it angles your car up for a better view for those in the back seat. Protip1: Park as close to the white PVC pipe as possible. The spaces are wide enough to fit two cars and the lot gets pretty crowded, you will be asked to readjust if you aren’t close to the poles. Bonus: You also get a great view of the setting sun while you wait for the movie to start.

The concession building lies in the middle of the lot and offers up all kinds of yumminess at affordable prices. To add to the experience, I recommend feeding the kids at the theatre. Skip the healthy for one night and indulge in hot dogs, corndogs, nachos, and burgers, popcorn, funnel cakes, and deep fried Oreo’s (oh.. my… gaw…). The Oreo’s are a large quantity, 6 lovely, puffy pastry, warm, good cookies so you will want to share those. They are rich.


  • Protip2: Swan does not take debit or credit.  Cash only. Grab it before you arrive as there isn’t an ATM in sight. They keep it as true to the era as possible.
  • Protip3: If you have a car full, it is difficult to see from the backseat, bring chairs and a radio to listen.  If you have a van or SUV: park backward, open the hatch and pile in the back with pillows and blankets. This will thrill the kiddos. We even saw a couple snuggled up in the bed of a truck. They had an air mattress with pillows and blankets piled up. FUN!
  • Protip4: Did I mention the deep fried Oreo’s from the concessions. Get them, you won’t regret it.

2017-09-17 22.23.25The theatre plays a double feature on Friday and Saturday night so you get two movies for the price of one. The first movie doesn’t start until dark so be prepared for a late night. A single movie plays on the giant single screen on Sunday night and if you don’t like what is showing then tough Oreo cookies. Some nights it is a kid-friendly movie, other nights, not so much. Make sure you check what is showing before bringing kids. The night we went it was not kid-friendly.

We saw Steven King’s “It” while visiting the theatre. I was not overly thrilled to see a horror movie at a drive-in surrounded by woods. But Shane and Julia were pretty stoked as they like horror. I opted to sit in the back seat, where I could hide behind the passenger seat if I got freaked out.. which I did… 2017-09-17 19.44.17

About 1/3 of the way through the movie Julia stated matter-a-factly, “why is there someone outside our car carrying a red balloon“. Seriously? SERIOUSLY?! The theatre had workers tie red balloons to posts beside vehicles while people were distracted by the movie as a fun prank. What an awesome touch! In addition, they added clown heads outside the main gate as we were leaving. Niiiiceee touch. I said a few choice words when I saw it. Just what we needed to see as we were headed back to our campground to sleep in a tent in the woods. I honestly figured Julia would end up in Shane and my tent that night, but she braved it out alone in her small 2 man tent.

My honest opinion on a drive-in theater:

  • It is fun to do, but am much more comfortable in a theater in an actual seat. Maybe it was because I was in the back seat of the car. Maybe if I was snuggled up in the back of a truck it would have been even better.
  • This is a historic theatre that gives children the opportunity to see a movie the way their grandparents used to see it. An opportunity to relive the past.
  • It was creepy as hell to watch a scary movie at a drive-in and if I were to do it again, we would bring chairs and a radio to sit out in the cool mountain air at night.
  • It was a neat experience and Swan Drive-in Theatre truly goes all out to keep the authenticity of the drive-in and made it fun for the customers.
  • Have a baby but no babysitter? This is an opportunity to see a movie without disturbing others around you. The baby can sleep blissfully or scream their head off and only you will have to deal with it, no one will scowl at you. (While in the military, Shane and I used to go to the drive-in with a couple who had a baby. We never heard the baby from our car parked beside them, it was awesome for all of us because they got a date night and we all enjoyed dinner before the show and conversations afterward!)
  • Because the sound comes from the car radio you have to leave your car running which is really bad for the environment. We have a hybrid so our car is very quiet and was using electricity the majority of the time, but there was a monster diesel truck beside us that was loud. We had to roll up our windows to drown it out. Once the windows were up and the radio was on, we couldn’t hear the truck.

Protip5: You may want to bring a battery operated radio along for sound if you do not want to leave your car running or have a loud truck.

There are novelty items in the concessions such as tee-shirts, mugs and water bottles with the drive-in logo.  They even were selling, “I saw “IT” at Swan’s Drive-In” tee shirts while we were there.

Want to see what is currently playing?  Check out their website 

Cost for Admission

 ADULTS $8.00

CHILDREN AGE 4-11 $5.00


Interesting fact: The Swan Drive-In was featured in the Movie, “Need for Speed”, as “Mt. Kisco Drive-In. If you are on the Georgia film trail known as Y’allywood make sure you visit here.


Have I interested you in a drive-in? Are you looking for a Drive-In in your state? Click here

Keep the Lust for Wandering, Y’all!

Fran, Shane, and Julia

  • Thank you to Swan Drive for the history of the theatre
  • Thank you to Quartz for information on the disappearance of Drive-Ins.
  • Thank you to Mentalfloss.com for an interactive map of all drive-in’s in the US


A Family’s Legacy in the Blue Ridge Mountain’s

Shane and I like to read up on the history of an area before we visit it. Knowing that we were going to spend a few days in Blue Ridge, GA. I looked into some of the local lore and heritage. I hit a gold mine up in the Blue Ridge Mountains, (all puns intended). In the early days of the settlement in the Blue Ridge, Georgia mountains, there were Creek and Cherokee tribes along with two prominent families: The Stanley’s and the Tilley’s. From what I read they didn’t exactly get along, and the two were regular Hatfields and McCoy’s of the Georgia Mountains, but that is another story.

