A Greenville Gem: Reedy Falls Park

For a split second I thought of a cheesy Hallmark title for this blog post – Falling in Love with Reedy Falls.  Thankfully, that would have been misleading… I was in love with the park long before I moved here.  The new title is quicker to the point.  Falls Park on the Reedy River is one of Greenville’s gems and will most likely be featured over and over in my blog.

One of my earliest memories with my wife’s family is a picnic lunch we shared here when Christina and I were still dating.  I thought it was cool, but since I wasn’t thinking I’d ever live here, it was nothing to get too attached to.  However, as work grew ever more “travely” and the possibility of moving here became more a reality, the park was something I immediately knew I wanted to live near.  I’ve been to many big cities and seen many of their parks, but few have such an impressive feature – not to mention right in the middle of a city that has been perfectly built up to take full advantage of the waterfront.

Lest you believe I am overstating my case, allow me to illustrate with a picture the perfection of the park on a sunny afternoon:

Reedy Falles Park

Taken from the Liberty Bridge, an impressive suspension bridge arching over the river.

Yep, that’s right.  Lion King is in fact playing in the theater downtown.  Sharp eyes you have there.  Also, in case you missed it, the waterfall is amazing!  There are paths winding down below the bridge to the waterside with a trail that runs 2.5 miles to Cleveland Park by the Greenville Zoo.  Christina and I hope to walk it soon, though she might need a few rests along the way with that third trimester baby wearing her out!  In the Summer you’ll see people splashing about in the water and some adventurous souls sliding down the rocks to their early graves.

The walking path along the river that you can see in this picture takes you to some fine dining, art galleries, and a bubble tea bar.  I’ve only eaten at Soby’s, which is on the other side of that bridge you see in the background, but it was amazing.  Best shrimp and grits I’ve ever had, and I look forward to more.  It’s part of a restaurant group called Table 301, and I’ll be reviewing them more in full as I try them.  I’m definitely looking forward to a nice meal overlooking the water some day soon.

So, if you ever need a reason to feel good about a move to Greenville, let this be one of the primary reasons.  Make sure it doesn’t trump having family nearby (easy to ensure when your family is as awesome as mine), but make sure it ranks highly.  Every house we looked at I actually plotted on a map to see how far from Reedy Falls Park it would be.  Anything over 15 minutes was out of the question.  Where we are now is 12 minutes away (and 12 minutes the other direction to the airport… another place I’ll visit often), and I couldn’t be happier.

I’ve lived in Greenville two and a half weeks and been downtown to the park now 5 times.  It hasn’t even started to get old, and I haven’t explored the half of it.  I love my new city.

Getting a Driver’s License in Greenville, SC

What some people refer to as the DMV I now refer to as the county reading room.  Let’s not kid ourselves.  It’s less a department and more a lounge.  It’s less about helping you drive your car legally in the state and more about keeping it in the parking lot.  Really, though, I suppose it’s a little too cliche to gripe about the efficiency of a DMV, but my did I enjoy sitting in my new office.  Here’s how you can enjoy it less than I did.

To start with, there are two places downtown where you’ll need to do business to get your driver’s license and license plate, the Greenville County Square and the DMV off University Ridge just south of Reedy Falls Park.  (Yes, I basically know my way around this city in relation to that glorious waterfall; I don’t see that changing any time soon.)  I list them in this order for you, because I went to the DMV first before finding out I had to go to the County Square to pay my vehicle taxes before getting my license plate. No worries, the line was only about 10 minutes long that first visit…

Also, another sidebar (because I’m good at that) – as I drove around trying to find these buildings, it struck me that some general contractor must have made a killing selling cheap, energy efficient, ugly brown brick buildings to the county government.  Really, everything about these buildings and other government offices I’ve seen in the area is ugly.  It’s not brown brick like a nice stately brick home in a dated neighborhood.  It’s certainly not the brownstone you’ll find in Brooklyn.  It’s brown brick like … I don’t know what like, but I’ll just say a prison, though I picture those being more concrete (or on fire / in various states of riot in South America).

But I digress. Before you go off to any office, first you must gather the necessary paperwork.  This is going to include your existing license and vehicle title, a social security card, a passport or birth certificate, a proof of insurance, and something else confirming your new address just in case (I used our mortgage because we had not received any bills yet).  With all this in hand, you’re ready to spend some time enjoying the hospitality of your county government accomplishing the following tasks:

  1. Pay your property tax.  First head to the County Square room 800 on the far left to grab your tax bill.  They’ll need to see your title and proof of your new address here.  My bill turned out to be less than $30 because my truck is nice and old with a blue book value I’m sure is reaching into the negatives.  I’m surprised they didn’t just give me money at the window.  In any event, you get your bill in room 800 and then pay up front on your way back to the parking lot.  Relatively quick and painless, though apparently no one cares enough to boot pan handlers out of the waiting line.
  2. Get your form on at the DMV.  Head across to the street to the DMV to get forms for your driver’s license and new motor vehicle registration.  If you have an out of state license, there are extra requirements for getting your driver’s license.  Don’t fret, though.  If you brought everything I said, you’ll be fine.  Unfortunately, I did not have a good enough proof of address then first (well, second) time I went to the DMV, so I went home and returned the following day.  Now, when I showed up, they gave me forms and I filled them out in advance so I wouldn’t be held up at the DMV, but this is far from a requirement.  I actually waited for about 2 hours to be served, so you’ll have plenty of time to fill out the two forms.  You may want to print them and fill them out in advance if you think you’ll have trouble coming up with the details, but it should be in all that paperwork I said to bring.
  3. Wait for that number.  This is the part where you need to pick a book or three magazines you’ve been waiting to read and tear through them.  You’ll be waiting a while for your sweet number to be called even after filling out those forms, and I don’t think anyone around you will be in the mood to strike up a conversation.  Remember, griping about the DMV is cliche, especially while you’re in the DMV.
  4. Hand it all in!  License first then license plate if you can.  I say if you can, because when I showed up, the license machines were down.  Now, I was told at the time it had something to do with Leap Day.  I was really trying to get my stuff sorted out ASAP, and I was a little geeked that I’d have a driver’s license issued on Feb. 29th, so I was more than a little disappointed when I found out they don’t do those on Leap Days.  Lo and behold, after two and a half hours in the office, the machine suddenly started working again.  I think it had less to do with Leap Day (most convenient excuse the receptionist could come up with?) and more about poorly maintained computer systems that literally took 25 minutes to reboot while we were all waiting to be served.  So I first had to go through the hassle of an out of state title transfer / registration before getting my driver’s license.  The good bit is that waiting in the DMV for over 3 hours one day saved me a fourth trip to the office the following day!  Man, if only that read as good as it felt at the time.
  5. Wait to take your picture.  Pinch your cheeks to rosy them up, toss your hair about a bit to give it volume (see picture above), suck that peppercorn out of your tooth, and wait to be called for your photo op.  I may know from personal experience that asking how your picture turned out is worth a flattering compliment from the camera lady.  May.  She also said smiling was optional, but personally I rarely think it is.  Smile wide!
  6. Stop by Reedy Falls Park on the way home.  I mean, really, you’re so close.

And that about sums it up!  The worst part for me was not knowing what paperwork I needed when.  The DMV website was mostly unhelpful, and their technical difficulties almost cost me a fourth trip.  Coming with more than the required paperwork simply can’t hurt you.  Just make sure you don’t pack it in something too dorky… you do want these people to feel confident with you on the road, so inspiring confidence it the name of the game.

And since we’re closing on the topic of confidence games… well, no, maybe next time.  Bon nuit!