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Blog: Columbia, South Carolina

Having successfully conquered the Blue Ridge Mountains, it was time to head east towards Charleston South Carolina. But first, I’d make a pit stop in Columbia, South Carolina.

Unfortunately for me, the weather didn’t want to cooperate in regards to making my travels through the first leg of South Carolina a pleasant experience. As I left the Blue Ridge Mountains in my rear view window I began to embark upon my journey into the unexplored horizon known only intellectually as South Carolina.

And if I hadn’t been traveling at before day break, and in a torrential downpour, I’d probably have some type of description of what the western half of South Carolina looks like. But I don’t.

But shortly after getting to Columbia I was faced with a bit of a personal travel related question. “Does every city really need to be special and unique? Or can some places just be nice places to live?

What’s Good to See in Town?

It’s never a good sign when you ask a handful of people locally ‘What’s there to do in this town?’ and they all have to pause and give the question a bit of a blank stare.

“What’s there to do in town?” is one of my favorite traveling questions. Even if I have an agenda planned and an itinerary set.

It’s always an interesting personality litmus test.

So before continuing further ‘What’s there to do in you’re town?

10/80/10 Ratio

I’d say for the most part it breaks down into a 10/80/10 ratio.

The first part of the ‘bell curve’ provide AMAZING recommendations, and are your little guardian angels on the road. They tell you about restaurants you haven’t heard of before. They give color and depth into why you should go there. And they’ll ask a couple confirming questions to make sure you’re both on the same page.

Eighty percent of people though will only provide the same generic responses that you find by typing in a google search. But unlike a google search, they’ll be a little more vague about how to get there, exactly what it’s like and generally speaking the details of said recommendations.

Lastly, there’s about ten percent of people who have absolutely no recommendation at all. This is a back end of the ‘bell curve’ of recommendations and it’s always awkward once I’ve found myself trapped in these conversations.

And that’s where I found myself at the tail end of the bell curve while talking with a kind well meaning cashier at a Food Lyon in Columbia, South Carolina. And then again with a gas station attendant at a BP. And lastly with a friendly baristta at Starbucks.

Three for three I had struck out on getting recommendations from people who lived in the area in regards to what to see while in Columbia.

Ultimately I went the touristy route and went and took a couple selfies with the ‘world’s largest fire hydrant’. A few more with a painted cartoon wall in the background that looks like a car might run you over. And lastly I did walk by the South Caroline State House. That last stop was in the rain.

Columbia is a decent place to stop by, and seems like a nice enough place to live, but I’d have to agree with the locals assessment. I can’t really think of much to go see and do here. But maybe that’s the point. Maybe some places are just nice places to live, and that’s what their purpose needs to be.

South Carolina BBQ

On my way out of town I did stop by a local BBQ place. The sign clearly read in large words ‘World’s Best BBQ!’. Not ‘Carolina’s Best BBQ’, not ‘America’s Best BBQ’, but ‘World’s Best BBQ’. With a claim like that, and the convenience of it being on the road out of town, I was all in.

I can’t say it was the world’s greatest, but I do enjoy good South Carolina BBQ. Ribs were on point, the mustard based BBQ sauce was surprisingly good, and the wait staff was friendly and courtious.

I even got a couple questions about the TEDx Indianapolis shirt that I was wearing at the time. Got to rep Indiana while the road.

The specifics of location don’t really matter, and I’d rather not get into arguments of where I should and shouldn’t have gone. I enjoy good food as much as the next guy, and am a bit of an amateur foodie. But I clearly draw the line at what I call ‘foodie elitism’. Appreciate good food, but don’t lecture others about how only ‘certain’ places are approved and acceptable to dine at.

I’ll even let you in on a dirty little secret. I still get coffee and breakfast at McDonald’s on a regular basis. Both for the free WiFi, but also because I have a weakness for their breakfast menu. I’m confident my friend who’s a professional chef is actively unfriending me on Facebook as I type these words. 🙂

So was Columbia worth the stop?

It was nice place to stop off at in between destinations. Seems well located between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the coast line. And I’d probably be happy to live here.

Maybe that’s one of the things you’re suppose to learn while traveling. There’s a lot of places in the world you can call home, once you make them your own…

On to Charleston… need to get my Shrimp and Grits on…

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