2017-09-20 11.31.07-1Today, along the picturesque Aska Road, on top of a hill stands a lone whitewashed church. The church has been genuinely cared for by one family who calls this place, “home”. It is part of their heritage, and you can’t escape the Stanley name up here. This is Stanley territory. Roads, creeks, gaps are all named after the family and there is a ton of history in this small valley about them. Like every family, there are stories of heartache and joy, laughter and tragedy. So many wonderful and tragic stories to be told and I would like to share just a few with you.

From what we can tell the Stanley’s came to this territory from Avery County, N.C. and a few married the Cherokee tribe members that had also moved into these lands. After the trail of tears, the natives that had married into families were safe from the U.S. Army and were allowed to stay. The family built a village in a hollow (pronounced “holler“) and began to thrive: raising sheep, cows, horses, and growing crops.

Southern Slang: An -er sound is often used for long “o” at the end of a word. For example, hollow— “a small, sheltered valley betten two hills” is pronounced holler

In 1886 a church was built near the homestead and like most churches in that area, it served as the schoolhouse, a gathering place, as well as a place of worship. The church started off as Baptist but when a Church of Christ minister showed up at the church a great contest started and the current preacher knew less scripture than the Church of Christ minister and that settled that! The Baptist preacher was sent packing and from that point on they were Church of Christ. If only all things in life were this simple.

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Long-stone table sits hundreds of family members

Today this church sits vacant all except one day a year when the family meets on the last Sunday in August for Decoration Day. This big ole family reunion pays homage to those that lived in the hills, toiled the ground and raised families. Three to four hundred people pour in from all over the country who still have their roots in the little church. A long cement table has been built under an enormous pavilion to accommodate the family’s lunch after the sermon. This thing must be 50 yards long! A hymnal sits atop the stone table awaiting a family member to pick it up again and sing from it.  A silk yellow daisy was gently laid atop the book. I couldn’t help but snap a photo, before placing the book back under the table with the other hymnals. I didn’t want it to get ruined by moisture.

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You can see here the massive length of the table that awaits the family lunch

Luckily, while visiting the Stanley Settlement we were surprised by a visit of two Stanley ladies, but more on that later.

R.C. Stanley was 6 years old when he witnessed his father being shot by Confederate soldiers.

First, let me tell you about Elisha Stanley who established this valley. The creek that the settlement is built on, is named after Elisha. He was a hardworking farmer with a family and community to care for. In the late stages of the Civil War, the Confederate Army was desperate for men and showed up at his front door to conscripted him and his brother-in-law, Elv Evans Hughes, into the rebellion. Neither men were too keen on this idea, “they didn’t want to fight in the war, or for the southern army.” — as historically written. The current caretaker Ralph Stanley has said, “Our People were on the Union side“. The men kept going AWOL, leaving camp, and coming home to work their fields and provide for their families. Their crops didn’t stop for war, and their women and children were not going to go hungry. The two men were hunted down by the Confederate Army. On September 6, 1864, Elisha was on the porch repairing his 6-year-old son, Ricklas Calvin’s (R.C.), shoe when the Army came calling. Without hesitation, Elisha was shot 6 times while his son and pregnant wife watched.  The Army then found Elv Evans Hughes in a field sheering his sheep. With a pleading wife, they tied him to a horse and drug him away to the camp where he was tied to a tree and shot dead.

The wives had no men left to bury the bodies and it was hard labor to dig the holes, so the two men were buried in the same plot. The women used a corn box used to feed the horses as a coffin. They placed one man in, covered him with a sheet and laid the other on top. Today a new headstone shows those buried there as “Family” and the plaque states:

The marker reminds us the men where “killed standing for the Union of our Great Nation.”

Elisha Stanley

After the war, The Stanley Settlement took in a lost boy, named Moses, who was found crying along the roadside and raised him amongst their own. The Stanley’s were farmers who worked their own land and did not own slaves. When they saw a young black child alone they assumed he was the child of runaway slaves, but no, he was born free and was lost or abandoned. MosesMoses was raised by Mr. Johnson until he died and then R.C. Stanley took him in. He was the first black child to attend school in Fannin County. He was educated on Stanley Creek and lived his life in the valley. Moses is buried in the cemetery, along with the other Stanley family members. He wasn’t blood, but I have a feeling he was buried alongside the only family he ever knew, the ones who cared for him. His gravestone doesn’t have his year of birth because it was unknown. It only has his name, “Moses Johnson” and “Colored”. Some may think to have the word “colored” as disrespectful, but I think it is paying honor to the man that lived and flourished amongst a white family during a time when race was a dividing factor. I would have loved to meet old Moses. I bet he was full of stories.


Life in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s wasn’t easy. It was made especially difficult in the rural north Georgia mountains. In times of need, high on the hill, the church bell would ring. You could hear it 2.5 miles away and when the parishioners heard it, they knew they were needed. As we drove through the heavily wooded mountains, I imagined just how difficult life must have been up there for the Stanley’s. They built a community, were hardworking, and God fearing. They raised babies, took care of their elderly and died here. In the cemetery, all but four, are all kinfolk of the Stanley’s. Here we saw the headstones of Ada and Harrison Stanley and their 7 young children, who perished in the early 1900’s. Many children were lost in the GA Mountains at the turn of the century. (there’s a creepy legend about that. The mortality rate of infants was high in this region and an eerily weird local legend spawned from out of that.) As the church plaque states: “These small graves attest to the risks that came with childhood and the need for a tight-knit community.

