So we started driving towards Charleston and realized after 5 hours that we still had a heck of a lot of driving left to do to get there. So we were thinking about stopping somewhere random along the way and continuing our drive the next day. The idea was settled when Amelia began lurching on the interstate and we decided the best thing to do would be to get off A.S.A.P! That’s how we found ourselves in Charlotte, North Carolina.
We decided, for many reasons, that we wanted to spend the night in a hotel (sorry Amelia!) – it was rainy, our technology was all dying, we really really wanted a clean shower, I wanted to be able to pee in the middle of the night without worrying about bears, somebody else would make the bed – ok, you get the idea. When you want something badly, you can come up with all kinds of reasons why you have to have it 🙂
I learned a handy new thing about hotels…you probably all know this already, but it was news to me!
So we go up to the counter of the Marriott, having scoped them out online already and discovering that they have a CAA/AAA discount rate. They claimed they only had 4 rooms left – it’s race weekend, they informed us. We don’t know anything about Charlotte, North Carolina, so we had no clue what was being raced, we just wanted a room! Because of the limited supply, the best rate they said they could give us was $159. Well we had just seen it for under $100 online. Steve suggested we go back out to Amelia and purchase the room online. I was aghast – could we really do that?! What would they say when we waltzed back in there, suddenly with a much cheaper reservation for one of their all-important remaining 4 rooms. We decided to find out. Actually they just smiled knowingly and chuckled a bit and proceeded to check us in.
So, when purchasing a hotel room for the night – buy it online! I hear Priceline.com is good but we checked them out and they weren’t going to get us a better rate than the CAA/AAA discount.
Since we’d already indulged on the hotel room, we decided to take ourselves out for dinner as well. Steve found a few restaurants nearby and settled on a Cuban restaurant. We hightailed it out of there after our eardrums burst from the amateur Karaoke night that was going on. It’s too bad – other than the eardrum-bursting, tone-deaf tunes, it was a cool atmosphere and the food looked tasty. We ended up at an Italian restaurant – boring, but oh so good 🙂
Race weekend = NASCAR. And boy do I wish we could have gotten tickets – that would have been fun! Maybe we’ll get another chance sometime along the way.
Our bed was a cloud, the shower was bug and dirt free, and we plugged all of our various devices into every available outlet. Everyone was recharged, even Amelia. Heading to Charleston the next day, she’d given up on lurching and was back to normal. We’re thinking she just had bad gas (am I anthropomorphizing Amelia too much? 😀 Just tell me. I’m not going to stop, but you can say it if you want to).
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We got to Charleston around dinner time. That seems to be our routine. We roll into a new place around dinner, set-up camp, make dinner, and then relax for the evening because we’re pooped from all the driving. These past couple days, we’ve realized that we haven’t stayed anywhere longer than 24 hours, other than our initial visit with Steve’s aunt and uncle. It’s good because we’re covering a lot of distance, but it’s tough for sightseeing because we have a limited window of time. We’re hoping we can slow down a bit and spend some more time in some places.
In Charleston we stayed at a campground where for the first time we had hook-ups – power and water – sweet! We could wash dishes in our sink for the first time. Amelia’s from the 80s so she doesn’t really know so much about being environmentally friendly. The sink drains right onto the ground – there’s no holding tank. When we bought her we just kind of assumed that there was one and it wasn’t until we were later reading through the manual that we discovered that there wasn’t. But we managed to find some biodegradable, all-natural dish soap, so we’re trying not to leave too much of mark. I neglected to take pictures of the campsite while we were setting up this time, so here’s a picture of us drinking wine inside of Amelia that night instead. Cheers!
One thing I love about the South so far is the Spanish Moss on all the trees. They make for some beautiful treed archways driving along and make any tree they’re draping off of just that much more stunning. I learned from a handy dandy plaque that Spanish Moss is not parasitic and does not harm the tree it’s living off of at all.
The next day we had a few hours to explore Charleston before needing to head out if we were going to make it to Savannah before dark. We decided to check out a plantation, to get a feel for what it was like back in the day.
After parking, we were suddenly bombarded with a noisy, squawking flock of strange looking birds – has the dodo bird made a comeback??
They waddled around and were just generally hilarious to watch and listen to.
