As all of our long road trips begin, Monday, February 7, found us heading out on the big southeastern loop to visit family and friends. We had taken care of last-minute chores in Sneedville, said “so long” to our local friends, told the cows, deer, and turkeys we’d be back, and buttoned everything up at the barn. All was not exactly well, though. While I was in the shower, Mr. Wonderful (MW) noticed water dripping under Petunia. Ugh! It didn’t seem to happen except when the shower was running, so hopefully, that meant an easy fix. It would be a fix on the road, though, because we had commitments.
The trip to our first stop was sunny at the outset, but turned cold and drizzly along the way, but was otherwise uneventful. We made it to Hagan-Stone County Park in Pleasant Garden just south of Greensboro, North Carolina, in time to set up in the rain. Yay! That evening was spent checking out the new abode of our friends, Chuck and Dempress, MW doing a little “shopping” in Dempress’ canning storage, and the four of us plus Dempress’ dad, Bobby, having a great dinner at Venice Italian in Yanceyville, North Carolina. (It’s an order at the counter place, and the Stromboli, baked spaghetti, and subs were all very good.) It was great catching up, and their new “barndominium” is awesome!
Remember that leak we talked about? The next morning MW crawled into the storage compartment to figure that out. It turned out to be coming from the shower drain. The 6″ tail piece was the culprit. Both flexing of the shower pan and bouncing down the road over time caused it to pop out of the trap. See, sometimes it is easy. A trip to Lowe’s for a longer tail piece, and once again, water was flowing where it was supposed to and not where it wasn’t. With the problem solved, we headed out for lunch at Tripps, a local favorite of mine, where MW had Chicken Stir Fry and I had a Firecracker Shrimp Salad. (The latter is not on the menu, so order the Asian Chicken Salad, but replace the chicken with Firecracker Shrimp. Trust me; you won’t be disappointed. It’s yummy!) Normally, a meal at Tripps would mean spending time with my BFF Tina, but unfortunately, she and her beau, Keith, were over at the coast taking care of boat issues. MW was trying to be a good substitute, though.
Our next friend visit was that evening when we headed over to @Elm Street Grill to see our favorite restauranteurs, Ravi and Ruchi, and have dinner with our friend Ashley and finally meet her fella, Danny. Both the food and the company were awesome, and Ruchi even had us try her latest appetizer…chunks of goat cheese fried in a batter with blueberries and served with pecans and tomatoes…OMGosh! (I think they should call it Ruchi’s Blue Goat. It is crunchy, creamy, savory, and slightly sweet deliciousness!) This was Ashley’s first visit to the restaurant, and I think she and Danny will be checking out a wine dinner soon. After catching up and lots of laughs…plus Ravi doing his best to get me drunk…we said goodbye and headed back to the campground.
Wednesday started with a trip to Lowe’s and Hobby Lobby to get the supplies needed to take care of the final part of our Petunia redecorating. (I promise you will see all of that in the next post.) We had lunch at our favorite Greensboro burger spot, aptly named the Big Burger Spot…really. That was always our go-to for a great burger before we moved, but I have to say, I was disappointed this time. MW had a brat, which was very good, but my burger was not. Their original claim to fame was fresh, hand-pattied beef, veggies, and buns. The patty on this visit was definitely lesser quality, and you could taste the difference. Hope they go back to their original formula. That evening I headed out solo to Village Tavern for the final GSO friend visit and girl’s night out with my birthday buddy, Robin. We both went for wine and the Shrimp and Grits…who can go wrong with that?! It was good to catch up, and I certainly needed some girl time.
We have stayed often at Hagan-Stone County Park (review here). This time we were alone on the B-loop, and it was very quiet. The eight to ten campers staying in the A-loop appeared to be working in the area, so we didn’t see anyone out and about for the entire stay. Except for Monday, the weather was crisp, clear, and pretty much perfect.
