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Sub Station II / Laundromat, US-601 St. Matthews: 2000s   7 comments

Posted at 1:50 am in business,out-of-area

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I noticed this pair of co-located derelict businesses driving US-601 through St. Matthews towards I-26 this Spring.

I wasn't sure at first what the restaurant was, but a close look at the menu board pretty well pins it down to a Sub Station II.

I can't think of any obvious reason why both businesses in this building would have failed at what seems to be more or less the same time. While the restaurant market is fickle, laundromats are places where you must go. I'm guessing early 2000s for the timeframe here, but the building does seem rather enthusiastically vine encrusted, and if the realtor posting the sign does succeed in selling the place, I doubt there's much that can be done beyond knocking the place down and starting over.

Written by ted on November 8th, 2014

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Carolina Renaissance Festival 2014, Huntersville NC   no comments

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Celtic band Cu Dubh.

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So, I thought at first I had made a big mistake heading up to the Carolina Renaissance Festival last weekend. It was a cold and rainy Halloween when I hit the road, and I awoke Saturday to find out that Snowpocalypse had hit the Midlands while I was gone and that it was cold, rainy, wet and miserable in Huntersville.

Fortunately, although I had to use the wipers driving out to the festival grounds, but the time I got there, it had stopped raining and was just cold and miserable. Obviously the crowds were thin, but the performers gave it a good go and the sun finally did peek out during the late afternoon giving them (and me) some relief. Sunday, however was gorgeous, and all these pictures date from then.

It seemed to me that a good portion of the performers were back from last year, but there were some new faces as well. As before, everybody had a very polished and entertaining line of patter and were quick to improv as circumstances demanded. There are plenty of kid centric and family friendly shows as well as more ribald "loose cannon" performances for those of us a bit longer in the tooth.

The festival continues on weekends through 23 November and it's a great way to spend a (hopefully sunny!) Fall afternoon.

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Written by ted on November 5th, 2014

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Atlanta Bread Company, 8966 University Boulevard (North Charleston): 6 April 2014   no comments

Posted at 12:40 am in out-of-area,restaurants

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I wonder a bit about how Atlanta Bread is doing. They had their category to themselves for a number of years, but nowdays, it seems as though I see new Panera stores opening more often than ABCs. In fact the opposite seems to be true. ABC has left the Grand Strand with the closing of the North Myrtle Beach and Socastee stores, and here in Columbia, they have closed Sandhill (which was *directly* replaced with a Panera) and Lake Murray Boulevard (twice!).

This ABC, off I-26 exit 205, is one I would sometimes stop at on my way into Charleston if I wanted a cookie and spot of wifi before heading downtown. The last time I tried that, in June, I found the place closed for some time and already on the way to becoming a Firehouse Subs.

Written by ted on October 16th, 2014

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Brookgreen Gardens Harvest Home Weekend, Brookgreen Gardens: 5 October 2014   no comments

Posted at 12:32 am in events,grand-strand,out-of-area

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It's a few months until the candles, but what better way to spend a gorgeous Fall weekend than out in the sun at Brookgreen Gardens Harvest Home Weekend? You can build a scarecrow, paint a pumpkin, make a birdfeeder, see butterflies up close and personal, gawk at extroverted otters and cruise past basking alligators.

If you don't happen to have children in tow, you could even look at some sculpture,

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Written by ted on October 10th, 2014

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Fazoli's, 1205 Highway 17 North (Surfside Beach): November 2010   2 comments

Posted at 11:40 pm in grand-strand,out-of-area,restaurants

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OK, this one is all about the sign rather than any deep attachment to a closed Italian fast-food chain outlet.

That said, this building was a Fazoli's until November 2010, and with this closing, Fazoli's has no locations on the Grand Strand. In fact, the closest Fazoli's to the Grand Strand would seem to be either the Two Notch Road location or the Fayetteville NC location. I'm a bit ambivalent about the chain. I like the breadsticks, but it always seemed to me that every time I found a main menu item I liked, they would change the menu..

Written by ted on September 26th, 2014

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Amelia Con 2014, Fernandina Beach Florida: 6 September 2014   2 comments

Posted at 7:23 pm in events,out-of-area

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Well, I don't really need much of an excuse to visit Fernandina Beach, one of my favorite places, so when my sister noticed that there was an Amelia Island comics, steampunk, gaming and anime convention, , I decided to check it out.

Compared to the Charlotte Heroes Convention, Ameliacon was quite small. There was one exhibit hall, in the park on Atlantic Avenue which houses the municipal swimming pool, with gaming and presentation events in the town womens' center behind the park. It seemed to me also that the convention focus was definitely more on gaming, costuming and cosplay than on comic books, though there were some authors and artists there.

I certainly felt out of the loop on some issues! Magna/Anime character design generally hurts my eyes, so I was pretty clueless about one of the properties that seemed to be a very big thing Attack on Titan. There were a number of costumers basing their characters on that. I was also completely in the dark about what is apparently a very popular podcast Welcome to Night Vale, something the contest winning cosplayers based their presentation on.

