So, here’s the way it happened. Every year, along about this time, you know dog days, too hot to go up the river, Lane and I load up and take a trip with friends to the North Georgia mountains to cool off and eat Silver Queen corn, kind of a house party. As always, a good time was had by all and then it was time to go home.

We took off and headed down through Columbus and took US 27 to Bainbridge, a four-lane road with a 65 mph speed limit and almost no traffic or actually anything else. Don’t leave Columbus or Bainbridge without plenty of gas. Well, we were barrelin’ along lookin’ forward to being home when, lo and behold, I looked down at the gauges and saw an outline of a battery in red! Not sure what that meant, I had the presence of mind to call Amy Crosby at Gulf Coast Auto in Eastpoint, my automotive advisor. She races her own dragster so she knows what she’s talking about. Amy said,” Gill she’s getting ready to shut you down.”

The closest little community was Lumpkin, so there we headed and found a man in a tire shop who said, “You ain’t gonna find no alternator in Lumpkin, but there’s a NAPA store and garage in Richland nine miles from here.” And we took off. Well, about halfway there, as Amy predicted, “She shut us down.”

We called the NAPA store and they were on the way. Allen Barrett, proprietor, arrived with his wrecker and towed us in, located the only alternator that fit our car in his NAPA district, and had it delivered that night.

Yes, there is one motel in Richland so they delivered us to the Super Value Inn and we booked a room. They asked if we wanted smoking or non-smoking, I didn’t think there was anywhere left that offered that option. The room had a nice king-size bed, refrigerator and cable TV, no prints on the wall and came equipped with our very own plunger in the bathroom. They had a swimming pool and Lane and I thought it might be nice to go for a dip after a long day but there was no water in the pool. The pool had a sign, “No Diving,” which I thought was pretty good advice.

The only restaurant, Red’s, was closed but next to the motel was a Piggly Wiggly, so we walked over and purchased smoked oysters, sardines, cheese and sodie’ crackers (we already had some libations at the room). After a gourmet meal, we watched a great movie and had no trouble falling into the arms of Morpheus.

Mr. Barrett called by 10 a.m. the next morning and came to pick us up. The only other problem was my door handle on the driver’s side had come off. No problem, Allen took a heavy piece of twine and crafted me a handy door handle. I don’t think I’ll get it fixed, kinda’ gives the old thing some character.

So, try this, Google “things to do in Richland, Georgia.” Yep, one thing pops up, Richland Rum Distillery, the only single estate rum distillery in the U.S. (www.richlandrum.com). We just had to check it out before we headed home. What a treat, an entire city block of old historic brick buildings houses the distillery, beautifully restored, finished heart pine floors, etc., housing rows and rows of oak cask aging rum. Richland grows 200 acres of sugar cane on their farm outside of town which is processed into cane syrup and then distilled into several flavors of rums. (My Daddy put up cane syrup every year, “Alpha River Farms Ole Fashioned Pure Cane Syrup.” Wish I had thought about making rum back then). Anyway, the hospitality tour was delightful and a real treat.

The Barretts, Allen, Victoria and their two children could not have been more caring and the staff at Richland Rum was most gracious. What could have been a real nightmare turned in to one of the most delightful experiences Lane and I have had in quite a while. We both agreed we felt like we were on our second honeymoon.

By the way, I bet the same would have happened if two hapless strangers had broken down in Apalach.

Your friend,

Capt. Gill