My day

So, like I mentioned earlier, I went to Aiken today.

I was really bored. Sean’s 1 to 10 shift is annoying, for reasons I’ve listed before. I didn’t know what to do with myself. The prospect of sitting around on the computer, or sitting around watching Friends, sounded horribly boring.

It was 4:30, so I called Brooke to see if she wanted to do anything. She wasn’t around to answer her phones, though, so I decided I would just go somewhere myself. I wasn’t sure where. On a lark I called Mari, not expecting her to be home. But she was! So I asked her what she was up to and if she wanted to do anything. She said she and Kelly were going to the gym and then to KMart and Target, and invited me for the shopping part. I agreed, and she said she’d call me when they were done at the gym.

I didn’t want to wait around for that, though. I was extraordinarily antsy. So, I headed towards the door with no idea of where I was going to go.

The Greeneway and the Canal both seemed like boring choices, as did downtown Augusta. I wanted to see something new. It occurred to me, randomly: “I’ll go to Aiken, I’ve never been to Aiken.”

So, I went to Aiken.

I took I-20 because I figured that’d be easiest, and I just drove until I saw an Aiken exit. (This took a long time, but I was pleased to see that I-20 is somewhat picturesque in South Carolina. It’s actually a little hilly, providing some nice vistas.) Then I followed the road off the exit until I found myself in Aiken’s historic downtown.

I drove straight through it, then turned around. I passed a neat looking fountain and decided to park and take a picture of it. There were all kinds of parking spaces, in the diagonal style of Augusta’s Broad Street. I chose one near an arbor and backtracked to the fountain.

From there, I decided to just stroll around the shops and see what there was to see. I headed off down an alley (named, conveniently, “The Alley”) with restaurants and shops, most of which were closed.

The Alley ended at the street I’d driven in on. I turned right and wandered up the sidewalk a ways. I noticed two old women sitting on a bench just ahead of me. They looked like they were having a good time. I wanted to take a picture of the street, but I didn’t want to make them uncomfortable. As I approached, though, I saw that my caution was unnecessary.

Lexington did a thing several years ago where artists decorated horse statues, and the statues were displayed all over town before they were finally auctioned off. I’m not sure if Aiken is doing the same thing, or if their horse statues are permanent, but there sure were a lot of them.

Downtown Aiken is pretty. The storefronts are old-timey and interesting, and there are plants and trees everywhere. There’s also a good deal of brickwork, which I love.

I walked up that street until it ended, then turned left to see if there might be another similar street. The street I wound up on had a few businesses, but mostly houses, including this one that I think looked like a postcard for America:

White picket fence and everything!

I headed up that street until it was clear that I wasn’t going to see much else, and then I turned left again, heading back towards the main strip. At that point I took some time to go inside Plum Pudding, a gourmet kitchen supply store, because I thought it looked neat. (It was also about to close.) Here, for your viewing pleasure, are some $20 wire whisks.

I headed back down the street to the right, spotting some storefronts I hadn’t seen from the other side, until I got to the opposite end of downtown. Aiken’s downtown really isn’t all that big; Augusta’s kind of dwarfs it. I saw another horse statue at that end, one painted with a patriotic 9/11 theme.

I finally cut back to the street where my car was parked, passing a federal courthouse and a funeral home. When I got there I took some pictures of the flowering trees at the end of the string of arbors.

A couple more pictures of the fountain, arbors, and a weird little blue van,

and I was ready to head back. I figured Mari would be calling soon; I’d explored for roughly an hour, and the transit time added to that meant that she and Kelly would surely be done at the gym at any moment. So I hopped in my car, rolled down the windows, and turned the ignition.

It was very, very hot, and I had a sinking feeling that it wouldn’t work even as I turned the key and the starter did nothing but click.

“I should have parked in the shade,” I bitched at myself. Thus began the who-knows-how-long joy of trying to air out the car so that it would start. As I sat there, sweat rolling down my face due to the heat, I tried it again and again, running the non-functional A/C to get some air moving (it is telling that the blast of hot air actually felt good to me–kind of scary that it was that hot).

After awhile I started to think that I should just go to a restaurant so I could cool off and have something to drink, because I’d been walking around in 101° weather with no water or anything. But I kept trying, and trying, and trying.

Finally, when I was about ready to give up and go hide in someone’s air conditioned pub, I turned the key and the starter went click and then, suddenly, the engine growled and died. I turned the key again, and it started up.

I was very, very thankful as I put it in gear and sped off. Driving gives me a nice breeze and helps me cool down…

The first thing I did was go to McDonald’s and get 1) a vanilla cone; 2) a bottled water (ugh, Dasani, but what can you do). Then I drove home, deciding to try route 78 instead of I-20. (This was quite successful, marred only by my getting lost in North Augusta and wasting a lot of time driving all the way out to exit 5 of I-20. On the bright side, I now know quite a bit more about North Augusta’s geography than I used to…)

I had barely gotten in the door when Mari called, so I didn’t have time to upload my pictures then. I went and met Mari and Kelly at the Big K in North Augusta (I had just been there!), and we shopped, then came back to Augusta Exchange (right down the street from my apartment!) to go to Subway and Target. (That teriyaki sandwich they have at Subway now is killer. I get that every time.) Then, finally, it was time to go home.

It was a little before 10 when I got in. The reasons it took me so long to upload photos and write this post are: 1) uploading the pictures took 47 minutes; 2) I left the room to watch some more Friends and ended up just staying in there for awhile; 3) tagging and captioning pictures takes time; 4) it also takes time to write posts about stuff.

So there you have it.

Now, I am pretty tired. I think this was a good day. I didn’t buy anything or go out anywhere special to eat, but I got to explore and take pictures, and I got to see my friends. Sounds like a winner to me!