Southern hospitality ... and gas prices

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Currently wrapping up vacation after a weeklong visit to South Carolina to see my son, Hunter, and his new wife, Becca. Hunter is stationed at Camp Beaufort in Beaufort, South Carolina, right next to Paris Island. With his upcoming deployment just a couple of months away, we wanted to get down there to see the newlyweds as they settle into their new home.

It's a part of this great country I've never been able to explore before so the 22-plus-hour drive, over the course of two days, was long but certainly enjoyable as we saw some beautiful and very non-Iowa countryside.

Oh sure, we had to drive through Illinois, Indiana and Missouri during different periods of the trip, and that's pretty similar landscape wise, but dropping down into Tennessee, Kentucky and the Carolinas offered a whole new look.

So here are some observations from my trip.

Southern hospitality is a very real thing. The folks down south were very friendly and helpful, demonstrating that Iowans don't have a corner on that market.

The Smoky Mountains need to be navigated carefully. Lots of steep hills and windy roads can be hard on brakes. Still lots of amazing views and awesome towns to visit.

Beautiful beaches. Unfortunately a little too shark-filled for my taste. Personally I'll stick to Okoboji. Sure the waves are smaller, but as far as I know, there have never been any recorded shark attacks there either.

Was extremely disappointed that I never saw a gator. And we were looking too. We did everything we could except go wading in swamp land, but no gators were visible. However we did see some dolphins jumping out of the water in front of ships.

The heat and humidity stories of the south are not overstated. It was hot and humid the whole time we were down there. Had a chance to go sight-seeing in Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina and it was crazy hot. You could sweat standing still.

Lots of haunted places and movie sites to see. Didn't realize how many films were shot down in that area, specifically in Savannah. And who knew about all the haunted properties to see. One of the places, the Old Sheldon Church, is just ruins now surrounded by graves, dating back to this country's earliest wars.

Southern food is tasty. Found a small place our final night there where we enjoyed some authentic southern cooking with the whole family along with Spencer native Broghan Hawley, who serves as a drill instructor on Paris Island. It's one of two places on this planet where U.S. Marines are made.

Side note, if you want to support our troops, send Broghn Hawley some items to sooth a dry throat. All that screaming, yelling and instructing has left his voice a bit strained.

After you drop in Tennessee and continue south, people seem to have forgotten the rules of the road, any form of road courtesy and just basic driving skills. Driving on interstates or through the mountains down there is a risky proposition.

And speaking of driving, finally, allow me to weigh in on gas prices. The highest prices paid for fuel occurred upon my return to Spencer where I dropped $2.25 a gallon to refuel. Common gas prices south ranged from a low of $1.86 to the more common $1.96 or $1.99 to a high of $2.09 in most places outside of this state.

It's good to know that as far as my trip goes, I was able to return home and count on paying the highest gas prices I would pay in 13 days on the road from the Midwest to the coastal Carolinas. Good thing to know there are some things you can always count on.

Gas prices aside it was a great family trip with lots of memories made.

Looking forward to my return to the office on Wednesday this week ... sort of.