Tuesday, October 27
Into the Budget Inn on Broad Street at 1:01, odometer 108004, temp 56. A desk and lamp, 2 "Victorian" chairs, a small round table, a 2-person couch, floor lamp, table lamp and phone next to the king bed, a piece of furniture with a drawer on top and an open space below with a door, a kind of hutch on top of that, microwave and fridge, a set of drawers (3) with a TV above it and a mirror behind. The alcove outside the bathroom has a sink with a good-sized counter and the usual shelf above hangers. No fold-out for suitcases however. I think I'll survive.
I walked downtown to see how the old town has changed. This part of town, the "old" part, hasn't changed a lot--not a lot of new buildings, though I'm sure most of the businesses have changed from when I left here 35 years ago. Out along I-20, on the other hand, things have boomed and changed a lot, as they usually do along interstates. The rain had stopped and there was a bit of chill in the air but I was fairly comfortable in a sweater. There's a new mini-plaza next door to the Budget Inn with a storefront church (The Koinonia International Church) and Kenny's 24 Hour Haircuts ("The best ability is availability") in it. Further down there's Mr. Pawn and the old Discotheque Lounge ("Showgirls" open at 4) that was here when I arrived in 1977. A pawn shop is where the old restaurant used to be and the 209 Restaurant is new, next to Fantasies Showgirls (open at 12), which was here in 1979, though it kept changing names. Next to it, The Christian Center and The Bible Chapel. Las Vegas Showgirls (open at 4) at the Corner of Broad and 5th is an extension of the old Joker's Lounge. (Joker 212 Sixth still over the doorway. "A touch of class. Maximum Exposure.") Tipsy McStumbles is just a bar where there used to be a strip joint. The Jefferson Davis Bridge over the Savannah is kind of scary--easy to go over the side and my sneakers have lost their tread and are kind of slippery in the wet. The Bell Auditorium is still here where I saw Byron Janis and the Augusta Symphony the night before they had wrestling. Telfair Street, the boyhood home of Woodrow Wilson, 415 7th Street. It starts to rain again. I mailed postcards to Burrie, Al Gaither, and Al Thorburn and a package to Burrie.
I went out for dinner, looking for a Huddle House where I thought the old Krispy Kreme had been. Something else was there so I went over the Savannah again to have a grilled ham & cheese at the Waffle House in North Augusta where I had eaten many times back in 1977-1980. I don't think I'll eat anything but breakfast in a Waffle House again.
Wednesday, October 28
Up at 8:35. The day alternated with cloudy, sun breaking through, cloudy again, and so on, with a little bit of rain around 1:00. 9:45, temp 69. 10:21, temp up to 70, changed into short sleeves, another waffle at the Huddle House. The Sunshine Bakery on Broad Street. I remember it.
Into North Augusta. Up Old Edgefield Road to Radiance Drive. Where LaFran's used to be is now a Spanish restaurant. The gas station gone, though Gas Plus and Shell are now on the other corners. A number of developments I don't remember on roads off to the side.
1206 Radiance Drive, where I lived from 1978 to 1980, has seen better days. It is now abandoned and shabby but it seems to be the only one like that in the neighborhood. I suspect that, if I ever come back, I will find it razed to the ground and maybe replaced by a nicer building.
Back to Augusta. This is definitely weird. There are a lot of low-level stores and a lot of empty businesses (not surprising), several tattoo parlors, pawn shops, but there are at least 5 high-class clothing stores, with racks and racks of suits and a wall of hats. Not caps. Hats. How many men where hats today? The Lion of Judah Culture Shop and the Rebel Lion Den.
At 4:00, I had a beef tips sandwich and sweet tea at the Huddle House. There is so much about this town I don't know. There are incredible old buildings on Telfair between Fifth and Sixth, a grassy area with a brick sidewalk underneath the grass. At 504 Telfair there's an old iron sign on the old iron fence: "The Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art. Sign Given by Augusta Arts Society 1970." Hours, Days Open, and Current Exhibit all blank.
