Final Sprint, First Stage

We didn’t see much of Alabama on the roughly 300 miles of I-20 from Meridian to Atlanta Friday night, and since it was dark, even less of Georgia. I did feel a bit of a pang when we passed Heflin, Ala., not far from the state line, which is the exit for the start of the Pinhoti 100-mile trail run. I attempted the run last year, with Laura and Kathleen as my crew, but dropped out at the 55-mile point. It’s a great event, along the beautiful, legendary Pinhoti trail that runs through Georgia into Alabama. Thinking ahead to the Sept. 26 urology appointment, I guessed it highly unlikely I’d be entering any more 100-milers.

We had planned originally to stop somewhere between New Orleans and Greer, S.C., just north of Greenville, where Marie, Mike (Pius), and the grandkids live. It’s over 600 miles. But after three straight indoor nights, we were tapped out on unpacking the tent, air mattress, etc. More important, if we stopped we’d lose half a day getting to Greer on Saturday.

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Nature in downtown Greenville (photo from autumn last year)

So we gritted our teeth and drove. From broad daylight around Tuscaloosa, to dusk in Birmingham, to darkness. We drove and drove, stopping a few times to change positions. Finally: I-285. Atlanta. Then I-85, first signs for Greenville. Then: stop. The Georgia Dept. of Transportation thought it a good idea to repave one lane of both the northbound and southbound sides of I-85 just north of Atlanta, on a Friday night during the dregs of rush hour. As we inched forward, I felt even sorrier for the southbound drivers. Their headlights stretched north on two lanes for miles, behind two monster asphalt-laying vehicles.

Finally we broke free, beneath a mileage sign: Greenville, 113. I gritted my teeth and gripped the wheel and stared down the left lane. 103, 90, 72, 60 miles to go, plus the extra five to Greer.

We pulled up in front of the Pius household about midnight. Mike and Marie were up, the boys long asleep. We hugged and went to bed. Back on familiar ground, and the East Coast, or near it.

Plant a Garden
Plaque at the Falls Park in downtown Greenville

We slept late, then played with the kids. I took Sandy to the Urgent Care for her cough. I got the oil changed in the van. That afternoon I dragged the tent out for the last time and set it up in the yard for the kids. Patrick, the nearly two-year-old, crawled inside. Noah, who’s four, wasn’t interested.

Sunday was another easy day. We went to Mass, then Mike and I watched the Redskins at Buffalo Wild Wings. Marie, Sandy, and the kids joined us as the game wound down. We walked around downtown Greenville, a picturesque mid-size city with a lovely downtown, with comfortable parks, restaurants, and fascinating history. A strong candidate for us for the future—sometime, maybe. Right now, other things to think about.

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