Day 9: December 30, 2012
A Pair of Carolina Capitals

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The West Bank Inn is a great place to stay. It's a family business. The official owner now lives in California but his son lives in Augusta and runs the place. Everything about the room, from the arrangement of furniture to the number of electric outlets, was near perfect. The two desk clerks I had contact with were among the nicest and friendliest I've ever met. My room, including tax, was under $55 with scrambled eggs and sausage for breakfast.

Even though it was Sunday and the museum was closed, I stopped to take a look at the Augusta Canal. I don't know where that bell was used or what it was for but I know where it was made. That's the Butt Memorial Bridge crossing the canal in the second picture. It is named for Major Archibald Butt who went down with the Titanic after helping others get to safety.

I headed across the river again to take a look at where I didn't stay. Carey Murdock is a friend of a friend. I've met him just once but he's a pretty friendly guy. Write and sings some pretty good music, too. When I knew I'd be in his home town, I dropped him a note asking about independent motels. One of his suggestions was the Lookaway Inn in North Augusta. I gave them a call and, although the rates are not unreasonable, I couldn't justify it on this trip. Fortunately, Carey had also mentioned some places along Washington Street which led me to the West Bank Inn. I could have driven by yesterday but I'd seen pictures, knew I'd like it, and was afraid that a visit would lead to a change of plans and budget.

The Lookaway's front yard is Calhoun Park. The park is quite nice with a statue of North Augusta founder James U. Jackson at its point. Of course, it's currently all decorated for Christmas and those decorations include a scene with the man from the Monopoly Game, skating after a playful lass in order to give her a present. The only thing in the park that's possibly not so nice is the obelisk at its center bearing the name Meriwether. Thomas McKie Meriwether died in 1876 in what was either, depending on your color, a riot or a massacre. I only photographed the words on the front which speak of preserving a "civilization builded by his fathers". Roadside America reports some of the words on the sides that make it clear Tom and the folks who erected the monument had only Anglo-Saxon civilization in mind. You can read about the massacre here or the riot here.

When I said I would be following my ancestor's tire tracks at least one more time, it was my Augusta departure that I had in mind. I'm following the current US-1 which is similar to but not at all the same as the route Granddad followed in 1921 and I followed in 2001. US-1 leaves Augusta as a four-lane and essentially stays that way to Aiken. It becomes two-lane a little north of Aiken. The Big Mo three screen drive-in is on US-1 just north of Monetta, South Carolina.

Not long after my Big Mo stop, I got a phone call. I follow Don "Road Dog" Hatch's Down Da Road I Go blog but have gotten behind. Time gets tight on the road and I'd scanned the blog just enough to know he was headed to Florida but not enough to know exactly where he was. Don called to help me out. He was doing a better job reading my journal and knew that I'd really screwed up and missed eating at the Varsity in Atlanta. So he phoned from the Varsity to let me know that he was eating lunch there at that very moment. What a guy!

US-1 goes right past the South Carolina capitol in Columbia but I couldn't drive that bit as it was closed off as crews prepared for the Famously Hot New Year Celebration. I was able to walk it, though, and get a look at the Robert E. Lee Memorial Highway marker.

This colorful menagerie is near the town of Bethune, South Carolina. There seems to be plenty of inventory and a broad selection.

So Dizzy Gilliespie was born in Cheraw, South Carolina. I did not know that.

I made it all the way to Raleigh, North Carolina, mostly because much of US-1 is now only semi-scenic divided four-lane. Maybe because Road Dog had reminded me, I immediately went out for some Carolina BBQ and found it at The Pit. I wasn't prepared for nighttime photography but I was ready to eat. Good stuff.

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