Monthly Archives: August 2014

The Golden Isles Parkway – A Road Less Traveled

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A week ago Friday, Mary and I took an extended weekend off and decided to visit Amelia Island, Florida.

Normally, I’d’ve taken the Interstates (I-75, I-16, and I-95) down there and back, but for the trip to Florida, I decided to take one of Georgia’s roads less traveled… The Golden Isles Parkway.

This highway, which US 341 follows for most of its journey from I-75 (Exit 135) in Perry (Houston County) to I-95 (Exit 36) in Brunswick (Glynn County), is a 168-mile (269 km) Governor’s Road Improvement Program (GRIP) corridor that is 4-lanes, mostly divided.

US 341 uses the majority of the corridor, but the westernmost section near Perry is designated GA 224. Between cities on the divided highway portions, the speed limits are as high as 65 MPH (105 km/h). There are by-passes around the downtown areas of Hawkinsville (Pulaski County) and Eastman (Dodge County), but please be aware that speed limits can drop as low as 35 MPH (55 km/h) where the Parkway goes through downtown areas. Even on the by-passes, the speed limit is no higher than 55 MPH (90 km/h).

On the southbound side of the Hawkinsville by-pass (actually more of a “truck route” that takes you around downtown), there is a paved pull-off area signed as a weigh station. When we passed by it, no one was there, but if I were a trucker, I’d keep it in the back of my mind when having to drive my “big-rig” through there.

In the town of Chauncey (Dodge County), I encountered a “wrong-way” multiplex of highways where you can go both south and north, depending on the highway route.

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Also in Chauncey (among other places along the parkway), there is a Golden Isles Parkway sign, where I took this “roadgeek selfie”…

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From Chauncey, here are the distances to the next 3 towns along the parkway…

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Our next stop along the way was in McRae, the county seat of Telfair County, where five (5) different US Highways (23, 280, 319, 341, and 441), and three (3) GRIP corridors, come together all in one spot, No other Georgia city, large or small, can claim such an honor. In fact, McRae calls itself “The Crossroads City”. Here’s a picture showing all 5 US routes at one intersection…

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In Georgia, US Highways 23 and 441 meet again approximately 200 miles (320 km) north of McRae in Cornelia, Georgia (Habersham County), where they will share pavement from there until they go their separate ways just north of Dillsboro, North Carolina. As a roadgeek, I can now say that I’ve been to both 23/441 meeting places.

US Highways 280 and 441 are also GRIP corridors. US 280 is also known as “Power Alley”.

In Downtown McRae, at the northeast corner where the 5 US Highways meet, there are two (2) American Icons.

First icon, the Statue of Liberty

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This replica was built by the McRae Lions Club in 1986 to honor the real Statue’s 100th Anniversary.

Right next to the Statue, the local Lions also built a replica of the Liberty Bell…

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Before we left McRae, I checked my Georgia roadmap and found that I wasn’t far from Wheeler County, another county I wanted to “clinch”. However, I had to go through Scotland to get there. Here’s the sign at the Scottish border on Georgia Highway 149, just off the Parkway…

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… and here I am at their “seat of government”…

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These proud “Scots” even celebrate their heritage…

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Just across the railroad tracks and a river bridge on GA 149 in dear ol’ Scotland, there was Wheeler County, which I quicklyΒ  “clinched” by “froggieing” it (drove into, turned around, and headed back).

With visions and sounds of bagpipes in my head, it was time to continue the journey… but not before spotting this “sign goof”…

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If you guessed that the “GA 23” shield was wrong, then congratulations, you’re a winner!!! πŸ™‚

Further down the road, I “clinched” Jeff Davis and Appling Counties.

When I reached Baxley, the seat of Appling County, I left the Parkway and proceeded toward Waycross on US 1 (GA 4) so that I could “clinch” the final county along my journey…

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Bacon County, located on US 1 between Baxley (Appling County) and Waycross (Ware County) is one of Georgia’s two (2) “breakfast counties”. Coffee County, which borders Bacon to the west, is the other “breakfast county”. Props to fellow roadgeek Doug Kerr of New York for the moniker. πŸ™‚

As we stopped in Waycross to grab a quick bite, my wife Mary realized that the journey was taking longer than we thought and that we weren’t going to reach the Florida Welcome Center on I-95 before it closes at 5 PM. BTW, that was my promise to her in return for letting me drive us to Ameila Island via the roads less traveled. For the remainder of the journey, she was not a “happy camper”… and neither was I. πŸ™

From Waycross, I continued down US 1/23 to Folkston (Charlton County), where I turned east on Georgia Highway 40 to get to I-95.

Once we crossed into Florida on I-95, I decided to pull into the Florida Welcome Center for at least a “potty break”. But to my surprise, despite the time being nearly 5:30 PM… THE WELCOME CENTER WAS STILL OPEN!!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, JESUS!!! πŸ™‚

As it turned out, from Memorial Day through Labor Day, Florida keeps their welcome centers open until 6:00 PM. My wife was happy… and I was happy, too. “HAPPY WIFE… HAPPY LIFE!!!” πŸ™‚

To celebrate this moment of unexpected joy, I celebrated with a free cup of fresh Florida orange juice…

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As soon as we reached our hotel in Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, I was not only happy that the journey was over, but also that both my wife and I were happy, and from that point, we had a great 3-day visit in the area. Monday, on the way back home to Atlanta, I stayed on the Interstates.

For our final “roadgeek pic” from this trip, here are a pair of “old-school” Florida state highway signs I found on Amelia Island…

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For the trip down, I “clinched” Pulaski, Dodge, Telfair, Wheeler, Jeff Davis, Appling, and Bacon Counties, bringing my Georgia “clinched” total to 124 out of 159 counties.

From the “Mob-Rule” counties website, here is my Georgia map (“clinched” counties in blue)…

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That’s it for now. I dedicate this blog to my lovely (and understanding) wife Mary for letting me take “the road less traveled” and thank you for visiting. Please “like” us on Facebook and “follow” us on Twitter and Instagram.