La Maison is in a house at the corner of 4th an Telfair: "Fine Dining". Across the street, a big brick building is being gutted. Its old brick wall with an old wooden gate stretches more than half a block between Telfair and Greene. This is the real "Olde Towne," on the other side of Route 1. A big old unoccupied brick building is between Greene and Broad, brick painted white, the paint peeling, grass encroaching on the sidewalk. At Broad Street there's a garish pink house with garish pink wall. Behind it there's an old style chimney, probably late 1800s. Overcast has finally broken up, and there's a lot of blue sky and a lot of small cumulus clouds. Bed at 12.
Thursday, October 29
Augusta to Athens
Up around 8:45. A sunny cool day with contrails. 10 gallons of $1.749 gas for $18 as Gas Up in South Carolina on the other side of the Savannah River. On the Gordon Highway (US 1) at 9:30, temp 62. There is nothing at all where the A&W used to be where I spent so much money back in 1977-1980. Kissingpower Road. Onto I-520 at 9:47, I-20 at 9:50.
Passed Appling and Harlem, Georgia. I missed the exit to Georgia 78 so instead I took Georgia Route 80 (a gray country highway) at 10:22, a lot of contrails in the sky, lots of pines. A nice drive although not terribly picturesque. Another shack falling down on itself, glass panes shattered. There are not a lot of deciduous trees and they are brownish, the Southern variety of deciduous trees, which seems to be almost evergreen.
Another abandoned old house, this one made of cinder block. A church with a red roof out in the middle of nowhere, a mile or so since I last saw a house, 2 after the church and that's it.
Route 78 at 10:40. 2 lanes each way with the median being a passing/turn lane, a golf course to my left. Gasoline in Washington, Ga. Is $2.119. Rolling pastureland, pines, knolls with trees, trees separating fields, lots of cattle, a silo in the far distance, no house in sight, rolls of hay, a small two runway airfield (Washington-Wilkes Airport), 3 or 4 small planes, trees lining the road, fences, the Celeste Community, small one-story houses similar to my first place in Gainesville, Fla., a trailer home, a large abandoned wooden building, "Deer Processing," Stonewall's Grille, 11:47. Bought a new pair of sneakers at the Walmart in East Athens. On to the loop around Athens at 12:02, temp 74, socked in by clouds again. There are a lot of PT Cruisers down here. To the Howard Johnson at 12:28, odometer 108185. There is a $12 tax! I don't think it was that high in Augusta, though the ticket doesn't itemize. In Virginia, it was $3.42 for a room that was $10 more expensive. I guess the Good City Fathers of Athens have found a way to gouge the parents and incoming students even more.
Then I got me an Arby's roast beef sandwich and lay down for a couple of hours. Then I got me an Arby’s roast beef sandwich and lay down for a couple of hours. In the evening, I went downtown and got a veggie sandwich and root beer at Five Guys. It’s a nice town and I enjoyed walking among the handful of young people walking around, memories playing in my mind.
Thursday, October 30
Athens to Norcross & Atlanta
Up at 8:45. Another clear blue sky day. Left the motel at 10:03, temp a very chilly 50, odometer 108191. Coffee, bagel and cream cheese, tiny Danish, small waffle at the motel. $9.00 of $1.899 gas at the Race Trac. 148 to Route 10 to Route 149 north at 10:39, 2 lanes each way with a divider strip, first cement and grass then turn lane then no divider at all, a one track railroad line running alongside. Pretty much a business area (gas up to $1.999 then higher so I guess I made a good decision filling up my tank in Athens), now into country area, mostly evergreens, some brownish-orange deciduous trees, a Spanish-looking church, an abandoned one-story brick building.
I-85 at 11:03. Beaver Ruin Road. Off I-85 on to the Indian Trail Highway and the Brick Lodge on Willow Creek Drive at 12:20, temp 66, odometer 108260. $71, $16 for tax.
A very nice room, perhaps the best so far. Full length mirror, 3 floor lamps, 2 table lamps, a padded chair, 2-person couch, king bed, small round table on one side of the bed, the usual small table on the other, 2 clocks, phone of course, fridge, microwave, low 3-drawer dresser with the TV on it, and a desk & chair, the wash alcove with probably the biggest counter I've seen yet, and the usual hangers under a ledge and the foldaway suitcase holder.
Picked up city maps at AAA--Atlanta, New Orleans, and Austin. Northeast Atlanta and Cheshire Bridge Road. Blue Rats Smoke Shop, Fat Matt’s Rib Shack.. Souvlaki, coffee, and ice cream at the Landmark Jr. Diner (formerly the Downtown Diner).
