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Day 12 – Thurs. May 10th: Willys to Hawgs

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<– Day 11- Wed. May 9th: Exploring the Palmetto State | Day 13 – Friday May 11th: Lawrence & Lubbeck –>


Judi and Kieth Rhodes and Ann and I at Hawg Wild BBQ and Fish House in Hiawasee, Georgia.

Day 12: On Wednesday we drove from Aiken, South Carolina, to Asheville, North Carolina, via Hiawassee, Georgia.


We drove from Aiken to Asheville on Thursday.

Thursday began with a visit to Kaiser Willys, first meeting Rachel and Amy, then with a visit with Mike at the warehouse. Mike explained that KW began with his father. They’d go on road trips towing a trailer and, when stopped at motels, would sell parts out of the trailer to fund their trip. Eventually, they began selling parts out of their home, then when they grew too big, moved into a warehouse.


I’m sure I’m explaining something incredibly important!


I forgot my shopping cart, or I would have loaded up!


I think that sign ought to read, “Back your jeep up, open the tailgate, and load up!”


Mike tells me he’s pleased with the quality of the new Allied blocks thus far. They’ve been selling well. He expects F-Heads to be arriving at some point.


Ann, me, Mike and Rachel. Thanks for the tour guys!

During our meeting with Rachel, she mentioned we ought to visit Helen, Georgia, a town that’s got a Bavarian theme. Since it was near Hiawassee, it seemed like a great idea.

Unfortunately, the route we took positioned us behind some slow moving trucks with loads that required light and power lines to be lifted. We were trapped on the highway for 15 or 20 minutes, unable to leave. Finally, we found a short cut and out-raced the slow moving caravan. I’ll never figure out why no one followed us, but thanks to my trusty navigator, we were back up to top speed (as top speed as one can go on skinny, country roads).

The delay on the highway meant we didn’t have time to stop in Helen. But, we took a few pics as we raced through.


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Despite obstacles, we managed to make it to meet Keith and Judi Rhodes at Hawg Wild BBQ and Catfish House in Hiawassee, Georgia.  This is the restaurant:

And this is the view! The porch is a beautiful place to relax and enjoy an evening.


After Keith and Judi retired, they decided to move from Central Florida to the mountains of Georgia. Both work part-time, Judi facilitating drug tests and Keith rubbing brisket and butts (Pork butts that is) at the restaurant. He must have some magic hands, because my brisket was delicious! Both are also avid Pickle Ball players, though they limit their play to only 7 days a week. The town even has a nice set of courts. They seem pretty happy hidden away in the mountains.

Keith recently bought a 1950 truck. He’s getting some work completed on it, so it wasn’t available to see during our visit. Guess we’ll have to come back when it’s done!

After a great dinner (thanks for that!), Keith gave us a tour of the kitchen and the smoker. They smoke all their own meats using only Pecan wood. Here’s some meat Keith readied for the smoker this evening:

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After we rolled out fo the restaurant with full bellies (we put aside our ‘eat light travel habits’ for one evening), we began our trek over the mountains to Asheville. Wow, what a beautiful drive that was. Here’s a photo of one scenic vista:


Beautiful evening for a mountain drive.

Our only regret of the day was that we went right past Toccoa, Georgia, the place made famous by the 101st Airborne WWII training (as seen in Band of Brothers). Roger’s father, Jim “Pee Wee” Martin, trained there. Roger says there’s a guy nearby working on a Ford GP as well.

Tomorrow we get to see some jeeps and talk with a German WWII Veteran.

<– Day 11- Wed. May 9th: Exploring the Palmetto State | Day 13 – Friday May 11th: Lawrence & Lubbeck –>


12 Comments on “Day 12 – Thurs. May 10th: Willys to Hawgs

  1. SteveK

    It is too bad you didn’t get to visit Helen, Georgia. Beautiful scenes and authentic great German food, and I guess they should still have the “Christmas Shop” two stories of Christmas EVERYTHING, a ‘destination’ all it’s own. What a wonderful variety in your travels, and THANKS for sharing. TRAVEL SAFE!

  2. SteveK

    PS… You should have asked Mike WHY he ‘will not include Willys DJs in his part lists. I tried to convince him and Rachael too, a while back, even sent pictures of parts and numbers visible for verification. Nope! and the latest catalog doesn’t include one DJ pic either.

  3. David Eilers Post author


    Helen was neat to drive through, but because we have our own Bavarian themed town just 3 hours away from us in Washington State ( we weren’t too saddened to have to pass on it.

    We didn’t have a whole lot of time with Mike. It was clear, like many of the owners of the jeep parts places we have visited, he’s a hands on guy and the office was busy. I can tell you that the “DJ-3A” bell crank parts I received from another supplier who advertised as such were incorrect (and are the correct parts even available?), so it’s entirely possible that he’s unsure enough of that model that he’d rather not offer products for a model he doesn’t know (and we know there are a variety of things unique to the DJ). We talked about working together with some posters, so I can ask him at a later date.

    – Dave

  4. Bob in nc

    When I worked for georgia-pacific in Atlanta, the north Georgia peach mountian festival was held near helan, GA. This is where some of the best peaches in the country are grown. White peaches from there are the best.

  5. David Eilers Post author

    Eric, I am trying to work my way to Hillsville and Christian burg, which isn’t too far away from you if you are in Pilot. This will most likely happen at the end of May.

  6. David Eilers Post author

    Bill, did we miss you in Aiken? We had some extra time there, too!

  7. Eric Kalamaja

    David. Only 18 miles out of Christiansburg. Would be great to meet if I am not at work.

  8. David Eilers Post author


    Will give you more of a heads up when we big our trip west. It would probably be midweek during the week after Memorial Day weekend, but we can try to work out something for the evening.

    – Dave

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