My Little Town

Despite the record heat we’re experiencing here in the South, there are parts of my little town that appear to be frozen in time.

I grew up a “northerner,” but this little time-capsule of a southern town has not only a sweet sadness to it, but it oddly ties back to my childhood when I lived in Long Island and then New Jersey.  My dad worked in the textile industry all of his adult life.  For a long time when we lived in Long Island, my dad would travel back and forth to the office in New Jersey- a grueling two-hour, one-way trip, until we finally moved to New Jersey when I was in the 9th grade.  After my mom passed away, dad traveled more for work – mostly to well … here, the South.  

He would often tell me about Fort Mill and Rock Hill, towns right near where I live now, but I don’t remember him mentioning my little town.  Still I do seem to recall him mentioning a company called Southern Industries.  There’s a huge abandoned building in my town called Southern Industries.  From some short research, I found out that this was a yarn factory.  I do remember when I was younger that he would bring home samples of strings of yarn that I would either use as decorative ties for my ponytail (hey it was the 70s) or if I had a handful, I’d braid them and then sew them into little mini rugs for my mother.  I was crafty, even as a kid.  I called them rugs, she used them as trivets or coasters, not that I made that many.  I’m sure she was grateful for that.

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I’m reasonably sure that this was one of my father’s stops on his trips to the South.  Even though I live in South Carolina, where a lot of mills used to employ thousands of people, I’m also a few hops and skips from the Charlotte, North Carolina border.  Charlotte is also pretty famous for it’s old textile factories, most of which are now turning quickly into breweries.  Hey, that’s not a bad idea, Clover.

You look at this building and you could easily be sad for a time gone by, but I can’t help but smile.  It’s kind of like seeing into my dad’s world, the part I never really knew much about.  When I was there yesterday, there was a man on a tractor mowing the lawn, and as is obvious from the bushes on the right-hand side of the photo, someone is trimming the bushes. But the building itself is riddled with broken windows and it looks, well … abandoned.

I must have a thing for old buildings, even the abandoned ones – they have character, they hold history, they’ve got stories to tell.  I couldn’t get as close to Southern Industries as I got to the snuff factory in New Jersey, or as close as one gentleman did to this building – see his pics on Flickr.  He’s got some amazing pictures of the inside.

Right across the street from the yarn factory is another time-lost treasure: the building-sized, hand-painted advertisement.  If you look at the bottom left, it’s even signed by the artist.  It’s really not that old, but I still like it.  I’ve always wanted to a take shot of this wall. Had I done it earlier, perhaps it would have been a little cleaner, but oh well, it adds to the charm I guess.

coca-cola-clover

I just can’t figure out if the Coke came in two sizes or if Clayton’s Shoes only carried two sizes of shoes.

Next time I get to the center of town, I’ll have other timeless treasures to share – like Movie Mania, the local tape rental store – and for those of you younger than 40, by tape I mean a VCR tape.  Back in the day, before we recorded stuff, we taped it.  Obviously Movie Mania has figured out what Blockbuster couldn’t.  The last time I passed there on my  way to a friend’s house, we were “fixin'” to get a big storm and the parking lot to Movie Mania was packed.  I don’t have my VCR anymore, but apparently, the good people of my little town were not swayed by the advancements of modern technology.  Good for them.

I’m all for the modern conveniences of life, but places like this, and like the places I travel to in Upstate New York with my cousin, all have parts that seem to take you back to a much simpler time – a time I remember, and it feels somehow comforting.  If you ever feel like your immediate world is getting a little too big for it’s britches, come on down to my little town to get a taste of days gone by.

 

 

Puppy Love

Zeus on the Loose

If you’ve been a follower of this blog, you may remember Zeus from a previous post.  To me dogs are like people – they’re funny, expressive and they have lots of other human traits. They do, however, have one trait that most people don’t use often enough – they live in the moment.  Here’s a spur-of-the-moment action that got an instant reaction that I was fortunate enough to catch on camera.  I’ve asked my friend’s mother if I could post this for years, but since I no longer have much FB access I’m not sure if she ever replied.  And “A” if I get in trouble for this one, just let me tell you that your son said it was “okay” and that you’d probably get a kick out of it.  Lord, I hope so.  Here’s what I affectionately call “Puppy Love.”

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Taking a Break

Shaking off the Stagnant Energy

I’ve been working a lot lately (thank goodness) at home – attending to writing assignments and researching.  I love research, but it’s not really something that requires a lot of movement and I was starting to get “stuck” both physically and mentally.  I needed to take a break.