So I gather that every plantation has a giant house on it’s property. Here’s the big fancy schmancy house the rich folk lived in:
And here’s where the slaves lived (two families per house):
We payed for the “From Slavery to Freedom” tour and learned some cool stuff. This particular plantation was a rice plantation. Apparently rice was actually the most lucrative industry to be in at the time, not the cotton plantations made so popular from Gone With the Wind. Another thing I didn’t know was that the slaves were bought based on their knowledge and life skills. The West Africans brought to this rice plantation were from a rice-growing culture and had been growing rice for 2000 years. So these rich plantation owners, with no knowledge whatsoever of rice growing, were making the equivalent of billions of dollars on the rice being planted and harvested by West African rice experts.
Just a little aside, the guy giving the tour had an awesome accent and he finished many of his sentences with m’kay, like Mr. Mackey from South Park. We’re also in the land of y’all and ma’am. I’m sure they’re getting a kick out of our accents as well.
I can’t resist a petting zoo, so that’s what we checked out next.
Well, excuse me!
Oh you’re a beauty too:
Peacocks make a really funny sound. It’s quite loud and reminds me of the big silly bird from that short movie by Pixar at the beginning of, I think, Monster Inc. There were a lot of peacocks all around the plantation grounds so we were constantly hearing them “caw caw” to each other.
I finally got a picture of a deer for you. This one was super tame – he walked right up to me, nose in the air, looking for food. He got a camera in the face instead!
Ok, last petting zoo pictures, I promise. These ladies were preggers I think – they were looking quite round around the middle.
Next we checked out the gardens. The gardens seemed wild and unruly and like they hadn’t really been looked after for decades. I kinda like wild gardens in general but for the most part, “the gardens” at the plantation didn’t seem like gardens at all. They just seemed like the nature we’d seen around Charleston just growing on its own. Except for this pond – it was breathtaking:
I further got the sense that they didn’t really know what a garden was when we checked out their swamp garden on the way out. – Swamp – garden…..huh?
They were going to charge us another $7 each for the privilege of seeing this swamp garden, so we just skirted around the corner and got pictures of it from the road instead 😉 Sure we missed out on baby egrets, but what the heck are egrets anyway?!
Before we left for Savannah, we wanted to see downtown Charleston and all the old colonial homes. We did a self-guided driving tour, so I’m sorry for the not-so-great pictures. I think they’re actually pretty good considering we were in motion when I took ’em!
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Again we rolled into Savannah around dinner time. On the menu – gnocchi in a sage butter sauce with broccoli on the side – oh we are getting classy! Except I was tired and made the gnocchi with olive oil instead of butter by accident, and it didn’t have the grated Parmesan like when we make it at home, but it was still delicious.
Also starting to become a pattern, the storm clouds rolled in – I swear that storm’s following us around! This time though, we were in the eye of the storm. We needed to do laundry – we only brought a week’s worth of clothes – so I’d stuck a bunch of stuff in the wash and wouldn’t you know it, just when the storm came around, it was time for me to go get them out of the dryer. There were three kids sitting in chairs at the comfort station and I asked them if they were watching the storm. They said “something like that” and then proceeded to tell me about how last time they had a big storm there, ALL the campers huddled into the laundry shelter to wait out the storm. Which got me thinking about how it’s hurricane season. So I decided I didn’t really need to fold my laundry and I just stuffed it all into my laundry bag and made a run for our campsite. As I was packing up, the kids’ parents had arrived at the shelter and the mom called out to me as I left “be safe!” Oh dear. Just as I was coming up on Amelia, a huge booming thunder clapped above me and lightning lit up everything around me. Steve swung the door open for me and I jumped inside, tracking mud and wet leaves in with me. I’d just come back from drying clothes and now I had a whole outfit soaked right through.
The good news – Amelia is water-tight! The next day, everything around us was soaking wet. We had big puddles outside our door and all around the campsite, but inside Amelia stayed dry. We were still a little water logged, though, since we’d both splashed into the puddles outside when that pesky nature called again at night.
The campsites at this campground were HUGE! As were many of the RVs that were our neighbours. I just can’t believe how big those things can be! I realize now that I should have taken photos to show you all how ridiculously huge some of these mansions on wheels are, but I only had eyes for Amelia at the time.
We wanted to see some of Savannah, even though the storm clouds and the thunder were lurking not too far off in the distance. We fed a parking meter and set off to wander the quaint downtown and were not 10 meters away from Amelia when a downpour hit us and we ran back to sit it out. So we waited it out for a bit – had some lunch, touched base with the people we’d be staying with next – but it just wasn’t letting up. So we did another self-guided driving tour and got some more mediocre downtown pictures.
So that was our quick tour of the South! We’re thinking we’ll have to go back again someday because we really didn’t get to see a lot – especially in Savannah.