2017-09-20 11.38.36 HDR-3Then there was Buell Stanley who was the crazy hillbilly who blew his arm off trying to fish with a stick of dynamite in the Toccoa River! Now that in itself is a story but this is where it gets really good. Buell blew his “good” arm off fishin’ — I mean it would have to be his good arm because who throws a stick of dynamite with their “bad” arm right? And after they got him bandaged up they held a ceremony for the arm and in the family cemetery, here it lies with the family. Not ALL of Buell, mind you, just his arm, may it rest in peace.

Remember at the top of this article when I said while we were visiting the church we met two Stanley ladies?

Meet Evelyn and Beverly


I don’t believe in “chance”. I do believe in destiny. And it was our destiny to meet these two ladies. Shane, Julia and I were about to leave the settlement that is only really visited every once in awhile by family. It isn’t like someone is up there every day, these days, you know. As we were piling into our car, another vehicle slowly made it’s way up the drive. They stopped a short distance away, sat there for a moment and then came on up to greet us. It was almost like they stopped and discussed, “why are strangers up here?” (They did, in fact, discuss this. Beverly said, she said, “mama, go on up and see what they are doin’” and they did and we are so glad!) They were coming to check on the family church and their loved ones buried here. We stood and spoke to them for about 45 minutes and they told us the stories that I just told you. Evelyn is the great great granddaughter of Elisha. She told us, “My Great Granddaddy was shot by Confederate Soldiers. We Stanley’s didn’t own slaves and didn’t want to fight for the Confederates and they shot him“. This made me sad to think, that back then if you thought differently than someone else, you could lose your life in an instant. Unfortunately, we haven’t learned much from history since then. I wish Elisha could come talk to our society. I am proud of Elisha. He stood up for what he believed in and was there for his family until the end. We discussed Ada and Uncle Ralph. We discussed Buell and his missing arm and then they told us where Moses was buried and we bid them goodbye as we sauntered off to find his grave on the edge of the yard by a tree. As I walked away, I turned back and jokingly said, “I am gonna come crash your families decoration day” and without hesitation, both ladies invited us to join them in 2018.  I think we will take them up on it. I want more stories!

Thank you to Evelyn and Beverly who more than graciously told us stories of their family. I dedicate this entry to the both of them and their heritage.

Thank you to http://www.gcgsi.org/Research/ChurchHistory/StanleyChurchofChrist.pdf

Is This Passenger Train Ride Worth the Cost?

“On a Warm Summer’s Eve; on A Train Bound for Nowhere…”

Ok, it wasn’t evenin’ and the train was headed to McCayesville, GA but you get the idea right? Shane said he kept humming “The Gambler” in his head the entire trip on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. He even went as far to say that the only thing to have made it better if they had folk dressed up in wild west period clothing and held a shoot-em-up. I couldn’t bear to tell him that this train was not originally from late 1800’s Midwest. But then again the mountain hillbillies of North Georgia were no joke either. Just visit the Tilley and Stanley Settlements cemeteries and you will see just how bad ass they were, but that is another story for another time. Today we are going on a train ride.


The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway embarks on its journey from the historic 1905 train depot in downtown Blue Ridge and makes a slow, relaxing 13-mile ride along the Toccoa River as it heads for a layover in the sister towns of McCaysville, Georgia, and Copperhill, Tennessee.

Before I tell you about our trip let me tell you some cool events that are hosted by BRSR.

  • April – Easter Eggs-press – Take a ride to a Farmer Brown’s field where eggs are hidden.
  • October – Pumpkin Express – Visit Farmer Brown’s field, pick out a souvenir pumpkin and then return to Blue Ridge.
  • October/November – Fall foliage rail rides offer beautiful glimpses of autumn trees.
  • December – Santa Express – take a ride with old Saint Nick
  • New Year’s Eve Excursion – ring in the new year onboard while sipping on wine and tasting hors d’oeuvres.

Our visit was the third weekend in September, the leaves were just beginning to change and the weather was starting to cool to a brisk (not so much) 88 degrees. (oh how I wish for real fall temperatures.) We opted to sit in the climate controlled car because it felt more authentic. They have open air cars but you sit along a bench that doesn’t look like a traditional train car seat. They allow moving about the train and it is safe to walk between cars, so I just popped into an open air for a few photos and then took my happy butt back to the comfy seats.

