We got pretty confused finding our
way out of Savannah but finally found the low key highway we'd
selected for our journey up to Charleton SC.
It's probably time to mention that although we have been travelling for three weeks
and have covered over 2,000 miles we haven't been on a single
hill. Not one! We're not counting some of the long concrete
bridges which rise steeply to their azimuth then drop steeply
again to the other side. Seriously folks, not a single hill in
2,000 miles through six States. We don't mean mountains, we just
mean hills.....there aint any!!
Our entire journey has been
through what is generally called the "Low Country". No
hills, very hot and HEAPS of mosquitos. Even though it is only
May the locals are saying we are currently experiencing
conditions which are more typical of July. Oh well, thanks a
We stop at a small and elegant
resort town spelt Beaufort but pronounced "Boofort".
It's on the Inland waterway so not truly on the coast in the
Australian fashion. This means that the water is a greyish green
at best. We've found the water colour to be quite disappointing
right along the south eastern coast of the United States.
waterfront home in Beaufort
We were referred to a good place
for lunch and it turned out to be very good indeed with prices
that were quite reasonable. Earlier in our trip someone had
recommended that we try "She Crab Soup" when we got
into this area and seeing it on the menu we didn't miss the
opportunity. It's apparently made exclusively from female crabs
when they're full of roe and this gives a particularly rich
flavoured soup even if it is less beneficial to the propagation
of the species.
During the late
afternoon's driving we made several side trips down minor country
roads and whilst it was pleasant to admire the wonderful lime
green trees lining the roads we didn't turn up anything
particularly remarkable otherwise. One of our side excursions was
to view "The Angel Oak" an oak tree alleged to be a
"knock out" but search as we may, it completely alluded
shed and boat landing
So much of this
lowland country passes through saltwater marshland with thousands
of small streams and rivulets. It's not surprising that prawns,
crabs and fish are in such abundance hereabouts.
We eventually reach
Charleston and found our self contained cottage in the old
historical section of town. We have this place for three days.
Late afternoon in
Eastern USA is early morning in Eastern Australia and as usual
Brian connected to the web as soon as we'd unpacked so that he
could address any issues affecting clients' websites. On this
occasion his mail contained a nasty shock regarding the future of
an upstream provider, one which could have a catastrophic negative
impact on about one third of Brian's clients' websites.
Brian was faced
with a very difficult decision. He could do nothing and hope that
things would somehow muddle through.... but this would be courting
a potential disaster involving lots of client websites and email
facilities. Alternatively, he could be
very pro-active and move lots of websites out of the danger area
and on to another of his upstream providers. The second (much safer) option
involves an enormous
amount of extremely laborious and stressful work.
After a sleepless night Brian rose
from bed with a determination to bite the bullet. He will
disappear from this narrative for over 40 hours whilst he works
his way through all the complex issues which flow from his
Lynn went sightseeing
in Charleston by herself. It looks to be a much bigger city than
we imagined and has a fair amount of industrial activity along the
harbour front. Our two bedroom rented cottage is the former
servants' quarters and cookhouse located in the garden of a
moderately grand home in the historical section of Charleston.
Unfortunately the owner's home is being renovated at this time and
there are always ten or so workman (and their vehicles) on site.
Getting in or out of the driveway involves asking multiple
tradesmen to move their vehicles. Some of them have shown their
ire at these interruptions but hey, what are WE supposed to do?
Brian is still chained to his laptop
computer. The job has turned out to be much bigger than expected
but fortunately it is proceeding quite smoothly without any nasty
surprises or major problems. He's thanking his lucky stars that
his disaster recovery preparations prior to leaving home are
basically working like a charm. "but I didn't ever want them
to be put to the test", he moans.
As Brian is hopeful
that he will have largely concluded his work by late afternoon,
Lynn takes the initiative to book a 2 hour Harbour Sunset Cruise
aboard the 84 foot sailing schooner "Pride". Lynn also
booked into an apparently classy historical Charleston restaurant
called "82 Queen".
Sailing out of
Charleston Harbour in the schooner "Pride"
Charleston Harbour is
surrounded by a completely flat shore and also has greyish water
(surprise surprise). It is hardly a scenic cruise in the expected
sense but given the nice sunset it wasn't too bad. Brian enjoyed
just being unchained from his computer and out on the water with a
light evening breeze on his face.
Lynn checks our
course and waves to passing trawler
Arriving back at the
wharf at 9.00 pm we jumped into the car and drove to "82
Queen" for a late dinner. We entered a walled courtyard and
discovered an outdoor dining area amid trees, gardens and tinkling
fountains. All this was softly lit by a thousand tiny white fairy
lights in the tree canopies and a number of flickering flares
strategically placed amid the shrubs.
We were given a table
in the absolute prime location but the bugs soon attacked Brian so
we reluctantly had to move to a table inside the mansion house. We
were given a complimentary cup of "She Crab Soup" which
was one of the restaurant's signature dishes. It was different to
our previous soup encounter but nevertheless very nice indeed.
Goodbye Charleston, we're off to
Camden, South Carolina today but not before we get several
tradesmen to move their cars and pick-up trucks. It's clear that
they are VERY pleased to see us on our way.
