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Georgia and South Carolina Road Trip

I recently made a little whirlwind trip across the southeast, starting with Atlanta, GA, then a brief stint in Easley, SC, and finally on to Charleston. My son Peter was with me for the Georgia leg. His second love is baseball (don’t y’all know his first love is his mama?!?!) so we were there for a baseball showcase. Fortunately we had some time to enjoy the city of Atlanta after our flight arrived, and I also had some time Saturday morning to do some birding before his games started.

Part 1 – Atlanta

The Varsity restaurant in Atlanta - front entrance
The Varsity restaurant in Atlanta – front entrance
The Varsity restaurant in Atlanta - front entrance
The Varsity restaurant in Atlanta – front entrance

Our first stop was for lunch at an Atlanta icon that Peter had never been to before – The Varsity. This place has been around since 1928 and a trip to Atlanta can’t be said to be complete unless you grab a burger here. Which is just what we did.

Varsity selfie
Varsity selfie

I tried to get him to smile for me while we waited in line. This is the best I can do, and I’m not quite sure what expression I was making at the time! I was probably mid sentence, knowing me.

What'll Ya Have?
What’ll Ya Have?

“What’ll ya have” is the Varsity’s slogan and it’s what every team will ask when you get to the register. The place was packed – it always is, I think – but they work in a team of three people and the line went quickly.

Combo #2 - Chili Cheese Hamburger and Chili Cheese Dog
Combo #2 – Chili Cheese Hamburger and Chili Cheese Dog

So what did we have? We both got the same thing – the combo #2, a chili cheese dog and a chili cheese burger! Their chili is so so good, you may as well chili everything. This is just my plate of food – Peter’s looked the same. I was a huge pig but I don’t get there often, so, YOLO I guess. 😉

Varsity Onion Rings
Varsity Onion Rings

Peter got fries but I had to have the onion rings.

History of The Varsity Display
History of The Varsity Display

It’s awesome how they have displays showing the history of the restaurant, including photos of how it looked “back in the day”.

The Varsity Sign
The Varsity Sign

I snapped a photo of the sign on the way out…I’d almost missed it trying to drive around the city now that I’m out of practice with this kind of traffic. The good news is that now I feel a little better about my parenting skills, having introduced my oldest to this legend!

ZTA House, Georgia Tech
ZTA House, Georgia Tech

From there we headed over to Georgia Tech and drove through campus a bit. We went by the football stadium, but there was too much traffic to take a picture. I parked illegally to quickly take a picture of the ZTA house, something I do almost every time I visit a school.

Georgia Tech baseball stadium
Georgia Tech baseball stadium

Peter wanted to see the baseball stadium, so we finally found a place to park and walked down to take a look. I’m not sure I’d want Peter this much in the middle of Atlanta for college…overprotective mom speaking here. It sure has a nice view, though! And you wouldn’t find me turning up my nose at a Georgia Tech baseball scholarship LOL.

After that, we headed up north to Acworth where we were staying and crashed.

Part 2 – Lakepoint, Georgia

Peter had a lot of skills assessment tests before his games actually started, so I took some time to go birding. I found the most amazing place called Leon Price Park in nearby Kennesaw. I found some amazing birds and made some decent shots, plus I enjoyed the scenery all around. Unfortunately it hadn’t gotten cold enough yet for the leaves to change color, but it was beautiful nonetheless.

Morning Sun at Price Park
Morning Sun at Price Park

The little trickling water of Allatoona Creek was soothing and unlike anything I run across here in flat Florida.

Allatoona Creek
Allatoona Creek
Allatoona Creek
Allatoona Creek

And of course I found lots of birds! This was during the fall migration so there was a good variety.

Brown Thrasher
Brown Thrasher
Eastern Bluebirds
Eastern Bluebirds
Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebird
Chipping Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Female Indigo Bunting
Female Indigo Bunting
Cooper's Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk
Eastern Towhee
Eastern towhee

I could have stayed at Price Park all day, I think. It was gorgeous – not too hot or too cold, just a perfect morning. But parenting duties called! So I headed back to the ballfield to watch Peter’s batting practice and his first game. He’s not too big on my posting stuff online but here’s one shot:

Peter playing baseball
Peter playing baseball

He did really well and it was fun to watch him play. I met another dad from Mississippi and we chatted awhile. Peter finished up, and like most 16 year old boys, he was hungry! I typically prefer local places to big chains, so I convinced him to check out Jefferson’s Restaurant in Cartersville. I’d never been there but the reviews raved about the wings. They were right, plus it had a great craft beer selection!

