A few years ago, when I was still a regular contributor to my newspaper when it came to covering collge football and college basketball games, one of the regular visitors to a site where I and/or the college I covered would undergo a lot of scrutiny had a tag line something like: “I never get lost, I just end up visiting places I hadn’t intended to go to.”
So it was for my wife and I on Tuesday, August 12, when we left our son’s home in Warner Robins, Georgia, for a trip a bit north of Macon where we intended to visit a plantation that was advertised and promoted in the Georgia Visitor’s Guide we picked up on our way into the state a few days earlier.
About the time we arrived at the plantation was about the time the “I never get lost” comment began filtering through my brain. You see, we were on our way to the Jarrell Plantation State Historic Site to see what life was like back during Civil War times. Only one problem: When we pulled up to the locked gate, the posted sign said “Open Thursday through Saturday.” Oh, crap.
We did see the building and on the web page we saw a picture of the building before it was reconstructed for safety reasons and for display. Ah, but all was not lost.
Since we were already in suburban Juliette, Georgia, Illy (my wife) looked for other places to visit and the words “Whistle Stop Cafe” kind of, almost jumped off the page. For those like me who are unfamiliar with the Whistle Stop Café, that was one of the sites of some scenes in the film “Fried Green Tomatoes.” Yes, I had heard of it, but I never watched it. We figured, what the heck, we had visited the “Field of Dreams” movie site in Dyersville, Iowa, and we had eaten in the restaurant in Big Bay, Michigan, where love triangle went bad and resulted in the filming of “Anatomy of a Murder” in the Lumberjack Tavern and other local spots.
So, we GPSed the address of the Whistle Stop Café and headed to “downtown” Juliette to check it out. Yes, the restaurant is still there and it still serves fried green tomatoes. Illy has had them before and wasn’t really excited about them; I don’t even like red, ripe tomatoes so there was no way I was gonna eat fried green ones.
We liked the place. Illy and I both had the pulled pork sandwiches on Kaiser rolls and I had a side of fried okra. Then we walked around the town a bit, drove down to the dam site (not the damn site) and finally left to return to Warner Robins to our son’s house. We did have the pleasure of seeing three lengthy freight trains go by while we were there, with two of them passing while we were in the café. Boy, did that place rumble. So cool.
So, while it’s not always advisable not to have a Plan B in case Plan A doesn’t pan out, there’s no reason not to go to Plan C. We’ve actually seen lots of places we had not intended to visit. Last time we were in Georgia, for example, we went to Dalonaga on our way home to see the largest waterfall(s) in the state and ended up driving through Dawsonville, home of former NASCAR superstar Bill Elliott.
So travel happy. But travel smart, too.