- Where We Started: Charleston, S.C.
- Where We Ended: Savannah, Ga.
- Miles Driven: 121 (1,133 total)
- New States: 1 (Georgia)
- Total States: 4 (Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia)
THE DAY'S HIGHLIGHT
We drove through no natural disasters Tuesday. We saw no dead presidents, saw no famous birthplaces. Today's highlight was much more low-key, but one that reminded us of what is so great about traveling the country: random encounters with perfect strangers.
We started our day with a walking tour of Charleston, which is one of America's great walking cities. The downtown area is compact, there's great architecture everywhere you look, terrific water views and the town just has a wonderful feel. We've been to Charleston a number of times, so we didn't stay long this time, but we would highly recommend it to anyone who hasn't been there.
My favorite area to walk is down by the battery, where you can check out the gorgeous old antebellum mansions that line East Battery Street and lower East Bay Street, all while taking in nice harbor views.
After walking around downtown a bit, we decided to wander over to Waterfront Park to find some grass for the dogs and get some photos of the gorgeous new bridge that takes you into Charleston. As we headed that way, we spotted a fenced-in dog park and decided to give the boys some off-leash time. There was only one other dog in this area at this point, Colette the Labradoodle. Meet Colette.
To say Colette had some energy would be an understatement. Fred, still a little skittish about rough play after his multiple knee surgeries, did what the Jets usually do the second half of every NFL season: laid down and submitted. Hank also got off to a slow start, but eventually, found his game, and began challenging Colette for temporary dog park supremacy. Hank lost.
Now, I know what you're thinking, and that wasn't what was happening here. Just a snapshot in time of two dogs playing. Dirty minds, all of you. :-) But, as you can see from the photos below, Hank was rarely in a advantageous position.
After only, I don't know, 30 minutes, Joan finally got a shot of Hank is a proud position.
But what was really enjoyable about the dog park visit was the couple we met, aka Colette's owners. They were a lovely older Southern couple, and we told them we were traveling the country with our dogs. The husband then told us: 1) they also love to travel with Colette, and have an RV they use for those trips, and 2) he also blogs about it (if they're comfortable with it, I can share the URL later; we've been trading e-mails with them since yesterday). I thought that was so cool that we'd randomly bump into fellow dog lovers, travelers and bloggers. For all the great historical, natural and kitschy things you can see in America, sometimes nothing replaces a great old chance encounter with complete strangers.
So the boys had a great time, and combined with the walking tour of Charleston, slept all the way to Savannah. They got their first baths of the trip there as well, since Hank was -- for reasons that are probably obvious by now -- covered in Colette's slobber, and Fred was a bit grungy as well. As soon as they were done with their baths -- and the inexplicable post-bath sprinting around the room that always occurs -- they crashed. Hard. Not too soon after, so did we.
The plan for today: Mostly rest. We're going to walk Savannah a bit more, and find some good restaurants. But, otherwise, we're chilling. God waited until the seventh day to rest; we caved after five.
- WNCT in eastern North Carolina reports that officials believe a cigarette from a passing car started the wildfire we drove through on Monday. Since we can't credibly say we were nowhere near the scene at the time, we'll settle for the fact that neither of us smoke. Can't speak for the beagles, but the lack of opposable thumbs would seemingly make it difficult.
- Also, our headline "Playing With Fire," was met with some disappointment from readers of this blog. As a former copy editor who once wrote a headline about a dachschund show with the headline "Wieners Take All," I should have been able to do better. Good suggestions from readers included Eddie Sutton's "Touring Inferno" and Rick Blum's "Hot Dogs." So, here's a question: How should I feel about changing headlines after I've posted? Maybe use strikethrough? As a journalist, my feeling is "Playing With Fire" is what I chose, and I should stick with it. But let's be fair; this isn't hard news. Thoughts?
- I learned a new skill yesterday: shucking oysters. I quite like oysters, and eat them frequently. But, at dinner last night, they were only offered unshucked. I wasn't quite sure what that meant, to be completely honest. I was more confused when they brought the oysters and no other utensils. I wondered aloud to Joan if I should throw them against the floor or step on them or patiently wait them to open themselves. I asked the waiter if I was missing anything, and he sheepishly admitted that, yes, I was sans a shucking knife and towel. After he brought both, I still couldn't quite make sense of it, so I called him back to give a demo. After feeling like an idiot because, well, it's pretty self-explanatory, I shucked the rest of my oysters without incident or injury. I later suggested to the waiter that maybe the reason this restaurant didn't shuck oysters was because it better preserved the flavor. He said maybe, but the real reason was it takes too much time for the kitchen staff, so they offshore it to the diners. Give that man points for honesty.
- Random iPod shuffle song of the day: "Also sprach Zarathrustra" by Richard Strauss. What is this, you ask? You may not know the name, but you know the music; it's the famous theme from "2001: A Space Odyssey." It's great music to have playing when pulling up to the Grand Canyon, the Badlands or any other truly awesome sight. We were not at that awesome site when we did the random shuffle yesterday; we were on a particularly boring stretch of highway south of Charleston. The effect was more humorous than awesome. You can see this very short piece performed here.