Jefferson's Restaurant in Cartersville
Jefferson’s Restaurant in Cartersville
Jefferson's Restaurant
$1 dollar bills on the wall at Jefferson’s Restaurant

But the first thing we noticed when we walked in was that it looked strikingly similar to No Name Pub on Big Pine Key – there were dollar bills everywhere.

Jefferson's Restaurant
Jefferson’s Restaurant Clemson Baseball Pennant

And baseball pennants…including Clemson!

Jefferson's Restaurant Beer
Jefferson’s Restaurant Beer

This is the beer I had. For the life of me I can’t remember the whole name. I know it had the word “Southern” in it because the waitress said “Southren” three different times.

Jefferson's Restaurant Wings
Jefferson’s Restaurant Wings

I ordered way more wings than I needed because I wanted two flavors. I got a Double Dipped (“dipped in turbo and refried for low heat, big taste”) and a parmesan garlic and they were both really good. Be forewarned if you visit though – there’s parmesan on most things they serve. I love it, so I was all about that cheese, baby. But not everyone may feel as I do…

American flag
American flag before sunrise

Sunday we were back at the ballfield for another game, and it was EARLY… we were there at 7am and it was still dark. I actually used Google to figure out that Lakepoint GA gets sunrise exactly 20 minutes after Viera, FL, at least on that particular day. The joys of being further west within the Eastern timezone, I guess. I did think the American flag looked beautiful all lit up though!

Atlanta Battery
Atlanta Battery

After we finished, it was back to the hotel to load the car. Then we headed to the battery at Suntrust Park for lunch with my cousins Lisa and Blake. I do miss Turner Field but this place is amazing.

Peter under the Braves Sign
Peter under the Braves Sign

I made Peter let me take his picture under the Atlanta Braves sign. He hates the Braves…he’s a total Yankees fan. I thought Blake’s head might split open if Peter said that one more time, but he managed to keep his cool 😉

Terrapin Taproom sign
Terrapin Taproom sign
Fox Bros. BBQ / Terrapin Taproom
Fox Bros. BBQ / Terrapin Taproom

We ate lunch at Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q / Terrapin Taproom. The brisket was ah-MAZ-ing! And I lived in Texas for 5 years. It was good, y’all.

Terrapin Good to Gose Beer
Terrapin Good to Gose Beer

I really liked the Terrapin Good to Gose too.

Braves Baseball Sculpture Thing
Braves Baseball Sculpture Thing
Chipper Jones Motorcycle
Chipper Jones Motorcycle
Chipper Jones Motorcycle Baseball Glove Seat
Chipper Jones Motorcycle Baseball Glove Seat

We did a little shopping and a lot of window-shopping after lunch. All of us thought the custom motorcycle in the Tomahawk Harley Davidson was the bomb.

Peter sitting despite what the sign says!
Peter sitting despite what the sign says!

Blake and Peter gave up, though, while Lisa and I looked at home goods and baby clothes. Also, Peter doesn’t read signs.

Varsity peach pie
Varsity peach pie

Finally I had to get Peter back to the airport. We did snag Varsity food one more time, but from the airport terminal location. They make a darn good peach pie, I do declare.

Part 3 – Greenville and Pretty Place, SC

After I got Peter tucked onto a Southwest flight back to Orlando, I drove from Atlanta to my parents’ house – and my second hometown – Easley, SC. It’s right between Greenville and Clemson. I basically got there in time to go to sleep. The next morning Mom and I returned my rental car and then did some shopping and had her birthday lunch at Trio in downtown Greenville. Did I mention it was her birthday week? That was the whole reason why I stayed up there longer and didn’t come back home with my son. We had some great mother-daughter time, something we don’t get much of since we don’t live closer.

Plus I really considered buying some socks:

Dabo Sweeney Clemson Socks
Dabo Sweeney Clemson Socks

OK no not really. But I considered it. I mean, Coach Dabo Sweeney on a pair of socks? If only it isn’t always too hot to wear knee socks – or any socks for that matter – in Florida.

The next day we went to the walking center and walked 3 miles. Apparently that’s easy for my mom. I hurt afterwards. But I also claimed a reward of Bojangles country ham biscuits so it was all good.

We also went to Pretty Place at YMCA Camp Greenville. I don’t even want to describe the ride up the mountains – my body has forgotten how to tolerate that. But the chapel there is so beautiful and has stunning views of the mountains. I mean, just look at this!

Pretty Place Chapel
Pretty Place Chapel

And I got to try out exposure bracketing on my camera, something I’d never done before. I wanted to get the Bible verse visible without blowing out the mountains (in other words, without making them so bright as to not be visible).