The air and the energy in your place needs to get cleansed, cleaned out and purged of even your own energy every once in a while.  Opening the windows, pulling up the shades and clearing up clutter helps, but sometimes you just need to escape and get out to clear your own energy.  As soon as I left my place, I felt the cool breeze blowing through the warm air.  It made me smile.  I was just going to take a ride to clear my head and take in some relaxing scenery.

We were promised terribly strong thunderstorms and wild weather, but as usual, the threat was more than delivered.  The sky looked ominous, but it kind of felt nice – not too hot in the Carolina Sun and that lovely cool breeze.  I haven’t gotten out with my camera in a long time, so armed and ready to ride I decided to delve back into one of my favorite forms of picture taking, the drive-by shooting.  I love doing drive-bys and if you ask me, this is the only type of drive-by shootings that should ever exist.  More than taking them I love coming home and popping the card into my laptop and seeing what I’ve captured.  Here’s the result of my short break yesterday.  It really made me feel so much better to just get out, and, as you’ll see, not everyone buys into the weather forecast all the time.

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Perhaps it’s a myth that cows lay down in a circle when it’s going to rain, but I have seen it before.  Not these cows though.  They seem to think like me – the weather report had been greatly exaggerated.  Weather does seem to either target us solely or, as in most cases, wrap right around us, leaving us untouched for the most part.  The maintenance man who showed up at my apartment later on this day said his friend is convinced that weather misses us so often because of the nuclear plant nearby.  A weird theory, but who am I to say it’s wrong?  I haven’t come up with a better explanation.  It did rain later this day but it was a short sprinkle – nothing you’d expect from cloud cover like this.

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There is tons of wisteria growing along the roads right now.  I would love to have stopped to photograph some of it, but every time I found something to shoot, I’d find a car behind me.  Just as well, I did have to get back to work eventually, so I did have to keep it moving.

One of the wonders of “drive-by shootings” is how the background always seems to be so in-focus and the objects closest seem to blur.  [click here for a great example]  It’s probably due to some mathematical equation having to do with speed, trajectory, etc. but I failed math – I just like taking pictures and I love the way these drive-bys turn out.  This is my therapy that gives me great peace and clarity in such a short time.  I took all of these by driving around in less time than a typical lunch break, and I felt so refreshed afterwards.

watering hole-DB

Above is one of my favorite watering holes to drive-by.  Usually there are horses out, walking around, drinking from the pond and generally just grazing the day away.  Next time they’re out, I’ll share them with you.  There’s one particular horse, an all-white horse, that loves to stare at me.  I usually stop and say hello, but I never overstay my welcome.  They like their peace.

Familiar Places GS-DB

Remember this spot?  I shot it once a long time ago in black and white.  It’s still there, obviously, so this time I decided to add it to my “drive-by gallery.”

Thanks for taking a ride with me, and if you’re ever in need of a quick break, try your hand at this form of photography.  The trick is to keep your eyes on the road, hold up the camera and just point and shoot.  That’s the beauty of it – you never really know what you’ve captured until you stop and take a look.

 

An Early Sign of Spring

When I was young, my mom and I would sit at the bay window in our kitchen and look at the crab apple tree that stood right outside.  It was always filled with birds eating the fruit of the tree.  I think that’s why we (my siblings and I) grew up with a love of birds that we still have today.  Each year, the first robin red breast would appear and my mother would declare that sighting as the first hint of spring on its way.

perched bird

Today from my own perch on the third floor, I heard a bird singing.  Even though he was atop a tree that was even with my balcony, he was small (but loud for his size) and it took me a minute to focus my eyes on exactly where he was.  I’m still trying to figure out how he perched his fluffy, round little body on top of that single, flimsy branch.  This may not be a robin, but I’m willing to count him as my first sign of spring to come.  (Thanks for posing!)

 

Nightlife Afterlife

 

Chair ThereWhen I took this picture a few years ago at the world-famous Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey, it was just a random shot.  Perhaps there was someone sitting at the table to my left who got caught in the lights creating this shadow figure, but I truly don’t recall anyone sitting in the little section that holds just a few small tables that sits just a step or two above the main floor.  It was early after all and the crowds had yet to pile in.  Perhaps it’s an old soul who is just hanging around for the music and the atmosphere, or possibly to enjoy some “spirits.”  Some say it’s haunted, and maybe it is.  Perhaps if I had noticed him at the time I would have mentioned that he’s sitting backwards on his chair, or that his back was halfway through the table – but when you’re pure energy it’s safe to say you can do pretty much what you want, right?

