You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
Lake Hartwell, South Carolina, and the goat farm
A relaxing weekend in a US state 320mi still farther south (16-21 May 2019)
A first stop at the Lake Norman Motel and its Landing Restaurant, on Slanting Bridge Road in Sherrills Ford, near Mooresville near Charlotte, North Carolina. Good weather, and luckily, good food, with a bunch of pleasant people who mostly seem to know one another, many of whom have arrived on their boats.
It's even got a 'tiki bar', and offers live music, using the term somewhat loosely.
It's all kind of a painless introduction to vrai Southern culture (though the motel room reminded me of family road trips in the early 1950s)(but smaller).
3½ hours from home to Slanting Bridge Road, another 3½ tomorrow to Anderson, South Carolina, and the enormous Lake Hartwell. Melvin the Doge has always snoozed quietly through our road trips in Europe, but Choupette is only beginning to get with the programme.
A ceremonious entry to the home of Mark and Nancy, our excellent friends for many years, on one of the many arms of Lake Hartwell in the town jurisdiction of Anderson, SC.
They're in a wonderful house that they've largely done up themselves with inspired ideas and determined work.
And with their own grill, which beckons
Lake Hartwell is not a classically compact and intelligible lake like the one we frequent in Wisconsin -- what it is, to be honest, is a dammed up river system, extending down the Tugaloo River that forms the Georgia/South Carolina border some 49mi (79km), and 45mi (72km) down the Seneca River, to the Hartwell Dam, where it continues as the Savannah River to the eponymous city on the coast. There are so many bays and tributaries round the arms of the lake that the shoreline is said to extend over 960mi or 1,550km, most of it graced with boat docks, some of which are doubledeckers.
We're heading out to the nearby marina where there's a Japanese restaurant called Nami Asian Bistro.
The far side of this arm of the lake, and turning south under the bridge to . . .
. . . the houseboat piers of Portman Marina
Hudson is an entirely peaceful and accommodating big dog, but it will be a while before tiny Choupette is comfortable with that.
An excellent split-level livingroom
We heard a figure cited about the number of bricks employed, but likely it was an understatement.
Plans are being gestated for a grand adventure on the lake, in just a few hours' time.
A horde of geese, unwelcome here for a number of reasons
Choupette making a friendly approach to her good friend Melvin
Choupette may be pausing before doing what must, after all, be done . . .
. . . and then pounces.
Migration to the docks
These boats do not launch themselves. But the preparations are getting underway.
The project for today is for our host to become acquainted with his new navigation 'app' in a realtime situation, like boating on the lake.
So, with scouts poised in the bow, peering ahead, Nancy at the wheel, and Mark doublechecking everything on the app, we're proceeding from numbered buoy to buoy. There's the next one now.
With no shortage of attractive islands strewn about everywhere, this one is a wreck.
The buoys in various parts of the lake are coded, unintelligibly, unless you either know the code or have the app.
Here's the Hartwell Dam (we may actually be in Georgia now), some 18mi south of our dock. The dam was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1955 and 1963 -- 'the authorized purposes are flood risk management, water quality, water supply, downstream navigation, hydropower production, fish and wildlife protection, and recreation' (USACE).
Now we're definitely in Georgia (checking off my 31st state on the list)
Back to the dock -- with one of our party glowing brightish red (the others relied upon commercial sunscreens instead of natural protections).
Melvin and Choupette -- wary. Alert.
The goat farm
A morning visit to the goat farm -- closed to the public at the moment, but welcoming anyway.
We're here to pick up some goatish provisions. And to see the goats.
The Split Creek Farm 'strives to produce a wholesome, natural product from healthy, happy animals and to be self-sufficient. Starting with only three goats, the farmstead grew into a commercial dairy and cheese plant with 750 goats. Breeding and show stock have been exported to several countries, and the goats and cheeses have won many top awards in national competitions'.
Obligatory agritourism disclaimer
The floppy ears chap has just been isolated from his (or her) friends and is stroppy.
Newborns, fed manually off buckets for a number of very plausible reasons
-- Aww, there's so CUTE.
A somewhat older gang, but not yet ready for the pastures. If we understood what was explained to us, there are eight varieties, seven of which can be encountered here now and another on the way.
We need goat products, and that's where they're kept.
Staff members are kubota-ing loads of nutriments from enclosure to enclosure.
The Split Creek store
Plenty to choose from, including goat smoothies
Goat fans are nearly beside themselves with anticipation and good will.
Goodbye to the goats, until next time
Choupette and Melvin descend the stairs carefully, and watchfully . . .
. . . and are once again assured that Hudson means no harm to innocent little kitties.
A last boat ride to top up the fuel tanks
Past the houseboat piers
And 'The White House' (cheeky rich folks) (On the other hand, whoever's in there couldn't be doing any worse than the rich folks in the real White House.)
The gas dock -- convenient; expensive.
Dinner in downtown Anderson, SC, quite a presentable town, it seems.
The original county courthouse (American Renaissance style)
Lest we forget.
Quite suitable (allowing for regional specifities)
A challenge to be set for the university debating club -- to be argued, pro or con, before an audience of fellow students
20 May 2019: A fond farewell for Mark and Nancy (whom we'll see in Virginia in two weeks' time)
Loose geese in Greensboro, NC (just up the street from La Quinta). We'd booked at Wyndham Gardens, which advertised itself as (and I quote) 'pet friendly' -- when we showed up, we discovered that the 'friendly' part signified US$ 50 per pet. (The two pets would have cost far more than the room. But 'friendly' -- the language of US commercial relations.)
Baby geese on the loose
As the friendly pets will attest, if asked, this was the best La Quinta we've ever stopped in.
Two friendly pets, snoozing together, until it all . . .
. . . descends into violence.
Route 29 north to the Rockfish Gap and Shenandoah Valley (the Interstates, 77 and 81, are harrowing death traps)
An exhausting three hour drive for the cats, and Choupette is pleased to be home.