August 4, 2007

Southern Charm in Columbia, SC

I'm back from a grueling but successful trip to install youngest son and wife into their new abode in Columbia, SC. I just love the place! Here are a few pictures of the area near their apartment and one of Philip leaving to take me to the airport. If Philip looks tired, we all were! The story will follow when I've rested a bit...

Youngest son and lovely wife express appreciation to all their friends and family for support and assistance during their move to South Carolina!

Packing and loading the truck in Berrien Springs, Michigan, couldn’t have been so successful without experienced packer, Mike; and experienced truck loader, Floyd! Mike came by train from Chicago to help his good friends; and Floyd, who has been a family friend since before Philip was born, was in town for his job, so he stopped by when he heard they could use a helping hand.

Thanks Mike and Floyd!

Several family members who couldn’t be involved physically were in telephone contact checking on progress and offering encouragement! Philip’s dad and Shelley’s dad called by cell phone throughout the trip and were kept updated until everyone arrived safe and sound in Columbia, South Carolina! The trip took 18 hours driving time from Michigan to South Carolina. I drove the second car from Columbus, Ohio, starting out without sleep for the previous 40 hours! But, not getting sleepy at all during the 8-hour drive on Tuesday!

Each mile of the way brought more southern beauty! At least for me! I’ve always missed the green forests and laid back style of the southern states. Tennessee is my first love! So, at the final destination I was singing with glee as I jumped out of the car and said, “I love this place. It has such CHARM!” I think the kids were not quite so exuberant having packed all their possessions, loaded everything into the truck, cleaned their place to a shine and drove a bulky tedious truck pulling a car up and down mountains for 1,000 miles – all in 4 days!

We had quickly located the apartment complex right off the freeway on the outskirts of Columbia, but Philip was unsure of parking constraints so he continued to drive round and round past all the apartments and out to the highway again! A quick call to the office (thank goodness for modern technology!) and another drive-through, and the pleasant lady from the office came out to met the truck the second time around! She had paperwork in hand and directed us to the spacious parking area for all of us! The first sign of that great Southern Hospitality!

We were slightly surprised to find the “first floor” apartment was down a set of 14 steps! Nice for privacy, but an added burden for unloading the truck. I had been a little worried about the three of us getting all the heavy things off the truck! We asked at the office if anyone would be interested in some extra income by helping us unload, but they said they would ask when the maintenance men got off at 5 p.m. Didn’t sound encouraging. It was 95 degrees hot!

In the meantime, we checked out the (cool) apartment and started unloading both cars. It took very few trips back and forth for us to realize this was going to be a formidable task!

Philip was happy to get the car off the carrier and head back to U-Haul and get rid of that noose! He was pleased to know we had gotten to our destination one day ahead of schedule too! I was checking the icemaker in the refrigerator and wondering where we would find some toilet paper in a hurry. A quick setting adjustment started the ice machine; and low and behold, there was a roll of TP lying in front of another apartment door. Strange, because this place is immaculately clean! An angel’s touch? Sounds good to me!

Another little magic moment…Because Philip’s car sits so low, the car doors could not open when on the carrier. AND, their trunk key would not work. (It was bent.) Philip had discovered he could carefully slide a clothes hanger through the couple inches that the door would open, but here in Columbia, we had no clothes hanger. We were stumped and stranded not sure how to get the car started to drive it off the ramp! I walked over to the little white maintenance cart to see if he had any tools out in the open we could use for makeshift. A few rags and underneath, a small perfect tool. Just what we needed. I didn’t know what it was at the time but it was a long white stick with a tiny hook on one end. (Later determined to be a rod for pulling drapes.) Within seconds Philip had the trunk popped: He climbed into the front seat through the trunk, and we were free again!

The biggest magical moment of all was when I was very worried about how the three of us would manage unloading the truck. I was exhausted after two trips, and Philip twisted his knee and was having pain going up the steps. Looking around, I saw a young man on the sidewalk talking on his cell phone. When he hung up, I asked if he knew of anyone who would be interested in helping us unload the truck. “Yes mam!” he said and his smile took on the look of a dollar sign and he went to get a friend who also wanted to help. Together they had the energy of a windstorm and had the complete truck unloaded in less than two hours! Shelley was able to direct the unloading inside and start adding a woman’s touch to their new home!


In town for less than 24 hours, I heard the soft rolling greeting of, “Y’all have a wonderful day now” and a respectful, “Yes Mam” about 100 times!

At The CVS store where I got a book to read on the airplane, the friendly cashier from India commented on my book. He asked if I had read the trilogy of books which he took time to write down for me. “Eragon” and “Eldest” with a new book to come out by the end of the year. “The movie is worthless, but the books are 1,000 times better,” he said. “Have a safe flight home,” he offered as I left with a smile and a happy feeling for having been there.

At the desk of the Red Roof Inn, I asked about the location of a Cracker Barrel. The pleasant lady (who I had seen there late the night before when I checked in) said she had breakfast at Cracker Barrel that morning and gave me directions for the next exit up. She also gave me directions for other places I was looking for. Then she wrote her number on a piece of paper and said to call Red Roof (803-736-0850) if I needed any more directions – even though I was checking OUT.

At Jiffy Lube I started to give an excuse and drive away when they quoted me a price I thought was too much. But, when I offered that I needed to hurry because I had to catch a plane the man said, “My name is Rodney and I’m here to help. We’ll get you out of here in 20 minutes!” Then they moved two cars out of the bays and put every employee on the oil-changing task. “Have a safe flight,” he said with a bow as they finished 15 minutes later.

During the brief wait at Jiffy Lube, someone else who was waiting listed all the colleges in Columbia and the main places of interest. He said the school where my son will be teaching is a “great school”. Another lady told me which TV stations were the best for news (noticing that I was paying attention to the news on TV.)

At Firestone when I went to ask directions to a local car wash, I was told that because of the heat, most people use the drive through. My first excuse was too limp. When I said the car wasn’t mine and I wasn’t sure it was safe for a drive-through, the young man went outside to the car and walked all the way around it checking for loose parts. “It’s safe for a drive-through,” he assured me with a big smile. But, he said if I wanted a good vacuum, there was a place a few miles away UNLESS I would be interested in using the hose at his house. He would call his wife and let her know I was coming. (I said, No, thank-you.)

Travis gave me careful, detailed directions to a FREE vacuum and inexpensive car wash. ($4). (At the intersection of Sparkleberry LN and Clemson Rd). There must have been 20 vacuum’s attached to strong suction pipes in the center of a nice shaded area. And the long drive-through car wash that I ended up using anyway.

Back at the apartments, everyone we met was pleasant and helpful. A military man gave us directions to the local stores and said a lot of good people lived at the apartments included many from the military because there’s a base close by.

My son and I had some discussion on why people in the south are generally friendlier. He thinks maybe it’s because of the heat. I say it’s because kids are raised to be polite and respectful.

All I know is that I sure would like some more of that wonderful Southern Hospitality, politeness and charm!

Notice the flowering trees... Click for closer view.

The backside of the apartments...More trees!

Plenty of parking and lots of shade...

Take Care on the Journey,

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