I slept near the unincorporated Scott community in Johnson County. I picked a spot near a church on a side road. A spot I thought would be free of traffic for the remainder of the night. I was wrong. I was woken up twice by people asking if I was okay. How they knew I was in there, I don’t know. Lucky guess, I suppose.
I woke up early and drove into Wrightsville and had a bowl of cereal in an empty parking lot. And then I pressed on north.
The other thing about rural Georgia is that there are all these broken-down, abandoned towns replete with broken-down, abandoned buildings. Ivy runs up the barren walls. Windows are gone. The insides are carved out, overrun by vegetation. It’s apocalyptic almost and beautiful certainly. An object built by humans, devoid of all humanity.
After Hinesville, I wound my way up through rural Georgia, eventually stopping in Johnson County. Oddly, many towns in Georgia are incorporated as circles or squares. If you look at Google Earth, you’ll see perfect yellow shapes on the Georgian landscape that indicate town sites. You’ll also see some transmogrified yellow shapes, exploded like popcorn, where certain towns and cities expanded beyond their circular limits. It’s silly, if you like shapes and town boundaries as much as I do.
As rural as it is, Georgia highways are full of automobiles. Full of people. I always feel like I should be able to slow down, take in the scenery, but then there’s always the grill of a truck riding my tail when I look up. This is markedly different than western states. (Once, on a highway in New Mexico, I decided to pull over and lie down on the grass on the shoulder. I stayed there at least an hour, and only a school bus passed by. I never had to worry about other drivers either. I could go as slow or as fast as I pleased). Also, from what I can tell, you’re never in danger of running out of gas (unless you’re remarkably incompetent at interpreting a fuel gauge). Every tiny town seems to have its own gas station, and, if it doesn’t, the next town with a gas station is only a few miles away. I don’t know if this is a consequence of being off the Interstates or if it’s just that gas stations are really that widespread here.
For a while there (a week or more, I think), I was in and around Hinesville, Georgia. Hinesville is the county seat of Liberty County, but I spent a good deal of my time in Long County to the south. In fact, I made it a task to drive on every paved road in Long County. I may or may not have achieved that goal, but I definitively drove on far too many Long County roads. This is, I think, an unfortunate consequence of the humidity and my unwillingness to get sweaty. Driving becomes the only applicable activity because just sitting in your car or doing literally anything else outside (like standing) causes an inevitable accumulation of perspiration. I haven’t ridden my bike for two weeks and I’ve only gone on a few (carefully measured) hikes, because, without a shower to come home to, the sweat builds to a slime and then to a requisite stench. And I don’t like being around myself when I’m like that.
Five hours later, I woke up worse for wear. The sun was shining in my face, and the car was a veritable greenhouse, the air inside swampy and hot and altogether unfit for breathing. Quickly, I got out of the car, and walked inside the air conditioned Walmart. I sat on a bench in there for a while, trying to get my head on straight, but I was just so tired, and trying again to sleep in the car was such an unsavory proposition. In fact, sleeping at all, had become difficult. I decided to drive to a park where I would lay out under the shade of a tree and try to get some rest. I stayed there most of the day, falling into various states of half-sleep, watching the sun climb across the sky and filter through the leaves deliriously. I never once slipped into a deep sleep, and I left later that day with only a deep sunburn.