Savannah & Charleston Road Trip

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SAVANNAH, GA. & CHARLESTON, SC ROAD TRIP

Since my retirement from the North Carolina Department of Correction aka North Carolina Department of Public Safety on March 1, 2012, I added quite a number of things to my To Do List or Bucket List (spread sheet) and a trip to Savannah, Georgia to dine at The Lady and Sons Restaurant owned by Paula Deen and her two sons, Jamie and Bobby was not too far down on the list.  I have been steadily pecking away checking off the entries on this list and will check this one off as well.

My bride and myself learned a few things about traveling on this trip that a printed Map Quest without a back-up plan;, e.g., GPS, or Apps for your lap top or Cell Phone, OnStar and/or local city maps of which I don't have or have activated is definitely a necessity!    Our three day trip was planned out fairly well with motels and tour reservation booked in advance and a two week lead time is not really enough time right around or after the peak tourist season which is normally before Labor Day.  Being frugal, I had to book motel reservations outside of the main city of Savannah on Interstate 95 North to get a reasonable rate room with accommodations for someone with physical limitations.

We got off to a good start on September 14, 2012 around 7:15 AM about 45 minutes sooner than planned due to getting up much  earlier;  the excitement of our road trip no doubt the culprit.  The weather was very agreeable and everything went smoothly  without a glitch.  We made a stop around 8:30 in SC and had a breakfast platter to tie us over until our 2:00 PM reservation at the Lady and Son's Restaurant in Savannah, Georgia and had plenty of time to spare.  We decided to take the scenic route through South Carolina until we got onto Interstate 95 which then encompassed 145 miles traveling on I95 before exiting off onto Highway 17 and GA25 connector headed toward downtown Savannah's historic district.  Everything was on course after getting onto Interstate 95 but had a slight set back prior to merging onto Highway 403 due to reading the Map Quest directions wrong which was misleading and had to back track at least 13.5 miles that we had traveled out of the way.  After getting back on course, we cruised along at 70 mph until we spotted a humongous cable bridge a few miles ahead and pulled over onto the shoulder of the road  to take a picture of the Talmadge Memorial Cable Bridge that is 1.9 miles in length with the longest span being 1,100 feet and has 185 feet clearance below and spans the Savannah River between downtown Savannah, Georgia and Hutchinson Island.  The picture below does not do justice to this awesome bridge while you are climbing to the peak of the bride for about a mile before it starts ascending from the peak and the view from the crest of the bridge is magnificent and spectacular to say the least!  We were totally stoked!

It wasn't too long before we were on West Congress Street looking for the Lady and Sons Restaurant and rode by the location and it was quickly evident that the one way street was going to be a problem getting back to the start of which we made quite a few right turns having to cross several one way streets to get back onto West Congress Street.  We spotted the restaurant on the second pass but now there was another problem.  There were no vacant metered parking spaces available within two blocks of The Lady and Sons Restaurant on West Congress Street and had to use a public parking deck which was a little challenging for my bride which has difficulty walking much distance at all.  We brought along her wheeled walker that has a folding seat and it definitely came in handy for the trek to the Lady and Sons Restaurant.  We did not have any wait time even though we were about 15 minutes early for our 2:00 PM reservation and the staff quickly got us onto the elevator to go to the third (3rd) floor dining room.  The restaurant sits on a corner lot and covers a full three stories with each floor with it's own buffet and salad bar! 

Our waiter was Chris Weathersby and he was extremely efficient and knowledgeable about the restaurant's operation.  We were immediately served Paula Deen's signature hoa cake bread and a cheese biscuit while Chris took our order of which we were going with the buffet line.  There were several meats on the line and I had Fried Chicken and a Flounder filet along with several vegetables; corn, green snap beans, collard greens n ham hocks, butter beans and everything was seasoned to perfection.  I am sure there was another item or two squeezed onto my plate but this is all that I am going to admit too....grin if you must!  The collard greens and ham hocks had just enough red pepper kick to it and was "beautimous" tasting.   You also have the option to order specialty items from the menu as well.

I picked Chris for some information about the staffing pattern for the restaurant and he said there were 22 employees in the kitchen and about 150 total staff for all three floors and during the peak holiday tourist season there were at least 200 employees.  I realized that I had forgotten my little digital camera and wasn't going back to our vehicle to retrieve it so this part of the trip was without any pictures except for the single picture that I took of the Talmadge Memorial Cable Bridge.   We finished the meal off by Chris bringing us a dessert selection and I opted for the Peach Cobbler and my bride went with a type of Chocolate sheet cake with a cup of Captain Michael's brand regular black coffee.

