Monday, June 11, 2007

SANTEE: The Venice of South Carolina

We are nuts about elaborate outdoor murals, a fact to be noted by reading a few previous postings. We were making for Darlington on Sunday morning in search of such same artwork. Whether those works are completely independent from or merely another possession of the corporate NASCAR combine, we want to see them. It is the artist's boldly painted strokes which we seek regardless of the stains upon the contract.

Darlington is to automotive racing what Myrtle Beach is to the thongs of our Carolina Girls: a highly public arena of competition where contestants often collide, endurance is tested and one may win by only a hair.

We often have clear objectives, but it's frequently that which we encounter along the way which catches our eye. Such was the case today as we got bogged down in Santee, SC, which lies in our interstate path to Darlington. Santee is like the rotating poles of a magnet as it alternately attracts and repels one. Perhaps it is the repellent quality which attracted us to this center of outlet malls, golfing, catfish catching and lake living. So, no Darlington photos in this session.

Lake Marion is lower and far cleaner than the waters which surround Venice, but Theo's Italian Ristorante puts us in the right frame of mind. Actually, it's the wonderful mural upon Theo's which makes Santee feel like the Venice of S.C. Just take look at the vivid depiction of Venice's ancient threatened buildings and the artful details of the gondola. Looking closer, the male and female passengers look far too much like each other to be sitting so close, but this is South Carolina where we like to fish in the same family pond a bit more than we should. Before we saw Theo's mural, the only thing about Santee which was remotely Venetian were the shuttered blinds in its many motels. They have a considerable hospitality industry up here. Maybe a pineapple in every room and someone to peel it for you would be a nice touch.


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