As road trip travel bloggers, my sidekick Jerry and I spend a lot of time driving the backroads of our amazing planet, and we frequently find ourselves drawn to the Americus – Plains – Andersonville area of South Georgia because there is so much to see and do in that 15-mile radius. We typically make the historical Windsor Hotel in Americus our home base because it is centrally located between the Andersonville National Historic Site and the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in Plains.With two major national parks in such close proximity, this area of the Presidential Pathways region of Georgia is rich in culture and history.
When you visit the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site you will be transported back in time to the Boyhood Farm, Plains High School, and the Train Depot presidential campaign headquarters. You will drive away having spent a rewarding day learning about the 39th President of the United States.
But not so fast.
If you leave now, you will leave town having missed the best part—the opportunity to meet the President himself.
Yes, you heard me correctly. You can meet President Jimmy Carter in person!
Although most Americans know President Carter as a humanitarian and spiritual man, many people do not know that he has been teaching Sunday School for most of his adult life, and he still teaches most Sundays at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains. We have been privileged to attend on two occasions, and those visits rank among the most memorable moments, not just of our travels, but of our lives. If you plan your South Georgia travel accordingly, you can attend Jimmy Carter’s Sunday School class, too.
Here’s how it works:
1. The church doors open for seating at 8:30 AM, and Sunday School begins promptly at 10:00 AM.
2. You must pass U.S. Secret Service screening, including bag searches, metal detection, and a bomb-sniffing dog.
3. Prior to Sunday School, Miss Jan, a retired school teacher, will give a stern, but highly-entertaining, orientation so you will understand presidential protocol and how to behave in church.
4. After a short prayer, Jimmy Carter will rise, greet the congregation, comment on current events, and begin his hour-long lesson. (If you peek during the prayer, you will see the President enter the sanctuary from a side door.)
5. As the best souvenir, you can have your picture taken with Jimmy and Rosalynn, but you must wait until the end of the hour-long morning worship service.
Jimmy Carter will be 90 years old on his next birthday, and although he is in excellent health and still very active in diplomatic missions and humanitarian causes, I would encourage you to make the Americus – Plains – Andersonville area of South Georgia your next road trip destination. Before you plan your visit, however, be sure to verify Jimmy Carter’s teaching dates at the Maranatha Baptist Church web site.
Howard Blount’s passion is navigating the roads-less-traveled of this amazing planet in search of anything rare and remote. He is a writer, consultant, and published author with Simon & Schuster and McGraw-Hill. Although his road trips are financed by his day job as a middle school teacher, Howard would much rather be scouting waterfalls on the North Georgia mountain backroads near his cabin in Blairsville. You can reach Howard @backroad_planet on Twitter or at his road trip travel blog BackroadPlanet.com.