Red Dirt Road –
The “real” Grand Canyon has been on my bucket list for a very long time. If not for the SuperGraphics program I would have never even heard of the “Little” Grand Canyon. I am excited to see what the little cousin has in store. It’s about an hour drive to Providence State Park from my camp in Elko, Georgia.
The roads are flat and straight. I see a good number of people out with what appears to be pooper scoopers and 5 gallon buckets under large stately trees. It seems to be a joyous occasion, of which I don’t quiet understand. Poop scoopin was never high on my list. Upon further investigation, however, I learn that this is pecan harvesting time. I’d like to join in the celebration later today if time allows.
Along the way, I keep noting the infamous Georgia red dirt. In particular, red roads that appear to just go nowhere. I keep recalling the chorus of the Brooks and Dunn song Red Dirt Road.
“I Learned that happiness on earth ain’t just for high achievers
I’ve learned, I’ve come to know, there’s life at both
ends of that red dirt road.”
I decide to keep this in mind and to remember to enjoy and appreciate all the simple things that life has to offer.
Providence Canyon State Park
I expected the park to be busy on a holiday weekend; and it was. I was a little bummed to see signs declaring the park a no drone zone. I was anxious to get that breath taking video I often envision but never seem to capture.
There are a couple of trails to chose from: The White – 3 mile Canyon Loop and The Red – 7 mile Backcountry trail. With Murphy in tow, the shorter trail seems the wiser option. I’ll blame him for my laziness.
A short 1/4 mile hike places us at the canyon floor. The red, wet and silty creek bed serves as the trail to each of the 9 canyons. The little finger trails off the main trail are short a easy to follow. The trails are tree lined and I really don’t know what to expect until I get to the end of it. While the canyons are similar each one is unique in its own right. Some offer red and oranges and others are bright white. All offer striking views when contrasted with today’s blue skies above.
It’s a strange feeling I get sometime, a feeling of contentment. It’s like for this moment and time I am exactly where I am supposed to be. This feeling is strong today, I can’t explain why.
Unlike the Grand Canyon, Providence Canyon actually is not a purely natural feature — the massive ravines were caused by erosion due to poor farming practices in the 19th century. Oops, maybe they planted their peanuts too deep or over irrigated.
After visiting all 9 canyons from the floor, the trail ascends up and around the canyon rim. The aroma of pine is pronounced and the wind whistling through the needles offer an awakening of the senses. This just further compliments the views of the canyon now below.
One of the quirkier attractions of the canyon is an abandoned homestead including nearly a dozen rusty, 1950s-era cars and trucks. I wonder how they ever got there. Due to the environmental damage that removing the vehicles would cause, park officials have decided to just leave them to rust away.
It’s venues like today that I wish I had a professional camera. Though I’m thankful I wasn’t burdened with a drone, and a bunch of other technology that would have just distracted from the simple beauty before me. The shots below were taken with an iPhone 7; the beauty of the canyon speaks for itself.
God Bless Americus and its fruited Plains –
After leaving the canyon, I spot a town called Americus on the map. With a name like that, I just have to check it out. Enroute, I see road markers to Plains, Ga. Not until I saw a sign to Jimmy Carters boyhood home did I realize I was heading toward the birthplace of our 39th president. I was young during his presidency but I certainly recall Plains and Jimmy’s peanut farming.
Plains is a small quaint town without so much as a traffic light. There is a museum formed from Jimmys colorful brothers’, Billy, gas station. A train depot that served as Jimmy’s presidential headquarters. A school converted into a visitor/ presidential information center. The main shopping area consists of a trading post, an antique store, a cafe and a few other places of interest. I target the peanut store that boasts of peanut butter ice cream, of course.
The staff at Plain Peanuts is more than friendly offering me samples of all their goods, even the coveted ice cream. I was an easy up-sell to the large waffle cone. They eagerly share details of the place and further explain that President Carter (Jimmy) usually teaches Sunday school at the nearby church. They check the published schedule and of all weeks he won’t be there this Sunday. I’d consider that a once in a life time opportunity to attend something like that.
I was surprised to learn that Jimmy even still lives in Plains. I have to admire a man who was once the leader of the greatest country in the world but returns to his small hometown. Who also remains true to himself, offers service to others and keeps life simple. There must be something in that red dirt.