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Julia pondering life while looking outside the train window
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Country barn sits in a lonely field along the train tracks









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Here is what we found:

    • The train leaves precisely at its scheduled time, don’t be late.
    • The entire trip consists of 1-hour ride to McCaysville/Copperhill, 2-hour layover, 1-hour return trip to Blue Ridge. Plan on a full half a day for this excursion.
    • Tickets are not cheap, but if you are military or first responder they offer a discount.
    • It was worth it to cross Ride a Train off our bucket list.
    • When purchasing tickets, ask for a car in the very back of the train, so that you can get a great shot of entire train as it rounds bends.2017-09-18 11.27.28
    • Your ticket reserves your car, but not your seat.
    • The Toccoa River is on the right side of the train going and if you are taking the 3 P.M. ride make sure you are on the right, otherwise it may be dark on the ride back to Blue Ridge. When boarding, ask your car guide if the sun is already set on the return trip. If it is after Daylight Savings you may not get those pictures you wanted.
    • Get to your car early, people start lining up for the choice “right side of train” seats.
    • The car guides ask that if you sat on the right side of the train going, trade seats with those on the left so everyone gets to see the Toccoa River.
    • The Moose Caboose has rail-side food and drinks, if you purchase a ticket at the depot, you may get a coupon for a free coffee while you wait to board the train. The hot chocolate was pretty darn good too.
    • 2017-09-18 14.39.24-1Ask your car guide questions, you will find they are quite knowledgeable, ask about the ceiling paper stamped with your cars original train line.
    • If you are in the climate controlled car, move to an open-air car as the conductor announces that they are approaching the cornfield where you can see the entire train front to end. This is about the only time they will allow you to stick your entire torso out the window for a great photo op.
    • There is a concessions car aboard the train if you get hungry on the 1-hour trip
    • If you get sore sitting a spell, walk the entire length of the train and back. It is acceptable.
  • Keep an eye out for the old telegraph poles that are over 100 years old.100 year old telegraph pole
  • Be sure to see the 500-year-old Native American Fish trap

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    The only thing this fish trap is catching these days is a large limb!
  • MaCayesville/Copperhill – leaves a lot to be desired.  Want my honest opinion of the town(s)? Tourist Trap.
    • Interesting sites in town:
      • Old Steel bridge (as seen in photo peaking of the tops of the buildings
      • Georgia/Tennesee line- Stand one foot in GA the other in TN
  • Hold on to your train ticket – you will need to get it “stamped” by the conductor (ask him for a photo op, he will more than oblige) and you will need it to board the train for your return trip. (truthfully, the first is for show and they didn’t ask to see our tickets on the return trip because our car guide remembered us. )
  • The Old Steel bridge – right before you enter McCaysville/Copperton you will cross an old steel bridge. There is very little space between the train and the bridge. I am talking a few inches at best. This bridge is in Horseshoe Bend Park if you want a different perspective of it.

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  • The return train trip: If you missed something going, you get a second chance to see it on the way back. I walked to the next train car which was open air and shot a few photos without the glass between me and the outdoors. Depending on how crowded the train is, this is acceptable. When I returned to our car I found Shane fast asleep, lulled by the slow steady movement of the train. You see the same thing coming as you do going, so he didn’t miss anything.
  • Bonus tip: if you ask nicely, you may get a tour of the train engine. Ask after the trip is over not before, they are too busy getting the train ready before.  Usually, you won’t be denied this bonus that many people don’t know about.

In the end I feel like taking a ride along the Toccoa River in a antique train is worth the cost of the trip. It gives kids an idea of how life used to be when their grands lived, you learn a bit of history while relaxing and unwinding. However, the towns you visit are lacking.

Want more info? visit http://www.brscenic.com/

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Keep the Lust for Wandering, Y’all!

Shane and Fran

All Aboard!

Exploring a Hidden Botanical Treasure

One hour south of Atlanta and thirty minutes from Macon is the small town called,”Flovilla”. If you are traveling down I-75 between these two cities, I urge you to hop off the exit and take the back road detour to explore this area.

Down in these neck of the woods is Indian Springs State Park, Dauset Trails and The Village at Indian Springs.  You could see all three of these in just one day.

Photo Jun 17, 12 31 29 PMThe Whimsical Garden, is a botanical treasure that  resides behind Mrs. Lee’s Sweet Stop in the Village at Indian Springs. The garden, sitting atop a hill, is almost hidden behind the town’s sparse buildings. You can enter the garden through an education shed or near the Big Chief Store. A stone path winds throPhoto Jun 17, 12 13 28 PMugh the garden, making it an easy stroll for wheelchairs, walkers, or strollers. Every where you look you see, impatiens, daisies, jonquils, rhododendrons, purple heather, and jasmine brightly shining in the sun. Large oak, willow, and pine trees gently sway, kicking up a gentle breeze. The cicadas sing their sad tune throughout the trees lining the perimeter of the garden. This is truly a botanical beauty.

Photo Jun 17, 12 12 16 PMWe started our garden tour in the rose garden where a large wooden totem stands greeting you. There are hundreds of roses in every color surrounding it.  I wish I knew who carved this beauty.

The garden itself is situated so perfectly within the Village at Indian Springs so that if standing in the center of the garden you see the chapel in the background and a lovely fountain in the foreground. There is a large gazebo with ceiling fans and rocking chairs that provide a place for visitors to relax while taking in the botanical scene. Shane and I sat for a spell, enjoying the warm breeze, surrounded by blooms that permeated a sweet fragrance throughout the garden. We enjoyed our ice cream that we picked up at the Sweet Stop. (Try the banana pudding flavor) The birds were singing, and the chapel was in the background.  It was a hot summer day, but sitting under the fans of the gazebo was cool and relaxing.  We just sat and connected with each other.

