Framing the Dialogue

Vacation 2012 – Stage Three

Before I left for vacation I had printed directions for each leg of our trip. It didn’t take long to get tired of looking at the papers especially when driving at night with everybody else in the car fast asleep. I have an iPhone with unlimited data so why not use it. At first I compared the routes with the printed versions, but soon dumped them entirely.

It happened that we had some family also vacationing in North Carolina about an hour south at Top Sail Island which was sort of on our way to Charleston. We decided to meet with them and I put in the address and off we went. The only negative with the iPhone map feature was that it didn’t give turn by turn verbal directions (I understand that this is now part of the OS). Unlike paper though you can actually see your progress on the screen. I dutifully followed the directions and turned down Sneads Ferry Road toward our destination. What the iPhone didn’t tell me that Sneads Ferry Road goes right through Camp Lejeune. While the road went through the Marine Corps camp we could not as the nice Marine guard explained to us at their gate as he turned us around.

We made it to Top Sail, visited and discovered that Top Sail was a good place to find sharks teeth along the beach. It was a nice visit, but we still had about six hours to go. I had never been to Charleston and wasn’t sure about the layout versus where we were going to stay which was actually across the bay in Mt. Pleasant. By my calculations we would probably arrive right in the middle of rush hour. Driving in an unfamiliar place often requires quick turns depending on the navigator and how well the roads are marked. I actually get tense just writing about it.

We decided to stop in Wilmington NC for a late lunch. Unlike our unplanned stop in New Bern, Wilmington (the birthplace of Michael Jordan) was open and alive and some in our party had to shop. A short stop to eat turned into a much longer excursion resulting in jewelry purchases. We went to a nice microbrewery recommended by nephew who we visited in Top Sail. Food was good as was the beer so I am told; I was the designated driver.

We reached Mt. Pleasant in the dark and preceded to the Holiday Inn…the wrong one. For some reason the Holiday Inn folks built two hotels within a stone’s throw of each other. No big deal. We unpacked and pretty much crashed for the night except for our son who ran to the Wendy’s across the highway to grab a snack.

I am generally an early riser and was on schedule the next day. We had stuff planned to do in Charleston, but nothing really “scheduled.” I took my iPad (a wonderful Father’s Day gift from my wife) to the lobby for breakfast while they slept in. Somehow I got onto the Quibids deal where you buy bids and then bid on crap that looks cool, but don’t really need. I’ve been Quibids-free for nearly three months and probably broke even.

When my family didn’t arrive, I roused them hoping they would take advantage of the “free” breakfast while I got a shower. Mt. Pleasant has a nice pier that has a good view of part of Charleston, at least the more industrial part of Charleston. My wife and I took a walk to the pier. It was already hot and pretty humid early in the morning. That’s not a good sign for the day ahead.

The short trip to the city took us across Charleston’s signature bridge, the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. We did the touristy things over the next two days; carriage tour, boat tour, walking tour, shopping, eating, eating, shopping, and walking. Charleston is a beautiful city and we enjoyed our time there. We finally had a good seafood meal on our trip. We asked many people around town where the best seafood restaurant could be found and everybody said the same thing; Hyman’s Seafood. It was a perfect experience…casual dining, great food, great service and reasonable prices.

We weren’t tired of Charleston, but still wanted to pack as much in as possible. For lunch one day my son had done some research and suggested Poe’s Tavern in Sullivan’s Island. It was kind of an eclectic place with great food before heading to Boone Plantation. Located near Charleston it boasts to be the oldest plantation still in operation. No slaves, but they have preserved some of the cottages that were used by slaves for tours. There was a return of the mosquitoes though. We took a horseless carriage tour which also included a tour of two whole rooms of the mansion. Boone Plantation is best known for its driveway which is featured in many movies. One of the owners had the vision of planting Live Oak trees along the driveway knowing that in a hundred years they would grow up and create a canopy over the driveway. Thank you sir! With the Spanish moss growing in the trees it was a tremendous site.

I failed to mention that Charleston boasts a healthy population of pelicans and rather than being a flyover place like Emerald Isle, Charleston Harbor is a feeding ground. I was fascinated watching these huge birds fly, hover, and dive for food. Alas I never really got a great picture of the splash.

Boone Plantation was our last big stop and we retired to our hotel to get ready for the trip home…or Stage Four…coming soon.

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