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South Carolina – Heading Out?

We’ve been here three months today. Things have shifted and changed, so we will likely be heading out in two weeks or so.

We’ve loved being here. As always we’ve loved the kindness and generosity of our hosts and of the locals.

We’ve gotten caught up on hundred and hundreds of photos; we caught up on nine months of journal-writing; and we finished our incredible project of bring out nine hundred pages or so of journals, turning them into three ebooks.

We are thrilled at our productivity.

We are sad that we didn’t get to see more of the area. It’s well worth another visit.

We’re not sure what our plans are now. We think, if things go as we hope, that we will cross the border in Brownsville and take a bus to Lagos de Moreno in Jalisco, Mexico.
Read more: South Carolina – Heading Out?

South Carolina and Nature

Our first take on being here was the fact that it was really winter, as in a real season. The trees were all dry and bare, we could see forever into the trees, and there were very few birds.

That all changed immediately. We spotted bits and pieces of green popping out here and there in the bushes. The trees were blooming and leafing out. By the time we were on our field trips with Jim the scenery was absolutely breathtaking.

Jim has a master gardener’s certification from Clemson University, but he’s so knowledgeable in gardening that I’m not sure what came first, all the knowledge he’d acquired over the years, or if it was the masters certification that brought the knowledge.

I suspect he simply topped off a few areas in his extensive knowledge base by doing a master’s certification.

He’s a walking encyclopedia of plant, flower and tree knowledge. At the bottoms he’s got quite a good space set aside for natural/organic farming and he plowed a space for us to have a garden over near the chicken shed.
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South Carolina – Learning the Area, Mini-Adventures, Holidays

Field Trips

In the early days Jim would take us along on his errands, providing us with a chance to see the surrounding area. We called them our field trips.

Our first outing was to Clayton, Georgia, just down the road a ways. Jim’s favorite Mexican restaurant was full with the lunch crowd by the time we got there, so we did our Wal-Mart and Home Depot errands, then came back around to the restaurant.

One of the truly big advantages in staying with locals is getting to know the area through their eyes. They live there, they already know the best places to go and which places to avoid.

The Mexican restaurant in Clayton was a case in point. For such a small, quiet and unassuming spot, the food was excellent and the service was great.

Knowing we wanted to see as much as possible, Jim took us the long, slow, scenic route home. We’re still a bit confused about where we were, but it was very twisty and winding, with a number of hairpin turns.

Jim is full of stories with their roots in the past. The hairpin turns reminded him of what his daddy used to say. “My daddy didn’t want to carry corn on the horse and cart because the road was so twisty the horse would eat all the corn by the time they got there.”
Read more: South Carolina – Learning the Area, Mini-Adventures, Holidays

South Carolina – Mountain Rest, Daily Life

Managing a sixty acre farm with four buildings on it is no small job at any time, especially when you’re a loner on your farm like Jim is. He relies on local guys to fill in what he can’t do, so he’s always got odd jobs he’s farming out.

Jimmy is a local guy who was employed in huge construction projects until the bottom fell out of the economy. He now does freelance work, putting in regular hours for Jim in building the Big House or doing whatever odd jobs might come up.

Over the course of a week or so down at “our” house, Jim and Jimmy spent time cleaning the windows, raking leaves off the roof, moving a big gas barbecue and old refrigerator that had been ensconced in our view, fixing the lights, cleaning fallen logs, stacking split wood, along with whatever else needed doing.

Jim has a high-suspension diesel pick-up, an all-terrain vehicle, and a medium tractor as his farm vehicles. Monday through Friday are busier days, but no day is sacred as a day off for Jim.

We never know when we’ll see the big orange tractor rolling down the hill, see the red of the ATV flashing through the trees as it climbs up the trail from the bottoms, or hear the big diesel rumble as the Ford F350 approaches.
Read more: South Carolina – Mountain Rest, Daily Life

South Carolina – The Next Weeks – Getting Set Up

We spent the next weeks in an American Picker mode, hunting for furniture in Pat’s basement and workshop, Jim’s Big House, the chicken shed storage areas, the barn, and around Pat’s house. Everything we found had to be thoroughly cleaned, as most of it had years of accumulated dust.

We gradually put together the kitchen, living room, bathroom, two offices, and the bedroom with enough systems to be workable and reasonably comfortable. It wasn’t a plush existence.

In fact it was weeks before we hauled a comfy (and heavy) recliner loveseat by ourselves from the mudroom up around the house and into the main living area so we could have someplace else to sit besides the hard wood kitchen chairs or the bed.

The house itself needed to be put back together after painting.

We painted and put up the heating and air conditioning vents; had to clamor a bit to get the plates and screws for the wall plates so we could put them up again; we found a shower rod and shower curtain and put them up; we put up the towel racks in the bathroom.

We swept and vacuumed the floors. I cleaned out the long-forgotten microwave.

