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    The Windsor Hotel lobby and building in the center of Americus, Ga. PAT FOSTER-TURLEY/FOR THE NEWS-LEADER

Americus and Plains: Who would have thought?

I don’t like to sit around long without seeing something new. You would have thought three weeks in North Macedonia would be enough travel for awhile, but no, not for me. It was my birthday, and to celebrate with Bucko, I wanted to see something different. He came up with the idea of Americus, Ga., and different it was!

We’ve been there before, years ago, and Bucko remembered many details, but I didn’t. Yes, I remembered the historic – it was built in 1892 and is supposedly haunted – Windsor Hotel, where we stayed. It was built in 1892. On our previous trip there a decade ago, we stayed at this hotel and visited the nearby solemn Andersonville National Historic Site and the scenic Providence Canyon State Outdoor Recreation Area, the “little Grand Canyon” of Georgia. I would have been happy to do this all over again, no problem.

But not Bucko. He remembered the details of these places and he, too, was open to something new. But around Americus, Ga., just what else is there to see? It turns out to be plenty.

We booked two nights at the Windsor Hotel and set off on the drive with no vacation plan, just open minds. We traveled small roads – off the beaten track – to get there, spreading our road trip into maybe five hours. Seeing country roads is part of our enjoyment.

When we were almost at Americus, we passed through the hamlet of Leslie. There was one traffic light and a sign pointing to the Rural Telephone Museum. “Ah, let’s remember this one tomorrow, Bucko,” I offered.

The only other place I had been told about in the area was Yoder’s Deitsch Haus Restaurant, a Mennonite-run cafeteria serving southern and Amish dishes. After some internet searching, we came up with a trip plan for the next day. First the Rural Telephone Museum, whatever that was; then Yoder’s for lunch, with a stop at Yoder’s Country Market to look for my favorite Pennsylvania Amish/Mennonite cooking ingredients. Then, after a rest back at our comfy room at the Windsor, a trip over to Plains to pay our respects to President Jimmy Carter’s legacy.

This day turned out to be full of surprises, all good ones! Take the Rural Telephone Museum, for instance. An old cotton warehouse has been totally renovated to hold an outstanding collection of old telephones, switchboards, signs, dioramas and life-size models of telephone operators at the switchboards, linemen up on poles, a surprise around every corner, even a large space full of classic cars. It claims to have the largest collection of telephones and memorabilia in the world and they might be right. There was a lot of stuff there, for sure. Interestingly, the museum is a nonprofit arm of the Citizens Telephone Company, the local phone service in the area, with their modern office headquarters across the street.

Then we went to Yoder’s Country Market. I stocked up on bulk spices and soup mixes just like I buy in Lancaster County, Penn., sold by an Amish woman, just like there. Then it was time for lunch at Yoder’s. Wow! It cost $5 apiece for a large fried chicken breast and a choice of two side dishes: stuffing, broccoli casserole, turnip greens, real mashed potatoes, the works – all served by Mennonite women wearing their modest garb. After that, we needed a nap back at the Windsor.

In the afternoon, we visited the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in nearby Plains. There are some interesting places there, too. We visited a store selling the “largest collection of political memorabilia,” such as campaign buttons, posters, autographed books, etc., and were entertained by the clerk telling bad political jokes. Finally, we stopped into the Peanut Shop next door, and tasted our way through samples of different fried peanuts, peanut brittle, peanut butter, peanut butter ice cream, you name it.

We had plenty to talk about on the way back home the next day, and plenty to eat. I had planned to photograph the food goodies that I purchased during our trip but forget that plan. All the way home, I munched on pecan brittle candy and cajun fried peanuts until I was sick of them both.

I highly recommend a trip to Americus, a stay at the Windsor Hotel, and a visit to various places in the surrounding area. I’m sure we’ll go back, but again, look for something different. Who knows what we’ll find next time, and who knows what you’ll find. Give it a try!

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