Life on the Open Road

Life on the Open Road

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

After the Fact: Santa Claus, Georgia

This was a unique town. There are very few towns called, “Santa Claus” and, given the upcoming holidays and the fact that it was so close to Vidalia, I figured I’d stop by. It is super small with street names like “Dancer” and “Holly” and a tiny town hall you can park at when you arrive. There was a store there that seemed abandoned. I’ll skip details and just share a few images. I had hoped to send a postcard from here. Instead, after visiting a bunch of stores nearby and not finding any postcards, I went with holiday cards. There is a mail collection box there so you can have it stamped from “Santa Claus” which I thought was cool.
It was a bit eerie, being set up yet empty as I found it. There were some people there; lawn care workers and children playing in their yard. Other than that, it was pretty bare. I’m really glad I stopped and saw it and got the letters out to people as I did(and the stamp on the envelope did look cool.) I would say that it’s hit or miss and, if you’re in the area, a brief stop may be enjoyable, or a bit weird. Maybe even both! :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

After the Fact: Vidalia, Georgia

Vidalia The Sweet Onion City
There’s a fair chance you are mispronouncing this town and onion’s name. Regardless of that, there is also a fair chance you’ve heard of it and possibly eaten it before. Even Shrek likes onions (and the story of how that got into the movie and how much it boosted sales is a good one you can learn about when you visit!)
There were onions throughout the town.
There were onions throughout the town.
Decked for the holidays onion.
Decked for the holidays onion.
Onion fountain.
Onion fountain.
As I've mentioned, I meandered through Georgia, taking an inland route South as I had already driven it coastal. When I find an area I like, I might look it up to see what there is to see and do. Sometimes it is obvious and sometimes the internet helps. In this instance, the internet helped. I had heard of Vidalia onions and didn’t really know about the town or the onion’s story. Being that I grew up rarely consuming onions in general, I thought it would be interesting to see the onion museum. It is a small museum yet enjoyable and packed full of info. I liked it and am glad I stopped. It wasn’t the season or I’d have maybe tasted one.
Vidalia onion comes from a specific region in Georgia. A woman purchased some seeds and they turned out so well given the soil and climate that this was a huge success and the area became famous for them. They haven’t been able to grow the same anywhere else and there is actually a law about where they must be grown to be called Vidalia. Apparently they are sweet onions that can be eaten like apples.*
The museum is clean, well spaced, and has enthused people who are happy to tell you all about this onion. You can learn about the history, watch a music video, see how they are harvested(still by hand), and learn about recipes and more. It’s worth a stop if you’re nearby.
*I wrote this a while back and have since tried and enjoyed Vidalia onion plus eaten more onions in general. So far, I prefer them cooked and sweet onions are quite good! One of the best pizzas I've had yet has them on it and Mmmm, delicious!
The downtown in Vidalia is also nice.
I remember finding this sign funny. Despite the images of Winter and holiday decorations, it was hot!
I remember finding this sign funny. Despite the images of Winter and holiday decorations, it was hot!
RV in the window!
RV in the window!
And so what is the proper way to pronounce this town and onion? I was told at the museum and would sound it out as: Vie-DAY-ah.

Monday, November 28, 2016

After the Fact: Harlem, GA and the Laurel and Hardy Museum 

Georgia was a beautiful state to travel through. Again, I took an inland route instead of coastal to see new places. Somehow I ended up discovering Harlem. If you are a Laurel and Hardy fan, you may have already known about the Laurel and Hardy Museum in Harlem, GA or the huge festival that draws thousands of people there in the Fall. I knew of them a little bit, having seen some of their short films as a kid, yet I honestly mixed them up with Abbot and Costello. Both funny duos who had a lot of success.
The museum is not very large yet packed with stuff. It also has a theater in the back where you can view some of their short films. I enjoyed seeing a script and found it interesting that so many items were produced with their likeness. From a bathroom to a kitchen to your mantlepiece, you could don your home in Laurel and Hardy. I was surprised and pondered how many adults these days have such an extensive marketing line with their images on it. I could see teen idols and characters being marketed this way but adults to and for adults? I feel like this is a bit of a less common thing today than it was with them or in their day (Lucille Ball comes to mind as well.) Maybe that is just my perception of things. I made the comment about who would want this stuff? I meant it intrigued, baffled, and sincerely though the very excited volunteer at the museum may not have appreciated it. (I was the only visitor at this time and got full attention which party explains the lack of pictures inside.) Of course, things have value that one gives value to, so if you are a fan, maybe having this sort of stuff would interest you. There definitely was a large variety to choose from! 
Anyhow this museum gets great reviews online and is worth a stop if in the area. Without being a huge fan, I would say it’d be fine to skip it. For me personally, the marketing and progression of their work was of greater interest than anything else. They were very talented and had cool life stories, too.
I walked around the area, too. This was an enjoyable little stop for a few hours before continuing farther south.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

After the Fact: The Savannah River in Augusta, GA

This was my first visit to Augusta, Georgia. The downtown was such a contrast with clean and old mixed together. This may be a happening place seasonally or with certain events. When I was there, it was pretty quiet.
I saw an incredibly long train stop traffic as it crossed over a bridge on The Savannah River and went through town. I also enjoyed seeing the decorated (for the holidays) houseboats docked there.
The Riverwalk was fun, too. From the history of trains and Native Americans and the River, to a solar-powered weather station, and playgrounds and more, this was an enjoyable walk along the water. I saw a lizard and was so thrilled- my first lizard on this trek and a reminder I was really in the south and headed to warmer weather. While there, the temps were higher and it was pleasant to be outside. A good number of people came to the Riverwalk to jog, have business meetings, lunches, play. It’s a lovely location.
A man sitting with a sign down by the water called out to me, kindly. I turned and looked at him, glanced at his sign, and thought then felt my pockets, immediately recalling I'd not taken much with me aside from maybe my keys and license. I told him, "I don't have anything to give you." He replied, "OK. Merry Christmas." I said, "Merry Christmas" and continued on. 
This has struck me because I wondered what I did have to give him, so to speak, in that it didn't need to be money or food or a drink or a physical thing. I wondered, but didn't ask him, "If you could have anything in the world, anything at all, what would you want?" 
I wonder what he would say. I wonder what I would say. And I wonder how many people take a moment to contemplate this, not because we need to since we are always clarifying and asking for what we want through our experiences, for the sake of focusing, though. For the sake of clarifying for ourselves how we are feeling in that moment and if it matches up with what we are wanting. 
I still remember and can feel kindness and warmth and love from this brief interaction. I spent a few days in Augusta. In some ways, this encounter was my favorite part.