Saturday, October 13, 2018

Cruisin' - Laurens, SC

Laurens, SC - 1930s filling station, brought back to life in 2002 by a guy, Richard Kuhnel, who wanted a place to honor his cruisin' days of the ’50s and '60s. Come back on the first Friday night of any month to see vintage cars -- and vintage people -- hanging out once again at the old filling station.  
Come inside, put a nickel in the slot of the red and white cooler, and slide out a green frosty bottle of Coke.  While you sit on your front fender and talk cars, remember the guy who came out (or ambled over from the bench) when your car drove over the bell that summed him.  Remember sitting in your car, elbow out the window, saying, "Fill 'er up!"  "Check the oil, ma'am?" he'd ask while scrubbing every last bug off your windshield.
 Imagine, all that for 25 cents a gallon, maybe $4 for a fill-up.

Oh, be still my heart!  Look what's parked next to the station.  A vintage Shasta trailer, a "canned ham" with wings intact, in my favorite Shasta color, "aqua" blue.  

So me, don't you think?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Blue Highways ... Western South Carolina

  In our version of holing up from hurricane Florence, we found opportunities to explore a new area of our state.  In my next few posts I'm going to take you on a journey back in time on the backroads of western South Carolina.  

  The history of the inland part of the state is dominated by mills and their influence on every aspect of life in small towns.  What's left of them -- their giant old smokestacks of crumbling bricks -- still rise up tall over the horizon as you approach each town.
The Pendleton Mill was first a cotton gin built by the Sitton family during Reconstruction.  Over the years the gin made one family wealthy and for many years provided a living for the people of the town.  

  An oil mill was added to the site before the turn of the century to make use of the cotton seeds extracted during the ginning process, using what had previously been waste.  After World War II, the mill was refitted to join another innovation in the cotton industry, turning cotton seeds into fertilizer for agriculture.  

Today, the mill site is abandoned.  What was once the life blood of the town, now is an eyesore and a serious problem.
The owner can't afford to pay taxes on it and the city can't afford to confiscate it, demolish it, and take on the responsibility to clean up all the toxic waste accumulated over the years.  The town is in negotiations with the EPA for assistance.  

Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Flo-Flood is Upon Us ... Sort Of

The flood probably crested sometime yesterday, at levels greatly reduced from predictions.  Of course, we are grateful.  There is no flooding in our neighborhood at all and even downtown, where predictions ranged from five to fifteen feet of water, it's merely a wash over the road.  (That's not to say there aren't people dealing with several feet of water because in some areas close to the rivers they are.) 

Thursday night we meandered through downtown.  All the businesses along the harbor had been emptied of merchandise, boarded up, wrapped in plastic, sandbagged.

Only Captain Sandbag was left to watch over the Maritime Museum, greet gawkers, and offer rides out of town.

Next door, on the Harborwalk that runs along the waterfront, a lone saxophonist played jazz in the darkness.  It was so eerie and sad.  

The floating bridge has been dismantled and we saw the convoy of Guard trucks from the bridge-building unit heading south last night, home we assume.  This afternoon the shelters in schools will be closed and soon the aqua-dams along the bridges will be removed and closed driving lanes opened.  When that happens we will be heading to the beach to give thanks for the backside view of all things Florence!   

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Waiting and Waiting

We don't need AccuWeather to tell us the Flo-Flood will be upon us tonight and tomorrow.  Our Weather Frog was 10 feet up on the window this morning, begging to come in. 😱
We are fortunate as our house is at 12 feet above sea level and the Sampit River and Winyah Bay (where we are) are not expected to flood as much as the PeeDee, Black, and Waccamaw.

This weekend we watched people and vehicles pour into town and begin work on various projects.  Not only the big equipment and wonderful young people of the National Guard, but emergency personnel lent from all over the East, and private folks like those bringing in their own flat boats and air boats, pickup trucks loaded with bottled water, $4000 worth of food from the people of New Orleans, animal rescue groups, and on and on. They come at their own expense just because they know the misery of flooding.  

Like Mr. Rogers said, in an emergency, look for the helpers.  

Since Sunday the Guard has been working to construct a huge floating bridge to take supplies and emergency vehicles across the river when the three big bridges become impassable. Georgetown Hospital has been been evacuated and now the next closest hospital is across two bridges and up the main highway, which will flood.  

A fleet of these heavy trucks arrived, each with a huge metal box on the back, at the Sampit River marina.

