October 28 - November 4, 2019: Irmo and Columbia, South Carolina
Our next stop was to Columbia, South Carolina. Two of Craig's high school buddies Tony and Connie live in Irmo, South Carolina, which is just north of Columbia. We stayed at their house and used it as a home base to explore Columbia and the surrounding area.
I have to say, holy cow! First, Tony and Connie were awesome and took us under their wing like family! Second, they have an amazing house that Connie designed which is tucked back in the woods with tons of room for our trailer and truck. Third, we stayed in the 'guest quarter's above the garage. Wow, we had our own living room, bedroom, and bathroom which is about 10 times the size of the trailer. Although we hung out in the main house with Tony and Connie during our stay, it was great to have a spot to settle into.
Connie worked during the days, however Tony was available to hang out with us and get us into trouble : ) It was great because we would play during the day and then all settle down in the evening catching up, watching movies and football. What an awesome relaxing time and much needed down time for us!
One of the days, Tony took us in his golf cart around his property and gave us the lay of the land. The tree the boys are standing near is a Cinnamon Bark Crepe Myrtle - incredible bark on this tree!
As you continue to read, Tony and Connie introduced me to a lot of "firsts". Below is a picture of boiled peanuts. A first for me. You can buy them every where around town. They boil them in flavored water and reminded me of black beans in their taste and texture. Interesting and....addictive! This same evening we had awesome BBQ and...my first Hash which was yummy also!
Tony and Connie live close to Lake Murray which has the Dreher Shoals Dam or Saluda Dam. Completed in 1930, the Saluda Dam was the world's largest earthen dam, creating the world's largest man-made lake, Lake Murray.
One evening we went out the dinner at Liberty on the Lake. Unfortunately, it was raining and chilly, however that did not stop us from having fun.
Another first for me, Shrimp and Grits. OMG....YUM...and I have been continuing to eat these as we make our way South ; )
When dessert came, Tony was talking so much with his hands, that...his arm became the recipient of the whipped cream : ) I wanted him to lick it off, but he refrained from it : ) He was a good sport with our teasing!
One day Craig and I headed to downtown Columbia to wander the streets and explore the city. It was really cool to see modern architecture and then historic markers and buildings.
As we wandered the city, we came across the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral and took a guided tour. The church was founded in 1812 and built as a wooden church. It was soon replaced in 1846 and was the first example of Ecclesiastical Gothic architecture in the South.
A few interesting tidbits about the church are: 1) the pews are in boxes with a door. Back in the day, the members had to 'rent' a box for their family and they all sat around in a circle; and 2) the stained glass within the church is from all around the world and was acquired over the years.
During a remodel of the bell towers, they discovered the layered affect in the stonework. This was the strengthen the towers.
Another cool thing is the graveyard beside the church which dates back to 1810 with the Guignard Lot. There are bishops, governors, office and soldiers from the American Revolution and Civil War buried here. There are still plots available so you will see a headstone with 1848 and beside it is 2010. Pretty cool!
As we wandered around the cemetery, I realized...it was Halloween...how appropriate!
Check out how the tree has grown and knocked over the headstone and tipped the crypt...imagine what the roots have done beneath the ground...
The picture below is the Parr Vault. It was closed after the death of the last Parr in 1847 and as requested, the key was thrown away. During the Civil War, Union soldiers tried to vandalize the vault but with the multiple layers and iron door they were not able to succeed.
We only scratched the surface of downtown Columbia that day and we saw a flyer for the Columbia Museum of Art. They were having a Vincent Van Gogh exhibit. So...the next day we went back downtown!
At the Columbia Museum of Art, the exhibit featured 12 Van Gogh's and other artists that inspired him.
Below are my favorites of the artists that inspired Van Gogh:
Connie was able to meet us for her lunch break and we wandered into the State Capital and around the grounds. Another first for me. I have never been inside a State Capital and it made me think..."let's redo our whole trip and tour all of the State Capitals." Craig quickly said "NO!" : )
After grabbing a quick lunch, Craig and I went back to the Art Museum to continue our tour. We had finished the Van Gogh exhibit but had the rest of the gallery we wanted to see. I think total we spent about 6 hours in the gallery and still not see everything!
One interesting thing to note, after touring the downtown area and speaking with a few locals (not Tony or Connie), they seem proud of their Confederate past and the statues by the Daughters Of The Confederacy. For me, it was the first time I have been on the "other side" and I had to watch what or how I said something.
One of the highlights of our stay was attending the Clemson Tigers vs. Wofford Terriers. In the Atlantic Coastal Conference (ACC), Clemson was ranked 3rd (at the time of the game) and Wofford was ranked #72. We knew it would be a blow out game, however...we wanted to see Clemson ranked 3rd on their home turf. This would give us a chance to see how a high ranked college on the East Coast compares to BSU in Idaho.
Of course, since we were going to a game, we HAD to have the proper color of apparel. The game was purple out. Craig, Tony, and I picked up some purple shirts for us and then Tony surprised us with additional items like stickers and my favorite...a nice warm fleece blanket - YES!
First, let me say that...Clemson University is in the town of Clemson, South Carolina. Once you enter City limits, you start to see paw prints on the roads...everywhere...the ENTIRE TOWN LIVES AND BREATHES this college and it's sports. The tailgate parties started BEFORE we entered the town of Clemson, continued across campus, and right outside of the stadium.
Look close at Tony's pant, they say "Boss"...Connie showed him who the Boss really is! : )
Connie scored us great seats right on the 50 yard line!
Gorgeous day for football! As you see later in the pictures, it did get a little chilly at the evening approached.
To start the game, the players exit their locker room on one side of the stadium and take a bus to the other side. There is something called Howard's Rock that all of the coaches and players touch, they then run down orange banner and onto the field. The crowd chants "C..L..E..M..S..O..(twirl a single arm in the air)....N" It was pretty cool to see!
The band played and marched into formation spelling Tigers and the paw, then two parachutists dropped into the stadium. Yes, I can now say I have seen a tiger fly (smile).
The entire stadium then said the Pledge Of Allegiance, a prayer was said (this was a first for me, guess we are in the South), the entire stadium sang the National Anthem and the school song. Then the game kicked off!
Another cool thing is there are two tigers. 1 and 1/2 (who is smaller in size) After each Clemson score, the military would do pushups and then they would hold a platform above their heads and 1 Tiger would do the same number of pushups. So...7 pushups for the first touchdown, 14 for the next, 21 for the next, etc. As you will see the final score was Clemson 59 Wofford 14. They did a total of 311 pushups during the game!
Another cool thing (how many cool things are there? keep reading to find out - smile) is after the game was over, you can go down on the field to mingle with the players, get autograph, pictures, throw a football, etc. As you can see below, Tony took his Clemson football and got at least 4 more signatures added to it. Craig, Connie, and I had pictures takes with the cheerleaders. Craig and Tony threw the football to each other and...another first for me...I threw my first football and...it was in a college stadium! Pretty cool experience!
We had a GREAT time in Irmo and Columbia with Tony and Connie. We learned so much, were introduced to so many new things, felt like a part of the family, and...had a blast!
THANK YOU TONY AND CONNIE FOR YOUR HOSPITALITY ! ! !