Heading to Beaufort & Sleeping at the Aquarium - April 11th

The day was beautiful as we headed to Beaufort. We took the back roads (actually we didn't have a choice) which we love, but unfortunately we might have overwhelmed Gwen with the long drive, but Gwen was a trooper!

The "problem" with the area is that it's not that the distance from Charleston to Beaufort is long, but because you are dealing with inter coastal areas, you are weaving in and out of waterways and can't go in a straight line to your destination.

But I did get in another one of my "fixes" - there's a roadside stand/store that we've been to before that sells homemade pies, spices and peach cider (yum!) - I just love anything "foodie." So when I walked in I did my typical once-around and grabbed what I could, especially the peach cider. I wish I could buy the cider in IL because it is so good - it makes you think of summer!

Sometime later we arrived in Beaufort, which is a small "city" on the inter coastal - just beautiful. I wouldn't necessarily plug it as a full-fledged destination area even though it has certain aspects - restaurants, nearby beaches etc. It's just a quiet and beautiful area that we picked that was near Charleston and Savannah. However, it was where they filmed The Big Chill, Forest Gump and The Great Santani, so if you remember the scenery, you'll remember how beautiful the area is.

The house we rented is a historic house - apparently Beaufort's 1st aquarium, which we couldn't figure out because it's a house, but I suppose in 18-something that's where you'd have a 1st aquarium.

So we parked and started lugging all our luggage to the front door. Unfortunately when we walked inside we very quickly realized that the house wasn't clean - full of dust, the bathrooms had toothpaste spray on the mirrors - it was just gross. Which was very odd since before we went to the house we did a drive by and saw that the cleaning service was there to clean because the house was rented the week before.

Now I can be messy at times, but I'm pretty neat in general - when I clean...I clean! And hey, if it's your mess, it's not as off-putting as someone else's!

We were just annoyed because you pay a lot of money for a vacation rental and you expect it to be clean.

Well unfortunately I went into some sort of ocd-mode because I just couldn't get it out of my head that it wasn't clean - poor Larry, Gwen and Scott had to see me running around the house muttering "I can't believe they didn't clean...we need to clean."

We called the owner of the house and they were apologetic and said they'd send out the cleaning service again. Unfortunately we didn't realize there was only one key to the house, so when we left to buy stuff (including cleaning supplies, natch) at Walmart the cleaning service couldn't get into the house! So basically when we returned we discovered the house wasn't clean except for the filthy outside table.

After running around an hour or so cleaning, we were all calm because the house was clean and we could relax - and I became "normal" again and no longer was flipping out about cleaning - OK I'll fully admit that I got a little scary...but come on...the house should have been clean. Hopefully Larry, Gwen and Scott forgave me for my goofiness - I'm usually more relaxed about things, honest :).

Adding insult to injury we then discovered that the bikes that were promised for the house weren't there and the grill I do believe had never been clean - not really off to a good start!

But the evening ended well. First we colored Easter eggs (who doesn't like Paas Easter Egg Coloring and using the metal egg dipper!) and then we grilled after Larry and Scott scoured the grill. We had wine, a fabulous meal by Larry and Scott, great music and Dominoes - it was a fantastic evening, despite the earlier "bumps."

The Dress Mystery Continues & The Hunley - April 11th

Saturday was check-in for our house rental in Beaufort, SC (about 45 minutes North of Savannah, GA), so we wanted to get up relatively early to have breakfast, visit the H.L Hunley We went to the continental breakfast at the hotel and ironically...the men who were dressed up in Alice-in-Wonderland garb were still in full garb, so we concluded that is probably wasn't a costume party the were headed to the night before - my only pet-peeve is that if you are going to wear it, you might have picked a more flattering outfit!

We then hit the road to see the Confederate Submarine H.L. Hunley Museum (www.hunley.org)in Charleston - something that we had all heard about for sometime and thought we should check it out.

In 1864, the Hunley, was the first submarine to sink an enemy ship in combat - the same night it was unfortunately lost at sea.

It's kind of an "odd" museum in the sense that there's a huge waiting area with information and displays about the Hunley that you get to walk around and view while you wait to see the actual Hunley - which only takes about 15 minutes and you couldn't take pictures, so we were a bit disappointed in.

Our one big gripe was when we arrived and went to purchase the tickets the cashier charged our credit cards, gave us the tickets and then proceeds to tell us that the next 3 tours were sold out and we had to wait 1.5 hours to see the Hunley!

Realistically the waiting area/museum would take about 45 minutes tops, so we were miffed, but made due. Hey, we did learn that they made a movie with Armand Assante about the Hunley - so that was worth it!

When we finally got to view the Hunley it was obviously sad because the entire crew perished and you saw how small the sub was and subsequently the crew were in tight quarters.

The gentleman who gave the tour was quite a character, named "Pappy", who was a WW II veteran. He was pretty amusing, particularly when, half way through his spiel he went on a 2 minute diatribe about how the federal government was ridiculous to close the Charleston Naval Base and that they were in fact morons. It was a little touch-and-go for awhile, but then Pappy recovered and finished his speech.

I'm glad we went to the museum, but we decided that once was enough.