- Most-played albums Saturday: Fired up a little "Back in Black," by AC/DC, and played some "Monster," by BT. Was mostly on shuffle play the rest of the day.
- There seem to be a lot of comments about what music we're playing in the car, much of it of the mocking variety. There's also a sense we should be taking a geographical musical tour while in the car, and I think that's a great idea. So, tomorrow, we'll start playing some more region-appropriate music. But I have to be honest: I hate country music, so we'll have to stay away from that. But we're headed to Georgia tomorrow, so I'm smelling some Allman Brothers in our future.
- Breakfast: Marina Variety Store Restaurant, Charleston, S.C.: I'm not much of a breakfast guy; so far on the trip, I've just eaten a low-calorie breakfast bar every day. But met up with an old college friend for breakfast at a favorite local haunt right at the Charleston Marina. Jim Nutrition Rating: Had scrambled eggs and toast. 2 stars (out of 5). Restaurant Rating: 3 stars (out of 5). Perfectly solid, though as my friend pointed out, you've got to love a restaurant that delivers pancake syrup in a small plastic container and won't give you a bottle. Small extra credit for this line on the menu: "Our chickens lay eggs any way you want them."
- Lunch: Hominy Grill, Charleston, S.C.: This was a Roadfood place that was also highly recommended by Cathy Moscatelli and Robin Lunt, and it didn't let us down, though I was a bigger fan than Joan. A classic Southern joint, the service and the food were excellent. I started with an amazing garden salad -- and you can imagine how good a salad has to be for me to call it "amazing," since I consider eating salads an experience worthwhile only for sustenance. I followed the salad with broiled flounder and sides of green beans and applesauce. Joan had mediocre fried green tomatoes, but followed up with a solid curried chicken salad. Jim Nutrition Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5). Restaurant Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5). I gave it a 4, and Joan a 3, so we averaged it out.
- Dinner: Huey's on the River, Savannah, Ga.: Thanks to a recommendation in the comments by Doris Strachan, we went to this joint right alongside the Savannah River, and really enjoyed it, though we have noticed portion sizes in the South are crazy big. The bad news: I had my first completely bad meal of the trip. I did start with the aforementioned oysters, but then followed it up with red beans and rice, served with Andouille sausage. It was terrific, but it should have come with a referral to a cardiologist. Joan had a delicious shrimp salad, and sweet potato fries. Jim Nutrition Rating: 1 (out of 5). Hey, I didn't have any beers, right? Restaurant Rating: 4 stars (out of 5).
JIM WEIGHT REPORT
- First off, many of you have sent me e-mails (or commented) on what hallucinogen I was on when I published Joan's weight in this blog. Let me be clear: The day I publish my wife's weight to the world without her express permission is the last day I will have that wife. Joan gave her permission for that information to be published. Second, what about me publishing my own weight? I'm the fat one, for god sakes. Anyway, after five days, I decided it was time to weigh myself. I started this journey at a svelte 248, and today's weigh-in has me at... 246.5! (Joan is down two pounds herself, btw).
- My best guess on why I'm losing weight despite not making the best eating decisions: Exercise and not drinking. While I'm not yet doing my exercise regimen in the room, I probably walked two miles yesterday, and we'll probably do the same today. Also, I have had three beers in the five days since we left.
- Quality Inn Heart of Savannah, Savannah, Ga.: I originally wanted to end our run of mediocre hotels and stay at our favorite chain -- The Westin, which accepts dogs. But it ended up being across the river, and we wanted to be downtown. So we chose this rundown place, but it's a block away from the river and the shops and restaurants that line the streets. The room is passable, the bathroom is tiny and gross and a cleaning woman just told Joan or the dogs -- unclear which -- to "get away from me." Rating: 2 stars (out of 5).
- Petfriendly.com: If you ever travel with a pet, this site is extremely helpful in finding hotels, parks, dog-friendly restaurants, etc.
COMMENT OF THE DAY
From Mark Potts, referring to yesterday's note about the dancing man dressed as a Statue of Liberty:
- ... I think I can top Liberty Tax Service: There's a gas station in Leesburg, Va.—one of those multipump jobs, with the little booth i the middle—that has a sign advertising that the guy in the booth will do your taxes for you. You might as well just go directly to Leavenworth and check in for three to five. Somehow, the idea of H&R Amoco doesn't fill me with great fiscal confidence.
UPCOMING PLAN (subject to change)
- Today: A walking tour of Savannah, Ga. And naps.
- Thursday: Some random Georgia sites -- Plains, Warm Springs, Andersonville -- on the way to Atlanta.
- Friday: Friends and family in Atlanta, and watching the AU basketball team play for the NCAAs.
BONUS BEAGLE PHOTO