Thursday was a beautiful day as we pulled out heading southeast to Andrew Jackson State Park in Lancaster, South Carolina. My sister, Kate, lives in Indian Trail, North Carolina, outside of Charlotte, and this park isn’t too far from her place. We took the long way, circling east and south of Charlotte. Honestly, I cannot stand going through that city, and we always seem to be stuck in traffic when we do. Cross-country was much nicer. Well, at least until MW looked in his side mirror and said “we’re dragging something back there”…and we were. The mount for the kitchen grey tank dump valve had broken off, and the line and pull cord were skidding along the road behind us. Thanks to our handy box of “what if” supplies, we were able to zip tie it up to deal with another day and still make it to the park in good time.
Friday’s first focus was getting supplies to fix the broken dump valve. A trip to Home Depot in Lancaster, South Carolina, was in order, and while there, we had sandwiches at Jerseys Giant Subs (delicious, but too big), scoped out a laundromat for Saturday, and ran some errands. I had some tax work to keep me busy in the afternoon before time to meet my sister, Kate, Patrick (brother-in-law), and Peyton (nephew) in Waxhaw. We made it before them, and while waiting to be seated, took a walk around the area. It’s a pretty little town, but man, the rush hour traffic was lined up for miles passing through on the main drag. We didn’t have an opportunity to walk across to where most of the shops were, but it looked like a place you could spend a little time. We did check out their cool monument, though.
In July, 2010, twelve cars of a CSX train hauling grain derailed along highway 75 in Waxhaw. The crash blocked all of the railroad crossings and split the historic downtown area in two. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but the blocked tracks meant a commuting nightmare for many of the citizens. Getting things back to normal meant lots of work by local officials, businesses, neighbors, and the railroad. Later, artist Tom Risser collected scrap from the accident site, added steel, wood, and plastic, and created a 3000 pound sculpture named “Getting Back on Track”. It is now displayed next to the tracks to honor all who helped get the town back on track. (Yes, I said it.)
Just across the street was a sight that just warmed my heart. I almost missed it, thinking that someone accidentally left their coat on the fence. Then I saw the sign:
Take What You Need
Leave What You Can
Wow! Plus, the fence looks like it was installed just for that reason. What a lovely idea. It wasn’t until I was looking at the photo later that I saw the other part. To the left of the fence, just in front of the church is a box that looks similar to a pop-up library, only this one appears to contain canned goods. The resolution isn’t good enough to read the sign, but it warmed my heart nonetheless.
Dinner was at Mary O’Neill’s Irish Pub, and the food was excellent. I had the Drunken Salmon, which I whole-heartedly recommend. As always, getting to spend time with my baby sis and crew was very special. I totally forgot to get a pic of the entire crowd, so I’ll share one of my favorites of Kate. Yes, I have plenty of newer ones, but this one shows her sassy nature. Not sure what she was actually doing, because I don’t think she could read yet. LOL
In addition to more tax work, Saturday was spent hanging with Kate, Patrick, and Peyton. We met for lunch at 521 BBQ & Grill (excellent), then headed back to Petunia where Kate and I worked on a computer issue, then we all sat outside enjoying the weather and playing board/card games. That evening we headed to Charlotte and Big View Diner to meet Kyle (nephew) and his sweetheart, Sam, for dinner. The food was great, and we enjoyed the company, too.
