Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Indian Field Redux

These plain unpainted buildings are gathered in a circle broken by spaces barely wide enough to admit the vehicle. While this is only meeting space and not ground hallowed by burial, there is a ghostly hush within. Moving ever so slowly just above stalling one could feel the grass below the wheels as it might feel to the feet. That subdued engine rumble which percolates from the exhausts resonates within these empty cabins as it creeps slowly past each one.

We half expected Clint Eastwood to step out into the circle and squint us to a halt before fanning six quick ones into the grille. The creepiness index is high within this compound. The entire place was quite empty, but you couldn't feel safe until each cabin had been searched, but then you would forget where you started and have to keep looking. The neurosis of " checking " grows wild on the grounds. It gave us pause. We forgot all about Clint and began looking for signs of Jim Jones.

Every surface is drab and dull so that the campers are not distracted from the message at hand. The only shining objects were that Windveil Blue car and the rump polished bench seats in the meeting hall ( see the Nov. 27 entry ) in the center of the circle.

Indian Field is a camp meeting site. Camp meetings are an old fashioned retreat for families where concentrated studies in faith are conducted. Rustication helps focus on the issues at hand and reminds one of simpler times. It would seem that such dedication to study could not be carried out at the Sanctuary on Kiawah Island. Of course, only Clint Eastwood could afford to attend that exclusive camp meeting.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Up Against a Wall

We're back in Columbia, SC, and drawn close to another delightful fresco. Columbia seems to lead the state as far as we can tell in this outdoor art form, the colorful images painted on blank commercial walls. Columbia may have more blank commercial walls than the rest of the state or just more talented outdoor artists.

We are parked at a Midas franchise on Millwood Street which caught our eye while trying to track down yet another such painted wall across town. That's like having a fish jump into the boat while you're casting for different one. We can't tell what sort of luck the depicted fisherman is having, but that seems far beside the point. He's fishing while you're either on your way to work or waiting on a muffler installation so that you can eventually get there.

These frescos seem to evoke escape. They call upon you to flee from whatever unhappy, boring or unsound enterprise which is currently grinding you into the pavement. Perhaps it suggests that once ground down, you, too, will become part of the road over which other disheartened drivers must pass on their way to similar drudgery. Do you then become just another minor stratum in the seven layer cake of hell ? This one wonders whether you could give up a bit of the money to regain a bit of your sanity, we think.

Nothing so much vexes a man as knowing that some other man is out of his house, in his boat, under a clear sky and not at work. Nothing, that is, except having to see it as he does before this painted wall.

Is the man in the boat chiding you for the deadly sin of greed or is he provoking in you the deadly sin of envy ?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Keys to The Kingdom

Faithful readers of this blog who also subscribe to the Charleston ( SC ) POST AND COURIER will find some familiar images in today's ( Feb 25 ) " AUTOMOTIVE " section. Writer Jim Parker laid out a nice spread on the Windveil today, We're quite flattered to be honored in the home town paper. Jim's an established writer, a graduate of Washington and Lee University and on that account we figured he'd understand strange behavior.

The blog is not about reckless or high speed driving, of course. We're pretty big on safe and sober operation of the vehicle. Just to underline that policy, we've posted this rather sobering image in today's journal. There are worse consequences than a mere speeding ticket. If you don't hang up your keys when you get into the booze, they might end up hanging right here.

If you like the open road, those paths seldom taken, the colorful people, places and things along the way, then these are the keys to the kingdom. The are a reprieve from the numbing sameness of urban sprawl, the creeping androgyny of the chain store culture, the cage of uniformity. If, however, you push your luck out there, these are the keys to Kingdom Come.

By the way, who IS that old guy pictured in the article? We think he swiped the keys and ran off with the car a few weeks ago. He looks a lot more like LaSabre material.

Happy Motoring !

Shadrak, Meshak, and Abendigo's Truck

We don't really wax too Biblical around here, but we do draw some thoughts there from now and again. Here we are in Berkeley County, SC, a historic community with a rich political history, but, all things considered, a little bit this side of Biblical. There may be a little more of knowledge IN the Biblical sense than, say, knowledge OF the Bible around these parts, but who the heck is perfect. With all the glass that surrounds us, we're not about to throw any stones even if it is Safety Glass.