Pretty Place Chapel, Greenville, SC
Pretty Place Chapel, Greenville, SC

But then on the other side of the cross I found this! It’s a question mark butterfly! No, that’s not a placeholder for me to put the name after I look it up – it’s really called question mark.

Question Mark Butterfly - Dorsal
Question Mark Butterfly – Dorsal

See the little white squiggle on the underside of its wing? That’s why it’s called a question mark!

Question Mark Butterfly - Ventral
Question Mark Butterfly – Ventral

That was the last day we had there – Wednesday we hopped in the car to drive to Charleston, where my sister lives, to celebrate Mom’s birthday doing two things she chose – visiting Bull’s Island and walking the Ravenel Bridge. Just before we left, though, I managed to get a lifer (bird I’d never seen before) in their backyard. This NEVER happens because their trees are so tall you almost never see the birds that sound so plentiful. And my photo isn’t great but here it is – a blue-headed vireo.

Blue-headed vireo
Blue-headed vireo

Part 4 – Charleston

Wednesday I rode with Mom and Dad to my sister’s house near Charleston. Thursday was Mom’s actual birthday and we’d scheduled a trip for the three of us to take a boat over to Bulls Island. You can only get there by ferry or private boat, and it’s almost completely natural. It’s a great place for birds – which ironically isn’t why Mom or Laura wanted to go! But it’s also got a beautiful beach with shells and a section known as the Boneyard, which is full of driftwood, fallen, and dead-but-still-standing trees. It’s a good thing I’d practiced that walking earlier in the week, because by the time we finished my iPhone said I’d walked 7.2 miles! Holy moly. It was totally worth it though.

Laura, Mom, and Me on Bulls Island
Laura, Mom, and Me on Bulls Island

This is Laura, Mom, and I at the boneyard. We’d originally planned to come back on the first of the two return ferry trips, but we decided we hadn’t had enough time. When we realized we wouldn’t make it to the boneyard if we left early, we decided to wait for the second ferry. I’m so glad we did!

Here are a few shots of the wildlife scenery:

Brown Pelican
Brown Pelican
Common Yellowthroat Warbler, Female
Common Yellowthroat Warbler, Female
Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Phoebe
Lightning whelk seashell
Lightning whelk seashell
Driftwood at the Boneyard on Bulls Island, SC
Driftwood at the Boneyard on Bulls Island, SC
The Boneyard on Bulls Island near Charleston
The Boneyard on Bulls Island near Charleston
More Driftwood at the Boneyard
More Driftwood at the Boneyard
Yellow-bellied sapsucker
Yellow-bellied sapsucker, another lifer for me
Long-tailed skipper on wild morning glory.
Long-tailed skipper on wild morning glory.

We got home and rested awhile before everyone went out for dinner to celebrate Mom’s birthday. We went to a restaurant in Mount Pleasant called the Rusty Rudder. OMG, I highly recommend the shrimp and grits here! It included alligator sausage and was the best version of that dish I’ve ever eaten!

Shrimp and Grits with Alligator Sausage
Shrimp and Grits with Alligator Sausage
Mars Express APA Beer from the Charles Towne Fermentory
Mars Express APA Beer from the Charles Towne Fermentory

I had a nice APA called “Mars Express” from the Charles Towne Fermentory to go along with it. They had a great beer list and I wish I could have tried more. I’m a lightweight though 😉

My sister and family, my parents, and me at dinner
My sister and family, my parents, and me at dinner

This is all of us after we finished dinner – Laura, Billy, and their boys; Mom and Dad, and me. (Pete and our kids were there in spirit!)

Then it was Friday and time to walk the Ravenel Bridge! Are you sensing a theme here? We walked SO much on this trip. Mom and Laura had both done it before, but I hadn’t. I think it was about two miles end-to-end. Dad dropped us off on the Charleston side, and we walked across to Mount Pleasant where we’d left Laura’s car.

View from Ravenel Bridge - herons and egrets in the tidal creek
View from Ravenel Bridge – herons and egrets in the tidal creek
Boat in the water
I was a little fascinated with getting to see a boat from way up in the air. I still don’t know why! But I love this photo!
The Ravenel Bridge supports
The Ravenel Bridge supports
View of Charleston as a helicopter flew by
View of Charleston as a helicopter flew by
Container cargo ship
Container cargo ship

After that we enjoyed lunch at the Square Onion, which was pretty much the end of my trip, though I did get to see my nephew play soccer before I flew home the next day.

It was a whirlwind of 8 days on the road (or in the air) but totally worth it! We all enjoyed Mom’s birthday and everything that went along with it.

Thanks for reading!

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