The staging area is about a half mile from our house. The truck with its headlights on is backed down the boat ramp into the water. It released one of the big metal boxes into the river and slowly it opened up like an unfolding flower until it was flat on the water and afloat.  Several more boxes were dumped, unfolded, and attached together.  

Voila!  It's a floating road, one that can hold a fully loaded semi truck of sandbags, supplies, or whatever.  It was an amazing thing to see.

Another even bigger project is sandbagging for miles at both ends of the bridges.  These are some of the smaller plastic tubes; farther up the neck they are four or five feet tall with enormous girth. Unfortunately all this work is only a temporary fix to keep the bridges open as long as possible.  No matter what they do, Hwy 17 will eventually flood, cutting Georgetown off.  We went for a drive last night to see what we could see before the deluge begins and there was already water on the road here.  Enormous temporary lights were on and the Guard was working in the dark in the watery area to shore things up.

Unfortunately, a tropical storm will dump more water on the Carolinas at the height of the flood crest Thursday and Friday.  Eight thousand homes and businesses in the county are expected to flood. 

Thank God for the helpers!  

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Look What Florence Brought Us!

As soon as we heard the south beach road was open on Pawleys Island, we were on our way. 

I was hoping for some pounding surf and big shells.

What is that?  Nothing we've ever seen on the beach before.

It's an eel!  A freshwater eel!  
What was it doing in the ocean?

I came home and learned a lot about eels. 

Yes, they do live in fresh water streams and estuaries most of their lives.  But after growing for five to ten years they are mature and stop feeding. Their guts begin to degenerate, their eyes double in size to see in deep water, and their swim bladders increase in number to help them swim a very long way.  In the autumn some begin making an epic journey from the rivers to the Atlantic Ocean, far out into the deep to an area of warm water called the Sargasso Sea. 

American eels come from all along the Atlantic, as far as Greenland to the north and South and Central America to the south, many from considerable distances inland.  After the long swim to their destination, females release 20-30 million eggs each, the males fertilize them, and then the adults die (it is assumed -- no one has ever witnessed the actual spawning).

Sadly, the journey of the eel we found on Pawleys beach was interrupted by a hurricane called Florence.  

Monday, September 17, 2018

Refugees No More

Dorothy knew what she was talking about, didn't she?

  We left Laurens early yesterday and did well using backroads rather than the Interstate.  Plenty of rain but nothing dangerous and Ms Google (as we call her) warned us whenever we should change our route because of flooding.    

We actually enjoyed the trip.  

Bob and Rosie are good travelers, and there are so many wonderful old things to see on the blue highways of South Carolina, the roads we prefer to travel.  This abandoned business is in the middle of nowhere near Santee.  

We had the best news when we got home: no damage to our house or trees.  Just a lot of tree stuff to pick up when all this is over. What a relief!  

Now we await flooding.  Georgetown is at the confluence of five rivers, on a bay of the ocean, with some tiny barrier islands between us and the Atlantic.  All the rivers north and west of us are gathering rain water and escorting it down through the coastal towns on the way to the sea in the next few days.  And meanwhile, it has not stopped raining here.

☔️   ⛈   ☔️
As happy as we are to be home, as tired as we got of that motel room, we are also grateful for sweet experiences in Laurens.  On Saturday we came back to our room after a drive and a picnic lunch and were completely surprised to find some kind person had left us a little note and two $20 McDonalds gift cards at the desk!  

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Hurricane Central -- Laurens SC Divsion

  The governor-ordered mandatory evacuation of Georgetown began at noon Tuesday and we scrambled to find accommodations that accept pets.  We ended up in the northwestern corner of the state in a motel in Laurens, pop. 9000.  Lucky for us, the old motel was just finishing renovations and we have a spacious room with all new furnishings, including fridge and microwave.  

Rosie, on the road, eyes peeking over the edge.  Very grumpy. 

Bob, thrilled to be going for a RIDE anywhere WITH THE PEOPLE, in the CAR.  Very happy!

  Last night from the motel: the outer bands of Flo.  You can begin to see the rotation in the clouds.  How can something so beautiful be so destructive and deadly?  The predictions change from hour to hour but at the moment it is expected to come ashore about an hour north of Georgetown at Myrtle Beach with winds reaching 105 mph and storm surge up to 13 feet. We will most likely be among the hurricane refugees in Laurens until Saturday of Sunday.