Exit 193 I-95n in SC To: SC 9, SC 57, to N Myrtle Beach, Dillon near Floyd, Dale, SC
Welcome to South Carolina! Land of palmetto palms and shag dancing to Beach Music — and we don’t mean Surf Music either. But more about that later… Now turn on your headlights. It's the law down here.
If you’ve had your eyes open in either direction, you’ve seen the famous “South of the Border” billboards. The corny billboards will lead you along I-95 here to Dillon.
In Dillon you will find Pedro, the mustachioed, 97-foot-tall “Patron Saint of Travelers In Need of a Pit Stop”. No Baloney. That’s what Pedro is the patron saint for. Visitors can drive through his legs and find a parking place. Then it’s time to stretch, hit the bathroom, grab a hot dog (or a banana), see some gators and buy a few fireworks to detonate later on the beach.
South of the Border is a roadside mash-up of tacky souvenir shops and wacky attractions. For over forty years, these billboards have delighted children and quite honestly, annoyed parents. After years of disapproval by the forces of political correctness, Pedro will no longer be able to entice with his corny epithets and awful broken English puns.
Not surprisingly, Locals refer to the site as SOB. Speaking of SOBs, what you have not seen as you approach the border between two Carolinas is the Carolina Pararkeet. SOB's are responsible for that loss no doubt.
2018 marked the sad centennial for the extinction of the only Parrot in The United States. The last known bird died at the Cincinnati Zoo on February 21, 1918. This was the male specimen, called "Incas", who died within a year of his mate, "Lady Jane". Coincidentally, Incas died in the same cage in which the last Passenger Pigeon, "Martha", had died nearly 4 years earlier.
It was not until 1939, however, that it was determined that the Carolina Parakeet had become extinct. However, reports still come in of fleeting sightings and false yet hopeful re-discoveries. So maybe they are out there. According to the Audubon Society, at some point about sixty years ago, three parakeets resembling the beautiful Carolina Parakeet were filmed in the Okefenokee Swamp of Georgia. However, the American Ornithologists' Union analyzed the film and concluded that they had probably filmed feral parakeets.
The small gregarious parakeets once lived in flocks and inhabited river bottoms from Nebraska to Louisiana to Florida and north to Southern New York.
The Carolina Parakeet is believed to have died out because of a number of different threats. Large areas of forest were cut down, reducing its habitat. The bird's colorful feathers (a green body, yellow head, and red around the bill) were in demand as decorations in ladies' hats. It has also been hypothesized that the introduced honeybee helped contribute to its extinction by occupying the bird's hollow tree nesting sites. Finally, they were killed in large numbers because farmers considered them a pest.
Sadly, the most egregious factor that contributed to their extinction may have been loyalty or compassion. Family members would return immediately to a location where flock members had been shot. This led to even more being shot by hunters as the parrots gathered about the wounded and dead members of their flock.
From Pedro to compassionate parrots, South Carolina itself is a proud mashup of conflicting and complementing inspirations marked by beauty, soulful loss, and great commercial promise.
Welcome once again to the Palmetto State.
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