Charleston & Missing Jimmy Buffet By This Much - April 10th

We hit the road relatively early on Friday because 1) we were anxious to see Scott and Gwen in Charleston and 2) can you believe it?...the weather was crappy and tornadoes threatening from Tennessee to Charleston - not a good thing! So we pretty much high-tailed it out of there.

The wonderful thing that occurred pretty much as soon as we hit mid-South Carolina was that...the weather was in the 80s! Fabulous weather here we come!!!

We love Charleston and typically when we go to Folly Beach (an great island about 15 minutes away - very low key), we got to Charleston - it's such a beautiful, sophisticated city with a ton of great restaurants, shops and scenery.

So we decided this year that even though we weren't going to Folly, we thought "Well why not have Scott and Gwen fly into Charleston, we can meet them and get our fix before going onto Beaufort."
Well it worked out perfectly. We arrived in Charleston around 3pm, no tornadoes, and Scott and Gwen landed around 3:30pm - we couldn't have timed it any better!

We checked into a Marriott Residence Inn, which was right on the water - perfect location and just across the way from downtown Charleston.

It was actually a perfect situation - a 2 bedroom + 2 bath suite with a huge balcony - perfect for hanging out until we went out that evening - so we fixed ourselves some Bloody Marys and listened to some tunes - a perfect Friday evening.

When we were headed out for the night the concierge let us know that the hotel had a shuttle that could take you into the city and drop us off right by the open market area where our favorite restaurant (Mercato) was - this was fantastic, because we figured, we could take the free shuttle in and back and not have to worry about driving and finding parking when we knew Friday night would be a parking nightmare.

So feeling pretty proud of ourselves for getting such a deal, we waited outside for the shuttle. And waited. And waited. And waited.

It didn't help that there was a huge party also waiting. It was getting pretty ridiculous and then, well the ridiculous happened. Out walks this group of 6 very large women dressed as Alice in Wonderland/baby dolls. We then immediately realized that they were not women, but very large men. So then we thought that they were headed to a costume party. But then after close inspection we then noticed that 1) they're legs were shaved and 2) the costumes looked awfully expensive for just a night out.

So then the four of us were going back and forth trying to figure out the scenario. The going theory was that they were in some sort of fetish group going out on the town with their girlfriends - who were dressed "normally." I really wanted to know the scoop despite the fact that I begged Larry and Scott to not ask them their story - so we never found out the scoop.

So we were still waiting after the huge crowd got into the shuttle (read van) and we were left waiting for the next shuttle with the Alice in Wonderland group.

I think they then finally called a cab because the shuttle was just not coming and then we finally gave up and called for a cab.

When our cabbie came it was a husband and wife team. The woman was the driver and was a non-stop talker. The thing that just cracked us up was that immediately upon us getting into the cab, she proceeds to tell us that Charleston was the murder capital of the US (which I'm thinking actually might one or two other cities). Now the funny thing was that the four of us have all lived in several of the US's largest cities, so we're not bumpkins. So we're all sitting there chuckling as this woman rattles on about Charleston's crime rate (which is a city and does have crime), then almost hits another car because she's talking too much, and then goes into a 10 minute conversation about Palmetto Bugs and how awful they are! I mean, come on, she's somewhat acting as a representative of the city and yet everything she said was negative - not exactly the best welcome if it was your first time in Charleston!

We then got dropped off by the open air market City Market on Market Street - right in the middle of everything. City Market has a ton of vendors selling local wares, such as the sea grass baskets from the Gullah people.

There were so many people walking around and it was wonderful to be able to pop in and out of the shops before and after dinner - Gwen and I actually went back into a hat store 5 times before both of us bought hats. I love hats. I buy them, and for some reason have a hard time actually wearing them.

But this time, I swear I will - the one I bought makes me think I should be walking through Tuscany or something.

Our reservation for Mercato - one of the best restaurants in Charleston (www.mercatocharleston.com) was at 7:30pm so we had some time to kill. We ended up waiting in the bar because we to be in the hub-bub of everything.

So we're waiting and chatting and we were all starved. We were eyeing this one booth in particular in front of us and pretty much staring the people down because they had to have been finished with their meals...couldn't they see that we were starving???

And as we were waiting, we're talking about Jimmy Buffet - he always seems to come up in our conversations on vacation and Larry and Scott love him - and we're still chatting away.

Well...finally we were seated in the booth we were staring at and we're happy as clams - got the wine, bread, meals were ordered - and this woman breezes by and stops at our booth and announces that the booth that we were sitting in only moments before actually had Jimmy Buffet in it!

We were completely floored because 1) we all like Jimmy Buffet and know what he looks like and 2) we were staring at his table for about 45 minutes - how could we not know it was him???

Looking back I actually think I was looking at him thinking that he looks so from Charleston because he had a relaxed long sleeved polo and was tan etc. - pretty much like all the men we saw that night - they all looked like Jimmy Buffet!

Apparently he loves the restaurant and everyone is low key when he's there, which I think is nice because he deserves to hang out without people flipping out if they saw him. Unfortunately, I confess, I would probably not be able to keep my cool...