Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Country Store by any other name...

[ FOR BETTER RESOLUTION, CLICK ON IMAGE ] You can name them whatever you like, but all true country stores smell the same. We didn't just read this, in fact, we could write the book on country stores. Unless you've done the leg work, that is, stopped in and checked out a few hundred of them, you'll have take our word on this. For us, country stores are Mustang magnets. We feel the irresistible pull from a quarter mile. 300 wild horses couldn't drag us away.

Legally, well, spiritually, no commercial enterprise may hold itself out as a " country store " if it is situated in a new building. You got a nice new building? You got shiny new gas pumps that take your card then ask whether it's "credit" or "debit" while trying to con you into buying a carwash when you think it's asking if you want a receipt ? You sell aftermarket iPod headsets ? Can customers smell masking agents in the men's room at the checkout ? Then you ain't no country store. All you got there is a dad blasted convenience store.

If you're running a country store, you're probably not getting carded either at the liquor store or when seeking a senior citizen discount at the cafeteria. You probably own the property on which your store has sat for several generations. You inherited it all from your daddy, but the children to whom you want to leave all this have no clue. They just got back from a tattoo trip to Savannah. Your granddaughter has a boy friend from another planet and your grandson's having his nasal hair transplanted after he mistook Magic Shaving Powder for cocaine. By and large you wonder how this world could be so stupid and still breathe on its own.

If you're running a true country store, you're probably not having to dig new holes in which to hide your earnings. Because you live frugally and you own the place and you have few if any employees, you can survive. You may even prosper a bit, but it has long since ceased to be the money which gets you down to the store each morning. It's a way of life, an excuse to grumble, a place to hang your hat. This is what you do, it is who and what you are. You have served customers and made friends one at a time. When they gather around the fresh dirt and someone reads over you, they are also pulling the sheet on a kinder way of life that is ebbing from this gritty world.

The smell of the country store is not chemically defined nor is it from a single element on any shelf. It is an admixture of so many little things which live in the atmosphere of such places. As we roll down the long roads we like to stop and smell the country stores.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Contest Winner !


This picture is for Ellen, a faithful reader and kind commentator. She guessed correctly what was on the other side of the building featured in our " Bay Window " posting of July 17. This is confirmation of her winning entry. Here's her comment: Ellen said...

"Ah. A familiar sight! If I'm not mistaken, a folksy depiction of Old Glory graces the right side of that building.

Have enjoyed your Irish travels, but am glad to have you roaming local lanes again. Highway 6 is an old favorite of mine."

Actually the contest was not announced and was a bit of a secret. It was so secret that we were not aware of it either, but thanks to Ellen we now have a winner of the unknown contest. We were saving this for July 4, 2007, but just could not resist replying with this picture. Can anyone guess the air pressure in the right front tire?

Each posting could be considered a contest of sorts. We invite all readers to tell us something they know or guess which might not be obvious in the posted photos. If we miss something or post incorrect descriptions, please let us know. Thanks again Ellen.

Friday, July 21, 2006



Back to a recurrent theme and a decided favorite: "Surviving Railroad Equipment." This is, of course, just a fanciful term for obsolete railroad cars and locomotives.

This is the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Museum in Wilmington, NC, which is incorporated into a hotel, restaurant and gift shop. It is a practical and useful melding of historic preservation and commercial enterprise.

The railroad system holds a key role in the history of the United States. Much of the tangible evidence of our past has gone to rust and dust with that vital iron. As the railroad lines moved with the times so did their equipment. Retaining and storing obsolete equipment was seen as a costly indulgence which they couldn't afford and didn't.

Someone, somewhere at some time noticed that most of the old stuff had vanished and decided to save, restore and display such railroad equipment as could be managed. Now, it's one thing to hang on to that old college car in which much....history was made, but quite another to find the wherewithal to grapple with a gigantic steam locomotive. Increasingly, however, many communities are doing just that. It is primarily a good tourist draw, but it is preserved history as well.

Charleston, SC, largely because no one could afford to put up new buildings, did not destroy many of the old ones. Therefore, once the spirit of preservation took hold in the 1930's, we still had a wealth of historic structures to renovate and save. Would that we had saved more railroad equipment, but thanks to those who have secured what we've got today.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Bay Window

Here's a nice cozy, but sturdy cottage with a big bay window. This is more a beach than bay view, but it caught our eye on a very hot day. Only painted plywood, a bit this side of professional work, give any relief from the dreadful July heat. Behind the brick facade, nobody's home and the store is out of business. Someone cared enough to dress up this blighted site with some friendly artwork.

We ran up on this interesting display in Orangeburg County along Old Hwy. 6, one of our favorite routes. We see a lot of rural roads with the prefix of " Old ". There might be a new Hwy. 6 somewhere, but not on our maps. Hwy. 176 which runs from Charleston, SC, to Hendersonville, NC, is called " Old State Road " on the signs, but nobody has built a New State Road. We even see tiny dead end secondary paths which are called " Old " this or that Road. There never are new editions of such roads and probably none on the way.

We think that " old " in these road signs suggests a way of living and a sense of neighborhood which is holding on and hiding out. There is a wealth visual pleasures and great numbers of pleasant, interesting people to meet on these back roads. If all one does is to stop at the scattered old country stores along the way, there is a lot to be learned.

Out on the intestates people are growing tusks just as kept hogs gone to the wilds. When people get off of wretched superhighways, they revert to human beings in these very cordial backwaters. Don't take our word, but head out there yourselves and learn of that little world just off the beaten path.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Second Blogger Party: Modeling the Model

Here's the model ( car ) shown with actual people for the proper perspective. It is a 1/18th scale model of the full sized car with which we probably fooled nobody, but had great fun in the gag.