Photo Jun 17, 12 03 57 PM

Whimsical Garden

Following the path that winds under archways and through manicured tunnels, we continued on. Bright pinwheels twirl along the way and playful stone animals await children to pose for a photo op!Stone critters await you in the Whimsical Garden






As we moseyed along we came to a screened building that had at least 50 vintage metal “Tonka Trucks”. These are kind that my brothers and I used to play with. Sadly, ours were left behind in the crawl space when we moved from our childhood home. Years later my brother Chris and I went back to the old house, hoping they were still there, but alas, no, they were gone. This was a nostalgic gold mine! They are old, battered and covered in mud and rust. I could picture these fellas being played by little boys and girls, making dump truck and screeching tire sounds as they plowed through the Georgia red clay! Ah! the good ole days of childhood in 1975!

The architect that designed the garden paid attention to artistic details.  Our favorite was the “flower bed”, such a fantastic idea!

Photo Jun 17, 12 26 16 PM

Before we knew it, we came to the end of our tour in the garden.  A small potting shed acts as an exit.  You enter through one door and leave the garden through another. Inside the shed are pots, spades, and signs that teach children how to plant flowers.  We hated to leave the garden but we had other things to see and do so we parted ways with a, “bye Y’all!”

Photo Jun 17, 12 25 12 PM


I sure hope you take a hour out of your drive to check out this town and garden.  It is worth the trip down the back road.

Keep the Luster for Wandering Y’all!


Photo Jun 17, 12 07 12 PM





The Village at Indian Springs

While camping at Indian Springs State Park in Flovilla, GA.  Shane and I took some time to check out this small hamlet right outside the entrance of the park. The small town is so close that you can walk to the village from the park.  And if you aren’t careful you will miss it.


Even if you are not planning on visiting the park, I implore you to take an afternoon to visit this wonderful community. The folks here are some of the nicest characters you will ever meet.  They all share a common goal and that is to enrich their environment and help it thrive.

Photo Jun 17, 11 11 53 AM
Hey Y’all!

There are only a handful of stores in this tiny village, but it is so quaint and beautiful it is worth your time.  In all, Shane and I spent 2 hrs here, and that’s because we stopped to talk to the locals and enjoyed an ice cream cone in the Whimsical Garden.

The first thing I saw when I entered Big Chief’s Country Store was the large pallet hanging on the wall next to a Jeff Gordon statue.  It said, “Hey Y’all!”.   In the south this is the standard greeting. I immediately fell in love with this pallet and wanted to take it home with me. Shane said, “no”. Our home is not decorated in southern charm.  Maybe I should consider changing just for this sign!

Photo Jun 17, 11 08 21 AM

This store has your normal gas station merchandise but is also reminiscent of a store from the past.  As you enter you see the “penny candy” baskets. This really took me back to my childhood when my siblings and I would walk to a local 5 and dime with 50 cent in our pockets and come home with a pocket full of candies. Like any good country store there are local products to purchase such as: local honey, yellow root tea, scorned-woman hot sauce (hmmm interesting), scented soaps and lotions made with the Indian Springs mineral water and jarred preserves with the villages own label. I couldn’t help but pick up a jar of the F.R.O.G jelly for my toast.  (no frogs were injured for this jelly) It is Fig, Raspberry, Orange and Ginger jam!

Photo Jun 17, 11 14 19 AM
Sharon’s Gourmet Soaps – https://www.facebook.com/SharonsGourmetSoaps/

The friendly shop keeper told us to check out the other shops and garden while we were here and off we went.  As we were crossing the street we ran into a lady, who was delivering an iron to one of the cottages.  Now, mind you, Shane is a stand-offish kind of fella. He doesn’t like to stand around and yammer on but I will stop to be friendly. This southern belle was so enthusiastic about showing us the cottages that I couldn’t tell her no and I am SO glad I didn’t.  She introduced herself as “Frankie” and called herself the “village idiot” when she misplaced the key to one of the houses. Her good nature and friendliness made me giggle.  She told us about the houses, the cottages and the village. “It was in ruin but has been refurbished,” she said. She left us to walk through the cottages on our own.  Take a look at the photos of one the cottages that are for rent. They are gorgeous!

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From there we headed down the side walk to the local antique store.  If you are into country furnishings you should come down here for a peek.  It’s a neat shop!

Photo Jun 17, 11 17 45 AM
Vintage Post Antiques – The Village at Indian Springs – Flovilla, GA
sit a spell
Come sit a spell

As we began to walk around the stores, the locals would greet us and were so friendly . They were genuinely glad to see us.  I wanted to spend all my money here supporting them!

Upon entering one store, we met Bob who told us that he was the newest store owner to the area and he told us that he just couldn’t resist the pull to setup shop in this small village.

Photo Jun 17, 11 40 00 AM

Bob’s store front is beautiful.  Everything in order and had wonderful symmetry.  He told us that his daughter helped decorate the store including the shelves behind the counter. The store has all kinds of decor for the country home.  I want to bring my nieces and sister down here because this is right up their alley!

We talked with Bob a good while about the pulley’s hanging in his shop and the hand crafted barn doors his son makes.  He told us more about this town and this is where the story got good.

This is how I heard it: This area was pretty much in ruins a few years back.  It was drug infested and run down until a local woman named “Frankie” decided that she wanted to make a difference in her community and help nurture it back to a prosperous village.

*screeching record*

Wait, what?!

The woman who was delivering the iron to the cottage, the “village idiot” was the entrepreneur, and renovator of all this! She was so humble and down to earth I would never have guessed it. She took no credit for any of it. She just was so happy to share with us the town she loves, the history, and the beauty.  She was proud of this hamlet and just wanted to show it off!

