Background Music: "Carolina in My Mind" by James Taylor

We’re in the NW corner of South Carolina. When we arrived, Travis asked, “Did you ever think you’d come to South Carolina for any reason?” Nope. It’s just not someplace you put on your big “to do in life” list. Unless you’re really into seeing revolutionary war battlefields, or have family in Myrtle Beach or something. But, now that we’re here, we like it okay.

Up here in the corner of SC, we’re out of the warm Southern climate and back into the springtime weather we’re familiar with. There are no more swamps or alligators, and there are more mountains, trees and rivers- a nice change of scenery. There are a couple dozen waterfalls on the visitors list for the area (we didn’t have time to see them all), and the parks around them are really nice. Aside from visiting the waterfalls, there doesn’t seem to be much to do in this area of South Carolina. There are plenty of boiled peanuts, though. There are roadside stands and signs advertising them all over the place. We stopped and bought a bag. “Ick- they’re like hot, mushy, super salty beans!” Travis declared. “I know, they’re really good- and Marley likes them too”, said Heather.

Maybe it’s because we’re getting further from the South and folks here are afraid of losing their “heritage”, but we’re seeing a lot more Confederate flags. Also, a new twist- something we hadn’t come across until we got here- bumper stickers and t-shirts with derogatory (some of them pretty violent) remarks about “Northerners” and “Yankees”. It may have been felt other places, but never outwardly expressed. Maybe they’re more into free speech? It’s a bit strange, because everyone we’ve talked to has been very nice, and we’ve seen signs that some people can even laugh at themselves. We saw one bumper sticker that said, “We are no longer Hillbilly Rednecks. We now prefer the term Appalachian Americans.” South Carolinians- a confusing bunch.

One of the better things about this location is that it’s a good jumping off point for some places of interest. We’re close to the borders of Georgia and North Carolina, and took the opportunity to visit Atlanta and the Smoky Mountains.

Maybe this is silly, but the thing we really wanted to see in Atlanta was The World of Coca-Cola. They just make it sound so fun on the travel channel. Luckily, it’s located across the street from the Olympic Centennial Park, and right next to the Georgia Aquarium, so those things helped justify the 2 hour (each way) drive. The World of Coke is pretty neat. They’ve got displays on the history, a bottling plant, and you can sample over 50 different Coke products that are sold around the world. Some of the more interesting ones were a green apple soda sold in Asia, and some strange spiced colas sold in Africa. There’s a really disgusting one called “Beverly” that’s sold in Italy. We tried them all, (you have to try all the gross ones too, or it’s just no fun) and had a pretty good sugar/caffeine buzz by the time we left.

After Coke we walked to over the Georgia Aquarium. We don’t recommend the caffeine high there. It only amplifies the screaming children. It’s probably not always as crazy as when we went- turns out this week is spring break in Georgia. Wow, how did we luck out on that? The aquarium is wonderful, though- huge, well done, amazing. We really liked it.

Towards the end of our stay in SC, we drove up to spend a day in North Carolina, visiting the Great Smoky Mountains and driving the Blue Ridge Parkway (a portion of it anyway). The Smoky Mountains are beautiful- and we weren’t even there in the peak seasons. In the autumn when the leaves turn, and in a month or so when the rhododendrons and trees bloom, it’d probably be enough to make you tear up (okay, enough to make me tear up). We do have to say, though, that for all their fame and beauty the Smoky Mountains still aren’t as pretty as the mountains in Oregon. (A little homesick, perhaps? Maybe- don’t make me tear up.)

We have another stop in North Carolina, so will be able to see more of that state later on. Georgia was great and we’d go back. South Carolina- well, maybe we’d be able to say better things about South Carolina if we’d toured more of it. Sadly, for now our memories will be only of waterfalls, boiled peanuts and inflammatory t-shirts. Two out of three ain’t bad (one out of three if you ask Mr. “I’m not eating those boiled peanuts” Smith). At the end of our stay we once again ask ourselves, “Do you think you’d ever come back to South Carolina for any reason?” Well, can’t say we’d put it on a “to do in life” list or anything, but if we somehow ended up here again- sure, it’s a nice place to visit.

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