Returning from Moultrie in deep Southwest Georgia recently, we stayed off busy and always frantic Interstate 75 and enjoyed a four-lane road without much traffic most of the way.

We took U.S. 19 north of Albany for about 3.5 hours until we reached Hampton and the beginning of many traffic lights. At Hampton, we cut over nine miles to I-75 at McDonough for the rest of the trip home.

Where our drive south to Moultrie on I-75 took us about 4.5 hours to reach our goal, coming back may have taken another 30 minutes. But it was a much safer road with less traffic, and made driving much more enjoyable. Plus, the scenery is beautiful, seldom obscured by billboards.

The drive was so quiet and relatively easy. Many times we were alone for stretches of highway. Before we reached Griffin, I suspect we did not see more than 15-20 of the 18-wheelers.

Compare that with lots of traffic on Interstate 75, both going your way, and coming the other. At any stretch of this roadway, it’s possible to see from 15-20 of the big black-smoking 18 wheel trucks. And you and almost all the other cars and trucks are traveling along at least 70 mph, and many at even higher speed. Yes, you must pay strict attention and stay alert, for something at that level of speed and traffic can pop up at any time.

When we say we enjoy the back roads returning, that doesn’t mean they were narrow two-lane roads. The Department of Transportation of Georgia has four-laned several north-south highways, making the trip north-south much easier. U.S. Highway 27 and 19 on the west side come to mind. You can also take on the east side much of U.S. Highway 441 all the way through the state to the North Carolina line, and avoid the more frantic traffic on I-16 and I-75.

South of Americus on U.S. Highway 19, the roads are straighter than north of the city. Americus and northward is where the rolling hills begin. But even this is comfortable to drive. The speed limit is sometimes as much as 65. However, we mostly poked along at 60 mph, taking it easy and enjoying it all.

Guess what you see in housing along these back roads? Of course, older homes, and almost all of them situated with front porches. (As you move northward, you see fewer old homes and fewer porches.) Those homes, when built, were often not equipped with air conditioning, so the people at leisure sat out on the porch to catch any breeze they could. They might have a fan to cool them, and they interacted with their neighbors, also on a porch. It’s a way of life somewhat forgotten these days when we often stay inside the house enjoying cooler temps.

Another item not as prevalent on back roads: modern gas stations, and few stations between towns. So be alert to your gas gauge when traveling our back roads.

Elliott Brack is editor and publisher of GwinnettForum. He can be reached at:

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