Note—when I first scheduled this post, I was still scheduled to go to Florida. Due to The Virus afflicting one of my girlfriend’s sisters, we’ve postponed that trip. So, instead, we’re going to do a little road-tripping around South Carolina this weekend. We’ll be getting down to Florida in December, though, so while my return to Florida is delayed, I’m looking forward to visiting down there later this year. Just pray for my sweet girlfriend—while we will have fun this weekend, I know she is heartbroken that she won’t get to see her family as planned. —TPP
Tomorrow after school I’ll be riding down with my girlfriend to visit with her family in Florida. After The Year of Universal Studios back in 2020, I haven’t made it back down that way in awhile, and I’m looking forward to a few days over Labor Day weekend in sunny central Florida.
We’ll be taking the Interstate Highway System most of the way, and I doubt there’ll be many backroads, but I’ve always enjoyed cruising the less-traveled pathways to see what little bits of Americana are out there, waiting to be discovered. There’s still plenty of what John Derbyshire calls the “old, weird America” out there, and I love finding it (and, perhaps, living in it!).
Well, even if we aren’t hitting many backroads, I’m excited to be out and about on another footloose adventure!
The rerouting took me off I-20 at Lexington, South Carolina, taking me through painfully slow traffic in the bustling county seat before spitting me out on US-378 West, which wended its way towards the Upstate.
I then hit US-178 West towards Greenwood and Abbeville, transferring to various State roads. I eventually ended up on SC-72, heading through Calhoun Falls at the South Carolina-Georgia border.
At that point, SC-72 became GA-72, which took me through Elberton and Comer, Georgia, before depositing me in Athens.
As many of my readers are not from South Carolina—or even from this country!—let me translate that for you: I went through a lot of small towns in very rural parts of South Carolina and Georgia.
Murphy and I spent this Labor Day Weekend visiting my girlfriend and her German Shepherd in Athens, Georgia, which is about three-and-a-half hours from Lamar. As such, I spent a solid seven or so hours on the road this weekend, not counting time we spent tooling around Athens.
For a three-day weekend, that’s not much driving, and I’ve driven longer distances. Way back in the mists of graduate school, circa 2006 or 2007, I drove from Knoxville, Tennessee to Rock Hill, South Carolina (not far), then from Rock Hill to Richmond, Virginia and back just to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra with a friend. She took the wheel only for the last hour of the drive back, and apparently as soon as I got into the passenger seat, I was out cold.
Granted, I was twenty-one or twenty-two at the time. In the intervening fifteen years, my zest for driving all night to hear live symphonic holiday power metal has waned considerably. Now I’m lucky if I can make it to 10:30 PM without falling asleep on the couch, my multiple after-school drives to Universal Studios notwithstanding.
But I digress. While I may lack the stamina of my reckless youth, I do alternatively loathe and appreciate a long drive.
One irony of The Age of The Virus is that while every event and institution found itself shuttered, I got out and did way more than I would have in The Before Times. The constant demands of The Before Times—the sheer tempo at which I forced myself to operate—also prevented me from getting out and doing the sorts of things that make life worth living.
Indeed, I was bitter about it for a time. I spent most of my twenties working and hustling, sacrificing many of the social opportunities of those salad days in order to store up my acorns for the future. Now in my mid-thirties, I’m beginning to enjoy some of the fruits of those sacrifices, though most of the acorns are locked up tightly in my HSA, 403(b) and IRAs.
That’s all to say that The Age of The Virus forced me to slow down a bit, and granted me the time to do some exploring. I will hasten to add that the misery and death of The Virus was not a cost worth paying just to grant me some more free time; rather, I’m acknowledging the silver lining, and stating the reality of the situation. It’s not an endorsement of The Virus to take advantage of some it’s few, more positive consequences.
All disclaimers aside, here are three posts for this Lazy Sunday, detailing some of my adventures over the past year:
“Road Trip!” – I filed this post while heading to my second of fiveUniversal Studio trips (which consumed a lot of acorns) since February 2020. The primary focus of the post, however, was to detail a trip through the backroads of South Carolina, an off-the-beaten-path excursion from Columbia to Aiken that took me through Pelion and New Holland. It was a beautiful drive; New Holland’s vast swaths of cattle pasture were particularly beautiful to see on a summer’s day.
“Backroads Exploration: Una Adventure” – I own an aging, dented, dirty minivan—a vehicle I love dearly, even if I don’t always give it the TLC it deserves. To keep its battery charged, I like to take it for short excursions, little jaunts around the backroads. One recent Thursday evening I took a longer-than-planned trip to the tiny community of Una, South Carolina, just to see what’s there. Turns out it’s not much, but it’s all about the journey, not the destination—right?
The weather is getting warmer and the days are longer. It’s a great time to go out and enjoy some adventuring. Let me know about yours in the comments!
As I recently detailed in the post “Routine Maintenance,” I managed to get my old 2006 Dodge Caravan running again thanks to an $80 battery. I finally hooked up the battery maintainer, too, so hopefully the old girl won’t drain down due to neglect.
After installing that battery, it reminded me of how fun driving a busted up minivan can be. Readers might scoff at that notion, but that van and I share an intimate connection (well, at least I do with it—it can’t really think about who is driving it). After fifteen years, I’ve learned that machine inside and out. Sure, after driving my tiny Nissan it takes some adjustment (I still reach for the gear shifter in the wrong place occasionally, and briefly forget where the lights are), but it’s surprisingly nimble.
Aside from the maintainer, I’ve been taking the van for weekly drives to keep the battery up. My girlfriend and I took it to Lee State Park a few weekends ago, loading our small bit of supplies and her faithful German Shepherd into the cavernous interior. Since then, I’ve only done a few small jaunts with it, with the exception of last Thursday night.
Your portly is hitting the road for sunny (and humid) Florida for a few days at Universal Studios (more details on that tomorrow). I’m convoying down in my 2017 Nissan Versa Note with my girl and my younger brother and his family, with plans to rendezvous with our older brother and his girlfriend at the airport in Orlando.
I am very much a homebody by nature, which has come in handy during The Age of The Virus. That said, I’ve tried to get out more over the past year and see more of my great State, South Carolina, as my various festival trips from last fall indicate. I’ve also developed quite a fondness for taking the back roads, though my desire to get where I’m going usually overrides the romance of driving down barely-maintained rural routes.
Recently, I did take an extended back path from Columbia to Aiken, South Carolina. I was willing to add twenty minutes to my drive to see some nature. The route took me through a forgotten triangle of countryside, bounded by I-20 to the east and north and I-26 to the west (there’s no “bottom” to the triangle, so it’s more of an right angle). That took me through Pelion and New Holland, the latter of which was largely cattle ranches and huge, open swaths of green pastures.