Bay's Travel Blog

I don't travel much any more. Resist!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

South Carolina at last! Day 1 -- Traveling Day

Monday, August 15th
After wrestling with suitcases and trying to pack all our stuff into the Prius -- not to mention the fact that I couldn't sleep the night before and was operating on 1.5 hours of sleep, we finally hit the road ... later than expected. Just before we left, the mail arrived, and with it came my precious photos ordered from Club Scrap Retreat. I moaned and gnashed my teeth, and Wesley took the packets from me -- sight unseen -- and stuffed them into our suitcase before I ever laid eyes on them.

Our first stop was Steak'n'Shake for breakfast. Wesley ate so much that I feared for his health. The kids were very boisterous at this 9:00 meal in a near-empty Steak'n'Shake, and the waitress even asked why they weren't in school. Homeschooling rocks!!!!

We were on the road again by 10:00 or so, and Wesley was already fretting because the rental agent's office would close at 5:00. So I whipped out the cell phone and called 'em. They said if we arrived after 5:00, they would leave our packet, keys, and linens in a special, hidden place. OK, it wasn't all that hidden. I'm still not telling you where it was supposed to be. What if you're a thief? I don't want to be responsible for all the rental houses on Edisto Island to be burglarized because I'm a blogger.

The drive itself was largely uneventful. It's always gorgeous on the way to North Carolina and through that state. Lots of mountains. I love mountains. Have I mentioned that? I do. Mountains are far, far preferable to beaches in my estimable opinion. South Carolina itself is... very, very plain. No mountains. And honestly, that interstate just goes on and on with hardly any interesting sights. But they do have nice wildflowers growing in some of the medians.

We stopped at the South Carolina Welcome Center after we crossed the northern state line. That was probably around noon or so. I have a philosophy about road trips that is, unfortunately, directly opposite Wesley's. Wesley wants to try to drive 18 hours straight without ever stopping. In fact, I think he would be happy if he could drive 18 days straight without stopping.

I, however, used to go to Georgia once a month with my mother. Every time I said I needed to go to the bathroom, she would tell me, "You never see the Queen stop a parade," or "Draw another notch in your puckering string." I bet if Mama had lived longer, she and Wesley would have eventually started competing about who could drive the farthest without stopping. Anyway, because of my upbringing and the scars on my urinary tract from all those notches, I want to stop *often* during any given road trip. It's just humane. I'm just sayin'. Is all.

Anyway, we stopped at the Welcome Center, and it was very welcoming and pretty. We walked around a bit, and we even went inside and chatted. Somehow we had hit the road without a road map, so we picked up a map of South Carolina and a few brochures on the Low Country and whatnot. The kids tried peach cider. I adore peaches. (I'm originally from Georgia, after all, and I know that peaches are soft and sweet, not hard and sour like the ones in Tennessee.) But peach cider is nasty. Gross. If you want a peach, eat a peach. Don't drink it. This isn't rocket surgery, for cryin' out loud.

After a nice stop, we were on the road again. The drive was long and boring, as previously noted, and I kept trying to sleep. This was difficult, because with children -- and all their thousands of belongings that they'd brought on the trip -- I couldn't recline my seat. I kept falling off the pillow. Falling off the pillow really messes with one's ability to sleep. I have no idea how anyone sleeps sitting up on an airplane.

Before too very long -- perhaps around 2:30 -- we stopped at some place an hour or so from Charleston, where there was a Subway in a convenience store. Emily stepped in gum on the way to the door, and it went all over the place. She was flummoxed by the physics of hot gum, and I tried to explain to her that in the Deep South, this is what happens when people throw their gum on the pavement in summer. She was totally freaked out -- and totally enmeshed in stringy, stretchy, melted, sticky gum. I was a little freaked out, because I had forgotten how far gum can stretch in such heat.

I haven't eaten in a Subway since March, 2002, when my sister Amy took me to a Quizno's and said, "You've gotta try these sandwiches." Wesley and I split a "cheese steak sandwich." I'll let the quotation marks do all the talking for me. Emily got a sandwich, Woodrow got something, we all ate. It was very hot in the booths next to the sunny window. We scrunched together in the shade, and finally moved to a booth closer to the middle of the joint. There, Wesley and I got out the South Carolina road map and tried to figure out how to get to Edisto.

Every time we have gone to Edisto, we have taken a different route. If we find the perfect route, I'm sure we will not tell a soul. We *really* don't want Edisto to become the next Hilton Head or [shudder] Tybee Island. As long as Edisto is difficult to find and uncharming to the masses, we're happy.

A truck driver happily told us how to get to Edisto. He was right -- but man, he could've been more forthcoming about the forks in the road. We almost got lost at one point! There was one place where, according to the map, we should've turned right. We didn't turn right, and we found ourselves on a very narrow, very winding, very unpopulated road that nearly scared me to pieces. However, we still found our way to the road that leads directly to Edisto Beach, and -- after passing the Mystery Tree, which was this year covered in water toys -- at 5:15 we pulled up in front of the rental agent's office, where, indeed, our keys, packet, and linens were waiting for us.

