I never finished with Georgia.
Hippie Camp, the Hostel in the Forest, was amazing and brought me a weird sense of peace. It was a perfect homebase for a vacation without any tangible destination. All I had was a plan, to go to Cumberland Island one of the days I was there. Otherwise, it was blank. I knew nothing of Brusnwick, the nearest town nor did I have any notion of driving up to Savannah. So the first morning I got up and drove.
I found out that all thrift stores in Brunswick are closed on Saturdays and that barrel fires still happen outside of Detroit. I also developed an unhealthy affinity for the Buckeyes sold at Cracker Barrel (and an unhealthy affinity for Cracker Barrel in general.) After driving around Brunswick for about an hour I picked a direction on the highway and after a few turnoffs ended up at a "regional park" in the middle of nowhere.
There were a bunch of trucks parked in the lot and the oldest gas pumps I have ever seen, presumably for boats. There was a sign that said "No Alcohol or Profanity" and a covered podium with a confederate flag as the backdrop where several men were hanging out. This unnerved me more than the black men carrying around their fishing gear. Northerners are easily shocked I guess. I felt immediately out of place. All around Georgia I was sticking out like a sore thumb. You wouldn't think a dark-haired, fair-skinned white woman would be an oddity but apparently I was. I covered up my tattoos when I was out wandering too, they got me far too much attention as the only other tattooed folk milling around that part of the country were bikers, and Christian ones at that.
I bailed early because I wanted to get back to the hostel before dark and before dinner. It got so dark so early that after 6 pm I could barely see my way around the forest without a flashlight and by 7 I was completely dependent on it in order to get to my bunk.
It was Saturday night and the hostel was way more full that the previous night. Several children were running around and a skinny man with glasses I didn't recognize had staked out my former reading spot in the main room and the mountain man I'd seen wandering around shirtless and barefoot that morning when I'd gotten up to get on the road was still shirtless and barefoot on the couch. The couple from Tampa was still around and started chatting with me about our respective days. I obliged, they were nice, but I didn't feel like talking much with anyone. I just wanted to eat, read, then sleep. The second dinner bell rang and we all gathered in the screen porch. The first night they fed us a green salad, tamale pie, white bean succotash, potato soup and rice pudding. The second night we were served chili over homemade buckwheat noodles, sauteed squash and onions and garlic bread. All the wheat was grown and ground on premesis and while the noodles were a little ill advised, the bread was incredible.
After dinner I retired to read on the couch while a drum circle ensued around the fire out back. I will go great lengths to avoid a drum circle and I cringed every time one of my fellow travellers came into the front room to test out more drums to bring out back. A hobo looking fellow with a Creole accent so thick he was unintellible took hold of the didgeridoo. He was about 5'6" and was wearing all black with a crumpled top hat and slacks so wide-legged they looked like a skirt. This solidified my post reading on the couch even though Jim, the mountain man, had taken up the other end and kept moving his bare feet towards mine. He was staying in the lower level of the peacock hut with the skinny man in glasses, below where I had slept the night before. The skinny man told me they had gotten in late last night, which made sense since I'd heard movement down there and heard the screen door slam and someone pissing underneath my screened wall at 3:30 am when the first rooster started to crow.
The mountain man drank something out of a flask and edged his foot closer to mine. He was wearing army surplus canvas pants and there was a rip in the ass where one could see the bluish ink of an old faded tattoo. He had short black hair and a long black beard and a tattoo that extended across one side of his barechest. He asked me about my book, which was about Stalin and he pronounced the title "Court of the Red Star" instead of Tsar. At that point I decided, fuck it, and went to bed. I got back to my bunk, looked at my cel phone and realized it was only 9:30 pm. I was out within minutes.