We were puzzled as to where all the glass went from this little truck we chose to visit. Typically we like to place ourselves near objects of beauty, history or wonder in our journal. It is the third attribute which caused us to draw near " Dr. Rage ".

While this configuration may do well for wading through the sodden streets of the Charleston peninsula, it seems less effective for shopping, commuting or delivering rural mail. Certainly it could be considered and in some quarters IS something of an idol. If any readers remember the fate of Shadrak, Meshak, and Abendigo, this is likely the means by which they were dispatched.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Devil is in the Details

We don't like to blow our own horn, but were drawn to this detail shop which is more inclined to do so. Since we're in Charleston right at sea level they aren't referring to elevation. We thought we might bask in their limelight for a moment even if it is self illuminating.

Since we're only about 9 months down the road, we're not yet a candidate for a detail job. Car years are roughly equivalent to dog years. Detailing is the buffing up of the interior and exterior of a car which is well past it's puppy stage. It puts a pretty smile on a car which has become a little long in the tooth. Some detail a car when they want to get rid of it and others do this because they love their car if only for it's looks.

Taking a new car to a detail shop is not unlike the fellow who knows he's got 20/20 vision going to the optometrist asking for glasses. " Sorry, sir, but your vision is perfect ". Though we poke some fun at the name which this shop has taken, we are in fact complicit in the same deadly sin: Pride.

Truthfully, we do like to blow our own horn, but we don't want anyone to see us do it. That's why we came when the shop was closed. By the way, for all of you who worry about the homeless Hand Wash, it lives here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Blue Car at Blue Hose

Here we are at Neville Hall at Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC. Presbyterian fields both basketball and football teams in college play. They are called the " Blue Hose " which differ a bit from the usual animal mascot. We have the Tigers of Clemson, The Gamecocks of U.S.C., The Bulldogs of the Citadel, all fierce mascots, but.... Blue Hose ? Well, this is because the team traditionally wore blue hose or stockings. This may be the only college which uses long socks as their mascot.

Oh, well, sports isn't everything. It was founded in 1880 as Clinton College, but later became Presbyterian or " PC " as it's called these days. PC was not so politically correct as it only accepted men at one time and is probably not a bastion of liberal politics even today.

We had no real reason to call on PC and actually no business driving up the walkway of Neville Hall for that matter. Yes, that's a sidewalk not a driveway. Folks just milled around and went about their business figuring that this photo op must surely be a college sanctioned event. This is just a tiny example of how you can roll into a place, do something nutty, but if you look like you're supposed to be there others will think that you do.

This was not an experiment in civil disobedience or an adventure in trespassing, but simply a clear and pretty day at a beautiful old campus and we thought we'd just share some it.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Bridges of Greenville County

Actually, that's bridge, singular, as the red wooden structure in the photo is the last covered bridge in South Carolina. The plaque to the right of the bridge is what those brown highway signs are always promising with the tease of " HISTORICAL MARKER 1/2 Mile ". Half the time there is no such marker to be found. They are a little joke which the Highway Department plays on the old boys who shoot up half of state's posted road signs so it kind of balances out. "Signage Justice", as we like to think of it.

In this case, we did find such a marker which tells us that this bridge was built in 1909 of pine by a man named Willis, but named for a Mr. A.L. Campbell. This was a relatively minor confusion as you will see.

The bridge underwent some considerable renovations recently which is apparently why the barricades were erected. Now that it's all fixed up, you MAY NOT drive through this bridge. This, of course, was the real payoff: hours in the finding, but no crossing THIS bridge. You can't even get a decent photo with the Clemson orange striped barricades guarding the bridge. The lower one is to keep cars out and the higher one is to warn aircraft from coming through the bridge. We think that they've further dammed up Beaver Dam Creek which runs under the bridge so that fish won't knock out the pilings.

This is, of course, Greenville not Madison County. The photos were not taken by Clint Eastwood's old Nikon F film camera, but are digital. The only ashes we saw tossed from the bridge were from a lady's cigarette as she looked disapprovingly down her nose at the whole scene and left.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

10K Pause

Here we have the GT before the " pause which refreshes " , to use an old Coke ad slogan. This being a weekend car, a day tripper, a special mission vehicle, it does not rack up the daily trek mileage of commuting.

