Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 50
Be ready to roar when you come to
Clemson, South Carolina. This college town is the home of the Clemson Tigers, the football team that
won the national championship
game in Tampa, Florida, on Jan. 9,
2017, beating the Alabama Crimson
So now, during late summer and
fall, all rightfully roar in Tigertown,
where I settle into a spacious, suitestyle room at The Abernathy (864654-5299) on Old Greenville Highway. Then I stroll along the sidewalk
until I reach TDs (864-654-3656), a
popular watering hole and eatery on
"It is the most exciting thing,"
says longtime TDs waitress and
Clemson student Fern Johnson, 23.
"For football season, it's the exciting adrenalin of just everyone being here and loving, like, the same
team. It's really cool."
Close to campus, Clemson University operates the South Carolina
Botanical Garden (clemson.edu/
scbg), where you can see the state
tree, Palmetto, uniquely growing in
a sandy, coastal habitat. Or beware
the prickly cactus facing the walk
outside the Bob Campbell Geology
For Sunday brunch, I stop in the
SunnySide Cafe (864-653-9532) on
College Avenue. And I order what
looks like a football: Lines of cheddar cheese on the "Miami Breakfast
Sub" resemble the lace on a pigskin.
This Cuban-influenced breakfast
sandwich is both hearty and hulky,
packing pulled pork, Applewoodsmoked bacon and Boar's Head tavern ham into a French roll with local
over-easy eggs, tomatillo salsa, chipotle sour cream and an avocado aioli.
"It's easily the most popular dish
on the menu," says restaurant manager Randy King.
Fortified like a football player, I
take off for Table Rock State Park,
driving about a half-hour into rural Pickens County. Then I paddle
the soft waters of Pinnacle Lake on
a kayak, enjoying the best views of
Table Rock's shiny slope and listening to the laughter of the sunbathers
on the beach.
Two miles east, I crunch on crispy
catfish and juicy green beans plus
ice tea and ice cream at the folksy
Aunt Sue's Country Corner (864878-4366), a longtime landmark
facing the Cherokee Foothills Scenic
I also take a tour of the Victoria
Valley Vineyards (864-878-5307),
about a mile off S.C. 11.
The winery's managing director,
Brittany Jayne, tells me peak fall color in Pickens County comes during
the last week of October or the first
week of November. "And the view is
just incredible when the colors turn.
It's honestly just so gorgeous. The
foothills are breathtaking."
Edie Rich built up the anticipation,
oh, so cleverly.
Rich guided our tour of the historic Union County Courthouse,
showing off spaces dedicated to veterans, athletes, churches, schools
and the county's claims to fame.
We arrived at the old courtroom
in this 1899 structure, standing at
the center of Blairsville, Georgia.
"We have a ghost here," Rich says
with a deadpan tone. "His name is
Saying that, Rich also presents a
picture-a sketch by a woman who
said she saw "Hector" here, inside
the courtroom. And that's when my
10-year-old son John's jaw dropped,
and his eyeballs opened like an owl's.
Turns out, says Rich, that ghost-