I hope I have the story straight.  Frankie, being a small business owner, purchased much of the stores, cottages and homes in the town and refurbished them. Painstakingly each building was restored with great attention to detail.  Frankie used to grab a sandwich at Fresh Air BBQ and sit on the dock at Indian Springs State Park. There she dreamed of making this place beautiful and with the help of others that is what they did!

The coolest building in the town is the Outfitters store.  When it was purchased it was in horrible shape.  Thick with Georgia red clay (thick and hard dirt) that was two feet deep on the floor and really run down. But during the restoration process they were able to keep the original wooden siding on walls and the indispensable counter along with the antique cash register.

Photo Jun 17, 11 56 22 AM
Watkins Outfitters – original counter and register

In town there are two shops with antiques, and country home decor.  There is a bikers shop with leather goods, the outfitter store, a woman’s clothing boutique, and a children’s wear store.   The cottages and church are usually open for people to meander through.

Before you leave town make sure you stop at Mrs. Lee’s Stagecoach Sweet Stop for a scoop or two of hand dipped ice cream.  The banana pudding ice cream was wonderful and we stood and talked with the mother/daughter staff.  They are a hoot!  Just sit back and let them talk and you will be in stitches.

Shane and I grabbed our ice cream cones and headed up to the Whimsical Garden which is the shiny gem of this town.

Keep the Lust for Wandering Y’all!



Photo Jun 18, 7 52 37 AM

P.S. I told you I bought the F.R.O.G. jam right?  Here it is smeared on my campsite toast.

For more information about the Village at Indian Springs please visit

http://www.thevillageatindiansprings.com/welcome  check them out on Pinterest and on Facebook


Disclaimer: I received no compensation for this post.  It is my honest opinion about this lovely village.

15 Things to do while at Lake WestPoint – Georgia

My friend, and the most fabulous hair stylist in the world, asked me to find her things to do while camping at Westpoint Lake in LaGrange, GA.  Well, I aim to please so, Christina this is for you.

Biblical History Center


Encounter the ancient biblical world through its history and culture.  Through authentic archaeological replicas, Biblical meal presentations,  artifacts, lectures, ancient Middle Eastern life comes back to life today

  • 130 Gordon Commercial Drive – LaGrange, GA 30241
  • 706-885-0363
  • Tuesday through Saturday, 10 AM to 6 PM
  • Donations accepted

River’s Bend Winery and Vineyard 

Get your wine on!

  • 692 Adams Rd – West Point, GA 31833-4725
  • 706-645-1181
  • Thursday-Saturday 12:00-7:00pm Sunday 12:30-6:00pm
  • Tasting prices vary

Hills and Dales Estate

Tour the 13,000 sqft home and garden of the Callaway family which is considered one of the best preserved 19th century gardens in the country.  Built in 1916 it is rich in history. If traveling with children ask for the Earle’s Great Hunt tour which is catered towards them.hill

  • 1916 Hills & Dales Drive – LaGrange, GA 30240
  • 706-882-3242
  • Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • $15.00/Adult $7.00/Students

Fort Tyler Historic Site

Fort Tyler was the scene of a desperate last stand by Confederate troops on April 6, 1865. Command of the city and Fort Tyler fell to Brig. Gen. R.C. Tyler, a Confederate officer. His death during a heroic last stand at the Battle of West Point made him the last general of either side to be killed in the Civil War.

  • 1111 6th Ave, West Point, GA 31833-1128
  • The battle here took place 7 days after Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox.

callCallaway Memorial Tower 

  • Cypress St, LaGrange, GA 30240
  • This monument to textile magnate Fuller E. Callaway was built in 1929 and is patterned after the Campanile of St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy.hone: (706) 884-182

Rodeo Races

Rodeo races are held at the Pyne Road Park Arena. Twenty to fifty riders compete in barrel races, pole bending, Texas Barrel, flag races, and arena races.

  • 4194 Roanoke Rd, LaGrange, GA
  • First Friday of every month from March through October, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Admission is Free
  • Concessions available

Cascade Falls

cascPack a lunch and hike the Pine Mountain Trail,  a 3.7 miles around trip, to and from the waterfall inside FD Roosevelt State Park.   Visit Atlanta Trails for a map and directions to the falls.

  • 2970 Georgia Highway 190 – Pine Mountain, GA 31822
  • $5 dollar parking pass for day

Callaway Gardens

Blooms, Beaches, Butterflies, Birds, and Bridges.  Callaway has so many things to see and bfly 093do you can spend several days here!  You can zip through the tree top on zip-lines, relax in the spa, have fun on the rope course and see the beautiful gardens.

  • 4500 Southern Pine Drive Pine Mountain GA 31822
  • 800.852.3810
  • $20.00/adults $10.00/children


Pine Mountains newest attraction may not be open yet.  Call to see before going!


  • 214 South Main Ave. Pine Mountain, GA 31822
  • 706-489-3466
  • Wed 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Thu – Fri4:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Sat – Sun12:00 pm – 8:00 pm
  • $19.95\person for unlimited rides and fossil dig

The Little White House

LWhFDR first came to Warm Springs in 1924 hoping to find a cure for polio. His hopes was the 88 degree waters would heal him.  Visit his home and see the unfinished portrait that he was posing for when he had a stroke and passed away.

