Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ah, Paris ...

TtV Fake Paris

We are at Paris Mountain State Park, just north of Greenville, South Carolina (map). We chose this spot because it was close to our route, offered 30-amp power, and is an easy scooter ride to downtown Greenville, where we have an affiliate club. It's not possible to reserve a single night, so we had to take our chances on a site being left when we arrived, but, as it turned out, the same two 40' sites that showed on ReserveAmerica were still available when we pulled up.

It was hard to leave the relative cool of 3,500' behind. It was very pleasant and in the upper 70s when we readied Odyssey for departure from Ralph Andrews County Park. We got a relatively early start for us, leaving before lunch time, in order to snag one of the last two spaces here before the weekend crowd showed up. As it turned out, however, the road had other plans for us.

We had an uneventful, if a bit challenging, drive back out of the park and down the very steep grade back out to 107. That highway, which seemed a bit narrow and windy to us earlier, now felt positively luxurious after the park road. Indeed, after a few more miles it in fact widened and straightened as we approached Cashiers.

At Cashiers we turned east onto US-64 and encountered a steady stream of traffic heading the other direction, we assumed denizens of Greenville and environs heading into the hills for the weekend to beat the heat. We soon understood, as we passed a never-ending series of golf courses, high-end resorts, rental villas, vacation homes, and yuppie restaurants stretching all the way from Cashiers to Rosman and encompassing the very resort-intensive areas of Sapphire and Lake Toxaway. We even passed an Outdoor Resorts, the posh Class-A-only motor-coach condo, and spied several high-end Prevost conversions in residence. I suspect the transients there are paying something more than the $16 we dropped at the county park, but they do have more restaurant choices.

Somewhere in the neighborhood of Lake Toxaway we came around a corner to a line of stopped traffic. A volunteer firefighter was directing traffic around an accident scene, with single-lane traffic control. He let all the cars in front of us go and then stopped us, informing us we were too large to fit what was left of the one lane. We had to park for half an hour, along with a large fiver behind us, while they directed traffic around us. We were amused when at least a few drivers, apparently thinking we were the problem, pulled right back into the lane in front of us, only to come face to face with a fire apparatus right around the corner.

Having lived many places where traffic is heavy and law enforcement overburdened, we are accustomed to the mantra "move accident vehicles from the traffic lanes." Washington, for example, as well as some other states, even post this on signage along the freeway. This is because too many drivers, after having some minor fender-bender, believe erroneously that when law enforcement arrives they will want to see the vehicles exactly where they "came to rest" in order to determine fault. In practice, the very first thing a now-annoyed and frazzled officer will do is move the vehicles out of traffic -- using a push-bar if necessary.

So we were greatly surprised (and mildly annoyed) when we walked around the corner to see what amounted to a minor fender-bender -- a zero-injury accident involving a vehicle that transgressed over the center line clipping another vehicle "head on." Both vehicles looked to us to have been capable of moving under their own power, or at least being pushed by a half dozen beefy firefighters. They were now both mostly in one lane, with one car perhaps two feet into the other lane, which is where they were sending all the traffic. It also looked to me like we'd have no trouble getting around this, and the fact they sent at least one 40' straight truck through around us confirmed this, but it was still relatively cool out and we were in no hurry.

The firefighters steadfastly refused to move these two vehicles, claiming that they absolutely had to wait for the highway patrol to come to investigate. Sheesh. After half an hour, a tow truck showed up, but no highway patrol. The tow operator, being a paid professional with other obligations (the fire department was all-volunteer and clearly eager to be working) merely marked all eight wheel locations with fluorescent green pavement marking paint, then promptly dragged the vehicles out of the roadway. Sanity thus restored, we were again on our way.

Our planned route had us turn south onto US-178, which North Carolina did not bother to mark as such, but which was clearly marked at the other end, in South Carolina, as "not recommended for trucks -- use alternate route." Oh well. I got a good workout at the wheel, and Odyssey made it with no real trouble, but we might have gone around if we had known. From where 178 meets SC-11, we planned to take SC-288, Table Rock Road, straight across through Pumpkintown to Marietta, just a short distance north of this park.

What we did not know was that there is a 10-ton bridge about five miles east on 288. We got a little over a mile of warning about it, which was not enough to avoid having to drive almost right up to it to turn around, at a side road which would have taken us north to Table Rock Park, except it, too, had a low-limit bridge. We ended up backtracking the full five miles to SC-11, which was a superhighway compared to everything else we'd been on, and taking that all the way to US-276. It was well past 2 when we finally arrived, and we were relieved to find spaces still available.

We scheduled our dinner reservation at the Commerce Club for 8pm to avoid the worst of the heat, and the temperature had dropped to the low 90s by the time we headed off on the scooters. We had a wonderful meal on the 17th floor, overlooking both the city and the hills, and a very pleasant ride in both directions on a series of back roads recommended by the park ranger. These were not only free of traffic, but also wound their way through enough tree cover and other vegetation that the ride actually felt cool. Other than a minor snafu getting both scooters out of hock at the parking garage, it was a perfect evening.

Today we will continue on to Columbia, where we have another affiliate club. We are hoping to squeeze into the state park there for another 30-amp pedestal.

Photo by Miles Davis (Smiley), used under a Creative Commons license.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome back to South Carolina. Hope you guys have a good stay in Columbia and a safe trip on to Myrtle Beach....if you happen to see someone staring at your ride while at Sesqui, pay no mind, it's probably just the wife and I admiring your setup...


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