The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

June 1, 2013

A Little Bit of Southern Exposure

Filed under: travel — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 12:42 am

Savannah Rapids Park, Martinez GA

In what has become a somewhat annoying but predictable pattern, I have returned from last weekend’s trip just in time for things at work to get ridiculously busy again, which typically means working the weekend.  I figure that I could (eventually) get used to a pattern like this, but the main problem I’ve got right now is that I’ve kind of run out of vacations to take for a while, which means that I’ll probably be spending the next little bit between being busy at work and being slightly less busy.  I suppose I should be grateful to be employed (and especially to be making as much as I am these days) but it sure seems like I’m spending a lot more time at work than I’m used to these days.  Then again, I have had the opportunity to travel quite a bit lately, and by the time I figure all that in, things tend to (mostly) even out.

That said, I quite enjoyed the little trip to the South that I got to take last weekend.  It was my first time in the South (aside from the times I’ve been in Florida, but that hardly counts because they’re pretty much off in their own little world anyway,,) so it was all a rather new experience for me.   As discussed in the previous post, the primary purpose of this trip was to attend my brother’s wedding at the LDS temple in Atlanta last Saturday, followed by a reception later that day in a park on the Savannah River near Augusta.  Following the wedding and reception, we needed to head up to Charlotte the next day to drop my brother off at the airport there  for his return flight, at which point we then had no further plans until Tuesday evening, when I needed to be back in Atlanta for my return flight.  The “no plans” part of that evaporated rather quickly, as a number of factors coincided to provide us a rather unique opportunity to watch the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway from what might possibly be the best seats in the house that were not currently doing 180 MPH around the track at the time.  That (and some of our subsequent visits to some of the NASCAR race shops in the area) will be another Blog post, most likely next week.

The weather for my brother’s wedding day was surprisingly nice.  If I understand the local definition of these things correctly, this mostly means that it wasn’t oppressively hot and humid outside.  Up here in the Seattle area, this same weather would constitute a warm Summer day of the type we generally don’t get much of until July and August.  Either way, you probably couldn’t have asked for much better weather.  I don’t have a lot of photos from this, since the photos at the temple were mostly being taken by the professionals.

Following the temple ceremony, the wedding party began making the trip from Atlanta over to Augusta, but not before making a stop in the small town of Social Circle, roughly halfway between the two cities.  There, a wedding luncheon took place at the Blue Willow Inn, a buffet restaurant located in an old mansion serving up some of the best Southern food I’ve tasted (yes, the sample size is kind of small at this point, but still…)  With carefully landscaped grounds around the mansion, a location well off the freeway and in the heart of small-town Georgia and a front porch covered with rocking chairs, the whole place seems to be designed to provide a quintessential Southern experience.  Quite a few of the wedding photos got taken here, and I can’t say I blame them.

Upon arrival in Augusta, frantic last-minute rush was the order of the day as the preparations for the reception weren’t quite as finished as we would have liked, but ultimately things came together pretty well.  The reception itself wasn’t overly fancy, but things still turned out quite nice, and the setting (the dance pavilion of Savannah Rapids Park) provided quite the picturesque backdrop for the proceedings, as seen here by the sunset behind the Savannah River.  One thing that you come to realize in the South is that there’s history all over the place that you just don’t have around here.  In the various local historical research I’ve done here at various times on this Blog, I’ve rarely gone much past the 1920s, since there just isn’t a lot of history to be found much earlier than that.  In Seattle, 1889 seems to be the cut-off point for historical buildings, owing mostly to the Great Seattle Fire that burned down most of what was there prior to that.  Then again, at this particular park, there’s an unassuming barbecue pit located below the dance pavilion overlooking the river which dates back to the 1880s.  And then there’s the Augusta Canal which begins here, which I learned from a bit of Internet research to have played an important role in making Augusta a major industrial center for the Confederacy during the Civil War.  Although the canal is largely non-functional at this point, the historical structures found in the area make for an interesting backdrop for a wedding reception.  The gorgeous sunset and even more gorgeous moonrise (which my phone camera proved woefully inadequate to capture reasonably) certainly helped as well.

Although the schedule for the trip and the 3-day detour to Charlotte didn’t provide much opportunity for random wandering around the area, we did make a couple of brief stops in South Carolina on the way back to Atlanta at the end.  One thing you see featured prominently along the I-85 corridor in South Carolina is fireworks, and plenty of them.  Right near the North Carolina and Georgia borders can be found gigantic warehouses full of fireworks open year round, and they’ve got all the big stuff too.  We unfortunately didn’t get a chance to stop at either of these (I probably would have been a bit too tempted to try to sneak some stuff into my carry-on luggage, which probably would have ended badly) but we did make a stop at a smaller farm store along the route that featured a pretty decent selection of fireworks itself.  Fortunately the Fourth of July isn’t too far off so Boom City and the other reservation fireworks stands should be opening soon, but I’m starting to think I may have to go pay another visit to South Carolina one of these days, mostly to blow stuff up take in some of the rich history and culture to be found along the way.

All in all, it wasn’t a whole lot of time to see things, but it’s always interesting to get the chance to expand one’s horizons and see parts of the country that you haven’t seen before.  I have no idea when (or if) I will have a reason to make another trip down here, but I certainly enjoyed the chance to visit.  The people were friendly, things seemed reasonably inexpensive (then again, compared to here things seem cheap pretty much everywhere) and there’s a lot to see.  I suspect I may have to take another trip down there at some point, preferably with a bit more time to wander.


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