Sunday morning was more work before heading over to the Sleepy Poet Antique Mall in Charlotte to wander for a while. We don’t have room for too much stuff, so it was mostly just looking, but MW did manage to find a book he “needed”. Dinner was Buffalo Wings & Rings, where we ran into some Girl Scouts selling cookies outside. Honestly, we HAD TO BUY SOME…those girls were freezing their tails off in the cold wind. It would have been cruel to walk right by. Plus, I admit to a slight Thin Mint addiction. I was disappointed, though. A price increase is understandable, but coupling that with smaller boxes is not cool. After a nice meal, we said goodbye to the DiAngelis crew and headed back to Petunia. Kate and I noted that this was the longest amount of time we had spent together in years, and I really enjoyed it. My baby sis is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet…truly. Just don’t mess with her kids or dogs!! LOL
Andrew Jackson State Park is beautiful. Named for the seventh President of the United States who was born in the area, the park offers a museum of Jackson and revolutionary war artifacts. (Jackson was an Ides of March baby like MW, but 96 years earlier.) There is some argument about whether he was born in South Carolina or North Carolina, as the line between the two had not been surveyed yet, but Jackson claimed South Carolina as his birthplace.) The park also houses the Anna Hyatt Huntington statue “Boy of the Waxhaws” of the President as a young lad. The campground offers 5 paved and 20 gravel sites with 50-amp electric and water hookups, picnic tables, and fire rings. They advertise that 35′ will fit on the paved sites and 30′ on the gravel, and it would definitely be a tough go for a large coach or longer trailer/fifth. The roads were narrow, and there were some pretty tight curves. There is also a primitive, group camping area. The main campground is very wooded and popular on the weekends, the latter most likely due to its proximity to Charlotte and the surrounding area. There was quite a bit of traffic noise from the nearby 4-lane, though. Visitors can fish the 18-acre lake from the shore, pier, or non-motorized boat, and rentals are available. There are also a park store/gift shop, picnic tables and shelters, a playground, hiking trails, a horseshoe pit, and volleyball court. For this stay in February 2022, we paid $125.35 for 4 nights.
Monday we hit the road early for the drive to Misty Ridge Chateau, my Mom and Dad2‘s house in Rockmart, Georgia. The drive was uneventful, although not enjoyable on the interstate. I had a business call just before lunch, so we found a Panera. I consider that a bright spot. We made it to Mom’s before dark, but totally exhausted by the Atlanta traffic.
In addition to visiting, we spent a week helping them clean out, pack up, and haul multiple loads to their storage unit, Goodwill, and the dump in preparation for their house sale closing on the 24th. The time is a blur of heavy lifting and hard work, but we did manage to get some good visiting in; spent time with my cousin, Bill, when he came to help (and of course met at Hometown Pizza & Grill for lunch); saw nephew-in-law Jason briefly (Bill and MW helped him load up the old telephone booth); and have a socially distanced visit with Aunt Pat and Uncle Russ, who had Covid. (Both were blessed with mild cases, thank God!) In the midst of the chaos, Mom was having computer issues on her ancient laptop, so she and I shopped for another one and got it set up with all of her stuff. We also checked out my parents’ new house in Rome’s Armuchee community. It is a cute little craftsman on a nice cul-de-sac named Sunflower Place.
The only new restaurant we tried during the week was Sam’s Burger Deli just down the road from the new house. We all went for the Samburger, which MW and I thought was very good…fresh ground, hand-pattied beef that comes in 1/4- and 1/2-pound. MW said stick to the 1/4; the 1/2 was too much!) We also sampled fries and onion rings, the latter being the star of the day. (Caveat: Mom and Dad2 thought the place was a bit pricey. The 1/4 pound Samburger combo was more than $11, and they aren’t picky about their burgers. We thought hand-pattied for that price wasn’t bad.) Double bonus: The building is listed in Roadside America for it’s winged VW bus out front, jet entranceway, and bar made of airplane wings. I haven’t figured out how to fit it into a country craftsman decor, but when we finally build a house, I think wings need to be somewhere…too cool! (Sorry…I was so tired by that point that I didn’t even think to take a pic.)
The other cool thing that happened was picked up by Mom. I have no idea how she saw this guy sitting in the trees as we drove down the driveway. I was driving, and all of a sudden she yelled “stop”! Then said she saw an owl in the trees. I backed up, confusing the heck out of Bill, who was driving behind me. When I got out to get a pic, the owl sat there looking back and forth from me to Bill. He let me get within 15′ or so before flying off. Every night you could hear him out there, though.
MW also spent a little time working on another small leak in Petunia, and took Brutus in to have the TPMS tire sensors checked. We thought the tire installer messed them up, but it turns out that the batteries go bad after a few years and the entire little unit needs to be replaced. Hamrick Tire in Rockmart, Georgia, got it all taken care of for us, though.
