November may seem an odd time to spend a full week vacationing in the Carolinas, but there were use-or-lose off-days to be liquidated, and the timing was right for my old college roommate to visit: Winter had already arrived in Crawford County, Wis.
For our base, we leased a beachfront house on Folly Island, on the outskirts of Charleston relatively in the tropics, as far as Charley was concerned. He had never been to the Carolinas.
On his eight-day sojourn we covered perhaps... 40 square miles.
Doesnt sound like much, does it?
But consider this: We visited the only tea plantation in the United States, on Wadmalaw Island (www.charlestonteaplantation.com); we saw the fabled and enormous Angel Oak (www.angeloaktree.com). We took a cruise of Charleston Harbor from the Cooper River bridge, along the waterfront and out to Fort Sumter (www.charlestonharbortours.com). We walked historic Charleston from the Battery to Marion Square and back again, stopping for food on Market Street and for drinks at Tommy Condons (www.tommycondons.com).
On Folly (www.follybeach.com), we rented fat-tire bikes $100 for three for a week and rode on the beach between the Washout and Folly Island County Park. We spent time browsing the tiny but remarkably funky Berts Market, where you can buy everything from fresh sushi and imported beer to bait and motor oil. We lunched at uber-cool Taco Boy and the various seafood restaurants that line Center Street. At 4 p.m. some days, wed head to the Intracoastal Waterway, where the fishing trawler unloading at Crosbys Seafood had fresh triggerfish wed buy to cook at our place. We drove through the sloughs to Bowen Island Restaurant (www.bowensislandrestaurant.com) to shuck and eat oysters and watch the Lowcountry sun ease down into a distant marsh.
Days would begin and end shoeless, on our porch.
Charley says hell be back.
If its summer, well cool off at Balsam Mountain Inn (www.balsaminn.com), kick back in downtown Sylva or rent a creekfront cottage in Galax, Va. Fall could place us in New Bern or Manteo.
Wherever we go, well just explore a small area.
The point is this: When you get where youre going, dig deeper and enjoy it to the max.
Even along the most scenic drives in the Carolinas like the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Cherohala Skyway, the Blue Ridge Expressway, the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway or the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway (U.S. 74, from Clyde to Bryson City) the real adventure begins when you get out of your car.