We've been reporting from the road since September and today Windveil chalked up its 10,000 Th. mile. It seems only fitting that after a good 10K run, one deserves a....Coca-cola. We'll, being that we remain sober as a judge so that we don't end up in front of one and enjoy visiting, but not residing in cemeteries, we stick to non-alcoholic potables. After that third Martini one might not be able to find third gear.

If we wanted to be high handed about all this, we'd probably be a Porsche. Give us a Ford, a good old Coke and a Payday candy bar and we're ready for another 10K. In just 90,000 more miles, Windveil's looking at it's first tune up. No Porsche gets to pause so long between tune ups. By the way, sometimes we allow a few peanuts to slip into the coke bottle just so we don't start thinking that we're better than everyone else. We'll settle for just looking better.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Making Tracks to the River

Heading out of Laurens, SC, we came upon this surprising fresco. This is not a bit of site specific art within a major metro urban renewal tract nor does it commemorate a significant event in American history. The paint's a little too fresh to have been a New Deal WPA project.

While it's a bit this side of the accomplished Blue Sky's rendering of " Tunnel Vision ", it's quite nice. It is very good work considering that this commission probably fell far below those grants from the deeper pockets of Columbia. Dollar for dollar we may be in somewhat greener pastures out here in the country with this charming bit of outdoor artistry.

Actually, this turns out to be merely an ad, a very creative promotion painted upon masonry. This, too, was probably a lot less expensive than the City of Charleston's rental of a half dozen billboards used to keep the Aquarium afloat.

We much prefer this to the standard lighted panel on wheels which usually has a flashing arrow to lead one into places they'd rather not have discovered. The message would seem to tell us that folks are making tracks to the River Tracks Cafe. We didn't stop to give the restaurant the full DHEC shakedown inspection as we had to keep making our own tracks down the road. When you take a good look at Windveil's timetable one would have to remark that it was a hell of a way to run a railroad.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Abbey Road

On this crisp winter afternoon, the sun cuts through these live oaks in Berkeley County, SC, illuminates the Spanish moss, and warms the pavement which welcomes us to Mepkin Abbey. This is the road into a Trappist monastery near Moncks Corner, SC. It is the resting place for Henry Luce, the founder of TIME and LIFE magazines and his wife, former Congresswoman, Claire Booth Luce.

It is a tranquil place of hallowed ground and sacred spaces over which we declined to drive out of respect. Where this car should not go neither will the camera. We did find one spot at the pavement's edge which seemed to welcome our attention as can be seen below:

Bless This Car

The depiction of blessing in this statue needs no introduction. The blessing, of course, extends far beyond us, but then it does not seem to exclude us either. Perhaps it's more a gesture of welcome, but then any welcome is always something of a blessing in itself.

There is a sense of irony about this special place and it's pastoral grounds. On the one hand the Moncks live a life of regimented dedication. Their Order is very explicit in it's strictures, absolute in it's rules and demanding of their devotion. There is, however, an openness here toward strangers and no demand of proof of faith to enter their gates. They seem to let nature and the land make their case for them supplemented by icons of inspiration. Whatever message visitors take from here probably differs as do each visitor. It would be unusual for one to tour this place and leave without feeling...something.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Whitewater of Greenville: A River Runs Through It.

While a creature of the SC Low Country, Windveil has blazed some happy trails in the north western part of our state. It took the majesty of the Blue Ridge Parkway's mountain views and challenging roadways (40 gear changes per mile) for Windveil to escape the gravity of Charleston County to see the world beyond.

Greenville, SC, was a glaring lapse in our road diary, but that overdue entry was made in early February. Greenville had always been gone through rather than visited so this was a very new adventure.

Driving down it's Main Street the renovation of commercial buildings and the restoration of confidence by energetic local businesses embraces the visitor. It is the presence of the local merchants which is encouraging as opposed to the faceless chain stores which are infecting so many other commercial districts. There is a decided sense of energy and purpose in this business community.