I missed the morning presentation on Steampunk, having somehow convinced myself that it was in the afternoon, but did catch an interesting presentation by Joshua Johnson on doing video special effects on, basically, zero budget.

The audio for the presentations was the most problematic facet of the convention. I got the impression from listening to one of the organizers talk during the costume contest that someone had promised the convention a PA system and then left them totally in the lurch. I could follow ok during the effects presentaion, and parts of the Marvel/DC artist's presentation, but I gave up during the Homestruck panel where the panel were all using their indoor voices, and where I was only sitting in to try to figure out what Homestruck actually was anyway.

The costumers were out full force in the exhibit hall, and then at the closing costume/cosplay contest.

During the costume contest, it was announced that the convention would be shifting out of the fall and into February, so there will be no Ameliacon 2015. The next will be Ameliacon 2016 though they did announce a sequence of local get-togethers in advance of that. I certainly enjoyed myself -- I don't know that I would have driven that far for a convention of that size in a place I didn't have other motives to visit, but in the event, it was a nice trip.

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Written by ted on September 9th, 2014

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Family Dollar #7457,10000 U.S. 521, Greeleyville: July 2014   6 comments

Posted at 10:44 pm in out-of-area,stores

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What with the recent talk here about Family Dollar closings and the ongoing buyout war over the chain, this store in Greelyville caught my eye as I was going to the beach back in July, and then again with the building vacant as I was going for Labor Day.

I don't know a lot about Greelyville except that one of my childhood babysitters was from there and that I have been driving through it for years. From the 60 through the 80s, the local high school always had some sort of clever message on their roadside marquee-board, but they seem to have gone generic lately. During the same time period, one of the local gas stations had cylindrical above ground gas storage tanks painted to resemble soft drink cans. The place was also home to one of the unfortunate sailors who lost his life in the huge gun explosion on the USS Stark in 1987, and is memorialized on a roadside plaque. There is also the marvelously named "Pearl Whack Park" on US-521 just before the tracks.

And on 29 August 2014, I saw one of the best rainbows ever driving through the area, unfortunately with nowhere to pull off and get a really scenic framing for a shot.

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Written by ted on September 2nd, 2014

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Carolina Wings & Rib House, 139 Willbrook Boulevard (Litchfield Beach): July 2014   no comments

Posted at 1:14 am in grand-strand,out-of-area,restaurants

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I have had my eye on this location of Carolina Wings & Rib House because the chain has been cutting its Columbia operations to the bone, and I figured this peripheral coastal location wouldn't last much longer. In fact, the place was open for the Memorial Day weekend, but by the time I went by again in late July it had apparently (from the state of things inside) just closed.

This location was in Litchfield Beach, in an outparcel of what was the Litchfield Piggly Wiggly shopping center (but which is now the Bi-Lo shopping center. Although I suspect that the general troubles for the chain were the biggest problem for this location, I also note that it is not visible from US-17 which can't have helped either.

Written by ted on August 11th, 2014

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Maze Mania, 3013 US 17 Business Garden City: 2013   16 comments

Posted at 10:59 pm in attraction,grand-strand,out-of-area

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The concept of Maze Mania was simple: You go into the maze, find the cheese, and get out of the maze. Best time wins.

It was a little more complicated in execution. The "cheese" was actually a box size wooden mock-up wedge with an electric rubber stamp device embedded inside it. Every day, the cheese would be moved to a different part of the maze, where it would be put on a special stand near an outlet. When you started the maze, you would be given a timecard with your start time, and when you found the cheese, you would stick the timecard into the block, which would stamp a picture of a piece of cheese on the card (proving that you completed the task), then you would try to find the exit, where your final time would be recorded. Assuming you were a kid, your parents would probably be on the observation deck overlooking the maze shouting down more (or less) helpful hints. Presumably, if you were a college student, it would be a bunch of drunk friends instead.

I only ran the maze, officially, once, probably about 20 years ago. I thought it was a lot of fun, and always wanted to take some younger cousins or other relatives there, but somehow never made it happen. I noticed earlier in the year that the place didn't seem to be open in what should be a viable, if not peak, time, and so made a point of looking in on it this summer as I would drive by at various times which led me to the conclusion that it was closed.

I finally made the time to stop and have a look at it. The big mouse billboard was in obvious need of cleaning, and the door sign said "closed for the season" without specifying what season that was. I have concluded it was probably fall 2013.

Finding my way back into the maze itself, I saw lots of signs of neglect and general decrepitude. The worse bit was a whole section of maze wall that had fallen down (or been knocked over) but overall there were a number of loose boards, and vegetation encroachment. Still, I think a good handyman with some lumber and paint could make the place runnable again with no more than one or two days work.

As you can tell from the pictures, it was a rather gray day, and started raining when I was out in the maze, and yes, I did get lost. (You can always find your way out of a maze by following the right wall if all else fails, but it may not be the shortest route by any means!)

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Written by ted on August 4th, 2014

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Orange You Glad It's Summer   8 comments

Posted at 10:47 pm in commentary,out-of-area

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How do they even tell?

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