Laura’s birthday was about a week ago. We’re both of an age where we no longer want “stuff” for our birthdays, but would prefer the gift of experiences. When I saw that Josh Gates was going to be in North Charleston I figured that tickets for the show would be the perfect gift. We decided to combine it with a Lowcountry getaway to visit some of our favorite haunts.
We headed down Saturday morning. Our first stop was the Donnelley Wildlife Management Area in the ACE Basin. We stopped at the old Boynton House and decided to walk a bit. The house itself seems to have deteriorated considerably since my last time here. The side porch looked like it was about to fall in.
We walked out along the rice fields, watching the alligators eye us warily from the sloughs.
Mosquitoes became more of an issue than lurking alligators. We didn’t get far before they became overwhelming. We quickly headed back to the car. Most of that day, and even most of the weekend was spent dealing with mosquitoes that got into our car at various stops.
We drove on around to the larger pond and took photos of spoonbills, herons, osprey, and more alligators from the safety of our car.
From here we drove on down to the Bear Island portion of ACE Basin. The scenery was beautiful, but we didn’t pause for many photos. The mosquitoes were too bad even to roll down the windows a bit.
Knowing that Charleston restaurants would be insanely crowded on a Saturday night, we planned to eat in Beaufort instead. From ACE Basin we headed that way. Our first choice of restaurants on Ladys Island was already packed by early afternoon. We decide to ride on over to Saint Helena Island and kill some time, looking for an alternative. We made a stop at the Saint Helena Chapel of Ease.
At the Frogmore Crossroads we found our dinner spot. The Foolish Frog turned out to be an excellent restaurant. We got an outside table with sunset views out across the marsh and ordered “Frog Water”, a drink made with rum and some kind of green coloring. The drinks and the food was very good, and Laura even ate mussels for an appetizer.
It was time to find our hotel in North Charleston. I keep forgetting how far these Lowcountry distances can be. We had a 70 mile drive to our hotel. We arrived at what we thought was our hotel to find a group of very obnoxious boys, ages 10-14 or so, playing street hockey right in front of the hotel and blocking the entrance. To my relief I learned that I was at the wrong hotel and that ours was about five miles up I-26. Sadly, when we arrived at the correct hotel we found that it was also full of even more obnoxious boys. Apparently there was a youth hockey tournament in town.
As obnoxious as the boys were, the parents and coaches were even worse. They hung out in hotel bar harassing the bartender and being loud and drunk in general. We could easily see where those kids had learned their bad behavior. Even so, we ended the evening with a couple of martinis and consoled the friendly bartender.
The next morning I’d made reservations for Sunday Brunch at The Watch Rooftop Cafe in downtown Charleston. We drove down a bit early because we weren’t sure of the parking situation, so we arrived at the cafe off of King Street a little before our reservation time. The place wasn’t busy, so we were seated outside by a host who looked like he’d had a late night of partying and wasn’t really in the mood to be working.
The views from the rooftop area were incredible. We could see all over the peninsula.
Sadly, the food didn’t live up to the view or our expectations. We were told that brunch started at 10:30 and that we would have to order off of the breakfast menu. No fancy omelettes, then. We were further told that pancakes weren’t available, either. That left avocado toast or “The Watch” breakfast as our options. We both ordered The Watch.
What arrived was a Yankee’s version of a Southern breakfast. The eggs and bacon were fine, but the grits were served in a soup bowl with a soup spoon. These were completely unseasoned. We had to ask for butter, then ask again for salt and pepper. There was a little tub that we assumed would be jelly for the biscuit. It turned out to be ketchup, which went with nothing that we had ordered. Apparently our waiter had been out partying with the host the night before.
We drove down King Street to the Battery. It wasn’t yet crowded, but was starting to get that way. We had talked about doing a harbor cruise, but Laura said that she preferred exploring more of the outer areas of Charleston than dealing tourist crowds.
We headed north and northeast, driving through the Francis Marion National Forest, through Jamestown, Andrews, and eventually winding up in Georgetown. Once again we had problems with mosquitoes and had them chase us back to the car at a couple of stops. Honestly, we just drove listening to spooky podcasts and I didn’t take many photos.
We made our way back to our hotel and had a quick dinner there, then it was time for the main reason we had come down this way. That story is on the next page.