It was sad to leave the Ridge for the last time. They moved in there just before MW and I got married almost 29 years ago. We are taking all of our wonderful memories with us, though, and will be making new ones at the new place, I’m sure. Although it was very hard for them to sell, both Mom and Dad2 were ready to downsize into something more manageable. When we left on Monday, February 21, they both were totally over the packing and moving process, but only had a few days of stress to go. (Misty Ridge photos below courtesy of Lisa Smith of Hardy Realty.)
The drive to Lincolnton, Georgia, was straight through on I-20 to Thomson, before cutting across country. The only stop we made was at Firehouse Subs in Covington for lunch, and we arrived at the Mays Campground (my Aunt Pat and Uncle Ken’s backyard) by early afternoon. We spent the evening catching up with those two. They are folks you can be totally relaxed around, and we always enjoy the visits. Plus, Ken’s got TOYS…a golf cart, a side-by-side, RC airplanes, rockets, a Harley, boats…the list goes on. They love nothing more than to have a bunch of people out there playing, too! What fun! Later we picked up sandwiches from Papa’s Pizza and turned in early. MW and I were both beat.
My first duty station as an Air Traffic Controller was the tower at Bush Field in Augusta, Georgia. My Grandma Sara, who lived in Lincolnton then, was so excited for us to move to the area. We stayed with her and Papa for the first 3 weeks or so while looking for a place to live. It is one of my fondest memories. Every morning as I headed out for work I would find a nice lunch waiting for me on the table with a sweet note telling me she loved me and was so glad I was there. We lived there for almost a year, and I burned up the road to Lincolnton to hang with them. It was such a special time, and I sure do miss them!
Ryan (son) was off work for the next couple of days, so we planned to monopolize his time as much as possible. 😉 Tuesday he picked us up to head to Augusta and check out where his Dad and I lived when Amber (his sister) was born. We made it as far as the Ironwood Tavern in Evans. No, we didn’t belly up to the bar and forget to leave; Ryan receive a call from school that Little Booger was sick. We finished up lunch then headed to Alene’s (our bonus daughter) office to retrieve him. He was feeling a little better, although still a bit puny, but opted to ride over to Hickory Knob State Park just across the line in South Carolina with us. Ryan works at the park, and I wanted to take another look at our family’s historic home.
Now, you’d get a much better story on this from my Dad when he was alive, but you would need hours to hear it. You could also get a really detailed version from my son, Ryan, but I’ll just give you the highlights: My great, great, great, great grandfather, Andre Guillebeau, was one of the group called the New Bordeaux Huguenots. Born in Bordeaux, France, in 1738, he immigrated, led by Reverend Jean Louis Gilbert, to America seeking religious freedom and better opportunities. In 1864, they settled in the old Abbeville District, which later became McCormick County. Andre fought in the Revolutionary War in the militia of South Carolina, Bordeaux Regiment, where he was wounded, causing him to limp until his death in 1814 at the age of 75. The original historical marker is located on the south side of GA-81 west of where GA-7 intersects. The family cemetery where Andre is buried is about 1/2 mile west of that marker, adjacent to where the house was originally built in the 1770s. Over the years the original house was expanded with additions and porches, and in 1983, it was moved to Hickory Knob State Park after being donated by a family member. The house and cemetery have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973. The coolest thing is that you can rent it. (It has been updated with all of the necessary conveniences.) I’ve never spent the night, but it would be cool since rumor has it there is a resident ghost. (I suspect it is squirrels in the walls, but one woman is rumored to have left in the middle of the night, scared out of her wits and another said her keys went flying across the room!) My sister, Julie, hosted Dad’s 60th birthday party there years ago, but no ghosts showed up.
