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.
I made it back from my latest trip to Universal Studios after a long, tedious drive that took up the better part of Sunday. I’d intended to hammer out a belated Lazy Sunday upon my return, but I was so wiped from the drive, I just watched television instead.
With all the driving on I-4, I-95, I-26, I-77, and I-20, I had ample time to think about the pros and cons of the Interstate Highway System. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the Interstate. On the love side of the equation, I appreciate the convenience of being able to drive vast distances in reasonable times. The trip that took us around seven hours to complete yesterday (and that was with terrible traffic and inclement weather) would have taken, according to Google Maps, between nine and ten hours. In reality, that would have been closer to eleven or twelve hours with stops, traffic, etc.
As an engine for economic growth, the Interstate is probably the best investment the federal government ever made. It was pitched to Congress as a national security project—we needed broad, interstate boulevards for our tanks to deploy swiftly against a Soviet invasion—an approach that John C. Calhoun attempted as Secretary of War in 1817 (under the strict constructionist Democratic-Republican James Madison, Calhoun’s Bonus Bill faced a swift veto). But the real benefit of the Interstate Highway System is its ability to move people and goods swiftly, cutting down on shipping and transportation costs, and making longer commutes feasible.
Granted, there were downsides: the small towns and tourist traps alongside old federal highways and State roads. Just as the old railroad towns withered up when the trains stopped running—or repurposed into some other form—many small towns died out when the Interstate diverted traffic away from them. Of course, the converse is true: many towns boomed when the Interstate weaved their way.
So, one could surmise I appreciate the Interstate for its convenience and beneficial qualities. So, where is the hate?
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.
Electric cars are fine, although environuts shouldn’t delude themselves that driving these battery-powered vehicles are saving the environment (it’s pedantic to point out, but batteries require a great deal of mining to get the metals necessary to build them, and the electricity to charge them comes from coal-, oil-, and nuclear-power, so it’s not like you’re truly making an end-run around fossil fuels). But a Ford Mustang shouldn’t be an electric car; at least, it shouldn’t be one that looks like this iteration.