Jimmy washed the inaccessible windows while Jim supervised. Jim told us at the time that the big window in the mudroom hadn’t been washed in its entirety in over fifteen years. Given the size of the ladder needed to wash it, that wasn’t a surprise.
Read more: South Carolina – The Next Weeks – Getting Set Up

South Carolina – Getting There

Getting There

When we last left you three months ago, the Traveling Roses were happily tooling down the road in luxurious comfort with Kenneth and Krisy, headed to a meeting with Pat in Alabama.

We’d left Gueydan, Louisiana around six-thirty. With the time change, it was still quite dark. Sunrise was an hour away.

A picnic break in Alabama

Anxious to be on time and not inadvertently leave us waiting somewhere, Pat left Mountain Rest in South Carolina by seven to meet us just over a third of the way.

Our drive with Kenneth and Krisy was relaxed and peaceful. We talked, we were quiet, we listened to music, we stopped for bathroom breaks, we even had a picnic lunch somewhere in Alabama.

Pat arrived at our meeting point several hours early. Rather than hang around a gas station and wait, he opted to drive farther and meet us on the south side of Montgomery. Our exchange point was about halfway between Gueydan and Mountain Rest.
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St. Pat’s Day, Ear Piercings, Birthday Dinners, Butterfly Tattoos

Saturday was St. Patrick’s Day. We wanted to get the makings of a car bomb, Guinness and Baileys, but it was way too problematic, so we settled for wearing our St. Pat’s Day earrings that Alex’s girlfriend Amanda had given us two years before.

We felt very festive! Thank you again, Amanda Kincade!

We cycled madly home from the Museum, changed faster than two winks, and flew over to Erika’s next door.

To celebrate Erika’s daughter’s seventeenth birthday, “the girls” were heading out to Lafayette for ear piercing and a Chinese buffet. After we got a tour of Erika’s house and appreciated all the changes she’s made over the prior few months, Erika collected Amanda (her daughter), Megan (her son’s girlfriend, now living with them), and met us in the car.

First stop was Wal-Mart for Megan and Amanda’s ear piercing. While Chelsea captured it on film, I slipped off to find packing tape and trail mix for our imminent trip to South Carolina. I was back for the main event, though, watching as the earrings were punched into the ears. We were very honored to be a part of the process!!
Read more: St. Pat’s Day, Ear Piercings, Birthday Dinners, Butterfly Tattoos

Gueydan, Making Plans to Leave

It’s time to back up now and fill you in on an ongoing thread that was about to change our lives. In November last year, an old friend of mine looked me up online and got in touch with me.

I’d only known him for three years, thirty-four years ago, but it was a memorable relationship.

He is now living in a small town in northwestern South Carolina, but had a condo in Daytona Beach, FL. After a bit of exchanging emails back and forth, Pat decided to come down from Daytona and visit us for a day in late December or early January.

Chelsea and I had a great time. It was peaceful and though we should have been packing, it was nice to have a change of pace and think about something besides downsizing.

We kept in touch over the next weeks and months. Pat kept encouraging us to come up to South Carolina, telling us we could go sailing, whitewater rafting, go on motorcycle rides on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and generally de-stress in a gorgeous environment.

It sounded pretty darn good to us.
Read more: Gueydan, Making Plans to Leave

Gueydan, Bike Rides and Sailing

Our Only Bike Ride

Since we’d not been riding for a couple of months, we spent time in Gueydan gradually getting the bikes ready. We’d also ordered a pair of Ortlieb waterproof front handlebar bags.

Chelsea had eventually figured out how to install them, while dealing with those appallingly awful Ortlieb instructions and fighting off hordes of mosquitoes. We were dying to ride with the new bags (they were wonderful!).

Starting way back in Delray Chelsea and I began having severe sleep disturbances, resulting from overwork and too much time-deadline stress.

No matter what we’d do, we’d lie awake until three or four in the morning, but still awaken early. The lack of sleep made things much worse.
Read more: Gueydan, Bike Rides and Sailing

Gueydan, Chee Weez and Cajun Wedding

Our first day back in circulation was a memorable seven-hour endurance marathon to Lafayette with Kenneth and Krisy. What we’d expected to be a quick trip to Wal-Mart turned into visiting eye doctors, health food stores, grocery stores, beauty supply shops, friends in hospital, and last but not least, Wal-Mart.

Krisy drove most of the trip as Kenneth still had dilated eyes from his doctor visit at our first stop. On the road home at last, well after dark, Krisy looked in the rearview mirror and laughed good-naturedly when she discovered we were tired. “Didn’t anyone tell y’all about my trips? Oh yeah, they loooong trips!”

After a much-needed rest and recovery day, we managed to visit Jane Hair mid-week for an hour or more at the Gueydan Museum, just long enough for big hugs and to quickly catch up on the “big picture” of the last few years.

After promising Jane a return visit, we popped into Patti’s Book Nook to see Jamie Gayle. Jamie had been writing us for nearly two weeks, ever since he’d heard we were back in town, but we were in no condition to do much of anything, so we kept rescheduling.
Read more: Gueydan, Chee Weez and Cajun Wedding