Melrose, FL to Fairburn, GA

melrose-fl-to-fairburn-ga1Friday April 11

Beginnings and endings are what we remember the most. The start of something and the end of something, that hangs around in the memory clearly after that stage of life is over, while the middle tends to becomes one long blur.

Yesterday was my last day working at the OSBS, and the whole day seemed to pass in crystal clarity. Every thing I did I was thinking “this is the last time I’ll do this” and thus it’s importance kept me focused in on the moment. I had a good last week at my first but certainly not last volunteer work camping position. Temperatures were in the mid 70’s, skies were blue, leaves are now fully out on all trees except the live oaks, and I finished up the projects I’d been working on since I arrived in the beginning of January. I like project based work instead of simply putting in 8 hours a day, I feel more accomplished when I can see something through beginning to end.

Today there is little time to reflect on the weather and the beautiful environment (highs just over 80, already starting to get too warm here for me). Since I worked a full day yesterday I didn’t have much time to get things inside Cas secured and so I need to do all of that this morning before I leave for Fairburn, GA, my next port of call while I’m performing at the Georgia Renaissance Festival (GARF).

Dishes are washed, tanks dumped, fresh water tanks filled partly up for bathroom use while traveling, items in the fridge and cabinets are rearranged to reduce the chance of them knocking around, vents are secured shut, and the floors get cleaned.

melrose-fl-to-fairburn-ga2A little after noon Andy my supervisor stops by to pick up my key and wish me safe travels, I wish him a good weekend, he’s only working a half day today. Before 1:00 I’m out the gate and on the road headed north. Google Maps puts my travel time from Melrose to Fairburn at 5 hours and 23 minutes, but that’s for a regular vehicle. Since it’s mostly interstate driving, I know it’ll take me about 33% longer than that to get there since I’ll be driving a maximum of 60 mph instead of 70 or 75 and having to stop for gas and to eat. Realistically I’m looking at more like 7 hours and 15 minutes, longer than that if I take more than 15 minutes for lunch. So if I make it to Fairburn by 8 pm, I’ll have made good time.

The first four hours go by quickly and without incident. I stop at GA Rest Stop #10 (it had an official sign and everything!) for lunch just north of Ashburn and take a walk to stretch my legs. This is a pretty rest stop, lots of shaded picnic room and clean newer facilities. Like last year I find myself seemingly traveling back in time – the trees are flowering and just starting to get their leaves here.

I75 north of Macon is another story. I’ve been on this stretch of road many times since January driving to and from rehearsals and never was the traffic as bad as it is today. Twice I get stuck in stop and go traffic, the second time for over a halfhour until I finally make it to an exit where I try to plan a route to get around the snag. 10 miles on smaller roads and I merge back onto I75 going a respectable 30 mph, hey, it’s a lot better than <10. My arrival time of 8 pm is blown completely out of the water, it’s going to be a late drive.

melrose-fl-to-fairburn-ga310 pm I pull into the Walmart nearest the festival grounds, in Union City just to the East. Florida’s Walmarts don’t allow overnight parking for RVers, but I’ve never had a problem with the ones in Georgia until today. I’m cleaning up a spill in the fridge when the security truck stops next to me on it’s 5th or so loop around the parking lot and I’m informed that I can’t stay. Well then. I later find out that most of the Walmarts in the suburbs South of Atlanta don’t allow overnight parking, live and learn. Just as a note though, I did stay at a Walmart in Atlanta proper last year without a problem, if you’re going to be traveling through the area just call ahead of time to make sure the one you intend to stay at will let you do so.

Next I try a truck stop about 10 minutes away that I locate using my GPS. I call ahead and they’ll let me park overnight but when I arrive there are already so many trucks there that there’s no room for me. Now I need to come up with a Plan C.

Cracker Barrel to the rescue. On the same exit as the truck stop just a little further on is the Cracker Barrel that I’ve eaten at twice now with other ren fest cast members after rehearsal. Behind the restaurant they have three long parking spots labeled especially for RVs, what a welcome sight. One is occupied by an older Class A, and I wonder if they’re going to be working at GARF too. The campground on site that I’ll be staying at doesn’t open until noon tomorrow, hence having to find my own accomadations tonight.

After 1:30 am I’m woken from my sleep when Julie arrives, she had to drive up from Bluffton after getting out of work at 8:30. Other than that, I sleep soundly, there’s less noise here than there would have been at either Walmart or a truk stop.

melrose-fl-to-fairburn-ga5Saturday April 12

Dress rehearsal starts at 9 am. Julie and I manage to be dressed and there at 9:20 am. The rehearsal goes well, the grounds look beautiful, the porta-poties have finally all arrived (!), and there are a lot of people I’ve never seen before buzzing about getting things ready. I never realized just how much work goes into getting a renaissance festival off the ground. The street cast has a light pot luck lunch and we break a bit early, around 4:30 pm, congratulating each other on making it through rehearsals. Next weekend the show starts for real, it’s exciting and scary at the same time!