We passed a number of famous
plantations which we could have visited for an inspection tour,
but as we have already inspected several such places we decided
to skip these ones and press on, especially as the weather is so
We haven't previously mentioned
the heat of the last week or so but it has been quite oppressive
with temperatures between 85 and 99 F, every day. Thankfully
each of our accommodations has been well air-conditioned and
air conditioning unit in the car seems to be a particularly
powerful one as well.
It's a stinking hot
day but we are mainly driving on quiet country roads shaded by
continuous forests of lime green trees. We do not know what
species of trees grow in these forests but they are extremely
beautiful, cool looking places with filtered sunlight generating a
hundred different shades of lime. We keep expecting that Robin
Hood and his merry men will suddenly emerge from the forest
accompanied by a silent and stealthy party of Cherokee Indians
It's worth mentioning
that we've been extremely impressed by the marvellous trees we
have encountered throughout our entire American tour. This
admiration was further augmented today when we dropped into a low
key attraction called The Cypress Gardens near Moncks Corner in
The Cypress Gardens is
a meandering swamp with hundred of Swamp Cypress trees, acres of
water lilies, alligators, bull frogs, butterflies, dragonflies and
herons. Incidentally, dragonflies of many sizes and colours are
extremely prolific throughout the entire south. We love them.
Lynn pestered Brian
into placing his head into an alligator's mouth for her
and he foolishly agreed.
After a brief stroll
along the pathways through the swamp we boarded a tiny punt with a
Ranger and six other tourists for a slow and peaceful paddle
around the swamp.
Our photos do not do
justice to the Cyress Gardens
Our fellow travellers
comprised a couple, several teenage girls and a grandmother.
"We live down in the Tennessee panhandle", they informed
us, "where y'all from?" For about the thousandth time
this trip we reply that we're from Australia. "How long did
it take you to drive up from there?", asks the teenager's
mother. Whist we are struggling to formulate a non humiliating
reply the grandmother fortunately jumped in, "Oh Nadine,
don't be acting stupid, these folks here came over the
ocean!" Nadine is not phased by this revelation. "Oh
yeah, I musta forgot".
Brian snuck up on
this unsuspecting white heron
Following our punt
excursion we visited the Butterfly House, then drove on into
Moncks Corner for lunch at the local Taco Bell franchise. They
were the worst tacos we have ever eaten and comprised little more
than lettuce, salsa and a handful of cheese. The one micron thin
taco shell exploded into a million pieces at the first bite
leaving one with a handful of goo !
For weeks our car has
been covered by grasshoppers and other baked on American bugs.
When we accosted a black guy at a manual car wash station and
asked for some directions he said, "why don't you folks go sit a
spell and have a cool drink whilst my team removes all those love
bugs on the front of yo cawr?" It's an inviting invitation but
there are several cars ahead of us and we can't spare the time.
However, freshly motivated we enter an automated car wash later in
the day. Brian opts for the "Double Wash" which means we
get two lots of suds and two all over scrubs. Emerging from this
super buffeting trauma we immediately inspect the front of the
car. It's still covered with thousands of "love bugs" as
before. Ah well, what the hell!
Talking about our Ford
Taurus, we were parked beside a Toyota Camry today and they are
indeed of similar size so please forget some comments we made
earlier on in this tour journal. Incidentally the Taurus has
worked out reasonably well for us. It's no great performer but
it's doing an ok job if you ignore the large turning circle.
American cars have never been noted for their turning circles and
if you want a tight turning circle I guess you've got to go to a
tight country like Japan or Italy where it's absolutely essential.
After lunch we drove
some distance out of our way to visit the town of Sumter, home of
the famous Swan Lake Iris Gardens. It is well known for its
fabulous displays of irises and the fact that it's lake is home for
all seven species of swan found throughout the world.
Swan Lake Iris
Gardens in Sumter S.C.
We arrive at 4.00 pm,
later than intended but we figure on having at least one to three
hours to inspect the gardens (it doesn't get dark until at least
9.00 pm and the gardens are supposed to be at their prime during
late May and early June.
We accidentally drive
into the Iris Gardens via the exit gateway but a police officer
soon intercepts us and gives us the dreaded news. The gardens have
just closed early so as to aid preparation for tomorrow's opening
of the "Iris Festival".
Try as we might we
couldn't talk the officer into allowing us a mere 15 minutes to at
least sneak a peep. The above photo was acquired from other
Greenleaf Inn in
In the late afternoon
we reached Camden SC and found our lodging at the Green Leaf Inn.
It's a beautiful 1870's mansion and our exquisite upstairs guest
room is furnished with tasteful antique furniture, rugs and object
d'art. The huge windows are shaded with plantation shutters.
Wooden ceiling fans adorn the 14 foot high ceiling. The bedroom
is about the size of a tennis court and the bathroom is extravagantly
spacious as well. As we happen to be the only guests
tonight it is extremely quiet and peaceful. We have our waiter's
total attention when we dine in the beautifully restored
downstairs dining room.
Green Leaf Inn is
surrounded by a wide open verandah complete with a dozen rocking
chairs. Multiple overhead fans keep one cool and keep the
mosquitos at bay as well. All very Southern.... where's our Mint Julips?