“We will encourage people to slow down, look around and explore the natural, historical and cultural beauty of Middle Georgia,” said Glenn Watson in describing what he and his wife, Sandy, and daughter, Megan, want to happen with their new business venture, Red Dirt Vagabond.
They enjoy exploring the natural world and connecting with history, nature and other people, and they want to share the joy they find in doing so with others. Monroe County is home for them and they believe in starting where you are, reaching out and coming back to see what you might have missed. The family also includes Sam, 23, who is at Gordon State College; Beau, 19, who is attending Mercer University; Abby, 17, who is about to start Young Harris College; five dogs and three cats.
Megan is 25 and graduated from Young Harris College. Her road trips in North Georgia with college friends chasing things like the most remote waterfalls and the best ice cream are part of the inspiration for Red Dirt Vagabond.
The Watsons want to open a shop that will have the ambiance of a general store/coffee shop where patrons make a regular stop to connect with friends as well as ideas for new adventures. J. Patrick Henry of Barnesville designed an eye-catching logo for Red Dirt Vagabond. It now has merchandise and an inventory of places to explore and challenges to meet.
Megan said many people in Middle Georgia feel like they’re from nowhere, but she has found ‘somewhere’ all around. She wants Red Dirt Vagabond to be a platform to share adventures and make connections.
“We hope to educate people on where to go and how to enjoy, responsibly, all of the great places that we have to offer,” said Glenn. “We don't want to be just a store or an information bureau; we want to celebrate the places and culture and build a sense of community in the region.”
Glenn began a hiking ministry at Forsyth United Methodist Church about two years ago. He invites everyone to join a hike about twice monthly. He chooses hikes of varying difficulty so there will be something for everyone. Sometimes the hikes even welcome dogs.
“As I traveled around Blue Ridge, Clayton, etc., I asked, ‘Why not Forsyth?’” said Glenn. “I re-discovered all kinds of places in Middle Georgia”
He grew up in Monroe County and is the sixth generation of his family to call Monroe County home. His family lived in Forsyth, on West Main Street, from when he was six months old until he was in fifth grade. Then the family moved to the ‘home place’ on Watson Road in the Berner/Cabaniss area. Beside his tour of duty in the U.S. Coast Guard, he has been there ever since.
Glenn said there is a lot of history at his own house, and he is surrounded by natural history—woods, ponds, canoe routes. He majored in recreation and park management, with the intention of becoming a park ranger, but those jobs were limited when he graduated. He taught and coached at Monroe County Schools for a decade and has operated his own lawn maintenance business, The Yard Man, for the last 16 years.
He has shared his love of the outdoors with his wife and children and his church family. Now he wants to share it with a wider range of people, with everyone he can inspire to be inspired.
Sandy said that in introducing people to the culture of Middle Georgia, they want to connect with local artists and help market their work. They would like to collaborate with artists in selling their creations.
Red Dirt Vagabond is now primarily an online business. It has a website (Reddirtvagabond.com) with a blog, history and video as well as merchandise, like T-shirts, stickers and hats. There are links on the site to Ocmulgee Expeditions, Bike Tech of Macon and trail maps all around Middle Georgia.
But the dream is to open a place, hopefully in the middle of Forsyth, where people can meet, exchange ideas and plan adventures that they can come back and talk about later.
The Watsons have a mission: Inspire people to Slow Down, Look Around and Explore.