Sunday, April 12, 2009

South Carolina--Almost Home!

(This is a long one, folks, sorry!)
It was so hard to believe that while we were in Savannah, Georgia the land just across our narrow river was South Carolina! So it wasn’t far that we had to travel Saturday morning to cross the “state line” into South Carolina—in fact, it was only just minutes. But in those last few minutes of being in Georgia, we saw a truly spectacular sight—two bald eagles sitting on top of the same pole side-by-side—we’ve never seen that before on this entire trip, so it was very special. We also saw another owl sitting on a dead low-lying tree out in broad daylight—I must read up on owls when I get home—I always thought they were nocturnal birds.

So on our way up the ICW to Beaufort on that pretty day, we passed Windmill Harbor Marina in Hilton Head and talked about raising our gold Looper flag because that’s where we bought our boat. But on “thinking it through”, we realized we hadn’t actually started our Loop from there, nor had our boat been renamed or provisioned for the Loop at that point. We had just bought a beautiful and rare boat there in the fall of 2007 and we were still hoping to be taking the trip the following spring—which we were lucky enough to actually do. So our battered and dirty white Looper flag still flies proudly on our bow waiting for our port turn off the ICW into Pelletier Creek, when the poor piece of fabric will finally come down.

We got to Beaufort, SC, early enough in the afternoon for me to get 3 loads of laundry done in the nice municipal marina’s facilities there. We’re still with “C-Life” and “Nightingale” and all of us walked up the street just from the marina after cocktails on the boat that evening for a delicious dinner of fancy pizzas—we love pizza and these were different shaped and delicious! Sunday mid-day, Gail, Kay and I took off to explore some of the cute shops and galleries along the two-block section of waterfront downtown Beaufort. We got back to our boats just before a huge rain storm hit us—and it continued throughout the night blowing and rocking our boats—thankfully we were tied up to floating docks!

Monday morning, just at “first light” and very early for all of us, we left Beaufort headed for Charleston—the wind was expected to really kick up and we wanted to get into our next marina before late afternoon. By the time we got into the harbor of Charleston and rounding the Battery, the wind was howling and the waves crossing the bay were at least 5 feet—not a pleasant boat ride, but we were headed in the right direction and had the waves behind us! After getting all three boats safely secured to floating docks, we had a big pot of homemade vegetable soup for dinner that had been simmering all day on “Nightingale”—the weather had turned really cold and the soup was just perfect for us all—delicious too. Thanks Gail! Tuesday morning we had an early lunch at a nearby deli and took the totally packed, 345-person ferry out to the island of Fort Sumter for a very cold and windy (we were freezing!) tour of that famous place. Fort Sumter was where the first shot of the Civil War was fired. The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering through the famous and very crowded straw market in downtown Charleston—which had all the curtains pulled down because of the wind and cold—a sadly different sight from the last time we were there. Tuesday night we went to Hank’s for dinner—another delicious and trendy spot.

Wednesday, my dear cousin, Carol Shropshire, drove the two hours to and fro from Columbia to Charleston to visit with us for the afternoon. We were so excited she was coming and bringing her son, Colin, too!! We had a wonderful four hours together—having lunch at a fabulous French bistro, “Rue De Jean”—just off King Street; spending time with Colin and his precious girlfriend of 3 years, Virginia; and helping Colin out in a most embarrassing dilemma he had gotten himself into—his car getting towed during lunch! Life is interesting and continually full of surprises, isn’t it Carol?! I’m looking forward to spending more time with my precious cousin later on this summer—one short afternoon together just wasn’t enough by any means.

Wednesday night for dinner (on Colin’s excellent recommendation) Kay & Robert, Gail & Gene, and Louis & I walked up to Jestine’s Kitchen. Seeing the line of hungry patrons wrapped around the street told us all we needed to know—this place was going to be another delicious “local” spot. And delicious it was—southern cooking at its best. We all chose something different as our meats and our choices of vegetables were varied too—I had chicken livers, collard greens, and okra gumbo—wow!! Definitely worth another visit when we’re in Charleston!

It was still so windy on Thursday morning when we left Charleston. We left on slack tide, hoping the wind would calm down during the ebb, but were disappointed when it hadn’t. We’ve had fierce winds for almost three weeks now—and it makes our dockings difficult too. We were headed for Georgetown that morning—Louis and I think we’ve been there before, but neither of us can remember when—CRS disease strikes again! Along the way we saw two alligators—always thrilling and scary too. One of them was especially large—yikes! We also spotted several eagles and many ospreys—with six pairs of eyes constantly on the lookout for wildlife, it’s hard to miss anything along our route!

