By Keith Still
When you have the chance to get away unexpectedly, how do you decide where to go? It’s not a vacation. You don’t have time to really plan. Nor is it a romantic getaway, where the agenda pretty much sets itself. A lucky few can take those unexpected days and whisk off to exotic locales, but most of us take our last-minute travels to places that are more affordable and much closer to home.
So how do you choose a quick getaway destination that provides a little rest, a little relaxation and a good story to share with your friends and colleagues when you get home?
The prospect of a couple of days away has recently come up for me – right in the dead of winter. It’s unexpected, so my travel budget is pretty small. (Read, no paying through the nose for last-minute airfare.) It’s just a couple of days, so any trip must fall within an easy drive of Atlanta. And it’s February, meaning as much as I adore the ocean, I’m not likely to brave the brisk waters at the beach.
So, I’m doing something I haven’t done in years. I’m pulling out the map and looking for interesting sounding places. I have always been fascinated by quirkily named towns. They may be tiny specks along the road, but if you’ve gone through the trouble to name your town Hot Coffee (Miss.) or Two Egg (Fla.), I figure you’ve earned the right to my occasional travel dollar. Of course, I could just be hungry.
I first heard of Hot Coffee nearly 17 years ago, when friends of ours were living in Oxford, Miss. To call it a town would be generous. The tiny little hamlet of Hot Coffee began when a man by the name of Davis served piping hot coffee to wagon travelers along the route from Natchez, Miss. to Mobile, Ala. Today, visitors to Hot Coffee and its home county of Covington can percolate on the idea of those travelers of yore. They can even get a taste of simpler times at Martha’s Kitchen in the neighboring Old German Baptist Community or visit the Old Homestead at Mitchell Farms. Those seeking a bit of modern-day adventure can find outdoor thrills at the Okatoma Outdoor Post nearby.
When we were working in D.C. years ago, I would pull out my road atlas, study the maps of our southern neighbors and dream of red clay back roads, sweet tea and Waffle Houses. I was always fascinated by the town of Cut Off, La., which appeared to be situated on a lonely jut of swamp where the land drifted toward the Gulf of Mexico. Despite my map gazing, I have yet to make it to Cut Off, though I have often wondered how it fared in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. But for such a short trip, Cut Off may be a little too far away.
Without realizing it, I have driven very close to Two Egg in the panhandle of Florida on more than one occasion. I wish I had known how close I was. Maybe Two Egg is calling me this February.
Of course, it could be Monkey’s Eyebrow, Ky.; or Goosepimple Junction in Washington County, Va.; or perhaps, sadly, Bitter End, Tenn. Then again, I don’t know. With only two days, the answer to my travel quandary could well be an Enigma (Ga.).
For other oddly named places to consider, check out this site – or just pull out your maps and gaze a while. Places like Medicine Hat, Alberta or Toad Suck, Ark. seem to jump off the page and beckon you to visit.
What’s the strangest-named place you’ve ever visited? Are quirky names a draw to you? Have you ever been pleasantly surprised by a spur-of-the-moment trip to an odd-sounding place? Disappointed?