Starlit Rambler - Adventure Travel Our Way
Even though I was saddened to say goodbye to my family and the beauty of home in upstate South Carolina, I was equally excited to be returning to the low country of Charleston. The College of Charleston is where I attended my four years of undergraduate schooling after high school. Here I made many friends, many whom would be back in town for a wedding and many that still reside in the general area. Charleston is original in its history, architecture, plantations, and low-country culture; the urban sprawl, culinary arts, and stylish bar scene has noticeable increased since my departure in 2008.
Over four hours since we began driving on July 9th, we arrived on Folly Beach at my close friend Beth’s borrowed beach house for the week. Keeping in mind that Beth assisted us in some of the very early stages of the Rambler build out, she was quite ecstatic to be seeing the van in full bloom now 2 months into our travels. From the wide mouth squeals and picture taking from her and other friends visiting, it seems we did not disappoint. This excitement over our van is always welcome and helps remind us of a job well done; however, it does seem weekly that we look at the van and openly state, “How did we build this?”
Soon the Charleston festivities began with a family dinner at Rita’s, a local Folly Beach establishment with multiple styles of seafood preparation. Excited to visit with other good friends in town for the wedding, we made our way to downtown King St for a surprise dinner drop-in at Fish followed by a meeting over beverages at Belmont. These particular friends that we met downtown, like any four bachelor gentlemen, determined that they should lease a yacht at Shem Creek to stay in during the wedding festivities. So naturally we wanted to check it out. The sense of humor of our acquired longtime friends left us laughing into the later hours of the evening. On Saturday, this same yacht would become the sight of an after wedding dance party.
July 10th began with a late breakfast at the popular Lost Dog and led on to a Folly beach day reuniting with many old friends. Many of us had travelled afar to partake in this gathering and everyone was riveted with excitement to see each other. Through all the excitement you have to wonder why these types of gatherings do not happen more often if they bring everyone so much joy, but that seems to be the way life goes. Especially when you travel a great deal and have so many close friends in different parts of the country and world, you begin to simply appreciate if your friends happen to be in a similar location as you. After several joyous hours on the beach, everyone started going their separate ways to begin preparation for the night’s rehearsal dinner festivities. Since Jeremy and I are not particularly close with the bride and groom to be, we mostly found ourselves in Charleston for the experience and my reunion with friends. So as everyone rushed off to the dinner, we made ourselves at home at the quant beach house and later found our way to the delicious crepe truck just down the road. Soon the rehearsal dinner concluded and we were summoned by friends to join them at Taco Boy downtown. As I walked up to my old college roommate’s husband, Ben, to my surprise his jaw nearly dropped to the floor and his face seemed bleakly confused followed by a look of classic happiness in his eyes that I’ll never forget. Not to leave out that Ben stands well towering over my 5’4” stature and I happen to be the other close friend to his buddy, Josh, that has now lived in Switzerland for several years. We both miss Josh dearly. Soon his wife Schanen was there giving me a big hug, it was like seeing two old friends that I somehow keep losing touch with but wish they were in my life all the time. The night finally came to a conclusion after several hours of fearless group dancing to multiple live instrumental bands at Royale.
The morning again came a bit slowly but Jeremy and I were set on exploring the classic still working Boone Hall Plantation in Mt Pleasant, across the newly built Ravenal Bridge from downtown. We were informed that our time on the plantation would last at least 3 hours but 5 hours later we determined that we really must have been enjoying ourselves. Time passed quickly while touring the final built plantation home, 1 of 4 homes, with 8 chimneys given numerical significance by the Mason builders. Here, among newly learned history, I was reminded how the old wagon bridge to cross the river from downtown still stood until the new bridge was completed while I was in attendance at the College of Charleston. I remember how scary narrow this bridge was to cross in your vehicle with no room for error or quickly would be your decent into the water far below. Next we explored the still standing row of 9 slave quarters with educational information on the struggles of African Americans throughout time and an incredulous vivacious live presentation by a local Gulla woman giving a take on their history then and today. Finally we toured by cart the plantations lands and learned how the land is still utilized today for events and local fruit and vegetable crops, I of course insisted on taking some of the produce home with us.
Realizing that we had been completely drenched all day in good ole low country thick humidity, we headed back to Folly to clean up for our next adventure. Shower, dress, high heels, and suit later we were looking sharp. To all of our friend’s suggestions and according to their text messages, we made a timely arrival to the wedding reception. No harm done right, everyone was so excited to see us, and we managed to even dance while entertaining a few drinks. However, Jeremy and I gave a squeamish look to each other as we became consumed in an interlocked circle of the bride and grooms love ones. As the bride, Emily, came around the circle realizing as she kissed us one by one on the cheek, she sweetly whispered, “wedding crasher, wedding crasher.” We could not help but billow over in laughter; this was definitely a first for us. At least we weren’t total strangers, unlike Joey’s “last minute bimbo date arrival” as all of our friend’s proclaimed. However, soon after the groom, Zeke, made an effort to find me and see if we have been enjoying ourselves. After party favors and the married sparkler send off, we proceeded to the yacht to partake in the before spoken of dance party. Fun? No way.
