The Great East Coast Adventure, Days Four and Five.

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Whew. After Day Five of this journey, this reporter is exhausted, to say nothing of Our Family, some members of which are clearly coming apart at the seams (see below), and only a good night’s rest will do.

Day Four began with cleaning the damp awning. “I always forget what a pain in the ass it can be to have a shady campsite,” Michelle remarked. “The shade is great, but all the leaves and twigs fall onto our awning, which then takes forever to put away because we clean it as we go. Write that down, so we remember next time.”

Nonetheless, the Family was in good spirits as they headed down the east side of the Eastern Continental Divide. “Not quite as, um, spectacular as the other one,” Greg said.

Descending the eastern side of the eastern continental divide

The drive was uneventful, with stops only at truck stops for fuel and a rest stop for lunch.

“Now THAT was when we realized the beauty of the travel trailer,” Michelle said. “We pulled into the rest stop and only had to WALK BACK TO THE TRAILER for lunch. No picnic tables in the blazing sun for us.”

“Yeah, I kinda knew it was beautiful when I was able to use the bathroom without actually going IN a building,” Greg added.

“Well, and then there’s that,” said Michelle.

After dropping their trailer at the park in Charleston, our heroes set out for Angel Oak, rumored to be 1,400 years old. It seems there is some controversy over her true age, but our group remained in awe of her grace and majesty.

The road to Angel Oak A giant among usmajesty For scale - Angel OakAnd the close-upBranches dipping into the soil and back up   

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that when the nice lady who took their photo referred to Angel Oak as “her tree,” Ethan glared at her indignantly and said, “Ahem. YOUR tree?!”

Michelle apologized profusely. “I’m so sorry, he’s so rude sometimes,” she said. “He’s a teenager in a four-year-old body.”

Fortunately, the nice lady was also mother to a four-year-old, so she was not offended.

Undaunted by the length of their journey or the heat, the Family headed out to Folly Beach where they ate at Taco Boy.

“We couldn’t hear ANYTHING for the din,” Michelle said. “I mean, I like music, okay, but this was ridiculous and hi, we’d been in cramped quarters with two kids under 12 all day. We hoped for respite, but none was to be found.”

This reporter sees her point.

But how was the food? “Really pretty good,” observed Greg. “I had a tuna taco, hehehehe.”

Ahem.

Moving right along.

The highlight, or so I’m told, is the bathroom.

Bathroom reading material Inside Taco Boy's restrooms

And that appears to be true. Cute.

After their tacos, the whole entourage set out for Folly Beach itself, where the kids played in the surf. The coolest part of the night? “Oh, easy,” Michelle noted, “that was when some guy brought up a little crab on a stick for the kids to see. I mean, really, THAT was so nice of him, to think of our kids that way just because he’d found a little crab.”

The kids also spent time looking for seashells, some of which were taken away on Day Five as punishment, but maybe we’ll get to that.

Folly Beach fishing pierFunWhat I get when I ask him to smile

Naturally, it is not a Boneblog Vacation lest several days end with ice cream, and this was one of those days.

Contemplating their Moose Tracks ice cream cones

“Yeah, great,” Michelle said. “Mention the part where Ethan flatly refused to go to sleep for hours. Think the cone had anything to do with that?”

Well, you win some and you lose some.

**************************

Day Five has quite possibly been the most exhausting day yet.

“I got the brilliant idea to go running when I woke up at 6:15 and knew I wouldn’t have any more sleep,” Michelle said. “Thing is, this morning in Charleston the heat index was 95 degrees. At 6:30 a.m.”

It seems this is unusual even for Charleston, at least this early in the year. The locals say this is record heat.

The day went kind-of-sort-of-downhill from there, at least for one member of the family.

“I have this toe thing,” Greg reported. “It hurts. I can’t figure it out. Then Hominy Grill didn’t have shrimp for their shrimp and grits. I blame BP.”

Hence the coming-apart-at-the-seams.

Yes, folks, Hominy Grill, that bastion of Charleston foods, did not have shrimp for shrimp and grits. Greg’s plan of alternating shrimp and grits with barbecue went right out the window.

“It sucked. That is all,” said Michelle. “He had to settle for the Big Nasty Biscuit, poor guy.” What is this thing? It’s a fried chicken cutlet sandwiched inside a biscuit and covered in sausage gravy. “Well, I have to admit it was good,” Michelle said. “They put pimentos in their gravy, I think, which is unusual, but also good!”

hominy grill

Afterward, our favorite Family moved on to the Ft. Sumter National Monument.

