Destinations2Di4: Beaufort, South Carolina
Welcome to my newest column! An unofficial travel blog of somewhat interesting trips to somewhere somewhat interesting. I’m calling it Destinations2Di4. Journey with me on random day trips or week-long voyages. We’ll visit hole-in-the-wall restaurants, small towns, big towns, small boats, big boats, small states, and big states all with a somewhat humorous state of mind.
Beautiful Beaufort by the Bay
My husband, Steve, awoke early one morning recently and pronounced it would be a perfect day for a day trip. Considering his last out-of-town adventure was an ambulance ride to Charleston followed by a few days in ICU at MUSC, I was more than happy to oblige. After all, knocking a few items off the bucket list is much more appealing than one of us trying our darndest to kick the bucket.
Typically, our day trips start with a hearty breakfast at a local dive, but since he sprung this on me last minute, I had no time to research tasty restaurants. That said, I poured up a Miralax Mimosa (1 part fiber powder to 3 parts Trop50) accompanied by a bowl of Aldi brand Toasted Oats with milk so skim even Manny the cat turns his nose up at it.
Following my dismal morning meal, I loaded up the CRV with a few bottles of water and Miss Daisy (aka Steve). He doesn’t really appreciate the new nickname, but since he cannot legally get behind the wheel for another 162 days (but who’s counting?), I’m his chauffeur. As the driver, I get to set the radio station, the volume, the a/c temperature, and the rules, which he grudgingly abides by or I’ll refuse to take him off-island to Lowes. I’m enjoying my role as Hoke Colburn.
Today’s journey will take us to Beaufort, which in South Carolina is pronounced Bew-Fert, while the same city in North Carolina is pronounced Bow-Fert. Either way, pot-A-toe or Po-TOT-o, the towns are named after the same guy. While we’ve never been to Bow-Fert, North Carolina, it was a bit too far for today’s day trip, so we headed up 170 to Bew-Fert. Despite previous visits, we had not taken a carriage ride tour or paid our respects at the National Cemetery so it qualified as a check box on the bucket list.
Like any good tourist 60 years of age or older, we first stopped at the Visitors Center to use the restroom (the mimosa worked!), pick up free maps, as many brochures as we could possibly carry, and purchase tickets for the carriage tour.
One thing I noticed when we settled in behind Maximus the Percheron was that he wasn’t nearly as stinky as the horses on Mackinac Island, but then again it was early in the day and there weren’t nearly as many carriages on the road. I also liked the fact that he wore a little hat with Steampunk goggles. I complimented his get-up to the trainer who explained it had been his Halloween costume and because he loved it so much, they let him wear it year round. Fair enough.
Charlotte the carriage driver started the tour by telling us a bit more about Maximus. He was 11 years old, weighed 2,200 pounds, and could pull five times his weight. At that moment, I mentally calculated how big everyone in the carriage was. It seemed close, so I’m glad we’d not indulged in biscuits and sausage gravy for breakfast. That might have tipped the scales and stopped Max in his hooves. We also learned Max came from an Amish farm in Sugarcreek, Ohio. Proof that horses are as smart as humans. Most humans from Ohio end up in South Carolina at some point.
Charlotte the human tour guide informed us in her sugar-sweet southern twang that she had been born and raised in Beaufort. Her mama had been born in Bew-fert, while her daddy hailed from Bow-fert. The family ran the carriage business and by golly, she knew her business. Beaufort had been around since the Spaniards popped by in 1502. The city was founded in 1711 and she did her best to cover several hundred years of trivia in 60 minutes. She pointed out historical homes and historical facts, peppered with hysterical dad jokes (if you like that sort of thing, and I do). We passed the bust of Robert Smalls, the Rhett House Inn, The Castle (aka Hospital #6 during the Civil War) the Richard V. Woods Memorial Bridge (from the movie Forest Gump where he’s crossing the Mississippi. Who knew it wasn’t Old Man River, but the Beaufort River?) and Tidalhom (the setting of The Big Chill and The Great Santini, neither of which we’ve seen but are now on our Netflix/Amazon Prime list).
She explained live oak trees that have branches on the ground that rise up to the heavens are called angel oaks. While I knew why many Southern homeowners painted their porch ceilings blue, it was still interesting to hear her talk about blue bottle trees that also helped to thwart evil spirits. She pointed out that the ferns, plentiful on the porous walls, were known as Resurrection Ferns because they die back, only to come to life again.
Following the carriage tour, we stopped at Plum on the bay for lunch. Despite the name, there were no plums on the menu, but the chicken salad was filling and the grouper Po-Boy with fries did the trick for Dinky…er, Daisy. Once fortified, we worked off some calories by traipsing across the Richard V. Woods Bridge in search of the Mississippi River sign leftover from the Forrest Gump movie days. We didn’t find the sign but found a nice couple from Greenville who agreed to take our picture if we took theirs.
They were FG movie fans, too. And as luck would have it, later…much later…that same evening Forrest Gump was running for the 1029th time on one of the local TV stations. I couldn’t resist, so I stayed up later than I did on prom night in 1978 to watch the bridge scene. Steve asked me the next morning if I’d watched the entire show, but I had not. I simply couldn’t bear to watch Jenny die for the 1029th time so I called it a night at 2:35 a.m. and dreamt about our next adventure.