Road Trip: Visiting the South – Georgia and South Carolina – Part 1

road tripMy wife is an adventurer, for which I am very thankful. The way this usually manifests is that, without my knowing it, we suddenly have dinner plans, a party to go to, or a vacation or road trip in store, and it’s my job to show up and be delightful. I can report that this system is working well.

In June, my wife bought four plane tickets so that the two of us and her parents could fly to Augusta, Ga.

She reserved a rental car so that we could drive from Augusta to nearby Aiken, S.C., where her sister, brother-in-law, five nieces and baby nephew live in a hundred-year-old wooden farmhouse on five acres on the outskirts of town. The plan sounded great.

We were going to “the South” to visit family, an experience worth my taking a moment to relate.

We arrived in Augusta. It’s a small airfield, with a commensurately charming concourse, complete with tiny putting greens and voluminous wood porches with scattered, oversized, wooden rocking chairs outside the main atrium. It was a warm welcome.

At the rental car kiosk, the agent took a look at me, my wife, my venerable in-laws and our luggage. We were told that the humble class of vehicle to which our road trip reservation entitled us had only one available model on the lot: a Mini Cooper. Expelling images of circus clowns from my mind, I asked, “What else you got?” I was then invited to pay significantly more money for insignificantly more car.

The fates intervened, and I was grateful.

While the kind of road trip we were in for was slowly dawning on my in-laws, the agent was loudly informed that the smallest model now available on the lot was a Chrysler Town & Country minivan. Deflated, the agent sped through some paperwork, handed me some keys, quickly said something polite and disappeared. I was delighted, and thanked the back of her head.

I really like the Chrysler Town & Country, because it’s just bedecked with amenities, but I’ve been especially fond of them for road trips ever since they started building them with the Stow & Go seating.

Here’s the gist of it: There are four seats if you want them and a flat floor if you don’t. More than once, I’ve enjoyed solo car-camping road trips on which I folded all four of them flat and used this vehicle AS the tent at each campsite. The utility of this thing is endless. Anyone who says that minivans aren’t for real men needs to improve their understanding of both.

We loaded up. My momentarily-worried in-laws became quite giddy as they settled in, and my wife kissed me on the cheek. Thanks, fates.

We rolled out on our road trip, past healthy palms and pines, and, turning on the A/C, started to learn a little bit more about the South, and the warmth of its welcome.

To be continued next week.

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