Of course we were going to the Sunday wedding picnic, we were invited with tickets in hand or were we since the tickets came from the wedding we crashed and the invitation once again came from our friends. Oh well, we were going. July 12th started off with a bang of post wedding picnic festivities, great food, awesome company, and once the heat really picked up, group volleyball. Not to worry though, a cool down was in session at the kid’s splash zone. All the joys of James Island County Park wrapped up in one, well except the outdoor climbing wall that I use to dangle from frequently. Now the sad part started, goodbyes to dear friends. Ryan first, back to Oahu, then Scott and Jean Paul. That’s about all we could handle for now. Tomorrow the rest of us would play together again. Quickly we settled in for some evening dinner plans with Kaley and Taylor at Leon’s in downtown. Everything here is delicious, fresh, savory, and original. The night still entailed a dessert crepe as Jeremy and I walked along the beach back on Folly.
This morning plan was exciting and straightforward; stand up paddleboard (SUP) with Mr. Carroll aka Tom. Tom was one of my Exercise Physiology degree professors at Charleston and just so happens to be my favorite so naturally over the years we have stayed in touch. Even though Tom is a father of 5 he still manages to make time to SUP with friends and myself when visiting the area. This time I thought I was pushing my limits bringing 7 friends, but Tom did not seem to bat an eye except to say he would bring his teaching assistant, Luke. Yes, Tom happens to teach the SUP course at Charleston these days. Upon arrival, Tom immediately showed great excitement with the realization that we were quite the “in shape” bunch, later he would proclaim we were the best group he has ever SUP surfed with even if the waves were a bit subpar. It was a great day of catching waves and catching up with each other, hours later we slowly made our way back up shore through strong winds quickly followed by a pounding rain and lightning storm. As we waited for our lunch feast at Poe’s on Sullivan’s Island the rain still came down strong and later managed to maintain the excitement by knocking out the electricity in mid bite. Eating in the dark is quite fun, we heard it is becoming all the rage in New York. Now after a fantastic play day, we would say our goodbyes to Schanen, Alii, Erin, Luke, and Tom but with hopes of reuniting again soon. Thank you all for such a fun day! The rest of us had plans to prepare a home cooked meal with local seafood and produce we purchased from Boone’s Hall Plantation. Hours later and a solid group effort, oh what a feast it was, black beans and rice, soft fried plantains, eggplant, squash, zucchini, perfectly cooked salmon, and scrumptious shrimp prepared with a local recipe. This might possibly be our favorite meal the whole trip in Charleston!
The next two days were spent saying goodbyes to dear friends with plans to meet up on the road, exploring Wadmalaw Island, and catching up with some old friends. Highlights: standing in amazement under the 1500 Angel Oak as its long limbs dove back into the ground and out again as if each limb could be its own individual tree, sipping on tea and learning the ways of the only North American Tea Plantation, consuming too much sweet tea vodka and its counterparts in the local Firefly tasting room, catching up with my old roommate, Maria, and her beautiful baby girls. Finally, a big highlight for me was proudly watching the Skylar that I babysat in college surfing waves at camp on Folly Beach. I felt as if I was managing a glimpse into what it feels like to be parent. I started taking care of Skylar when she was only 6 weeks old and was able to be around to watch her grow until she was 4 years old. Now she is a smart, talented, beautiful, athletic 10 year old. Honestly, it blows my mind what change comes with time and even though I rarely get to see her, she will always be a part of my life in some way. To top off my feelings of sentiment, Jeremy and I were invited to join Brad (Skylar’s dad), his new fiancé, and Skylar for dinner at their beautiful new home in Mt Pleasant. After a blessed time catching up and a delightful dinner, we took a tour of the neighborhood via Skylar’s golfcart driving skills. Once again, the Rambler found a driveway to rest in for the night but this time its residence did not turn down the comforts of an air-conditioned room to lay our heads.
Early morning good byes to rush Skylar off to surf camp, allowed us to begin our journey up the coast, northeast. A big thank you to all the friends that hosted us and participated in fun activities during our stay in Charleston, we enjoyed spending time with each and every one of you. Per normal we were not able to partake in all the awesomeness that is Charleston, but a glimpse into its delights left us feeling ready to begin the next part of our journey that lay ahead.
Stay tuned for the Outer Banks of NC and Washington D.C.!
Author: Rachelle McEwen
Having Fun Yet?