Seeking the Kingdom of Happy Land

kingdomhappyland
Kingdom of the Happy Land by Gary Carden. Acrylic on canvas, 36”x24”. Source

A few weeks ago I gave my talk on the Hidden Towns Under South Carolina Lakes at the Taylors Branch of the Greenville County Library. After the talk someone came up to me and asked if I’d ever heard of the “Kingdom of Happy Land.” I had not. After chatting for a bit I decided I needed to see if I could find this kingdom. Last Thursday things had finally settled down from all our traveling and the Fourth holiday, so it was a perfect time for an expedition. I went to see if I could find the Kingdom of Happy Land. Continue reading “Seeking the Kingdom of Happy Land”

Oktoberfest at Haus Heidelberg

Haus Heidelberg Sign

Of all the ethnic holidays, I think I like Oktoberfest the best. It brings with it hints of cooler weather, fall colors, and one of my favorite cuisines – German food. However, fellow kayaker and chef Darren M. recently pointed out that authentic Oktoberfest has a very specific date range – two weeks running from late September through the first week of October. Any restaurants or festivals advertising Oktoberfest this late in the year (such as Walhalla this weekend, but I guess a fake Norse town can have a fake Bavarian celebration any time it wants) is doing so purely for advertising promotion. I guess it’s not that different from seeing Halloween ads all October, or promoting Christmas just as soon as the after school sales end. That being said, when my friend Keith Dover proposed heading up to Haus Heidelberg in Hendersonville to take advantage of their Oktoberfest specials, I jumped at the chance, cultural authenticity be damned.

I have long complained about the dearth of German restaurants in the area, especially with BMW and all the other German industry in town. But, I guess that number is increasing. Joining Haus Edelweiss and Schwaben Haus are Hans und Franz and The Bavarian Pretzel Factory. Even Strossner’s Bakery is now on the list of places offering German food. German restaurants seem to be more prevalent on up in the mountains, I guess hearkening back to the Alpine nature of Bavaria. Both The Black Forest in Ardin and Haus Heidelberg have been long-time staples of German food in our region. However, I don’t get up that way often enough to take advantage of them. This was the first time I’d been to Haus Heidelberg in ages.

The drive up early Wednesday evening was spectacular. The October sky was brilliantly lit with the setting sun, and the leaves are just shy of being at peak. Keith and I drove on up through Flat Rock, enjoying the ride. Continue reading “Oktoberfest at Haus Heidelberg”