18 Apr 2011

Spring in Georgia

Posted by Sam

April 15, 2011

We watch the TV weather channel daily and always feel so bad when we see the rain and cold hitting Oregon and Washington. It seems like everywhere has a drawback sometime, whether it is sleet in Washington DC or wild fires in El Paso, snow in Montana. But this time of the year, in the southeast, with no hurricanes in sight (knock, knock), it is just “Lhuveiluh.” All winter the wisteria has climbed the pines without notice. Now it has burst into trembling clumps of flower, purpling the trees. White iris fills the ditches and pink dogwood takes a dainty stand in many a half acre yard. We watched the Master’s Golf Tournament just 45 miles from Augusta and with the windows open, couldn’t tell if the bird sounds were outside or on the TV. This is the place to be in the winter and spring.

Since we left Savannah we have done a commercial park in Statesboro and a State Park in Jackson, Georgia. We just finished a State Park in Elberton, Georgia, up on the Savannah River, bordering South Carolina. Working in these small towns is very hard. Unemployment has just improved to 15%, and there are many empty store fronts.

The State Park at High Falls, or Jackson, GA has been one of our most profitable parks for four years, even though we have not had the support of park management for the past couple of years. This year was even worse. We make the park 10,000 maps, which is a high print price and we have a hard time getting anyone to “go upstairs” and see how many boxes of last year’s maps are left. This year we felt like we had to insist, something just didn’t feel right, and sure enough, ALL of last year’s maps were upstairs. Wuh! It was a very uncomfortable time. our interpretation of southern manners looked like a thin veneer of civility spread over a fairly big slab of mean.

This description actually comes from our friend Ron who got stopped by a sheriff when he was a young man in southern Georgia. I’m sure the sheriff was Butt Cut Cates, who detained Ron and scared him pretty good. When Ron asked how he could get un-detained, the sheriff took him down to the local Conoco Station and told the proprieter, “Bubba, mah fren heyar wonts to bah four tars, but he doan wona to takem wiffum.”

Our 10 days here in Elberton has been interesting. The park is beautiful, but has no cell service, no computer service and no sewer hookups. Town is nearly 10 miles away. Elberton is the “Granite Capital of the World,” hosting 45 granite quarries and 89 processing plants. A granite quarry is surreal in that it looks like it’s made of leggo pieces, all straight lines and up and down slabs. Granite isn’t dug out of the ground, it is lasered and sliced. And according to the signs they will shoot you if you go in without permission. The factory outlet for granite markers is at the edge of town; remnants are readily available.

We had to smile every day, passing the emu farm, advertising emu oil. “How do you get emu oil?” I ruminate.  Dave says you squeeze ‘em. We should have stopped. Elberton offered us many examples of how important the human contact is. Sometimes in sales, I don’t get the “touch” I would like, no doubt owing to my own issues, but I miss them nevertheless. When I called on a towing operation, I couldn’t help but notice a monster rottwieler they use to guard the parts and cars inside the fence. The next day when I came back, I brought a couple of steak bones from our dinner and since everyone was out to lunch, I left the plastic bag of bones on the door mat. The dog saw me but I didn’t approach him. Later that afternoon I dropped by to show the owner the ad we had made for him, and before I could say “Did Chub like the bones?” this dog leapt up across the counter and licked and wiggled like a pup. I just couldn’t believe this dog associated the sight of me with those bones. What a smart dog! Chub got real playful for his picture (attached).

We had to get tires for the car, and decided to get them from a tire dealer who had bought an ad in the state park map. I know it was a difficult choice for the owner and I worked him pretty hard. We got four good tires, and the owner was pleased, but the tires were almost like a gift. They rotated the tires on the bus for a really good price and a LOT of grunt work, and let us stay overnight on their lot in downtown Elberton. By the time we left we felt like we had friends here

We are now in a park outside of  Lincolnton, Georgia, about 45 miles down the road. It’s another State Park, closer to Augusta, and a little better off than where we are now. That’s our last job until fall, unless we can round up a good one. I have my eye on a park in Ava Gardner’s home town; been trying to get it for three years.

We are trying to find a place to stay in New Bern, NC, while we get established with doctors. I need to get my shoulder treated, probably need to have cataract surgery, and get some follow up for the blood sugar, which has come down nicely. When my blood sugar went up, my triglycerides went up, and my liver enzymes went sky high. I haven’t taken any pain meds since the first of February, and the liver enzymes look much better. I am, however, somewhat cranky.

About my opening remarks on weather: Okay, the southeast does have about 250 tornadoes a year. We were really braced Friday night, but it passed right around us and got very close to where the kids are. We’re all okay, though.

Hoping you are the same, or better!


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