Lakeside Sunrise & Moonset

The Northeast, my former home, got bombarded over the weekend with 30-or-so inches of snow.  Meanwhile in the South we spent last Friday frozen in by a pretty major ice event (about 3-5 inches) covered by a dusting of snow.  I must say that while my sympathy was with my friends, family and everyone else left to dig out of all that snow, I was kind of happy to see a little white stuff, especially since I was hunkered in for the weekend with no thoughts of going anywhere.

Monday, while my friends were still digging out in order to get to work, I rose with the Sun and went out on my patio and caught the most beautiful sunrise.  The Sun on Sunday had melted the majority of our ice and snow and the promise of warm weather (50s at least) has returned.

On the other side of my patio (I’m on a corner) overlooking the parking lot of my apartment complex, the full Moon was getting ready to rest just as the Sun was rising.

We have some of the most beautiful sunsets here in South Carolina, and now I can say the same about the moonsets and sunrises.  Pink and orange and yellow … the colors are breathtaking.

Lakeside Sunrise

Full Moon at Sunrise

Even though I’m in South Carolina, I’m only a few miles from Charlotte, North Carolina. Despite the South’s limited resources when it comes to a snow and ice event, you can bet that Charlotte did it’s best to make sure that nothing would spoil the Panther’s game at home on Sunday.  Go Panthers!

Shadows and Smoke

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Shadows

The Sun is always so bright in the mornings and it comes up on the one side of my apartment that has windows.  I love it – it’s warm and inspiring.  I guess that’s what people mean when they say, “blindingly beautiful.”

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Smoke


I blew some smoke into this tiny glass vase and watched it like it was a 5th grade science experiment.  I do odd things when I have idle time on my hands.  It doesn’t take much to fascinate me.  Maybe next time I’ll take the time to dust better and try to keep my smudgy fingerprints off of the container.  Oh well.

More Folly

So, I wasn’t the only one armed with a camera during our long (short) weekend in Folly Beach and Downtown Charleston.  I had my DSLR and my iPhone – and of the three other people along with me, two took pics on their phones as well.  I’ve offered to collect and compile them as well as separate the public pics from the “friends-only” pics.  Some people like to share everything, but our little group has a “no social media” rule that we follow.  The rule says that before you post anything, everyone included in the post has to agree – it must be unanimous.  I love taking pictures, and I can see the horror in some people’s faces when I catch them on camera doing weird or funny things – I always reassure them that I’ll never post anything they don’t approve of.  To do otherwise would be rude.  As for compiling pics and separating them, it takes a bit of work.  Honestly I wish I had the kind of time so I could just spend a whole day on it, because it’s hard to remember just where you left off when you stop mid-stream, but I don’t have that kind of time.  (Note:  Add “more time” to wish list.)

So after my semi-long diatribe, here are some more pictures of our trip – although not all … there will be more to follow on Folly.

First up, a little art, beachy style.  (See?  I was serious about the dunes and so is the community.)

IP Beachside Art flipflops

IP Beachside Art 1 (2)Some interesting displays of art – lost shoes and discarded toys and shovels being put to good use – the misfit toys would be proud of the Folly Beach inhabitants.

IP Saving the Dunes at FBThe Dunes are show above.  Oddly, there were more flowers here in April than in August and if you saw my previous pics from April you’ll see what I mean.

Even the local water tower has a unique look – viewed here via the beach.

IP Folly Beach Water TankDon’t let the sand fool you – it’s not like Sarasota’s sand which is made of crushed coral which stays cool to the touch even on the hottest of days.  This sand is more like Jersey Shore sand or Long Island beach sand (my only personal comparisons) and it is hot, hot, hot.  The first time I was here was on a cloudy day in April, so I didn’t really think about sand temps, but I’m just saying.  All those people missing flip flops were probably pretty sorry.  There are lot of shells in the sand too, in and out of the water, so barefoot is not always the best option if you have sensitive feet.

IP crab shackThis is the inside of the Crab Shack which I mentioned in my last post.  There’s both indoor and outdoor seating, but for us, it was so hot that first day, we chose anywhere we could hide from the Sun – good choice!  (That is my initial drink, an ice cold drink of water.)  Don’t you just love the mural and the colors all around?  It makes for a great background for personal pics, but as I mentioned earlier, we have a social media rule and I will not break the code.

Center Street TacosTaco Boy is on the other side of the street from the Crab Shack right on Center Street.  We didn’t eat here, but it was always bustling with business and I just love the way it’s decorated.  I know I have several close-up shots of this beautiful, artsy door somewhere – but like I said, so many pictures, so little time.

