From Raleigh-Durham NC to Boynton Beach FL – Nov 15-25

9 Dec

I wrote this piece several weeks ago, but I’m just posting it now, with some pictures.  Since this writing, we’ve moved through Florida, across the Gulf Coast, into New Orleans, and we’re now on our way up the MIssissippi Great River Route for a few days before heading to Texas.  But, those details will be in the next blog posting. .

The tone of our trip changed about a month ago.  Until then, except for a couple of isolated visits with friends, we were on an unscheduled trip across secondary roads through northern middle America.  Our time was our own, no schedules.  Over the last month, we’ve visited friends and relatives, with several days on our own in between visits.  Also, being on the east coast, we’ve been doing a lot more tourist stuff – visiting historic sites and cities.  Both aspects of the trip are fun, one’s not better than the other, they’re just different.

There are some photos attached below, for no reason they’re in the middle of the post below.

After leaving Rebecca and Margo in North Carolina, we headed south for Charleston SC and Savannah GA.  As we travel deeper into the south, changes are becoming more evident.  Accents are stronger.  Food is becoming more traditional southern – fried chicken, greens, grits, shrimp, fried chicken, bar-b-que, black-eyed peas, fried chicken, overcoked greens, sweet tea, corn bread, biscuits, gravey and, of course, fried chicken.  People are friendly and helpful.  During our 2006 VW road trip, we were in Charleston and Savannah and loved both of these cities.  That’s why we returned.  The historic downtowns are small enough that we’re able to take self guided walking tours and, pretty much, see everything that interested us.  And, it’s a good thing we like to walk.  That’s helping keep down the weight from our over-the-top indulgence in southern food.  In Charleston, we ate at Magnolia’s (the down south eggrolls are wonderful, thanks, Dave), Jestine’s Kitchen and Hominy Grill (thanks to Reva’s friend, Allison).  In Savannah, our first stop was a return visit to Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House for lunch.  It’s family style, and they serve an insane amount of delicious down home southern food.  There were four couples at our table, one local, three traveling.  We were a friendly chatty group.  Then, almost at once, the energy at our table dropped dramatically as everyone just stopped eating and, probably, felt overstuffed.  Needless to say, for dinner that night Joanna and I had small bowls of cereal.  We weren’t hungry, we just couldn’t conceive of going to bed without dinner.

We just missed seeing people from California on the road.  Reva and Britton were in Charleston the week before us, and our friends Chris and Pat Weil from San Diego were in Savannah for a few days before we arrived.

Next door to our house in Half Moon Bay, a factory-manufactured home is being installed.  It’s difficult enough to have a house built that will block eastern sunlight and block our view of the field and hills to the east.  Not to there for the process is unsettling.  Fortunately, Saso Gale, our new neighbor to be, is very understanding and accommodating.  And, Reva and Britton, being that they are living in our house, are sending us photos and keeping us informed.  Nevertheless, it will be strange coming home.  When we returned home after four months on the road in 2006 our street and our home felt strange and different, and nothing had changed.

And, so, back to Charleston.  Nearby, on James Island, Charleston holds an annual Holiday Festival Of Lights.  At first, I figured, what the hell, it’ll probably be a “same old, same old” experience.  But, for $20 and an hour or so, we decided to check it out.  Well, we had a great time!  Neither of us had seen anything like this.  The festival was set up in wooded public park.  While driving, lighted displays guide the way.  Most of the displays are animated.  In the middle of the park is a walking exhibit, an enchanted forest filled with lighted animals and plants.  The next day, we toured an old plantation, the Boone Plantation.  Most interesting aspect are the eight slave cabins that have been restored and filled with historic exhibits about the history of slavery and the lives of slaves.

OK, life on the road does separate us from some of our daily delights – like healthy food.  And so, in that context, we were excited to find a Whole Foods Market and a Great Harvest Bread Co. on the same day.  Simple and familiar pleasures.

We took an open bus tour of Savannah.  Once in a while it’s fun to do something like that.  Lots of historical information.  After the 1 1/2 hour tour, we went back to walking on our own.  Savannah is the home of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).  The school has some 40 buildings around town, and it’s influence permeates the local culture and adds excitement to the city.  Of course, Savannah has some of the most beautiful antebellum architecture in the south.  It was not destroyed by General Sherman during his infamous Civil War March to the Sea.  In Charleston and Savannah we camped in large, uncrowded campgrounds.

Next stop, Florida.  Almost immediately, the weather changes.  While it’s been warm along the coast, we’ve been comfortable.  Florida is different.  It’s a bit warmer, but much more humid.  Very tropical.  Our cold weather clothing is back in deep storage.  The skies are blue, with huge cloud formations.  With flat ground, it’s sort of a tropical version of the Montana Big Sky plains.  The accents of the deep South give way to accents of the Bronx and Brooklyn.  Was anybody born here?  We stopped in St. Augustine for a few days – a city of rich Spanish architecture and lots of tourists.  For me, it lacks the culture and energy we found in Charleston and Savannah.  On our way to southern Florida, we spent a night at a campground on the Sebastian Inlet.  Well, more of a parking lot than a campground.  Between the warm and humid night (72 degrees and 70%), and the constantly bitting noseeums (tiny flying insects that pass through mosquito netting), we were miserable.  We spent Thanksgiving in Boynton Beach with friends from LA, Helene Tendrich, her husband Lew, and their family.  After some 15 years, we had a wonderful reunion with Helene and Lew, and loved meeting their extended family and friends.  A wonderful Thanksgiving.  We feel fortunate to be blessed with so many friends.  As for this area of Florida, it seems to be non-stop development – shopping centers, condos, etc.  Quite a bit different from the openness that we’ve been experiencing.