  • 401 Little White House Road – Warm Springs, GA 31830
  • 706-655-5870
  • Daily 9 a.m.–4:45 p.m.
  • $12.00\Adults $7.00\Children

Wild Animal Safari

Drive through the park where animals roam free and come right up to your window to feed.

  • giraffeGo early! It’s hot and it gets crowded.
  • Animals eat in the mornings so it is when they will be most responsive.
  • 1300 Oak Grove Road – Pine Mountain, GA 31822
  • 706-663-8744
  • Hours Vary by day – check site
  • $76.95 – Includes 2 adult tickets and 2 children’s tickets or $21.95/adult $18.95/children

Butts Mill Farm

Check out the go-carts, bumper boats, archery, beach area, creek swings, train ride, gazebo, covered bridge, horse shoes and so much more!  A great family place.

  • Go early it gets crowded
  • 2280 Butts Mill Rd – Pine Mountain, GA 31822
  • 706-663-7400
  • Open only on weekends Saturday & Sunday 10am-4pm
  • Ages 10+\$15.95 Children 3-9 \$13.95

Horseback Riding @ Roosevelt Stables

Take a trail ride on horse back.  Reservations are requested, walk-ups are available basis.  You can take a guided ride or bring your own horse.

  • 1063 Group Camp Road – Pine Mountain, GA 31822
  • 706-6287463
  • Tuesday – Saturday 10 a.m. – last ride out at 4 p.m. Sunday – noon – 4 p.m.
  • Prices vary check site


The Irish Bred Pub

  • 727 3rd Ave., West Point, Georgia 31833
  • 706-645-2600
  • Mon-Wed 11am-10pm, Thur-Sat 11am-2am
  • Check the website for nightly entertainment such as Bingo, trivia, and Karaoke

Cakes by Debbie

  • 1201 2nd Ave Westpoint GA, 31833
  • (706) 501-1400
  • Tuesday–Friday, 11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Saturday, 9:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
  • Winner of TLC’s Ultimate Cake Off in 2010-11 sells pastries and lunch boxes for picnics!

Charlie Joseph’s Famous Hot Dogs and Hamburgers

  • 2238 Westpoint Rd – LaGrange, Georgia, GA 30240
  • (706) 884-0379
  • Mon-Fri 10-6, Sat 10-4, Closed Sun
  • Charlie’s has been serving hotdogs in LaGrange for over 90 years.




7 Georgia Festivals to Visit August 24-27 2017

Football Fest at Georgia Football Hall of Fame

  • Aug 26, 2017
  • 250 Marietta Street NW – Atlanta, GA
  • Free with ticket to the Hall of Fame which is $21.99/adult 17.99/child

Grant Park Summer Shade Festival

  • Aug 26, 2017 – Aug 27, 2017
  • 700 Boulevard Avenue SE – Atlanta, GA
  • Free Admission

German Bierfest

  • August 26, 2017
  • Wooddruff Park – Atlanta, GA
  • Tickets $35/advanced $40/day of  $10 Designated Driver ticket

Chattooga County Agricultural Fair

  • Aug 24-27 2017
  • 34 Middle School Road – Summerville, GA
  • Tickets are $5 – Sunday is Free Admission

Rabun County Fair

  • Aug 24-26 2017
  • 115 Longview Dr. – Tiger, Georgia 30576

  • Free Admission

Pigs & Peaches Bbq Festival

  • Aug 25 2017
  • Adams Park, 2753 Watts Drive – Kennesaw, GA
  • Free Admission

Villa Rica Frontiers Rodeo

  • Aug 25-26
  • Villa Rica Civic Center – 1605 GA-61 -Villa Rica, GA 30180
  • $13/Adult $7/Children

Keep the Lust for Wandering Y’all!


15 Georgia Festivals that Give Back

People love festivals for various reasons.  Some people go for the crafts, others for the music. Some people like the livestock shows and others for the carnival rides.  I go for the atmosphere and Shane goes for the food.  It doesn’t matter the size of the festival to me. It could be a small town celebration with 20 tents, or a huge production with fair rides and livestock shows.  I enjoy the people watching and eating an apple dumplin’ served up from a trailer by friendly southern folk.  Festivals are a great way to get businesses or organizations some publicity.  Some festivals have a purpose in mind: to raise funds for a community project.  Below are 15 festivals in Georgia that give back to their community.

Decatur BBQ, Blues and Bluegrass Festival


  • August 31-September 3, 2017 –  Japser, GA
  • 100% of proceeds go on to help kids in and around community.
  • Jeep owners and enthusiasts come from all of the United States to attend.
  • Admission is free for spectators and passengers. $75.00 to register per Jeep

  • JeepFest – https://www.sheriffsjeepfest.com/event

AJC Decatur Book Festival

  • September 1-3, 2017 – Decatur, GA
  • Benefiting the DBF – Promoting a year-round literary community by hosting a series of fundraising and literary events.
  • Free Admission
  • https://www.decaturbookfestival.com/

Rock’n Ribville

  • September 16, 2017 – Lawrenceville, GA
  • Benefiting Lawrenceville Police Benevolent Fund this event is in it’s 10th year.
  • Enjoy live music and eat southern style barbecue
  • Free Admission
  • http://www.rocknribville.com/home

