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O’Neil’s Country Buffet

Lunch with Gail and Jim Sparks 4-30-2016

Route by Jim Sparks

Jim Sparks and I had a wonderful day driving our MX-5s (“Miata” to most) for a lunch at O’Neal’s Country Buffet in Thomasville, GA. Evidently, Jim had invited several First Coast Miata Club members, but I was the only one to accept. It was about twice as long as a normal club ride, so that was probably a factor. They’re loss – it was a fantastic ride! Jim brought his wife Gail with him, and of course, I was joined by my wife, Anna.

Jim’s got a way with planning routes, thanks to many years involvement with motorcycle clubs. No, not the 1% clubs. Not a biker – a motorcyclist. He knows the area like nobody else I’ve met in the 20 years I’ve lived in Jacksonville. I’m always amazed at the countryside Jim takes us through.

So we met yesterday in Whitehouse, FL. and set out just after 9:30 AM, heading west on US-90. A CSX freight train entering Baldwin Yard from Callahan blocked our path, and didn’t look to be in any hurry. Thinking fast, Jim quickly rerouted us adding about 20 miles to his original plan. Beats sitting in the car watching autoracks creep by one by one for 20 minutes!

We saw plenty of wildlife. A lot of road kill with buzzards trying to clean up the mess, but we also got to see two Toms (make turkeys) facing each other off in the middle of the road vying for the rights to a nearby hen. We also got to see a coyote run across the road. I had no idea coyotes were in this part of Georgia. There was an abundance of roadside wildflowers, with buttercups and some sort of blue/purple flower I couldn’t identify.

Lunch was fantastic. Well worth the drive. Cost was moderate, and the food was fresh, even for our late lunch. And why not? There was a farmer’s market right next door! We topped off our lunch with home made Cinnamon rolls, and then headed to the farmers market to walk off our lunch and get some fresh fruit and vegetables to bring home.

We took a similar route home, but took Dixie Road out of Thomasville through the towns of Boston (which looks to have a very quaint historical district) and Dixie, both just south of US Route 84. Worth coming back for, IMHO. Here’s the first part of our return trip:

Return Trip 4-30-2016Return Route by Jim Sparks.

That put us into Welborn, FL for a pitstop. From here, there were a few back roads into Lake City, then down US-90 until we hit I-10 for a quick dash back to Jacksonville to beat the rain. I peeled off I-10 taking FL 23 – the “outer beltway” under construction, to head home. Jim and I exchanged waves and a few friendly chirps from our horns as I peeled off I-10 as he continued on into town.

Anna and I had a lot of fun. Not only all these wonder full back roads, great food, wonderful cars to drive them, but we sincerely enjoyed Gail and Jim’s company on  this trip.

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