Archives For Charleston

s carolina sign

Day 10 of our road trip was driving from Raleigh to Charleston. I was impressed by the landscaping along Rt 95 in North Carolina. It looks like a high-end golf course with formal plantings of trees and shrubs and flowers. I thought of my parents making this drive in their annual post-Christmas snowbird exodus from New England to Florida. 

As we neared South Carolina, we started seeing billboards for Pedro’s South of the Border. It seemed like some kind of theme park or something. The signs certainly wouldn’t win any awards for political correctness… they were kinda Frito Bandito-y

The logotype seemed familiar from when I was a kid. I know I’d seen bumper stickers with that name and design way up in New England — back when bumpers were metal and people used them to brag about their travels. Sometimes places would put a sticker on your bumper in the parking lot, while you were inside. A place did that to my father’s ’66 Impala once; he was pissed. He was never a bumper sticker guy!  


south border

I didn’t stop on the highway for photos; this is a Google Maps screen grab. These ubiquitous signs just screamed “tourist trap”!


The billboards become more frequent as we got closer… “Ten miles away!” and “You’re almost there!” They were like the old Burma Shave signs — not that they told a story, but they built this sense of anticipation. We crossed into South Carolina, saw the park and the 20-story sombrero tower on the northbound side — and then the billboards were gone. I missed them.

Charleston had been side-swiped by a hurricane a couple days before we arrived, and there were piles of fallen branches and palm fronds on sidewalks. The entire placed felt like a damp sponge — and our first hotel reeked of mildew from the second we stepped in the lobby. I went in search of other accommodations — and insisted on doing a smell-test before we checked in anywhere. We zipped over the bridge and had dinner at a brew pub, where Mtuseni watched a soccer friendly on TV… and I made friends with a pint.


charleston bridge


On Day 11, we walked around Charleston, checked out the nice homes along the water, and had lunch at some funky Mediterranean place among the shops on King Street.

We knew we’d entered the South by seeing palm trees — or, actually, the state’s iconic palmetto trees. I learned this after asking a woman at a tourist center, “Why is this called the Palmetto State?” I thought palmettos were a cookie or praline or something! Evidently they’re mini-palm trees.


palm church


fountain pair


It was in the 90s. Muggy, soupy. Like trudging through a hot tub. Mtuseni skipped the downtown market, preferring to sulk on the sidewalk. He’s like Goldilocks; he hates the cold and the heat — basically he prefers it to be about 74 degrees. Always. 

The market was pretty neat, with some interesting stuff. But it was stifling. We hopped an air-conditioned shuttle back to the garage, hopped in the car, and drove down the road to Savannah.

Charleston was pleasant enough — like Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Good for a day. We hardly took any photos; nothing really grabbed us. Maybe we shoulda gone to Pedro’s!


mgb bench

One day I’m gonna break down and get progressives. The coal miner’s specs on the forehead thing is getting ridiculous!