The Blogger Party was quite a hit. We had a great time with the folks who attended, but missed those unable to make the event. Here Mike and Chuck are admiring the model ( car, we think ) which is being presented by our waitress. The Sunfire Grill hosted the event and did very well in the process.

We don't play favorites, but enjoy visiting with each blogger individually. If, however, we were pressed to select a favorite guest at this evening's shindig, we'd have to say that it's the young lady with the sly smile in the photo below:

Future Blogger ?

Someone's planning a blog of her own.

Thursday, July 13, 2006



We're aboard the Southport Ferry which is bound for Fort Fisher, North Carolina. We like the whole concept of the automobile ferry and sought this one out in the lower Cape Fear area of North Carolina. The ferry extends our range, covers ground we cannot on our own.

The captain of the ferry doesn't let you drive off the ramp over open water, but we did feel just a tiny bit as if we were an F-16 on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier and ready to launch into the wind. The cool wind in your face aboard the ferry is a welcome change from the still hot air on land this time of year.

Speaking of hot air, we might have been a tad guilty of some of that ourselves in the previous postings. Those who followed our accounts of the Ireland trip may be asking yourselves whether we did truly find gigantic trucks to pose with the ferry in Ireland. Or..was that an exact replica model of the GT.

Of course, there's always the possibility that we've found a toy ferry and some miniature humanoids for this picture. Actually, the little folks weren't that hard to find, it was the tiny tank tops which gave us a fit.

Monday, July 10, 2006

How We Shipped the Mustang to IRELAND



That shot of the GT with the US flag mural was taken back on January 12, 2006, and kept in the can until July 4. We're not very good at holding shots we like, but managed some self discipline on that one.

The previous posting was actually taken at Sleahead at the Ring of Kerry in Ireland.

Those who have read MUSTANG ROLLING during our trip to Ireland may wonder how we got the car all the way from Charleston, SC, to the Emerald Isle.

Here's Clue #1: This is a shot of the car on a ferry. Whoops, it looks like someone tacked on a spoiler to the GT, something which we specifically ordered deleted at the factory. Is this a new form of vandalism ? Anyone who is missing a Windveil Blue spoiler for a Mustang GT, please contact us immediately.

Beware the Big Irish Trucks !


Nobody bothered to tell us what HUGE trucks they've got over in Ireland. What with the even higher cost of fuel over there, we thought they'd have more fuel efficient vehicles.

This is Clue #2--or--Honey, I shrank the GT !!!!!

Friday, July 07, 2006



Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Red, White and Windveil Blue

Red, White and Windveil Blue, originally uploaded by PALMETT0.


Here's one we put up last winter to save for the 4th. We were in historic Branchville, SC, and this mural caught our eye. So, we put this one in our Mason jar and preserved it for this special day.

We are still in Ireland and for some reason they haven't lined the streets with the US Flag nor is the red, white and blue bunting laid out for us. It's great to be on vacation in this beautiful country, but we do miss being home today. We are in a country which nurtures within itself a great struggle between sections of its own country and against the strongest ally of the United States. We are, after all, the American cousins of Great Britain and are somewhat humbled and every so grateful to England and to Tony Blair who, to his great peril, has stood shoulder to shoulder with the US in what has become a most unpopular errand into the wilderness of the Middle East.

It's certainly a day to wave the flag and to glorify out country's founding, but it also seems to be a day to give thanks for the strong friends we have even when the weather is not so fair.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Mustang in Ireland

[ FOR BETTER RESOLUTION, CLICK ON IMAGE ] Greetings from IRELAND ! The Mustang has rolled to the Emerald Isle. We've been out of touch for a bit owing to the Atlantic crossing. We're reporting from Bindon Lane in the Borough of Ennis in County Claire, Ireland, where the temperature is about 56F. We've come in from rural Ballyvaughn on the Burren Way to this, the closest town likely to have a photo-electronics store. Our Compact Flash Card reader is still Stateside, but we were able to fetch one in Ennis.

The good news is that Ireland is still far from densely, overly developed in the rural areas, still largely unspoiled to the eye. The bad news is that the Dollar not standing up to the Euro very well. The people we've encountered have been most gracious and accommodating which certainly makes up for the unfortunate currency exchange ratio.

We've had to explain that, while " Yanks " may well be a welcome greeting to Americans who hail from above the Mason-Dixon Line, it's not exactly manner in which man or machine from Charleston wish to be addressed. We had the same conversation in a pub in a previous visit back in 2001. After a bit of Guinness, an Irish lad asked, " Well, what's the difference if you're called 'Yanks', after all, you're all one country, ain't ye ? " At this point we countered, " Well, let's see, Ireland is, but one country....so is there no sectional difference amongst you Irish ? " The fellow then replied, " AH, Ooookay, yer point's well taken, me friend ". The "Y" word did not again come up, but quite a few Guinness went down and in very good cheer.

Not everything went smoothly in Ennis this afternoon. In the second photo you can see that the Garda (police) have responded to some sort of event in front of Ulster Bank. The gent on the left side of the frame, leaning against the little white car has a machine gun in hand which suggests something beyond a parking summons. What impressed us as much as the sight of six police officers presenting automatic weapons in the town centre was the apparent indifference of the passers by. This was not an unusual event it seems. None of the folks looked at the "take down", but they did look at us photographing the event. That told the local folks that we were new in town and it told us that we might better ease out of town before the Garda got interested in us.

Can't you just imagine how we might begin to explain.." Well, we're from South Carolina, USA, and...well, we've got a blog...that is a journal on the internet and we like to take pictures of our car in odd situations...we know this sounds strange, but....

Thankfully, we're back out at Ballyvaughn where they've already accepted our odd ways and credit cards.

All good wishes to one and all on the eve of our nation's birthday.

Trouble at Ulster Bank