Clemson, SC

The air is thick and heavy with humidity.  South Carolina is everything and nothing like I expected.

When I passed through Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and finally South Carolina, I was surprised at how beautiful and lush the landscape is.  Having last been through here when I was a kid, I suppose my expectations were strongly influenced by Gone With the Wind, which may or may not have had a drought. (It’s been a while.)  The rain through the mountains was nearly torrential at times, but it only came in short spurts.  Otherwise, traffic was much better than driving through Illinois where drivers (do not speed much but) cut you off so closely you want to jump out and check your front bumper for damages.  Also, turn signal laws are clearly mere suggestions outside of Wisconsin’s borders.

Clemson, South Carolina has been amazing so far.  I drove here to visit Allison, an old college roommate, who is attending grad school at Clemson University.  Last night we caught up over dinner at an Italian restaurant in the quaint downtown area and a bottle of pinot grigio back at her apartment with friends. The university’s campus is beautiful and reminds me a lot of St. Norbert – except supersized.  Giant paw prints and hunter orange blanket the campus and downtown scene.  The south is going to take some getting used to.  Allison swears they love Clemson football here more than Green Bay loves the Packers.  That I’ll have to see to believe.  Packer football is practically a religion.  She’s right though about one thing everyone wears orange.

Currently, I am holed up in a coffeeshop perfecting coverletters.  Ok, no.  Carly (the barista) and a regular befriended me at once, and we are watching Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince on her laptop while the shop is empty.  It is kind of amazing.  I’ll have to finish the coverletter after the movie is over.

This is actually one of the parts of travel that has really surprised me the most. Throughout my trip, I have met some of the most friendly people whether at rest stops, coffeeshops, or hotels.  Everyone is interested.  Everyone reaches out.  There is something about being a lonely traveler that makes people share their cookies, illegally downloaded films, and life stories.

ps – For the record, Allison’s engagement ring is stunning.  I can’t wait for all these weddings to start!

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