Of course Center Street in Folly Beach is not only home to a few good places to eat and shop – if you find yourself in a bind, it’s nice to know that there’s a law office right on the main drag, conveniently located right next to City Hall.  Having worked for lawyers all of my life, I found this shot particularly tickling.

lawyerIP Bloody Mary CS-styleDid I mention that the Crab Shack also makes the best Bloody Mary’s I’ve ever tasted?  Not to mention the lemon drop shots.  Did we go a bit overboard?  Perhaps, but it was vacation after all.  (BTW that may be one of my friend’s arms in the background but I’ll never tell.)  You know your in the south when you get your beverage in a mason jar.

The Crab Shack is also right next door to Planet Follywood, which we didn’t visit on our trip, but we did take pics on the outside – the whole side of the building is a life size mural of famous Hollywood stars like the Rat Pack, Marylin Monroe, etc.  I’ll have to ask permission to post that one, but let’s just say it’s a great place to get pics of your friends because they seem to blend in with the mural.

I suppose I’ve shared enough Folly pictures for now.  In my next post, we’ll cruise about 11 miles towards downtown Charleston and share some of its southern charm.

A Weekend in Folly Beach

A Good Food, Dog-Friendly Surfer Town

My friends and I got together this past weekend and took a road trip to Folly Beach, SC.  Folly Beach is a kind of relaxed surfer town with good food, nice people, and it’s dog friendly – even some of the restaurants.  The locals call it “The Edge of America.”  Three out of four of us had already been here once back in April of 2013.  I love the charm of this southern town.  Folly Beach is on James Island located roughly 11 miles from downtown Charleston.  We fit a lot into our itinerary in just a few days and we certainly could have done more, but it’s always nice to leave a place with a reason to go back, especially if it’s this charming.

On this trip we stayed right on the beach in a hotel called Tides at Folly Beach.  If you drive down Center Street and head towards the ocean, you can’t miss it.  We had a great room on the third floor overlooking the salt water pool, the beach and an extremely long pier that I first photographed in April 2013.  The Tides has its own bar and restaurant called, Blu, and a coffee shop that opens nice and early so you can slip out the back door and have your morning coffee by the pool or the ocean if that’s your preference – it was mine.

This post will mostly show the shots of the beach and pier that I took from the room at various times (7am, 4pm and 8pm – thereabouts).  I have other shots I’ll share in my next post of the local beach community.

Before I share my photos, one last thing:  If you’re a foody like I am, you’ll appreciate all of the fine choices for dining.  Our friend told us that Charleston is home to a big percentage of the world’s best chefs and it shows.  Here’s are places we enjoyed:

  • Breakfast/Brunch/Lunch:  Lost Dog Cafe – Bring your four-legged friends, they have water bowls for them!  Unbelievably good food.
  • Lunch/Dinner:  The Crab Shack – (Have a Bloody Mary!)  She-crab soup, fried green tomatoes …
  • Lunch/Dinner: The Wich Doctor – great pizza, unusual menu – all good stuff.
  • Dinner (open 11am to 11pm) – Fuel  (Downtown Charleston)

All of these places were great and most have been featured on various Food Channel shows (checkout the web links).  This is five-star dining in flip flops – you can’t beat that!

And now for a few shots via the third floor at Tides:

Peaceful ViewSunrise MorningBlue UmbrellasHere a Chair There a Chair715 sunrise at the TidesPier at NightHow’s that for a view?  Of course, Folly Beach has other places to stay including a quaint bed and breakfast I spotted off the main drag, that I plan to research for next time.

Folly Beach allows surfboards, sailboards, dogs and food, but no alcohol – except at the hotel where you can order drinks, but the public beaches prefer you don’t drink (and trust me, as hot as it is, just bring lots of water and you’ll be happy).  Parking is tricky, but not too impossible but don’t expect a boardwalk like Seaside Heights or Pt. Pleasant at the Jersey Shore, it’s just a few wooden planks’ walk over the dunes and you’re on the beach.  If you’re lucky, you’ll see pods of dolphins lazily swimming by, and there’s never a lack of pelicans and seagulls.

At the hotel you can surfboard, get surf lessons or checkout their jet skis, play volleyball on the beach, or just sit and order food and drinks at the pool and enjoy the ocean without getting sandy.

In my next post, I’ll give you a more local view of FB.  If you’re planning on visiting Charleston, Folly Beach is easy to get to and so worth the visit.