I Saw The Signs
Plenty of highway signs dot the road sides to get us where we are going. Obviously the highway department in any given state provides multiple notifications before an exit because sometimes drivers miss one or two as they cruise along the road. The green ones tell us where we are headed and what is coming up next. The blue ones provide us with services and the brown ones share with us the cultural and historic sites along the way. The yellow ones caution us, the white ones remind us the rules of the road. Highway markers for interstates, US highways, state roads, county roads, and cross roads direct us as we move from place to place. But is it really possible to see them all?
When traveling solo, I often read as many of these signs as possible, seeing them as friendly faces along the way greeting me, speaking to me and teaching me as I drive. And I certainly learned a new term as I drove through Georgia: Agritourism. When I first saw the word on a small blue sign, I spent several miles tossing the idea around in my brain; the mix of southern agriculture and tourism seemed comical – wouldn’t that just be a summer trip to an extended family’s farm? Do plants really produce a vacation industry? I like pineapples and pistachios, but they fall pretty low on the list of reasons to travel to Hawaii. Nevertheless, the word continued to generate steam in my gray matter the farther I drove.
Georgia On My Mind
The Peach State always reminds me of the old South, of cotton plantations and giant oak trees, and a few of these sprawling estates still stand to provide a glimpse of the state’s history. The peaches and the cotton, and the way of life that has long since ended transitioning into a modern agriculture boom that ingrains itself in the state. Giant groves of pecan trees (pronounced pē’-can, of course) add to the charm of the new south and the sweetest of pies. Its native son, first its governor and then US President Jimmy Carter, brought Georgia peanuts into the limelight. And who doesn’t cry at the site of Vandalia onions when slicing and chopping them?
Perhaps the sign, small in comparison to others, represents the twenty-first century South – a South that’s growing and alive, that has variety and vitality and flavor and fluidity, that’s tasty and tempting and touristy. While I still don’t think I am motivated to travel to Georgia to savor its bounty, I certainly like having it at my disposal. And in tribute to the full range of Agritourism Georgia provides, I stop on my way out of the state at a southern winery where I sample and purchase my own bottle of vintage Agritourism at its finest.