After our outstanding buffet meal, my bride and myself went down to the first floor Gift Shop and purchased a few items to celebrate our visit.  There were tons of stuff, including Paula Deen cook books, complete cooking sets, aprons, knives, mugs, glasses, utensils and plenty of souvenirs.  Below pix of the items purchased from the Paula Deen Store:

In SUMMATION,    I was totally impressed  with the quality and variety of different foods on the buffet line and the service at the Lady and Sons Restaurant certainly exceeded my expectations for such a large scale operation.  I had no idea there were three floors to the restaurant even though I have visited their website and each dining room was filled to capacity as evidenced by the number of people coming and going on a regular basis.  Anyone that likes Southern Cuisine home style cooking should visit this restaurant when you have the opportunity or do like my bride and myself, plan a special trip just for a meal there.

As we made our way back to the parking deck and exited heading toward Port Wentworth,  now the fun began since my Map Quest directions was at least two block off from 102 West Congress Street and it must have taken 30 minutes or more to get back on track and finally made it to Highway 21.  We certainly covered plenty of Savannah, Georgia that we had not planned to.  Our next road trip will be much better logistically prepared and my bride said she was getting me a GPS unit and I will gladly accept and use it.   After getting onto Highway 21, it didn't take long to travel the 8 miles to Port Wentworth where our reservation was at the Days Inn and the accommodations were satisfactory for the price we paid.  We brought along plenty of snack food items and neither of us were very hungry after that late lunch at the Lady and Sons Restaurant.

We left Port Wentworth the following morning September 15, 2012 around 8:30 AM and had breakfast at a Waffle House in Hardeeville on Interstate 95 with bacon, eggs, hash browns, toast, coffee and I believe I had a waffle with mine as well.  We both were "tight as Georgia ticks on the back of a coonhound in the month of July" and that is tight my friend!  The next leg of our road trip was going to Charleston, SC to take a Horse drawn carriage ride through Historic Charleston which I had reserved two tickets on line for a 12:00 noon tour and Charleston was less than a 100 miles, therefore we had plenty of time and in no hurry.  Besides, the speed limit on the Interstates are normally 70 mph and the weather was still excellent.  We had only a few minutes of light rain the afternoon before and so far had been perfect traveling conditions.  We made excellent time while on Interstate 95 but when we got onto Highway 17N, there were numerous road construction projects underway with the speed limit down to 45 mph and two lanes of traffic for many miles of the 61 miles stretch, but it was still "smooth sailing".  Being retired certainly does put ones self in a different psychological state of mind without possessing the normal day to day job related inherent stresses, although many "claim" they are not stressed by their job but their body language, non-verbal communications and tone of voice suggests something much different...another grin is in order!  Yes, I did have a few people in mind, so forgive me for not being able to delete the memory!

The following pixs were taken by my Sister Susan Pettigrew of Reidsville, NC on 08-31-13 during their visit at The Lady & Sons Restaurant and like us, they thoroughly enjoyed their Southern Cuisine meal:

CHARLESTON, SC

We arrived in Charleston, SC around 1:15 PM and checked in at the Old South Carriage Company to confirm our reservations and the departure time for our 12:00 noon carriage ride was 12:10 PM.  I purposely booked 12:00 noon figuring the sun would be straight overhead and would be ideal for taking pictures from the carriage.  Since we had 55 minutes of down time, my bride and myself visited the Charleston City Market which was about 100 yards from the Carriage house of which many vendors were set up displaying all types of hand crafted items and regular retail tourist trade items.  Most of the vendors would allow you to take a picture but one Asian descent lady went bellicose and belligerent when I mentioned taking a picture of her wares and got me a little suspect as to why.  I guess that comes with having worked with the North Carolina Department of Correction for 33 years......grin if you must!  It was very suspect that all the hand weaved baskets from different vendors and/or craft persons looked identical in pattern and style....you figure!

I talked with local basket weaver and artist Helen Smalls that made beautiful sweet grass baskets that ranged in price from 15 dollars to over 400 dollars and they were works of art!  I purchased a small basket in order to be allowed to get a picture of Helen and she also took a pix of my bride and myself as well.  Helen is a sharp business woman for sure with a great personality!  Pixs below:

Helen was in the process of weaving a basket when we arrived at her booth and the fresh smell of the sweet grass had an earthy pleasant aroma which permeated the air and helped to mask the odor emanating from the horse carriage house at 14 Anson Street not too far away.  Helen is holding the miniature basket I purchased and you can see other baskets she weaved in the background.  I just noticed that my bride has on one of her favorite Susan Graver "Liquid Knit" tops from QVC!

Below are a few more pixs of vendors at the Market Place:

Pix of Janet of Charleston Fashion with her jewelry display.