We were, therefore, taken by surprise when we got to the Reedy River which runs right through the middle of the commercial hub. Below you can see Windveil parked on Falls Street blocking the stairway to keep people from wandering into and thereby spoiling this picture. We thought it would be a better shot without those two trees in the way, but the citizens of Greenville would grind us into funky mulch if we as much as moved a pebble in the rushing Reedy's path. This part of the river was ignored for many years until the City built the Liberty ( foot ) Bridge ( barely visible at the very top of the picture ) over this very spot. They opened up the lower terraces to the river bank below and created a little paradise for citizens and visitors alike. There is so much staggered open space that people need not bunch up or crowd one another to enjoy these natural amenities.

Rather than construct some gimmick or create a Disneyland device, Greenville worked with what nature had given them for free. They opened up this delightful space visually and physically which set into motion a perpetual cycle of joy. A river runs through it and so did we.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A Tale of Two Flags, 1 City, a Faint Echo

Well, it's certainly not Fort Sumter as the War Between the States did not begin here, but it looks like it ain't over yet. This is the " World Famous Redneck ( their term, not mine ) Shop " in Laurens, SC. They were in the news some time back, controversial then, but not so much anymore.

We rode up to the shop on a bright Sunday afternoon sometime between church and buffet lunchtime. Laurens was quiet and empty. The flag in front of the shop had furled itself and we asked permission to unfurl it so that the wind might spread it for the picture. The gentleman inside was most hospitable and said, " Take all the pictures you like, make yourself at home, do as you please ".

The shop occupies what was apparently a former movie theater. Notice the old name: ECHO, an appropriate title for a place where the past or some version of it still reverberates.

The Shop Around the Corner

This, too, is Laurens, SC, and it's courthouse on the square. Rising high above all else in the dead center of the square is a monument to the Confederate dead. It's placement assures that future generations will know something of an honored past.

They're fixing up the parking lot and repouring the sidewalks to spruce up this important space in the life of Laurens. This is literally just around the corner from the shop pictured above, but figuratively it's light years away.

Here, that same war is clearly over, past, but remembered in a somewhat different manner.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Bourbon: The Alternative Fuel

Ethanol is now a frequent additive to automotive gasolines, but is THIS the form of ethanol which the government had intended? If so, this is indeed quite a Hybrid fuel.

Well, here in Greenville, SC, we came upon a novel way to get tanked. Quite by accident we drove up to Jim Beam's Service Center. We got the impression from the name of the filling station that Colonel Beam's Kentucky Straight Bourbon is available at the pumps. Although no such offer is made, we like to think such things possible.

It was, however, Sunday and the place was closed. So this is yet another reason to return to Greenville on a different day. We look forward to discovering what spirits will leap from those pumps.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Head to Head with " The Boss "

While cruising along in Laurens County, SC, we spotted this good looking GT which resembles Ford's " Sonic " blue. It was parked in the lot of " LEC " ( Laurens Electric Cooperative ) so we'll just call it "Electric Blue".

Going head to head with the boss in the work place is always risky business. Going head to head with this " Boss " in the quarter mile might be even more risky if a there was money on the race. The owner has taken pains to make his car a look very nice and we suspect that he's probably bumped up the voltage under the hood as well.

In the early 70's Ford came out with a version of the Mustang which was nicknamed " The Boss ". This late model GT has that painted on it's side. We couldn't decide whether it was a nostalgic memo or a statement of the driver's position with the Co-op. Whichever the case might be, that car is probably in charge on the back roads of Laurens County.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Here's the long view, the wide angle shot from Taylor Street. Note the " Tunnel Vision " fresco in the background ( just under the church spire ). It's part of parking lot which sports some rather dramatic " site specific " art, to use a well worn phrase from the Spoleto Festival play book. Since certain other bloggers have been kind enough to plug Mustang Rolling, we figured we'd put in a plug for ourselves.

You've got to hand it to the folks in Columbia. They are quite inventive in converting mundane urban spaces into stunning vistas. Perhaps this is what Governor Sanford means when speaking of " intelligent design '.

If you look closely you can make out an aluminum fire hydrant in the foreground under which the Windveil is perched. The motor was kept running in the event that a dog of similar scale might happen upon us. We keep a little ammonia in the windshield washer reservoir and don't need any from a natural source.