Jul 16

Southern Hospitality

fla-michDuring our time in Panama we developed some great friendships with people who came to visit for a while as well as those who chose to make Boquete their home. You have to experience living in a country as an expatriate minority to understand how great friendships can be formed in a short space of time. One of these friendships blossomed into an invitation to visit with them in their home north of Atlanta. They knew we were headed to Michigan from Florida and a stopover in north Georgia would fit into everyone’s plans. When they initially extended the invitation, none of us knew that we would be arriving in an RV Trailer with loads of laundry! However, once they learned about our new plans, they were keen to pass on tips they had learned from spending a few years traveling the U.S. in a Motorhome.

We spent five wonderful days with them in their beautiful home in “Big Canoe”  , a superb community set in 8,000+ acres in the mountains around Jasper, Georgia, just one hour from Atlanta. The scenery is spectacular … miles and miles of dense forest, hills and valleys, lakes and rivers … you have to see it to believe it! We felt that we were in a tree house when we lay in bed and looked out of our windows! If we ever decide to settle down, we’ll definitely look seriously at Big Canoe!

Our hosts held a 4th of July party where we met some of their very interesting friends. Unfortunately, the fireworks display, which we could see from the patio, was postponed due to rain.  We sipped coffee at breakfast and swapped travel tales, we laughed … and almost cried … as we shared our life experiences. How great is that?

georgia racing hall of fameEvery morning we woke to grey skies and rain but this didn’t deter us from the schedule they had planned for us. In fact, in playing tour guides, our hosts experienced a couple of museums they had never visited! The first was in Dawsonville, Georgia. For those of you who are NASCAR fans, all we have to say is “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville” and you get it! Dawsonville is home to the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame … a small museum crammed full of racing history and memorabilia. As soon as Bill saw the name of the town he was determined to spend time at the museum. Our host joined us and we were not disappointed!

IMG_0195The museum takes you from the beginning of stock car racing which originated during Prohibition when drivers transported moonshine to Atlanta from stills in the surrounding hills. Since this was illegal, and drivers needed to outrun the police, they modified their cars to increase speed and maneuverability as they raced along dirt roads through the woods! In 1947/48 a legitimate racing organization named National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing was launched by Bill France, Sr. and a group of men including Raymond Parks who played a pivotal role in the formation of NASCAR as we know it today.

Our bonus was that the wife of one of the original moonshine runners, and winner of many of the initial NASCAR races, Gober Sosebee (known to many as the “Wild Injun”), escorted us around the museum. What a thrill! Such a sweet lady, and so proud of her husband who, unfortunately, died in an agricultural accident in 1996. Her eyes were shining and her smile was bright as she extolled the virtues of her husband and other Legends of NASCAR!

The museum has one room entirely dedicated to Bill Elliott’s racing career. Although we knew he had won numerous trophies, we were not prepared for the array of awards that faced us! Along with all the other trophies (2 Daytona 500 and 44 Winston Cup victories, etc.), he also received the NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award 16 times!! Awesome Bill is also known as “Million Dollar Bill” and on display is a copy of the check for One million dollars! Car racing fans could spend hours just in this portion of the museum!

For the record, Bill Parke had always been a fan of Richard Petty who drove a Chrysler Plymouth and it was only when Awesome Bill changed from Ford to Chrysler Dodge that he was included in the “Fan Club”!

Following in his father’s footsteps Bill’s son, Chase aged 17, is making a name for himself in the racing world. The museum features his progress from his Little Red Wagon, through go-karts to stock cars! Today, he is being groomed by Rick Hendricks; and some people believe he will exceed his Dad’s success in his career! According to David Newton’s Blog  Chase is definitely a driver to watch!

Stay tuned for our next museum experience which was completely different!

Link to Photos:  http://goo.gl/rcRq4



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1 comment

  1. Jan Van Buren

    Hi, kids……..sounds like you are enjoying your adventure. I admire your driving skills as I can hardly park my car let alone any appendages! Have fun and let us know if you are coming through Cols. Love, Jan

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