While the Eternal City is no doubt amazing, I'm still kind of wanting to go on a jaunt like this or hit up other roads less traveled. I have my passport now, and know how I like to go, and that sometimes I get sick of being around the same people all day, prefer sleeping on the couch to staying in hotels, and want nothing too fast-paced, just a chance to cut loose and drift as the whim takes me. I think I've conquered the fear of flying at this point, of looking down 30,000 feet onto rolling hills and Maryland mansions, and find that Bulgakov and Pamuk make excellent companions while laid over but I'm in no hurry to do it again in two weeks.
They live on part of a horse farm, where the houses are set back in acres of land, cows across the street, a church camp up the road. The family up there has 14 kids and a sawmill as well, and the air smelled like pine and cedar. We drove into Athens for the night, ate at an Irish pub, went to a coffeeshop called Hendershot's on the outskirts of town where we watched a night of good tuneage of the alt-country/bluegrass/roots rock kind, no twang, unpretentious vibe, a former converted gas station-turned-unpretentious swank hangout that I wanted to teleport back north. We drove back and it was so dark that we could see the meteors flying every which way even in the car so we hung out in the yard beneath the multitude of stars unseeable in the city and watched the streaks that hardly felt real they were so clear.
The next morning we drove to the Georgia Guidestones, erected by some unknown Rosicrucian out of the local granite, with sundry languages chiseled in the sides and astronomical instructions. The other spectator of such straungenesse was a lady with rainbow dreads and Maori facial tattoos who was seeking spiritual insight around the American landscape. I suggested Paradise Gardens (which we didn't get to) but it's possible that might be too close to organized-religion despite its affiliations with David Byrne and copious flying saucer imagery.
From there we got our kitsch on in Helen, known by some as the Redneck Alps for its faux-Bavarian shtick that reminded me of some southern lovechild of Amish Country and Geneva-on-the-Lake. I wonder what Flannery O'Connor would make of this display of crackerdom. I think my mind was pretty much blown at this point with the magic railroad of Charlemagne, the random housebunnies hopping around, the sounds of Sublime wafting past the gables and shops selling redneck wear and delft china.