As we passed McClellanville, both Louis and I held our breaths—that’s where we spent three unscheduled, nasty and rainy days in the fall of 2007 tied up to a shrimp dock when we were bringing the boat back and we lost the port engine. Thankful that we had made it past that small fishing village, shortly thereafter we pulled into Boat Shed Marina in Georgetown and were glad we got alongside our floating docks before the really bad winds blew in. Is it ever going to stop blowing?! I’ve thought numerous times about Liz & Bob and their battered and torn Looper flag—poor things, they had bad winds most of their entire trip!

After cocktails and a surprise “birthday party” for me on “C-Life” (thanks Gail and Kay!), we headed down the street several blocks to River Road Restaurant for dinner. To our delight, we ran into Lyn and Scott Edwards from Durham there at the restaurant—what a treat to see them! We had a delicious dinner and walked back to our boats under another full “bella luna”—a beautiful night—I’ve lost track of the number of beautiful full moons we’ve seen on this trip!
Friday morning we woke up finding Kay and Robert’s middle son, John, and his wife, Sharon, and their 3 children, Kylie, AJ, and Ivey, who had come in late the night before. Most of them will be making the final leg of this trip with the Creeches—it’s great fun having children along! We’ll have Geni and our four grandchildren coming in this Tuesday while we’re in Myrtle So Friday night, Louis and I were “alone” for the evening—a rarity for us. Kay and Robert had the whole gang onboard and Gail & Gene had left earlier that morning bound early for Myrtle Beach—they’re shuffling their car along for a while and it is still in Brunswick, GA. We decided to take Carol’s recommendation for Georgetown and go uptown to The Rice Paddy for dinner.

Many people ask us about the Loop, “What’s your favorite city?” or “What’s your favorite restaurant?” We have so many favorites on both questions that it’s really hard to name a particular one for either. But in my estimation, The Rice Paddy in Georgetown definitely ranks in the upper three—and it’s surely the best restaurant I’ve been to since coming back to the boat after Christmas. We didn’t have reservations and were lucky to get in on a Friday night (what did we know?!). With Natasha as our waitress, we were treated to the best low country food to date—all prepared and served to perfection—I was in Heaven it was so delicious. The best shad row I've ever tasted. We can’t wait to get back to that marvelous place.

So now it’s Saturday night and we’re rafted together with “C-Life” in tranquil Oxbow Creek in the coffee-brown and tannin-rich waters of the Waccamaw River—just 35 miles south of Myrtle Beach. We got here about noon and have had a wonderful, lazy afternoon surrounded by ospreys. (We’ve never seen so many ospreys in one stretch of traveling—needless to say, the ospreys are thriving in the Waccamaw River!) Kay and Robert fixed hamburgers and hot dogs, complete with all the fixins’, and Louis made another batch of ice cream with grilled Twinkies, chocolate sauce and cherries—his signature dish on the Loop! Yum. And it’s a bittersweet night for Louis and me as well. We realize this will be the last night of anchoring and being rafted with Kay and Robert—they have been our constant companions and dearest of friends for so many months now—how will we ever be able to leave them? Like Scarlett O’Hara said, “I’ll worry about that tomorrow!”

Tomorrow, Easter Sunday, we’re headed to Barefoot Landing for one night, then moving over to the Myrtle Beach Yacht Club on Monday for a few days with our children—beginning Tuesday. I hope to get this blog posted there tomorrow. We also hope to see Ann & BJ Maynard in Little River for a while before our children get here—and after that, who knows what we’ll be doing, but it will be fun and we’ll be with our precious family. So I’m thinking/knowing this will be my last posting until we leave Myrtle Beach and head for an overnight in Southport and then on up solo to Wrightsville Beach for a couple of days. Draging our feet, we may spend a night or two in Swansboro. Then finally, we’ll let “Bella Luna” take us home. If all goes as planned, we should be leaving North Myrtle Beach sometime around the 20th and be in Morehead City that last weekend in April.

The Old North State, here we come—at last!


Jay Stockard said...

We really enjoyed having time with Geni, Catherine, their hubbies, and the kids over Easter! You are in for a shock when you see how much they have grown! Enjoy your time together, then get yourselves home! you have been missed. Take care!


Second Wind said...

Dear Wades,
We are waiting for you at the beach . . . . I can't tell you how much we relate to what you are feeling right this minute. We've been lucky to have your delightful blog so we could re-live the entire adventure again through your eyes. Enjoy, enjoy! Come home and start planning the next adventure.

Liz and Bob

Anonymous said...

Where are you?

Are you lost??

I am lost without my "Bella Luna" fix

Bog me, BABY