After my bride and myself purchased a few items for gifts, we meandered back to the Old South Carriage Company and took a few pixs before we boarded onto the carriage.  Pix below:

Our tour guide posing for a picture.  She introduced herself but didn't stick in the ole brain!

A close up pix of Earl who had just came off his annual two weeks of rest and relaxation at a horse farm.  Earl works 8 hours maximum, either 5 or 6 days a week and normally the tour ride lasts one hour so he will only do 7 tours a day.  Earl is a small horse compared to the Belgium draft horses the carriage company uses but he didn't have any difficulty pulling the fully loaded carriage.  The carriage house stables a number of horses and they have at least three (3) tour groups going at a time throughout the historic district.  The carriage horses wear some type of hard plastic material shoes to protect their feet and also the pavement which gives off a distinctive "clopping" sound while moving.  Our tour guide stated the Old South Carriage Company had purchased Earl from another tour guide service and he was accustomed to all kinds of traffic noise, etc. and not easily spooked which is a good thing.

Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable about historical facts of Charleston and she said our route was one of the better of the three routes they take which this one goes by Battery Park facing toward Fort Sumter where the Civil War began.  We met a very nice couple from Connecticut that were celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary and were staying in downtown historic Charleston.  They were sitting beside my bride on the carriage ride and a special Congratulations to both of them!  Click on the thumbnail pixs for a larger view of the pixs taken during our carriage tour:

Our guide related to us that the cobblestone streets had stones that were originally placed into the hull/cargo area of the ships for usage as ballast when they departed England and when they arrived in Charleston, they were thrown into the harbor and cotton and other goods were placed back into the hull of the ships to be used as ballast for the return trip back to England.  The stones were later removed from the harbor and used to pave the streets before bricks and other materials were used as stone pavers.  

The last pix to the right above is of Fort Sumter and barely visible in the distance above the cable barrier.

The picture on the far right above is St. Phillips Episcopal Church that has the steeple leaning four (4) degrees to the East after an earthquake in 1888 which damaged the foundation of the Church.

The last pix taken on our carriage ride of the Rainbow Market which is on the connecting street to Anson Street where the Old South Carriage Company is located.

Anyone desiring to purchase a Charleston Historic district home, there were two available on the tour that list for 5 and 7 million dollars each.  Also, there was one home that was needing repairs that is owned by an elderly Lady and she does the best she can to keep it going and has willed her historic home it to the City of Charleston upon her death and I am sure the City of Charleston will be able to bring about the necessary renovations to have it looking like it did back in the middle 1800s.  For a city that was devastated by the Civil War,  it is amazing and wonderful that much of the historic distinct survived. 

Our tour guide said if you have the chance, please take a tour of the Calhoun Mansion built in 1876 and is the largest single family residence in Charleston and the front stained glass doors were made by Mr. Charles Lewis Tiffany himself.  The current owner spent over 5 million dollars to restore it to its original grandeur and took 25 years to do so.  The owner lives on the third floor which is off limits to the public but the rest of the Manson is open for public scheduled tours.  The Calhoun Mansion was originally built for 200K and the lot was purchased for 40K valued Confederate Currency which was a tremendous amount of money back in 1876 before it was devalued to about zero.  There are a few pictures posted above of the Calhoun Mansion that I took while on the tour.

Among the many reasons for Charleston's universal appeal is the historic architecture of its downtown neighborhoods. The extent of classic Georgia, Federal, Adamesque, Greek Revival, Italianate, and Victoria homes is unparalleled anywhere else in America, but is featured block after block throughout the Charleston peninsula.  The abundance of decorate wrought iron fencing and decor is awesome.

After our carriage ride, my bride and myself departed for Mt. Pleasant, SC for our motel room and traveled across the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge with the total drive a little over four (4) miles....didn't miss a turn this time....grin if you must! 

After settling in our room, we had a late lunch at a nearby Huddle House and were too full to go to the Pearlz Oyster Bar for an evening meal and didn't want to fight the night traffic back to the end of East Bay Street.

We got up late Sunday morning September 16, 2012 and headed toward Florence, SC for our return trip and stopped in Santee, SC and had brunch at a Waffle House.  We both ordered their special  breakfast platter which was outstanding and were filled to the brim with their signature brewed black coffee as well.

Our total round trip miles was around 600 and a memorable short mini-vacation!  The visits to Savannah, GA and Charleston, SC could easily stretch out to two (2) weeks if you attempted to take in many of the available tourist attractions.  Our goal was to dine at the Lady and Sons Restaurant in Savannah and take the carriage ride in Charleston and we accomplished both.  I highly recommend both places!

Web posted by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 09-17-12 with updated pixs on 08-02-13.

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