The temperature has climbed into the mid 80’s, I think it followed me up from Florida, and I’m hot, sweaty, and tired, but there is still work to do. We take Julie’s car back to Cracker Barrel to pick up Bertha and Cas, the manager on duty was kind enough to let me keep the rig parked there in the lot all day while we were at rehearsals. As repayment we have dinner there before driving off and I swear it’s the best tasting chicken I’ve had in a long time, although that may be all the hard work followed by getting to cool off in the air conditioning talking.

Then it’s time to get Cas set up.

The campground I’m staying in is located on the festival site, it doesn’t have an official name and you won’t find it on a map. It’s for fest employees only and is only open for these eight weeks. Like the OSBS, it’s private property so if any of you would like to visit while I’m in Fairburn you’ll need to e-mail or message me and let me know and we’ll work out a meeting place because you can’t just drive in and say hello. It’s a much different experience than my last campground, but I’ll be writing more about that at a later date.

melrose-fl-to-fairburn-ga4Just as I’m getting the electric plugged in, one of my neighbors comes over and introduces himself. Tom and Amanda have been full-time RVers for nine years, they travel the festival circuit running their book shop and have been driving the last six days to get here from the Arizona festival. Another booth worker named Xander joins us shortly, he’s new to GARF this year and the three of us give him a tour of the site. Tom lets Julie and I know that this is a very social festival and we should have no problems finding things to do during the week. They prove this point later in the evening by inviting us out to Mr. Fuji, which they claim has the best sushi they’ve tasted in the country, a pretty tall claim but then again they do travel a lot.

I can’t say whether it’s the best in the country or not, but safe to say it’s the best I’ve had so far. I could probably devote a whole blog post to the greatness of that meal, but as this is already getting long it’ll wait for another day. I do plan to go back again with Tom and Amanda and try more things, and I’ll report then. For now it’s time to sleep as it’s been another busy day.

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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. Pleinguy on April 15, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    Good luck at the RenFest. Hope you have a fun time. I’m in travel mode now, heading toward the northwest and visiting some nifty places along the way.
    Pleinguy recently posted..Devil’s HallMy Profile

    • Becky on April 17, 2014 at 2:31 pm

      Thanks Plein, have a good trip!

  2. Jim@HiTek on April 15, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Sushi? Isn’t that fish the resturant is too lazy to cook?

    • Becky on April 15, 2014 at 8:17 pm

      It can be cooked or uncooked, but uncooked is more traditional. If you think laziness plays into though you’d be very wrong, it actually seems to require a fair bit of prep work. 😉

  3. Gerri Jones on April 15, 2014 at 9:50 am

    Welcome to Georgia!! Sounds like things worked out better with the Cracker Barrel. The Union City area has been known to have some “issues” in the past so safety might have been a factor in that Wal Mart not allowing overnight stops. It all worked out!
    Sounds like you are in for some busy days ahead…..good, positive, busy days!!! Enjoy!!!
    Gerri Jones recently posted..Green Eggs and Ham RallyMy Profile

    • Becky on April 15, 2014 at 8:16 pm

      I will enjoy Gerri, thanks.

  4. Furry Gnome on April 15, 2014 at 8:02 am

    Hope you have a wonderful time acting in the festival! ‘GARF’ – what an acronym!

    • Becky on April 15, 2014 at 8:15 pm

      Better than the one in Tampa, FL Furry, the Bay Area Renaissance Festival ‘BARF’, haha.

  5. Donald N Wright on April 14, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    I was invited to visit a HOTC Airstream Rally this past weekend, and discovered I really do not
    need as big of a trailer as I dreamed I would. It was fun!

    • Becky on April 15, 2014 at 8:14 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it Donald! I loved the little Airstreams when I got to tour one. They were out of my price range, but I loved the modern feel.

  6. Rob on April 14, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    The Walmart yahoo group keeps pretty up to date with a list of WMs that allow overnight parking in their files.
    Rob recently posted..1st Monday Trade DaysMy Profile

    • Becky on April 15, 2014 at 8:13 pm

      Thanks for sharing Rob!

  7. Kathy on April 14, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    Really enjoy pour blog. I am planning to do a lot of rv traveling once I retire in a few years. You may have already written a “what is a renassaince (sp?)festival” blog, but for those of us who have never been could you describe the basic ideal of what goes on? Thanks.


    • Becky on April 15, 2014 at 8:13 pm

      Hello Kathy, welcome to IO and thanks for commenting.

      A renaissance festival is a bit like a fair with food, games, rides, stage shows, music acts, crafts and other shopping… but it’s set during the renaissance era in England so all of the activities are themed to fit that time period (this season at GARF, the year is 1535 to be exact). I haven’t written a blog post about it yet but I probably will at some point.