Putting the MacDaddy in a weekend away
Blame it all on my roots.
I showed up in ... KILTS?
- with apology to Garth Brooks
For our first anniversary, Pat and I took some time off from football, and went somewhere neither of us had ever been.
Sure, I had been to North Carolina many times. I was born in Greensboro, have family there, and have connections to Boone, Salisbury, Spencer, Lenoir and Charlotte. Every Christmas, my dad hauled my mom, brother and me from the Isle of Palms to Greensboro and back again. But for all my interest, I had never been to a Scottish games. The MacDonalds of Laurens, SC, crossed that off the bucket list Oct. 6-7; we attended the Scotland County Highland Games in Laurinburg, N.C.
My colleague, Fletcher Pruitt Jr., did a great job photo-covering both football games over the weekend. I put a photo gallery on our website (shameless plus alert, MyClintonNews.com) of his weekend work. We used some in the Oct. 11 paper; there’s lots more - and one to come in the Oct. 18 issue.
I would recommend a Scotland County Highland Games trip. It’s 178 miles one way if you go Hwys 72, 9 and 79. I would recommend it during the day time; two-lane black tops can get tricky at night. I really don’t like to drive on interstates, they put me to sleep. And GPS navigation, sometimes, is a necessary evil; I really prefer a map.
We got there, nonetheless. After a couple of false starts finding the right highway, we got on the road home. Made one stop on the ride home, at Richburg -- I-77 near Chester (home now to the giant Giti tires manufacturing plant which had its official opening this month), and made it back to Clinton.
We had a really good time. The venue is nice and spacious, and there were a lot of people attending the event. They had 20 pipe and drum groups competing for prizes, their largest number ever.
The assembled musical groups playing “Amazing Grace” definitely was a highlight, and three national anthems were sung - U.S., Canadian and “God Save the Queen.” I did a little exploring of my Donald Clan history, but mainly just watched the people. We ate some really good Scottish barbecue by an outfit from Asheville. The sheep-herding demonstration was Pat’s favorite. She’s a long-time dog person.
I didn’t buy a kilt, although I got a business card from a kilt maker. The hammer-throwers showed us that, despite mythology, men do wear a garment under their kilts. I suspect in old-time Scotland that wasn’t the case. Pat bought some silver jewelry; it was the first jewelry she had bought in years and years.
We didn’t sample the local mead, and I guess this is as good a time as any to tell you, if you are offended by beer at a festival, this one’s not for you. It was low-key - served and consumed very discreetly.
It’s good to get away and explore, although truth be told I am more of a homebody. Oct. 1, 2016, we embarked on our honeymoon and had to cruise all over the Caribbean because of Hurricane Matthew. Last Saturday, it was cloudy, misty, rainy, sunny then really humid in Laurinburg. If you go there, prepare for the gnats. Just like eastern SC, they have swamps. As it turned out, we were getting a little brush of Hurricane Nate.
Saturday night, we were bummed to find the closest Olive Garden (another shameless plug, our favorite restaurant) was 23 miles away in Southern Pines. So we got take-out from Champs steakhouse, and ate Sunday lunch at Smithfield. Next time we go, we’ll have to carve out some time to explore downtown Laurinburg.
After lunch, the whole way back, we listened to the Carolina Panthers on FM radio in our new blue pickup (complete with Wi-Fi that we are still figuring out).
Sunday, we got home at 2 p.m., then we watched rain from a tornado at 4. Oh well, hi-ho, it’s back to work I go.
(Vic MacDonald is Editor of The Clinton Chronicle. His column appears the third week of the month in the newspaper and under Blogs at MyClintonNews.com)