Blue Ridge Blues and BBQ Festival

Jekyll Island Shrimp and Grits Festival

Tiny Home Mountain Festival

  • September 23-24, 2017 – Elijay, GA
  • Benefiting the local area Boy’s and Girls Club and Gilmer County Food Bank
  • Explore Tiny Home Living at this festival.
  • $10 for Adults, $8 for Kids and under 3 will be free
  • https://www.tinymountainfestival.com/about

People First Fall Festival

  • September 30, 2017
  • Benefiting People First of Henry Count offering free socials for special needs families throughout the year
  • Come out and enjoy music, food, games, prizes, bingo, hay ride, social for special needs children and adults.
  • Free Admission
  • People First

Historic Oakland Foundation 40th Anniversary

  • October 1, 2017 – Oakland Cemetery – Atlanta, GA
  • All proceeds benefit the Historic Oakland Foundation
  • Come dressed in your best Victorian garb at the 38th annual Victorian-inspired festival features a variety of live musical entertainment, living history demonstrations, Irish dancers and an opportunity to enter some of the magnificent mausoleums.
  • Admission is $7 for adults, $3 for children aged 4-12, and free for children 3 and under
  • http://www.oaklandcemetery.com/?event=sunday-in-the-park-2

Foxfire Mountaineer Festival

  • October 7, 2017 – Clayton, GA
  • Benefiting the Foxfire Fund, Inc. and support many educational programs at museum and in schools.
  • One-day celebration of the rich heritage of the Southern Appalachian mountains, featuring traditional music from numerous regional performers, showcases and demonstrations of time-honored heritage skills and trades, and all manner of traditional games and puzzles for young and old alike.
  • $5 per person, children age 5 and under are free
  • http://theblueridgehighlander.com/calendar/index.php?eID=3287

Alive Festival

  • October 21, 2017 – Suwanee, GA
  • Benefiting Project Green and Back to Basics Kids Camp
  • Health & Wellness, Green Living Eco Festival help attendees learn how to integrate health and wellness plus natural, organic and green products into environmentally responsible eco living and to create a positive impact on the world as a whole.
  • Free Admission
  • http://aliveexpo.com/alive_festival.php

Gold Rush Days

  • October 21-22, 2017 – Dahlonega, GA
  • Benefiting Empty Stocking Fund
  • It is a time for thousands to come and see fall colors peaking and celebrate Dahlonega’s 1828 discovery of gold. Over 300 art and craft exhibitors and food vendors gather around the Public Square and Historic District in support of this annual event. It is estimated that a crowd of over 200,000 visits over the weekend to join in the fun and excitement!
  • Free Admission
  • https://dahlonegajaycees.com/gold-rush-days/

Humming Bird Festival

  • October 21-22, 2017 – Hoganville, GA
  • Benefiting the Hogansville Charitable Trust.

  • A true small town festival, featuring 200 vendors, food court, live music, kids area, artisan crafts, and more.

  • Free Admission
  • http://www.hummingbirdfestival.com/

Moonshine Festival

Chomp and Stomp Chili Cook-off and Bluegrass Festival

  • November 4, 2017 – Cabbagetown Neighborhood, Atlanta, GA
  • Benefiting Cabbagetown parks, green spaces, and community center
  • A little bit of country in the big city,  featuring music that was popular when residents and mill workers. They played that old-time music and preserved rural traditions right here in the middle of Atlanta! Hard work and home-cooking, small houses and big hearts, recipes and religion, family and friends, stories and songs – relics of times past kept the community vibrant as it struggled to keep strong in a fast changing world.
  • This is a token event.  Purchase spoons and drink tokens on website if you want to avoid lines. They’ll also be available the day-of at each of our 5 Welcome Centers (we will accept cash or credit / debit).
  • http://www.chompandstomp.com/

Top 5 Barbecue Festivals in Georgia

Georgians like Barbecue.  Get us together during the summer and you better believe that someone will be grilling something.  Whether it is ribs, smokin’ a butt or BBQ’ing chicken, we have it down.  Don’t even get me started on the fixin’s.  Mac n’cheese, pork-‘in-beans, pimento cheese, or Brunswick stew, collard greens, mmmmmm mmmmm that’s good eatin!

Summer is wrapping up here in the south.  It is still hotter than a June bride, in July down here, but that won’t stop us from getting out over the next few months to take in some of the festivals.  The next few issues of my blog I am going to be talking about festival and today, we are going to start with some BBQ Southern Style.

Decatur BBQ, Blues and Bluegrass Festival

Pigs and Peaches BBQ Festival

  • August 25, 2017 – Kennesaw, GA
  • In it’s 17th year this festival holds a competition for best BBQ as well “Pigtales” a junior essay competition.
  • Free admission
  • http://www.pigsandpeaches.com/

Blue Ridge Blues and BBQ Festival

Rock’n Ribville

  • September 16, 2017 – Lawrenceville, GA
  • Benefiting Lawrenceville Police Benevolent Fund this event is in it’s 10th year.
  • Free Admission
  • http://www.rocknribville.com/home

Big Pig Jig

  • November 3-4, 2017 – Vienna, GA
  • In it’s 33rd year, this is Georgia’s oldest barbecue cooking contest.
  • Ticket prices vary by date and time – check website for prices
  • http://www.bigpigjig.com/

I gotta get on now, because I can smell what Shane just took off the grill wafting up the stairs and into my room.  It’s time to eat some grilled southern food y’all!

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Keep the Lust for Wandering