“Whose idea was this?” Cheril had the nerve to ask as we drove toward the second stop on our Christmas road trip. The sun was setting, it was colder than we’d hoped and we were beginning to wind up a mountain with no guardrails. Thank god the GPS was still working.
“It was your idea,” Monica reminds. “You have us in this random town with no street lights going to a horse farm. And I’ve seen a bunch of confederate flags since we’ve gotten here. This was your idea!”
As we continued to our destination we passed a car every few minutes or so. We also kept seeing the flag, which made me start to second guess this “let’s go to a random small town” idea. It wasn’t too late. We could always forget about the pre-paid lodging and hightail it north, but no, we weren’t about to be afraid of a town we hadn’t really gotten to know or its people. That’s not how we roll.
So as we continued up the mountain and the sky got darker, Monica started Googling the flag to see just why so many people had it on their cars (besides the obvious suspicion). It’s at that time we realized the old confederate flag was actually embedded in the City of Trenton flag. Gee, not willing to move forward? Apparently not. We were still going to go for it. We’ve always done what we wanted to do (with a measure of caution) so there was no reason to back peddle now. Thankfully, we safely made it to our destination just a few minutes after it had gotten completely dark. There we were, two black girls with two, don’t-count-on-them-to-save-your-life-dogs on a 60+ acre horse farm in confederate Georgia—with two white hosts.
Welcome to Trenton, GA – population ~2,301, 95.5% white, 0.7%black. “White’s only pies” was determined to be our code if we needed to get the hell out of dodge. If you’ve seen the movie “Life,” you know what we mean. If you aren’t familiar it, please take this moment to get acquainted:
Back to our trip.
To be fair, we pride ourselves on both having GREAT intuition and knew that we’d be fine with the hosts/bed & breakfast we had chosen. They knew we were black, gay and female and didn’t give any weird indication that we’d be turned into horse feed upon arrival. And as we suspected, they were both sweet as pie! In fact, they weren’t originally from Trenton, GA, which probably made all the difference. They showed us where we’d be staying and gave us a brief overview of the farm, the town and things to do when we ventured up to Chattanooga, TN, which was about 25 minutes north.
The farm was beautiful. We didn’t really get to explore it until the morning of our third day because we’d spent the previous two days in Tennessee, but when we did, what an experience!
We were encouraged to walk the grounds ourselves but to go slowly when driving in an out. There was all kinds of wildlife beyond the horses who belonged to the owners of the farm. As we came and went, our final night found us hungry with few options to choose from. We’d seen a billboard for “Hillbilly Willy’s BBQ” and couldn’t stop ourselves from driving by. The code words would be the same if it ended up being a stupid idea, but it turned out to look more like a run-of-the mill pizza shop than anything special.
We didn’t bother going in.
So, hungry and tired from a day of sightseeing we decide to check out one of the buffets in town that our hosts had told us about. If any of you reading this personally knows Monica, you’ll know getting her to go anywhere with the name “buffet” in it is a feat in and of itself. So off we went to RANDY’S.
Great. Cheril noticed the “Christian” greeting at the top of the menu right away and we both gave each other a look. We stood out like a couple of ants in a bag full of sugar! The petite old lady who greeted us was nice enough, but Cheril caught her staring a number of times. It was a curious stare, more like “I don’t know the last time I’ve seen one like you/wonder where y’all from” than “you better drive 35 miles down the road and get up out of here!” We knew that she knew we were tourists because of the Ruby Falls baseball cap Cheril was wearing but it still made dinner interesting no less. The food was just fine, tasty even and the service was good too. Whew. (We don’t usually practice public displays of affection so we’re sure that helped.)
What we did notice as we drove about Trenton was the sheer number of churches! How can such a small town need SO MANY churches? The were everywhere; small ones, big ones, all with trinities of crosses towering over the sinners below. There were enough that we made of counting them and called it Baptist Bingo! We lost count of how many we saw in the end though.
Through our hosts, we confirmed that the town was deeply religious and seemingly stuck in a pre-segregation, pre-women’s liberation era. It was suggested that if some of the residents had a chance to fight the civil war again they would. Geez! What was most surprising, however, was how women are allegedly viewed: inferior and needing to stay in their places. What year is this?? Apparently that’s the way things go in Trenton, and the residents in general don’t take kindly to new things. They opposed a yoga studio because it was ungodly and actually brought flyers in to the owner to advise her about the error of her ways. Everyone knows everyone in Trenton, and if you buy property there without transferring your assets to a local bank you’re suspicious. Oh, and if you get a traffic ticket it makes their published-once-a-week newspaper. It’s news! Hell, we felt as though we were in a time warp as we listened to these stories. We don’t regret going at all. It’s great to get out of the metropolitan bubble in which we live. It let us know that the people we see on the news during election times really do exist somewhere. lol
On our last day at the farm we got a meet and greet with the horses. We fed them carrots, pet them and just hung out with them for about an hour before hitting the road.
Would we go back to Trenton? Probably not (unless it’s back to this farm in the fall), but it isn’t because we had a bad experience in this very red part of a red state. In fact, it’s because we need to make more stops in places that don’t get exposure to folks like us. Sorry, the war ended long ago and times, they are a changin’. One interesting thing we took away is that folks from Atlanta are starting to move north and people in Chattanooga are starting to move south, so, those in places like Trenton will have to learn to live with new people whether they like it or not. They are no longer isolated thanks to highways that didn’t exist back in its so-called days of purity. And by gosh, white people and black people really do co-exist elsewhere!
This was definitely an interesting stop on our 2014 road trip. More photos are below, including a few from a pit stop we made at Cloudland Canyon State Park (a tip from our hosts)!