Edisto Island is not tiny. It is, in fact, the largest barrier island on the coast of South Carolina. However, it is not developed like most of the coastal areas of the Eastern seaboard, and a large part of it is reserved for a state park. So there aren't many roads. We knew exactly where our house was, and we drove directly to it.

Pink Flamingo was the name of this year's rental house, and "pink" doesn't begin to describe the color. Some might call it "candy pink." (I once had a formal dress that the designer listed as "candy pink." It is an unmistakeable shade.) This color is nothing short of PANK. It is undeniably pink pink pink. It is deeper and more profound than Pepto Bismol pink. This pink would drive my friend Tricia Morris (co-owner of Club Scrap) to distraction. It kind of bothered me, and I *like* pink.

We cased the joint and unlocked the front door, turned down the air conditioner, and started unloading the car. Then I fell asleep on the couch while Wesley unpacked and initially set up our bedroom upstairs. The kids also chose bedrooms upstairs. Then they all came down, woke me up, and asked me what was for dinner.

It was getting late-ish by now, and the family desperately wanted to go to the beach, even though the sun was going to set any minute now and I knew the restaurants on the island wouldn't be open late. I offered to take them to the beach and go to the Piggly Wiggly by myself for staples. They joyously jumped into swimsuits, and we marched down the stilt-stairs to the car, which was parked in the shade of the house.

At the bottom of the stairs, Wesley's knees became very wobbly as his blood sugar dropped suddenly. I had a Coke handy, and I just popped it open and handed it to him. We sat in the car for a few minutes while he came back to himself, and then we went to the beach.

Although I had intended to just drop off the family for a frolic in the waves while I got groceries, with Wesley's blood sugar incident, I didn't want to leave them alone, so I stuck with them -- and I'm so glad I did. I got some *great* pictures, the best of which is posted above, Woodrow's arms thrown high in celebration at being on Edisto Island. I felt that joy, too. There is something about this place, so deeply rooted in my childhood, so profoundly loved in my adulthood, that I always feel free, happy, and rich here. The crushed-shell sand, the soft, warm surf, the seagulls and sandpipers and salt air -- I don't like the generic "beach," but I love Edisto Island.

I'm not sure how long I let them play in the water, but they all got wet except me. I sat on a bench high above the high tide mark and watched until the sun was so low that night was creeping in. I gathered them up, all of them, and left them at the Pink Flamingo so I could go to the Piggly Wiggly for the night's dinner.

Let's take just a second to talk about the Piggly Wiggly. This grocery store didn't exist when I came to Edisto as a child. And I never lived in a town with a Piggly Wiggly. Never. However, the name is so inherently Southern and so fabulously pronounced with a Southern accent, that I feel I could have always shopped at Piggly Wigglies throughout my life. And I am familiar with this store, having spent two vacations here before. I know where the chips are. I know how to get a cart outside and bring it inside for a shopping expedition. I know that although the vast majority of the customers on any given summer day are going to be tourists, the cashiers and bagboys are going to treat all of us as if we were family to them.

I love this Piggly Wiggly.

While there, I got milk, buttermilk, flour, bacon, sausage, a couple of boxes of Rice Krispy Treat varieties, frozen pizzas, and an Off! Mosquito Lamp. If you think citronella candles work, you are mistaken. And if you think that having a screened-in porch on a marsh-view house would keep out the kinds of mosquitos that live on Edisto Island, you are *sadly* mistaken. I got an Off Mosquito Lamp, even though it cost $5 more than it cost me at home. And the pizzas were to be dinner. Sad, I know, but my family likes pizza. I got them one covered with meat and tomato sauce, and I got one frozen California Pizza Kitchen White Pizza. I'm not sure what was on it, but it had white cheeses and spinach. That one was for me. I don't like traditional pizza.

When I got back to the Pink Flamingo, Wesley's blood sugar had dropped again, and he was skipping around being silly, which the kids loved. I gave him another Coke and started the pizzas, then lit the mosquito lamp and sat on the porch. It was very hot this first night, and a harbinger of heat to come. I was still very happy. I borrowed notebook paper from Emily and started my trip report, and I moved mine and Wesley's things from an upstairs bedroom to a downstairs bedroom. It wasn't the master bedroom, but it was nice to be a little bit away from the kids for the duration of our vacation.

Wesley joined me on the porch after dinner, and we talked and listened to the cicadas singing in the marsh before retiring long before 11:00. We were tired. Happy. At peace and at rest. And for a few days, we were at home on Edisto Island. The week stretched before us like a long, cool drink of water, and I slept like a baby.


At 5/2/07 8:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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