“Yeah,” Greg said, “We were at the Water Taxi early because SOMEONE had misread the schedule –“ (here he looked at Michelle) – “so we ended up at the National Monument. No matter, Ethan earned his Junior Ranger badge.”

Ethan working on his Fort Sumter Jr Ranger

Laurel worked on hers, but the Family had to run to catch the water taxi before she could finish. Disappointed as she was, she was soon enthralled by the dolphins frolicking in the waters of Charleston Harbor.

Dolphins!More dolphins!Aboard the water taxiskimming the water

And why was our Family aboard this vessel? They were on their way to Patriot’s Point to visit the USS Yorktown. Guess what? The USS Yorktown is mostly without air-conditioning.

“Well, if you want an authentic experience, THERE YOU ARE,” Michelle said. “In their defense, I guess it’d be difficult to air condition an entire aircraft carrier.”

The family also visited the USS Clamagore, a submarine. “Yeah, this is not for the feint of heart,” Michelle advised. “Claustrophobic? DO NOT ENTER.”

USS ClamagorePretty good-sized boatReassurancedental chairNice little joke in the brigpaddlesPretending to pick up lunchcookies!Ship soda fountain uuuuuuuuuuuuuglyFamily at the USS Yorktown

So who in the Family is the big military buff?

“Um, can’t say that any of us really are, though I can at least identify the planes,” Greg said. “Truth is, we thought Ethan would love to see two of his favorite modes of transport – planes and ships – brought together as one. And he really was fascinated. At one point we were all so hot and tired we asked if he’d like to go ahead and leave or soldier on, and he wanted to stay. That’s about as much of a positive recommendation as one can have from a 4-year-old.”              

Michelle added, “The other fun stuff included being able to eat a galley lunch on board – and I know my military pals are cringing, reading this – and hearing the retired likely-veteran volunteers announcing tours, beginning with ‘Now Hear This’ and ending with ‘That is All.’”

“Oooh, and don’t forget the flight simulator!” cried Laurel.

“Yeah, we went in a flight simulator. If you know me, you know I’ve developed motion sickness in my old age,” said Michelle. “Fortunately, I had eaten in the not-so-recent past, which tends to help. My Dramamine was back at camp.”

Thoroughly drenched in sweat, the family disembarked to discover a thunderstorm rolling in. Following a quick visit to the gift shop, they scurried down to the water taxi which, thankfully, was still running. They managed to beat the storm…which never really came to fruition.

“Well, it rained at camp, I guess,” said Greg. “Interestingly, this is the second time that’s happened, where we’ve been dry while camp has gotten wet. The first time was in Asheville.”

Finally, our adventurers headed downtown for Moonpies. “What can I say?” asked Michelle. “Is there anything more southern than a Moonpie? I mean, except for, well…” here she whispered, “shrimp and grits…shhhh….”

Parking was difficult, so our wanderers limited their time downtown and returned to camp for some well-deserved respite from the heat.

After stewing in sweat most of the day, the Family chose to find somewhere to eat dinner rather than suffer the heat at camp. They tried the Charleston Crab House solely because Richard and Ginger from “Flip This House” remodeled it.

“Well. I can see why the Crab House needed help getting business,” Michelle said, “and it has little to do with the looks of the place.”

Still, it was preferable to eating in the sweltering heat at camp, if just barely.

“I wanted to like it. I truly did, and I don’t wish them any ill will,” explained Michelle, “but it was akin to run-of-the-mill-you-can-get-it-anywhere chain food, and while there is a place for that, its place just usually isn’t with me. Not on vacation, certainly.”

So with that, the family packed it up for the night, setting their sights ahead for a quick jaunt to Wilmington, North Carolina tomorrow before moving on to the Outer Banks.

Ethan was not so eager to settle, and while Michelle boiled water for his bath, he entertained himself with this:

stinker

“What was he doing?!” Michelle repeated when I asked, “Why, isn’t it obvious? He was turning the lights off and on with his toes, OF COURSE, DUH. I mean, who wouldn’t think of doing that when they were supposed to be waiting patiently for their bath water? I could show you what else he was doing, but it isn’t fit to print.”

And there you have it.

The Family tells me they like Charleston, and they may return someday, knowing full well they have not seen all this fine city has to offer. They tell me that despite the heat, the humidity, and Ethan’s cantankerous nature, they had a good time here. But this time Charleston is just a stop along the way.

spanish moss

Good night, Charleston. Sweet dreams.