28 April 2009

Traveling Through Time

Augusta is southwest of the Savannah River, in Georgia, while North Augusta (my new home) is across the river, in South Carolina. After being a resident of this lovely state for nearly a month, I figured it was time to put my new driver’s license and car tag to use and start exploring South Carolina.

Columbia and Charleston are on my near-future radar, but right now, it’s all about Aiken, which is only fifteen minutes away and possibly the most beautiful town I’ve ever seen. From the live oak tunnel on South Boundary, to the horse trails in Hitchcock Woods, to the charming shops and caf├ęs downtown, to the houses with whimsical names like Mousetrap and Let’s Pretend, Aiken is absolutely gorgeous and somehow suspended in time.

There's a self-guided driving tour of Aiken I plan to take (and photograph), but I’ve already driven through the live oak tunnel, ventured into the Hitchcock Woods, visited the Aiken County Historical Museum, and browsed the gallery at Aiken Center for the Arts. I hadn't planned to visit the gallery, but I wandered in after photographing Splendor in Glass (shown above), which is right outside the door. I'm glad I wandered in, too, because I got to see Leslie Alexander’s Winter series, wherein she balances the extreme paleness of winter with a pure, pristine, graceful aesthetic that reminds us of winter's place in the great cycle of things... or maybe that's just my take, since I’ve been reading the Tao Te Ching.

21 April 2009

Artisans’ Fair at Living History Park

On April 17, the Olde Towne Preservation Association of North Augusta (along with other sponsors) hosted a kick-off party for their annual Olde Towne Artisans’ Fair at the Living History Park. What a pleasant event.

As soon as I got there, I loved the energy of the place. There was live music, good food, and some very interesting art. There were drawings, paintings, carvings, metalworks, luxurious handmade soaps, and handmade jewelry, among other treasures. Out of copyright respect, I didn’t photograph any of the art, but I do have some photos of the park to share:

14 April 2009

Exploring Downtown Augusta

I am serious about sightseeing. I load up on maps and brochures, pore over them to determine the best routes to see the best things, and then take several days, if needed, to see everything I want to see.

Since I’ve been to Augusta only once before, I decided to have a proper sightseeing binge to acquaint myself with my new home. For my maps and brochures, I went to the Georgia Welcome Center on I-20 (at the GA-SC border) as well as the Visitor Info Center at the Augusta Museum of History. (I haven’t toured that museum yet, so that may be a future New Thing.) The Visitor Info Center has a great map of notable sights in downtown Augusta, and they even sell self-guided driving tour CDs. I also found some helpful websites: http://dasquared.com/ and http://www.historicaugusta.org/tour/tours.html.

I haven’t seen everything yet, but below are some of my favorite sights so far in downtown Augusta. The former Augusta Cotton Exchange building, which is now home to Georgia Bank & Trust, is shown above.

Japanese “Pocket” Garden at Riverwalk, in honor of Augusta’s sister city in Japan, Takarazuka

News Building

Imperial Theater

07 April 2009

Experiencing Masters Madness in Augusta

For golf fans, Masters Week is the best time of year to be in Augusta, Georgia. For someone relocating to Augusta, Masters Week is possibly the worst week of the year to do so, because of the extra traffic. Guess which category I fall into.

But, you know, it wasn't actually as bad as I was expecting. Having lived in Atlanta nine years, I was expecting the kind of traffic where it takes an hour to go a quarter of a mile. But Augusta handled thousands of extra people (including me) quite well.

Washington Road was the main No Man's Land, and of course I had to go there, because that's where The Fresh Market is. In fact, I think the Market is smack-dab across from the golf course where the tournament took place. Sure seemed like it. Anyway, there I was, sailing through No Man's Land, right into the Market's parking lot, and into a primo parking space. Traffic? Pfft.

So, I learned very little about golf this week (and that's fine, really), but I learned something about Augusta: They have great city/event planners, traffic police, and whoever else was responsible for making the Masters Tournament such a success.