I absolutely love Farmville, North Carolina. I love Main Street, the friendly people, biking the countryside, watching kids play kickball after school, chatting with shop owners, buying pickled okra at the hardware store, walking to the library & reading on the patio, finding a $50 dress for $6, eating cheese biscuits & sweet potato pie, and getting a free tire check (it's fine ma'am). The Airbnb tiny house brought me into Farmville but I really needed to stay more than a week. I shall return.
If you've driven I-95 through South Carolina, you've probably slowed for a view of a spectacular lake -- Lake Marion. I've done this dozens of times intending to stop and take a closer look one day. At last, the time had come, as I perused a map for a convenient location to pitch the tent.
While man-made, Lake Marion is the largest lake in South Carolina at 110,000 acres. I wouldn't swim here (hundreds of gators) but it's popular for fishing and kayaking. It's also a beautiful spot to watch the sunrise from your campsite at Santee State Park, where you can also walk woodsy trails and bike nearby neighborhoods. I'm not sure what the weekends bring, but Sunday through Thursday was peaceful. My first two days were quite enjoyable and people were cordial but kept to themselves. The few kids there were busy riding bikes around camp or going fishing. It felt like days of yore!
Ah, but you know the other shoe is about to fall! My last two nights were spent sleeping in my car as severe thunderstorms with heavy rain arrived. The first night included my first- ever tornado experience and Tom Petty was right, "the waiting is the hardest part". Thankfully, people gathered and I joined them -- 9 adults, 2 children, 3 dogs and 1 cat in a concrete bathhouse waiting, hoping and praying. The camaraderie was greatly appreciated. I've never seen such rapid darkness descend but the tornado rolled across Lake Marion before touching down just 20 miles north.
After oh-so-many months in Florida, the finale was eventful. Mother Nature stole my last night at Princess Place Preserve as a storm was heading my way that had just torn through Louisiana and surrounding states. Sleeping among the trees through it (solo, I might add), coupled with a long drive ahead, did not seem like a very good idea. While I only pushed 30 miles north to an unaffordable motel in St. Augustine, it was a good decision. The next morning, my first 50+ miles heading out were horrific -- torrential rain, lightning, and far too much traffic getting through Jacksonville construction zones. Yet, when I crossed the Georgia border, I'd say it was "nearly sunny".
Escaping 95 North as soon as possible, I meandered through back roads for hours; thinking, just once, that I was lost. While I'd originally planned to see the Georgia canyons this year, there wasn't a campsite nor an affordable Airbnb available for either park. So, I followed my gut and landed in Twin City at the Barwick-Dudley House.
Situated between Swainsboro and Statesboro, the railroad put this spot on the map in the 1830's and was founded on lumber and turpentine. Originally the towns of Summit and Graymont, economics brought them together as Twin City in the early 1900's, now 3.6 square miles and nearly 2,000 residents. It did still feel like two small towns to me.
So, what drew me here? Absolutely the house and its residents. What a great pleasure to stay in a late 19th century home in a room with a window seat, a parlor with a grand piano, and a decorative wraparound porch to sit and read. Coupled with that was my host is a retired literature professor and an author of 6 books, which made for very interesting breakfast conversation. Unfortunately, I didn't meet Mrs. Dudley as she's getting her Art degree in Philly at the moment; she was also mayor of Twin City once.
In all honesty, the State Park was an unknown gift to walk the trails and bike the roadways when I wasn't heading out to see what the countryside of Metter, Canoochee and Garfield had to offer. Small town America.
Cyclist, writer, teacher, avid reader, bike/ped advocate, nomad, pie lover