Monday, November 30, 2015

Quick Trip: North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia

On my quest to get to all 50 states, we planned a four day whirlwind tour to hit three southeastern states. In actuality, it was a trip to South Carolina, with border nudges into North Carolina and Georgia, but border nudges still count. 

In March 2013, a Thursday, we had a 9:00 p.m. flight out of LAX for Charlotte, NC, with a quick layover in St. Paul, MN. The layover was my first time in Minnesota which Judy says does not count (it counts on my list), but we did a full-fledged trip to Minnesota in 2015 so that issue is now irrelevant as to Minnesota. We arrived in Charlotte about 10:50 a.m. Friday morning and got an off-airport rental car at Advantage Rent-A-Car, not one of our better car rental experiences (we waited in a very long line to get a car and had a similar experience on our return).  We love late night flights out of LAX to eastern destinations: the later drive to LAX allows a full day of work and a drive after peak traffic hours, then an early arrival that allows most of the next day at the destination. 

Our first stop was Cypress Gardens, outside Charleston in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, a 201 mile drive (3 hours and 25 minutes). A highlight was a boat we self-paddled into a swamp with up-close views of alligators and turtles - a real blast. We checked in to a SpringHill Suites on the outskirts of Charleston, then went into Charleston for a nice meal at Hominy Grill followed by a Charleston Ghost Tour. 
     Yellow-Bellied Slider  (Bob)
     Hominy Grill - Charleston  (Bob) 

Saturday morning we had a one hour carriage ride with Classic Carriage Works scheduled at 9:30 a.m. We had fun exploring the back-streets of Charleston behind the clip-clop of a horse. Then off to visit the Aiken-Rhett House Museum, home of the governor of South Carolina in 1844 and the headquarters of General Beauregard during the Civil War. Then a Spirit Line Cruise to Fort Sumter way out in Charleston Harbor (30 minutes out and 30 minutes back, with an hour at the Fort). The rest of the afternoon we visited churches for the most part, the Circular Congregational Church, the French Huguenot Church, St. Michael's Episcopal Church and the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Finally we visited the Old Slave Mart Museum. Dinner was the best of the trip, FIG, owned by the 2009 James Beard Foundation best southeast chef, Mike Lata. We stayed at SpringHill Suites a second night.

Sunday morning we drove 108 miles to Savannah, Georgia (about 2 hours, 12 minutes). On the way we had a fun stop at Carolina Cider Company in Yemassee, SC, and tried samples of various kinds of cider, including blackberry, blueberry, cherry, muscadine, peach and apple, as well as a pecan pie. First thing in Savannah, we went by the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and found a service was about ready to start. It was St. Patrick's Day with many people dressed in green. We stayed and enjoyed the service. We walked by the Mickve Synagogue and found it closed, then visited the Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home, very near the cathedral, and took a tour. We drove outside town to Fort Pulaski National Monument, the site of a Civil War battle won by the Union, then we drove into downtown and found many people celebrating St. Patrick's Day. We took a quick visit to the Jepson Center for the Arts and ended the day with a dinner at The Olde Pink House Restaurant in a beautiful old home downtown. We stayed the night at a Fairfield Inn in Savannah. 
     Savannah, Georgia  (Judy)
Fort Pulaski
The outer wall carries the scars of the Civil War battle. 
Monday morning we left Savannah for Charlotte, a four hour (252 mile) drive. We took a little detour up through Columbia, SC to eat at Lamb's Bread Vegan Cafe, not too far from the South Carolina State Capitol building. We continued on to the outskirts of Charlotte where we visited the Billy Graham Library and home. Late that afternoon we caught a flight from Charlotte to LAX via Memphis and arrived late Monday night.
     Lamb's Bread Vegan Cafe - Columbia, South Carolina  (Bob)

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