We spent some time looking around the place. I have to admit, it is pretty cool to touch logs that you know where hand-hewn by your Dad’s dad’s dad’s dad’s dad’s dad. As we were coming out, the couple who rented the place for the weekend showed up early. They were from Rock Hill, South Carolina, near where we had been staying at Andrew Jackson State Park (above). The woman was a bit of a historian, mostly in textile history, and their sole reason for the trip was to stay in the house. When we told her we were Guillebeaus, she was very excited. Ryan filled her in on some of the family lore before we left them to enjoy their visit.
On the way back home Ryan pointed out another family site…the house where my Grandma Sara and Papa Peyton lived early in their marriage with six of their combined eight kids. I bet that was some noise! He dropped us off to visit with Aunt Pat and Uncle Ken while he went home to collect the rest of his crew. It was a nice afternoon for porch sitting. A while later the Bailey bus arrived to chauffeur us off to dinner in Thomson at Fernanda’s Grill & Pizzeria. They were really interested in us trying the Bronx Bomber, a 24″ (nope, not a typo) behemoth. We ended up with that, plus a couple more smaller pizzas, which gave them leftovers to take to work. I can personally vouch for the deliciousness of the Bianco, cheese, and pepperoni pizzas. We had the Fugheddaboutit, which was a stuffed pizza with more meat than I care for, but others loved it.
On Wednesday I caught up on some tax work in the morning, then we visited with Uncle Ken for a bit. Alene was getting off work at Noon, so we would get to monopolize her afternoon, too! They picked us up, and we headed to find lunch. Uncle Ken had been talking about Goolsby’s in Evans, so that’s where we ended up. We all had BBQ plates with ribs and pork, and man, it was GOOD! They specialize in farm-to-table Southern cooking, and their collards are as good as you’ll ever get. Everything else was great, too, but I’m still craving those greens!!
After lunch we headed into Augusta and found my old neighborhood just across Washington Road from Augusta National Golf Club. When Web (the kid’s Dad) and I moved into this little townhouse on Deodara Drive, it was almost brand new. The neighborhood is now much bigger, but our place was at the end of the road back then. It is where I lived when I first became Mom; where we brought our precious baby girl, Amber, home to live. For that reason, it will always have a special place in my heart. It was special to another family member, too. My cousin, Little Roy, died in a car accident when he was 8 years old the year before my daughter was born. His death just about killed his parents, Uncle Tommy and Aunt Jane, and his siblings, too. When we lived here, they lived in Columbia, South Carolina, and Aunt Jane would go back and forth to Lincolnton to see her family. Whenever she was passing through, she would call to see if I was home, and come by for a visit. It wasn’t me she was visiting with, though, but the baby. I would go about my business doing chores or reading a book, and Aunt Jane would sit on the couch holding that baby for an hour or so, just talking to her in a sweet voice. When she was ready, she would give the baby back to me, say goodbye, and be on her way. Amber was a perfect baby, never fussy and always cooing, and I think she provided a special brand of therapy for my Aunt’s broken heart. Uncle Tommy and Aunt Jane are long gone now, but I can still picture Aunt Jane smiling down at that beautiful baby girl. “Grief is the price we pay for love and worth it a million times over.” ~from “A Boy Called Christmas”
After checking out the neighborhood, which it turns out Ryan and Alene had driven through before, we headed back to Lincolnton. The kids dropped us off at Petunia, then headed over to pick up the Boogers. They came back a couple of hours later for dinner…chicken and fixin’s from The Chicken House in Lincolnton…and visiting. Well, all except Little Booger who was in bed still feeling a little puny. (He called later and was so sad that he didn’t get to see us again, but I reminded them that it would only be a couple of days until we had the Christmas family adventure. Yay!) Aunt Pat, Uncle Ken, and the rest of us sat out enjoying the evening and company. Uncle Ken pulled out the side-by-side, and Ryan took the kids and Alene for rides on the trails out back. After a pretty perfect night, except for missing one Booger, we said our goodbyes and turned in.
Next up…lions and tigers and – WAIT! It’s alligators, and snakes, and bugs, oh my! See you on the path!
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