It was so worth stopping to see the world’s largest peanut in Ashburn, Georgia – if only for the look on the hotel manager’s and my husband’s faces when I said to the manager, “We came here because we heard that you have the world’s largest peanut!” Do all men have hearing problems?
“Yes,” he blushed, but quickly regained his composure while my husband attempted to mask his guffaws with a sudden coughing fit. “It’s a block up the street and it’s lit up at night.”
I thanked him and before we settled in our hotel room we took the short drive up the service road to see the giant peanut! Sure enough, there it was! Mounted at the top of a tall tower, it was certainly large and shone proudly in the twinkling spotlights. I think it is made of some kind of papier mache. I can check it off my bucket list now! It looked even less impressive the next morning in the cruel light of day.
Next stop was Sam’s Tree House, another 3.5 hours from the giant peanut, at 360 Piedmont Street, Calhoun, Georgia. We found it as described, behind a Mexican restaurant. It was, at one time, owned built and lived it by Sam Edwards, a former aide to President Jimmy Carter. Apparently, we should have called ahead because there is nobody living in it now. The Mexican restaurant doesn’t seem to benefit from its location next to such a famous address. When asking a guy walking into the store next door if he knew anything about the tree house he answered, “What tree house? Sorry, I’m just making a delivery. I live the next town over.”
So, not being the well known tourist attraction we anticipated, we just plunged onto the abandoned looking private property and took a few photos. It must have been quite a fun place to live back in the day. It just goes to prove that people in the USA can come up with some pretty inventive ideas for housing, but even being a presidential aide can’t get you the permit to keep it open!
Next stop on our tour of novel Americana was The Rock Garden off highway 53 in Calhoun, GA behind the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Just a short ride from the tree house, it is a delightful array of American folk art. Created by what must be an army of volunteers, each structure is modeled from cement, stones, shells and bits and pieces. We spent almost two hours wandering from castle to castle, peering into the miniature scenes in turrets and towers. One pebbled path leads to a structure that is a replica of the famous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France! It is nearly my height. There are bridges and moats, Scriptures and miniature people looking out at you from the doorways and windows. I kept thinking that my grandchildren would be enthralled.
In this fairy tale garden, we met a wonderful pair of ladies, a mother and daughter, who had come down to check and see if the castles were okay since they had heard that the river had risen. They wanted to make sure none of the structures had been washed away. They said, “We live right over on the other side of this mountain. You are welcome to stop by.” Either Tom and I look like very non-threatening people, or these two should not be allowed to go traipsing about by themselves. They are entirely too trusting! Or perhaps, old-fashioned, Southern hospitality is accompanied by a large dose of discernment!
I would highly recommend this as a place to visit if you have gentle young daughters who love miniatures. I would be more hesitant to bring some of my more robust grandsons who may want to check the tensile strength of the roofs or inspect how well the jewels are attached to the parapets! There is a place to leave a donation for repairs, upkeep and expansion. Definitely stop to see it, if you get the chance!