Back Road Trips are the Best! Far out!

Dear Reader:

I don’t know if you remember the scene from the old movie Michael starring John Travolta…who plays the part of a winged, cookie smelling, cigarette smoking, slob…the Archangel Michael who defeated Lucifer in the War in Heaven. Even, with his strange habits, however, Michael can still impart great words of wisdom.

While on a road trip with his new tabloid friends, who want to do an article on him, he continuously begs to stop at the craziest attractions. I remember, in one scene, while going through Illinois, he demands to stop and see “The World’s Largest Non-Stick Frying Pan.”   

Yesterday I felt just like Michael…I was thoroughly entertained stopping at some of the funniest, craziest, but also most historically interesting attractions and places along the back roads from Summerville to Orangeburg. What fun!

Originally our main destination was Orangeburg to go see the Edisto Memorial Gardens... famous for 150 acres of over 4000 roses planted with close to a hundred varieties of roses. And believe me…it was spectacular….tomorrow you will get to see the beauty of the place!

It is just that, sometimes, back roads and detours call to us and they end up making the memories that last a lifetime.

Our wonderful loyal reader, Jo Dufford, came up with the idea of the trip to see the roses, suggested it to me, asked Deb Clayton, her niece if she would drive, and then asked Mev Schneider, to join us.

*Here is the group picture taken at the wonderful Chestnut Grill in Orangeburg where we had a lunch and where I got to meet Candy, Deb’s beautiful daughter, who lives and works in Orangeburg…what a fun group!



Deb Clayton was our driver extraordinaire who knows every back road there is between Summerville and Orangeburg and any she didn’t….Mev did! So between these two gals…we were in for an adventuresome day!

The first “God Wink” occurred when we picked up Mev and went in her beautiful home which was literally built by her husband, Jimmy…and family/friends over a long extended period of time (So much so, that the home, itself, feels like an extension of the family.)

On the way out…Mev pointed to the stained glass window in the front door Jimmy helped put in for her. She told me that she saw it in a store in Summerville and knew it was meant for her because she loves daisies. Then years later while watching grandchildren one day…(while they were playing on an old family quilt that had been sent from her in-laws)…she blinked and realized the quilt had the exact same design as the window…the quilt had come down for generations. A God Wink!

It was a good omen. It was going to be a good day.

Deb had taken us the back way to Mev’s house on an historic old road called Wire Road. There was much discussion on how the road got its name so Deb looked it up and sent me this excerpt explaining the origin of it.

Wire Road runs through rural South Carolina, and is named for when telegraph lines were strung in the middle 1800’s. This historic roadway lies near the Edisto River, the longest free-flowing black-water river in the United States. Wire Road connected Charleston to Columbia and Augusta and has seen many passerbys, including General Marquis de Lafayette, a key figure in the American Revolution.

This information stirred the soul of an old history teacher…to think we were traveling the same road that the General Marquis de Lafayette traveled gave me good bumps.

Deb then pointed out a house that was one of the stagecoach stops along Wire Road (sometimes referred to as one of the Stagecoach Inns) that is a part of her husband’s family history…also known as the Clayton House. It is obviously being renovated…which makes a history teacher happy also!

On the way back from Orangeburg and lunch…Mev showed us another historical house, which had also been a stop for stagecoach drivers, in order to rest the horses and feed/sleep the passengers…located  farther down Wire Road. It was a long distance from Augusta to Charleston  back in those days by stagecoach.

It was when we entered Bowman, a small town outside Orangeburg,that the subject of the UFO Welcome Center was first raised. I, immediately, was excited. Who knew? In little Bowman, SC there was an alien welcome center. Too funny!

It was located behind a Citgo gasoline station right off the main street in Bowman and I could hardly wait to get out of the car. It was all I could do not to giggle while taking pictures (and I am so glad I didn’t) because from what I later researched and realized,  the tapping sounds I heard coming from within were none other than those of the creator/builder himself…a Mr. Jody Pendarvis. And he is quite serious about his alien welcome center.

Roadside said Mr. Pendarvis’s truck would be pulled up beside the alien spaceship if he was in…and he usually was in between the hours of 10 and 12 each morning. (Exactly when we were there and we did see his striped pickup!)  He doesn’t have a phone (disconnected) so you can’t call ahead but I am sure if we had wanted a tour he would have given us one.

Roadside America. com’s visit with the owner and creator revealed some interesting information. The welcome center and spaceship on top are all held together with only “8 screws”…(I find this quite believable.) It all started back in 1999 and Mr. Pendarvis has continued adding on ever since.

Pendarvis hopes the aliens will take him with them when they leave in the smaller space vessel, built for that purpose,  on top of the welcome center. The aliens, he believes, will use their own unique transportation power to set it in motion… . Jody Pendarvis is definitely a man with a dream and can hardly wait to blast off with his new friends.

He told Roadside reporters that he wants to be the official greeter to the aliens saying: “Here I am, Captain Jody Pendarvis of the UFO Welcome Center,” assuming his role of ambassador. “Come on in! Welcome to planet Earth!” 

So until tomorrow….with that last story I, too, am signing off because there are more tales to tell on the back roads of South Carolina. Part Two Road Trip coming up tomorrow…but here is a sample of the beauty of  Edisto Memorial Gardens…as seen yesterday with this photo I took.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh


About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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6 Responses to Back Road Trips are the Best! Far out!

  1. Jo Dufford says:

    Yesterday was so much fun. I’ve found, that in spite of my age, I learn something new every day. And yesterday, although I’ve been on most of those roads, there were several new places and things I saw and learned. For starters: I don’t recall having seen the Koger-Murray- Carroll House, and I learned about a plant I had misidentified for years. Then Deb was telling a rather eerie thing that had happened to her once, and Mev said, “And now, here’s the rest of that story.” You are such a fun, knowledgeable group of ladies to road trip with. (I know a sentence shouldn’t end with a preposition.)


    • Becky Dingle says:

      And all because of you and your wonderful suggestion, Jo, to go see the Memorial Rose Gardens! We never know what other adventures lie in wait…do we?


  2. bcparkison says:

    Well…I want to know how that stays together in all kinds of weather with only 8 screws.
    Beautiful rose. can’t wait to see more.


  3. Deb Clayton says:

    Totally enjoyed the day with these wonderful ladies!


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