This begins in March, our 25th wedding anniversary, when we decide where we want to go. Over the years, we’ve gone to a variety of places (Niagra Falls, San Antonio, and New Orleans) with an anniversary band thrown in for good measure. But this trip, this was all my wife.
A few years ago, she began reading a book called, The House on Tradd Street, by Karen White. There are five books in this series, all dealing with a main character and her ability to see and communicate with spirits (I’ve not read the last book, but the first four, MUST READS!!). All of these books are set in Charleston, which gave her that first itch of “hey, let’s go there.” Fast forward how many years later, and we are deciding where we are going on a family vacation. My wife is thinking Charleston and both daughters look at each other and say, “The Grand Canyon!”
So, Charleston it was! We flew out of Cedar Rapids early Monday morning, not a good plan on my part because we spent the weekend chasing our youngest daughter around doing Brown Swiss things at a local fair. We were a little bit tired, but not bad since the weather’s been unusually cool. We got the airport way too early, got through security in 10 minutes (that’s counting the time we stood in line, waiting for security to open up!), and by 6:00 AM, we were on our way! We arrived 10 minutes early to Atlanta, where we hopped on the tram to our connecting flight to Charleston. Again, very uneventful boarding, the flight was early, and we were suddenly on vacation!
Our taxi driver, Antia, set the stage for the whole week. She was easy to talk to, guided us through the mess of construction and chaos going from the airport to downtown, and just showed what hard working people do when presented with a challenge: they figure out a way. She was driving taxi full time because her job was moved to a different state, but she was so optimistic about the future, buying her own house, it just made me happy that she was our first contact in town. She drove us up to our hotel, The Meeting Street Inn, got our stuff out, gave us some tips about Charleston, then – poof – was gone! She was a great ambassador to Charleston and I hope those positive things she’s wanting happen, because she put out so much positive energy! 🙂
I’m not sure how to write about The Meeting Street Inn without using another 500 words, but I’ll give it a shot! This place was perfect for us. It was quirky, it was in the middle of downtown, and when we said we were there for our 25th wedding anniversary, they sent up a bottle of champaign and a note of congratulations. Want to get return customers? Go the extra mile and they did just that every single day.
Anyway, we got our room, dropped off our stuff and went on an adventure! First, food! We walked down the street, about a half block, to a place called Toast. Yummy!! I ordered sweet tea because, we are in the South, right? Why have I not ordered this before?? Something that nails my sweet tooth, but without the Diet Coke side effects? Sign me up! My wife ordered a shrimp po’ boy and I ordered a crab cake sandwich.
If this is what our trip was going to taste like, we were in trouble! I see weight gain in my future for certain! We then went on what I’d guess was a 5 mile hike. We saw part of the waterfront, we saw part of the historic market, we made it to CVS for some Diet Coke, an umbrella, and sun screen! We even made it to Tradd Street. By this time, fat, slow, out of shape me was about ready to melt, so we made our way back to the hotel, showered, and took a nap (another regular occurrence on this trip).
At 5:00 each night, our hotel offered a “happy hour” of wine, cheese, and something else. This night, it was a pimento cheese spread. Now, I’m from Iowa, and pimento cheese usually comes in a loaf, and looks about as appetizing as my shoe. This stuff looked good, but I could not get myself to try it, yet (oohhhhh, foreshadowing). However, this was a daily treat for us, to sit in this beautiful courtyard, sip wine, snack, and just enjoy the fact that we were on vacation in this place we’ve always talked about going to!
That night, we took another walk and ended up at an Irish restaurant and bar. We split a pasta and shrimp dish that was probably the only “meh” thing we had all week. The music we listened to was decent and our own conversations were just that, our own. We’ve been on vacation before without our daughters, but for some reason, this seemed more real, more personal. For that, I am grateful that we have the means to make something like this happen!
We wandered back to our hotel and collapsed in a heap of “wow, we made it.”
Tomorrow, a slice of life from Day 2 of our adventure!