Sandersville to George L. Smith State Park
The Days Inn offered complimentary coffee, plain bagels, instant oatmeal and bananas. We were hungry again shortly after our departure from the motel. I was hoping to stop somewhere in Bartow for more food, but we ended up passing through it without seeing any indication of development or even residential occupancy.
We stopped to consult our maps, and it looked like next town on our route was Statesboro. We didn’t think we could make it there by the end of the day, and both of us had run out of water, so Dallas decided it was best to divert our course south to Swainsboro in search of food and water. The road we chose to ride down was newly paved (unlike many of the dirt roads that had been slowing us down recently), but provided no shade from the hot sun. Along the way, we did pass by a small cluster of buildings, including a church where we were able to fill up our water bottles from the faucet outside.
When we arrived in Swainsboro, the only appealing restaurant/cafe was closed for the day, and we were once again left with only fast food options. We stopped at a grocery store first and bought some juice and watermelon to share. At the checkout, we asked where we could eat that was not fast food, and the cashier told us of a Mexican restaurant further down the main road. The restaurant, El Valle, had horrible reviews on google, but was still better than fast food. The slow service gave us an excuse to rest for quite a while.
From Swainsboro, Dallas and I headed east about 15 miles to George L. Smith State Park. Just before turning down the road to the park, we stopped at a gas station that was about to close. The woman reopened the doors so we could buy some ice-cream and candy bars, and another woman who was relaxing in a rocking chair on the porch told us to come back tomorrow.
We arrived at the park after dark, and it was difficult to see much of anything. We passed by an RV park and other various camping facilities to turn onto several dark and subsequently narrower roads, eventually working our way further from any sign of human existence. The last road was blocked by a metal gate, and from there we turned onto a dirt path. The site we chose to camp was damp but padded by pine needles. It had been our longest day of riding since our practice ride from Mandeville, and we fell asleep quite easily.