Tuesday, October 27
Into the South Carolina Welcome Center on I-26 at 9:50. Gas in SC is $1.849 along the highway. The rain tapers off after I cross I-85. The towns of Cross Anchor, Jalapa, and Enoree. A lot of muted color, a fair amount of dark reds, a bit of amber, somewhat less than in North Carolina and Virginia, very little bright orange, a lot of pines. Most of the trees have turned but there are not many naked trees that have dropped their leaves yet. With this light, nothing is standing out. A gray, gray miserable day.
NC state line through SC to Augusta, Ga.
On to SC Route 121 at Newberry at 10:56, temp 52. Rain slowing again. There are several abandoned buildings, including a gas station at the corner of US 76 and 121. Gas station prices--$1.829, $1.849, $1.839. A huge cemetery at Newberry, on both sides of the road (people are dying to get in), Antiques & Collectibles---they all look like junk, another abandoned small business building, the Newberry College football stadium with lots of banners on the side advertising local businesses. I lost 121 (surprise!) and found SC 395 with a sign that said I'm heading to Augusta. Once again a 2-lane country highway through farmland (some cattle out in a field), several mobile homes scattered around instead of bunched together as they usually are, a cell tower, rolls of hay out in a field, a brick home in the middle of nowhere, 3, 4, 5, 6 homes in a row, back to farming country, a house being built out in a field, farmhouse off to my left. The Saluda River looks more like a lake, dead trees in it, a spit of land sticking out into it, doesn't seem to be moving. 194 to Saluda. Along 194, most of the trees seem to be evergreens of some kind, autumn colors limited to "low growth" (10-15 feet). Back on 121. Stopped at a Huddle House (Any Meal, Any Time) for a waffle and coffee at 11:58. Saluda Bottling Works 1906--the building is small and narrow, gray in color. An abandoned building that probably was once a restaurant, with a ramp leading up to a large porch. Back to good old Edgefield County at 12:13. More abandoned buildings--stoves and refrigerators; Buget Inn closed; another shabby abandoned building. $1.919, $1.909, $1.899 gasoline. The road to Aiken. Gary's fresh-made hamburgers.
As I drive down this road that leads to North Augusta, I realize I had never driven up this road, never drove up to the Blue Ridge Parkway or much of anywhere else except home, to Gainesville, or to Clemson. For some reason, this knowledge upsets me.
The Crossroads Motel, Billy's Superstore. Briefly the road goes through a "tunnel" of trees, apparently deciduous though with strange leaves, past them on both sides of the road smaller versions of what seem to be the same type of tree, a tree farm. Then a farm of some kind, with low-growing plants of some kind on either side of the road, almost definitely not tobacco. The rain seems to have stopped, though there's still a little bit of mist in the air. Drifter's Bar & Grille and $1.799 at Gas Plus in Belvedere. Very ornate brick and stone houses, one with columns.
Coming up on I-20 at 12:40 and into North Augusta, continuing on 121, past the road to Graniteville. It's raining pretty heavily again. No price at El Cheapo. They had gas pumps but I don't know whether or not they were working. A lot of open malls. $1.799 at the Kroger. Incredible. I recognize absolutely nothing but there one hell of a lot of malls. Onto US 1, over the Savannah River, into Augusta Georgia at 12:56.