John & Brenda's Excellent Tour travel blog

The rain-swept waterfront of Charleston Harbour

Surfside Beach and Pier

Stilted houses along Ocean Boulevard

Plantation Resort - our home for the week

June 2

Tropical Storm Barry arrived with heavy rain but pretty much spent of high winds, thunder and lightning. It looked like there would be no formal tour of downtown Charleston as we had planned. We packed up Big Blue and decided, because of our short drive to Myrtle Beach, we would at least drive through the historic district.

As we exited the freeway and headed into downtown it was obvious that on this Saturday, a lot of our fellow visitors had not listened to the weather report. We passed soggy tourists sans umbrellas wading across flooded gutters or huddled in their horse drawn carriages, looking glum while their perennially cheery guides extolled the virtues of this beautiful city. The rain at times was so heavy that I had the wipers on high speed while stopped at a traffic light.

We had a nice drive along the seawall viewing fantastic older homes facing the storied harbour. The rain and wind subsided just long enough for me to leap out and take a few quick pictures. Of course, Charleston is the site of the opening shot of the Civil War when Confederate forces fired on federal Fort Sumter. It was too wet to get out and view the National Historic Monument which was disappointing as our National Park Pass would have given us free entry; I just hate to pass up a deal.

We made a couple of observations while driving around: drivers here still continue to multitask in the worst conditions including talking on cell phones, lighting up a smoke, etc. and that FM DJ's everywhere sound alike, at least in their phrasing and tone (Is that you, Terry?). Apparently because of in-migration from northern cities, it no longer is fashionable to have y'allin' good ole boys on mainstream radio. The transplanted, non-accented DJ's sound hilarious when they try to affect a southern accent on commercials and promotional announcements. And, oh by the way, every larger city has a JACK, BOB or The River station, just like home.

Heading north from Charleston, we found the town of Georgetown, an attractive location along a river but sadly fronted by a huge ugly steel mill and a paper factory. We were delighted to find a gorgeous historic town just a few blocks further into Georgetown. The rain had let up slightly so we parked and found a nice little restaurant with an outside deck along the river. Brenda again had shrimp (delicious) and I had a pulled pork BBQ sandwich (the best BBQ so far on our trip).

We arrived at our destination for the week in Surfside Beach just south of Myrtle Beach an hour later. Check-in was painless and well organized and after a short drive into the Presidential Villas at Plantation Resort we were unloading our gear in the rain. We love our accommodation here as we rented a large 3-bedroom/3-bathroom unit (yes, Katie, I said unit) anticipating folks from home might join us. That hadn't worked out and now we could spread out like you wouldn't believe. While a little bit dated and having some electro-mechanical issues, it's clean and bright and the space is to die for.

We did our grocery shopping for the week at the nearby Wal-Mart Super Center, which has become our default super market due to the fact that you don't need those %$#^&@ loyalty cards to get a discount and that they carry a wine we like for $3.64 a bottle. Brenda cooked up a tasty chicken dinner and we nestled in for our first night of our week. Around 10:00 pm a family of 8 or so arrived and moved into the unit above us (oh yeah, 2-story) and they enthusiastically moved in thumping up the stairs and dragging their gear across the tiled floor. They had just completed a 2-day drive from Michigan and the 4 young children were obviously overjoyed to be released from the confines of their minivan.

June 3

Morning arrived with the rainy remains of Barry. We were reminded of the fact that our good friend Dennis Werk's middle name is Barry and Anita uses "Barry" as an epithet when she is upset with said Dennis. We now used it in the same tone as we looked out on our day.

It had turned to just cloudy and windy in the afternoon and we chose to make a reconnaissance drive to the beach. The beach road is lined on both sides with houses and cottages built on stilt foundations to better handle tidal surges from hurricanes or tsunamis. The town of Surfside Beach is primarily residential/low-rise and, as we drove north to Myrtle Beach the character changed to older, large high-rise resorts and hotels with a depressing density. Each town has its own pier with refreshment stands or bars that appear to be used primarily for fishing.

We decided to stop at our nearby Piggly Wiggly to pick up a few things to make Chinese food for the night's dinner (YEA!!!). Here I ran into George who noticed my T-shirt had a Canadian flag on the back. His wife strolled away after saying, "Canadians, they're very unfriendly and snooty." I called after her that, "But you're thinking of Torontonians, we're from the west." Brenda and I talked to George for what seemed like a half an hour; I think that after observing his wife, he grasped on to any friendly face he could corral.

The Chinese food was fantastic and we enjoyed it to the rhythmic scraping of chairs and indoor soccer game upstairs. Brenda was reminded of our early days at our Green Lake cabin when Katie, Shannon and Kevin were upstairs playing superhero jumping off the beds and was the sound of joyful childhood and always fun until somebody breaks a leg or pokes their eye out.

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