Back to the motel to cash a credit card from Wells Fargo before the coach came in. In the evening, I went out to get something to eat, getting to Arby's 2 minutes after closing so I had to settle for a very busy Waffle House, where I had coffee and a BLT. There were some very good-looking young ladies there. Bed at 12:15.
Saturday, October 31
Norcross & Atlanta
Up at 7:15 for coffee, cereal, and Danish at the motel. Overcast,a chilly 54. Drove down to northeast and had biscuits & gravy at the Landmark Jr. Diner.
I drove down Cheshire Bridge to Piedmont to Peachtree. There are lots of old 2-story houses only a black or two away from euchre, all in good shape, well kept, no longer down and out, a pleasant place to live, although the hexagonal tiles that form a sidewalk on 9th are all cracked and overgrown while those on 10th Street are still in good shape.
10th Street sidewalk
Halloween decorations of course, one yard with lots of cobwebs and skeletons, including a dog skeleton, a flying ghoul, a grim reaper in black, and religious type statues that apparently are there all year round. An old brick apartment house--The Gaither. A gray-haired woman with clear skin, maybe in her late 30s or early 40s, wearing short shorts. A lot of good-looking women sharply dressed in the area.
There was some kind of festival or something going on in Piedmont Park (I could see the tents from Piedmont Street) but I could find no place to park. I wound up walking briefly several blocks away in a very pleasant small park with a pool and a soccer field but that was about all.
Back to the motel for an Arbys roast beef and a very sweet soda. Apparently the carbonated water wasn't working properly so there was more syrup than usual.
In the evening, I went out in search of a supermarket and discovered the Georgia Diner, where I finished re-reading Stranger in a Strange Land>. I had a very poor pulled porked barbeque (it was a patty like a fish cake) with French fries and coffee. Then I bought some yogurt at a Public, which I brought back to the motel.
Sunday, November 1
Norcross to Pine Mountain
Up at 8:55 on an overcast day. Left the motel at 9:35, temp 59, odometer 108354, under a featureless gray sky, a bit of mist in the air, with a Danish and a banana from the motel. I-75 to I-285 (the Atlanta Beltway), raining just enough to have the wipers on full. The rain was on and off the rest of the day. To I-675 (The Terrell Spark Highway), back to I-75 south, lined with pine trees. At one point, there was a break and I zipped past what looked like a Japanese pagoda. Although my nasal congestion hasn't gone away or even close, it seems to have lessened a bit on this trip.
Stopped at a Waffle House on Route 20, where I learned we had changed from EDT to EST last night, for eggs, ham, tomatoes, orange juice, and coffee.
Back down I-75 to the I-475 bypass at Macon to US80/Georgia 22. US 80 is your standard 2-lane highway, houses spaced regularly along the road, some of them looking as though they've been around for quite a few years. $2.099 gas. Not much to say about this highway on this rainy day, trees, occasional ramshackle ranch-style houses, occasional towns, raining just enough to keep the wipers on, not much traffic. A couple of crows flew across the road. Merged briefly with US-19. On to I-185 heading back north to Georgia 18 and Pine Mountain.
Got to Pine Mountain after 1:00 (EST). Mike and Jeri seem to be doing well. Because of the rain, we were pretty much housebound. They have a wonderful old house, full of rooms and books. It's the house Jeri grew up in, which they bought from her uncle and they've spent a lot of work on it in the 40 years or so they've owned it. We talked a lot, had a good Jeri-cooked dinner (with help from Mike but not me), watched some TV, and went to bed between 10 and 11, me on what will probably be the softest bed I will sleep on during this trip.
Monday, November 2
Another rainy day, with Mike and Jeri on the phone frequently, one call to a man who came by to fix the cellar drainage from all the rain. We had dinner (pizza) with Jeri’\'s mother and two of their friends, Bob and Sarah. Sarah is from New York state.
Tuesday, November 3
Pine Mountain to the Alabama line
Another blue sky day, lots of cumulus. Went to a small old folks home with Mike, where we sang hymns.
After lunch, I was on the road again at 12:18, the temp 80. Route 18 to I-85. More cumulus clouds.