Sunday, June 5, 2016

2016-14 Vidalia Georgia to Aiken South Carolina


Vidalia Georgia

Sweet Onion Rv Park
Campground:  Sweet Onion Rv Park.  This is a city park.   $18 full hookup, w/50 amp service.  Close to a Walmart Super center.  12 campsites, large sites with tall pine trees for some shade.  All pull-thru sites.  Should have no problem getting a site, as there is little to no advertising for this campground.

Campground:  Pineacres Campground.  $15 PPA discount rate.  Full hookups, 50 amp, cable tv 15 local channels.  Older park, next to noisy highway, good for a few nights stay.

Distance Traveled:  247 miles

Florida thru Georgia into South Carolina

I headed out early morning from Crescent City Florida heading into Georgia.  From Palatka, I took hwy 100 going through farmlands and many tree farms in Northern Florida before getting onto hwy 301 which is a great road to take in and out of Florida, avoiding those horrid Interstate highways with all that heavy traffic and constant accidents along the way.  Traffic along hwy 100 and 301 was non-existent and just the type of roads we Rv-ers enjoy driving.  Speed limits were in the 55 to 60 mph range and perfect for towing a camper helping to save a few dollars in fuel at those speeds.

My destination today was a bit further than I normally like to drive, but with getting an early start, I was still able to get to my campsite in Vidalia Georgia by 12:30, just in time to set up and go out for lunch.

Vidalia is home to the Vidalia sweet onion which is only grown in this 20 county area.  A small museum on the sweet onion is at their visitor center and from what I could tell, that’s just about all the area is noted for. This is still considered Georgia low country and with it being the 1st of June, it’s hot and steamy, so I won’t be in the area but a few days before heading for the hills and hopefully cooler weather. 

Computers:  Yuck, don’t you just hate to get a new computer and then have to get used to a whole new operating system, key board and mousepad or touch pad.  It all started when my older computer had problems with the power cord.  Sometimes it would charge, sometimes not.  Of course I was in the middle of working on this article and the computer ran out of steam.  The problems continued.  I could write a couple chapters on the problems encountered just trying to transfer files over to the new computer.  By the way, I’ve owned the new laptop for over a year and a half and have not used it mainly because I didn’t like the size of the keyboard. 

A couple days later, I’ve got my files transferred to the new computer, actually I think they’re in the cloud, somehow they are now all PDF files not word files.  How did that happen?  I bought a wireless keyboard with a nice touch pad on the side, not in front where I would keep touching it when I didn’t plan too.  And I’m back in business. 

So, I’m sort of back on track to writing my stories and getting used to this new folding laptop/tablet/touch screen device.  

Distance traveled:  126 miles

downtown Aiken South Carolina

126 miles doesn’t sound like much of a drive, but with a few stops along the way, including one to pick up some prescription eye drops, it seemed like a much longer drive.  Or maybe it was the narrow two lane road traveling through a mix of farm and forest country in Georgia.  Not much else, as I only drove through a couple of very small cross road towns. 

I’ve arrived in Aiken SouthCarolina.  My Passport America club got me a campsite for $15 a night, full hookups and 15 local cable tv stations.  I drove into town and was instantly surprised by a beautiful vibrant downtown scene.  Even for a Friday, the downtown was jam packed with cars, shoppers, and the restaurants were full as well.  Traveling by myself actually makes it easier sometimes, as I can just take a seat at the counter for lunch.  Not having to wait in line for a table or booth.
a B&B in downtown Aiken SC

local art

local 85 yr old artist

Aiken is one of those towns that was born after the railroad was built here.  The owner of a large plantation told a young engineer that he would let him marry his daughter, whom he had quite a hankering for, if the engineer would build the railroad through the plantation owners land.  So, in a sense the town was built out of love.  And of course gave the plantation owner a cheaper way to move his cotton and other crops to market.  Later, after the civil war, and having a railroad built here, the town would thrive, especially after many wealthy northerners discovered it.  You know the Vanderbilt’s,   Aster’s, Whitney’s, Hitchcock, Fred Astaire, and even the Duke and Duchess of Winsor.  Many would arrive in their private Pullman cars from New York costing a thousand dollars to have their private car delivered.  Bringing their whole family, servants and luggage for the winter.  How wealthy were they you ask?  Well, the owner of the Hope diamond brought it with her each winter and wore it around town often.  She would hide it in her lingerie drawer when not wearing it.

visitor center and Train Station

rebuilt from original blue prints

a new Catholic church, this is the back end

dioramas of the small towns serviced by the railroad

one of the towns had no nearby lakes, so
they used the train water tower to swim in

diorama of small towns that were serviced by the train

The town is built on a grid pattern with wide boulevards and parkways.  The parkways being wide swaths of park like medians dividing opposing one way streets on either side.  Talk about gorgeous landscaping everywhere.  The main street along with the parkway landscaping even has water fountains on some intersections.  Lots of shopping, restaurants and businesses are downtown including plenty of free parking.  

I took the 2 hour trolley tour which usually only runs on Saturday and also visited their historical museum in one of those winter “cottages”.  By the way, they didn’t call it a cottage unless it had at least 22 rooms.  The museum was ok and was free, though I probably enjoyed the trolley tour a bit more especially for all the great stories and history provided along the route.  Over one hundred homes are listed on their self-guided driving tour around town. 

one of many wide boulevards or parkways in town 

a few really small homes as well

lots of free downtown parking

downtown parkway

a cottage

most of the large houses are hidden
behind brick walls and heavy vegetation

wearing the Hope Diamond

the original post office that Fred Astaire would dance down the steps

Horse racing and polo are popular here with many horse ranches both inside the city limits and skirting the town.  Needless to say, I will come back to this area again someday.  Might even stay in their Aiken State Park.  A final note, folks around here are very proud of their town, history and lifestyle and will bend your ear telling you all about it.  Now that’s southern hospitality.
a single layer brick wall, the curves make it strong

bamboo is often seen throughout the south

horse racing and polo are popular in this region

with many horse race winners

all that remains of this once grand property are the gardens

locals enjoy the gardens of a former "winter cottage"
Vidalia  Georgia and Aiken SC photos

Aiken SC photos

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