Monday, November 10, 2014

Hilton Head Island to Augusta Georgia

After spending most of the year touring in the southeastern portion of the country, we decided to begin our journey westward. We reluctantly left Hilton Head Island and headed back into Georgia for a stay near the town of Augusta, site of the Masters golf tournament. The Masters is held each April and I'd heard many wonderful things about the golf course during the televised game that I wanted to see the course first hand. Unfortunately, I was to be disappointed later as I failed to read up about the facility prior to our visit. Anyway, we headed our journey west on Hwy 278, a pleasant four lane divided highway with very little traffic.

The Savannah River provides the dividing line between South Carolina and Georgia. Taking Hwy 278 westward returns you to Interstate 95. From there you can take US 301 west and stay in South Carolina or return to Georgia and take Ga. 21. Since we love small towns and tend to prefer back roads we chose Ga. 21.

Once on Ga. 21, we were treated to an endless view of meticulously kept farm houses. Fields of cotton appeared all along this route. Most of the fields appeared to be ready to be harvested.

Cotton is a fairly hardy plant and has genetically been altered to provide immunity from many of the pests that preyed on the plant in earlier times. Each plant produces seed pods called "bolls" which then open to produce the white cotton you see here.

Picking cotton is now a thing of the past and is used only for movie making. Since the early 1950s cotton is 'picked' by huge machines which can clear a field in much less time. While the cotton is harvested in record time, compared to picking by hand, there is a lot of cotton left behind by the machines. Seems we sacrifice quantity for quality.

Clearing a cotton field was tiresome and back breaking work. Today a field can be cleared quickly and easily using these machines. The cotton is rolled and encased in a plastic covering, then placed in rows, waiting to be transported for processing. Here we see one of these machines working one of the fields.

Where Hwy 278 was a nice four land divided highway, Ga. 21 is only a two way single lane hwy. Still, it was wide with very little traffic. Farm houses continued to dot mile after mile.

Seems like every small town was set up the same, with a town square in the middle. Usually there was either a park set in the center with shops all around the square, or the town hall with accompanying businesses around the square. Although they were all similar, each was unique in their own way.

In the little town of Hilltonia, Ga. we found larger homes than the smaller farm houses leading up to the city. The entire town was immaculate and show pride of ownership. No cars in the front yard, no piles of trash and junk littering the side yards and carports, just freshly mowed yards and neatly trimmed hedges.

We had jogged off Ga. 21 onto US 301 and then west again on Ga. 24. We found more of the same type roadway except the curbs and gutters fell away to trimmed grasses and more farms.

If you have the time, you owe it to yourselves to get off the Interstate highways. Most of these little traveled roads are ideal for even the largest rigs. Each area and town is unique and offers a more relaxing and enjoyable drive. It does require a little more thought and planning but the rewards are numerous.

We are entering the town of Sardis, Ga. That is a large grain elevator used to process the cotton harvested from the nearby fields. Each boll of cotton contains seeds which must be separated from the cotton before it can be woven into material.

The United States is the third largest producer and the largest exporter of cotton in the world. We produce over 16 million bales of cotton each year. Each bale is about 17 cubic feet!

Passing through the town of Sardis, Ga. population around 1000. If you blink while passing through, you'll probably miss most of the downtown area. It did have one traffic light.

Since we decided to stay north of Augusta, we used back roads to bypass the city itself. This is Hwy 104 in Ga. Once settled into our campground, we will return to Augusta to visit that city.

When old airplanes can no longer function as designed, they're either scrapped or put on display . Military jets find their way into parks, twin engine planes get impaled on poles and draw attention to restaurants.

The Enterprise Mill was built in 1845. Originally, a flour mill, it underwent many transformations over the years. It was built along the Augusta Canal which provided for transportation of goods to and from the mill. It ceased operation in 1983 and now houses a museum, shops, a restaurant and many offices. It is a perfect example of what can be achieved through redevelopment of a decaying portion of a city.

We were really disappointed in the Augusta National Golf Club. It is a private club and contrary to all the hoopla television provides, we found the entire "mystique" surrounding the facility to be appalling. While it is a "members only" club, they prohibit females from joining. After some nasty lawsuits, they've allowed only two female 'members'. Picture taking of the grounds and facilities are prohibited.

Located adjacent to the downtown area is the riverwalk. Unlike the riverwalk in many other cities, Augusta's Riverwalk has no small shops and restaurants. It is simply what it says it is...a walking trail along the side of the Savannah River.

There is a marina and a small gift shop along the riverwalk but nothing compared to places like San Antonio, Texas. We found the area to be quiet and peaceful though and perfect if you're looking for a place with solitude and comfort.

Adjacent to the riverwalk is the St. John's Episcopal Church. Established in 1750 by the Church of England it is the oldest church in Augusta. It is located on the Riverwalk at 6th and Reynolds streets.
Here's an example of one of the beautiful homes along the Riverwalk. I love that front porch!

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