DAY 62 July 25, 2009

The continental Breakfast this morning was sad. They offered: bread, hostess mini donuts, frosted flakes, milk, and juice (but I was concerned about the cleanliness of the juice machine, since the room was filthy). Grabbed a piece of fruit from my stash.

Guess I missed Georgia, because one wrong turn took me back there this morning. Once I got turned back around, I headed toward Hilton Head Island. In Bluffton, SC they say that the oyster company is a historical attraction, but all I found was a simple fish monger’s building on the water. It didn’t look particularly old, maybe it is because it used be the area industry?

On Hilton Head Island, other than their gated communities and the positioning of most commercial establishments behind the treeline and out of drivers’ views, Hilton Head does not appear to be ultra wealthy. There were a lot of people and the beach was quite nice, particularly the Coligny Beach at the south end of the island. You have to walk from the parking lot unless you stay at the nearby Holiday Inn.

The biggest disappointment here, besides the massive number of people, was the failure to remove roadkill. This is a resort community and surely the occupancy and sales taxes can offset the costs to have these unfortunate animals removed from the local streets.

I never found Fort Mitchell or Hilton Head Plantation, but Fort Howell’s remains are down near the historical marker for Mitchelville. They are maintained by the Boy Scouts of America.

The Military Museum on Parris Island Naval Station was quite extensive with two floors dedicated to the history of military action beginning before the Revolutionary War all the way to the current issues in Iraq. The base was spotless and pretty quiet except for the training groups creating marines. There was a massive amount of information available. You could easily spend 3-4 hours in this location reading and pondering the information and exhibits. I spent well over and hour. One of the early hurricanes covered the island with eight feet of water, oh my!

In Beaufort, I turned right on Bay Street. The homes were gorgeous with an amazing amount of diversity. They have carriage ride tours to learn about the old buildings that looked to be quite interesting for next time.

Upon arriving in Charleston, I set about the task of locating the Hominy Grill. I arrived for brunch, so they were not serving the regular lunch menu. The she crab soup started off really good, silky and creamy deliciousness. Then I noticed something was missing. I tried adding fresh ground pepper and salt, but neither really solved the issue. I did not taste the sherry that is supposed to be a part of this dish, so maybe that is what went awry here. I also had the big nasty biscuit. I is a biscuit topped with a boneless piece of fired chicken, cheese, and “sausage gravy”. I never did see any cheese on this item. The purported best biscuit in the south was not to be. The biscuit was not nearly as good as the piece of heaven I had at Dick Russell’s in Mobile, Alabama. There were large air pockets and it did not taste fresh-maybe it had sat for just a little too long. The gravy was very different with jalapeƱos and pimento added to the mix-not exactly what I expected. Not bad, just very different. The real winner here was the chicken. It was moist with flavor that permeated the entire piece of meat (brined?). Then there was that beautiful crust that had a delightful seasoning all its own. The service did leave a lot to be desired-this was noted by another reviewer also. I did witness a really great waiter serving others; too bad my guy was missing in action for the majority of the meal and then had to be tracked down for payment.

I fought the traffic and got completely lost attempting to find Fort Sumter. When I did find it, there was no parking close by. I decided that I would rather see the other two NPS offerings in the area and time was growing short.

Sullivan’s Island, Fort Moultrie’s location, is predominately residential (rentals?). There is public beach access and a nice little area of restaurants and shops, otherwise it is very much like a normal small town that happens to be located on an island.

I rushed over the causeway back to the mainland to see the Charles Pinckney National Historic Site. Even though I got there 15 minutes before the gate was to close, the attendant told me she was about to lock the gate. I got a few pictures, but no stamp at this location. And no chance to hear what the site signified.

Gullah Cuisine served one of the best meals I have consumed in a very long time. I ordered the Fish Head Soup (never had it before) and other than the texture I really enjoyed this offering. I would have enjoyed it more had it been served with a small amount of rice on top like gumbo generally is. I also ordered the fried chicken with a cornbread muffin that was moist and a little sweet, fried FRESH okra in a very light batter to allow the freshness to shine, and the epitome of delectable goodness Gullah Rice. I do not know exactly what goes into this mixture, but it is divine! I could see shrimp, chicken, and amazing sausage in the brown rice that appeared to be stir fried to give it a bit of a chewy texture. This is a must taste item, worth rerouting a trip for. The fried chicken was very moist and the light breading was tasty and not greasy.

Myrtle Beach-Miami without all the “beautiful people”, Las Vegas without all the lights and Disneyland without the charm. I actually found it to be overpopulated and lacking. The traffic was obscene, the worst I have seen on this trip thus far. Myrtle Beach would be a great place to drive through first thing in the morning, maybe with a brief walk on the beach-otherwise you can keep it. The proliferance of NO VACANCY signs was astounding.

I drove into Wilmington, North Carolina around 10 pm and was thrilled to even find a room. The Motel 6 had one, but I would have to climb steps, sleep on a hard bed, and pay through the nose for the opportunity. I have had great luck with America's Best Value Inns on this trip and this location was no exception. Two great guys greeted me, found me a room on the lower level, and gave me information on breakfast and check out. I was disappointed that their ice machine was out of ice (probably the fault of a guest not management). I will also mention that they made it sound like there was no lower level rooms available and I didn't get one until I requested a handicapped room. The disabled room was strange (they always are) in that there was way too much furniture in the room to maneuver a wheelchair. The bathroom was huge though! Breakfast the next morning was nice bagels, muffins, danish, cereal, fruit, juice, etc.

ROUTE: US 17 South & North > thought it was SC 46 East> SC 170 East>US 278 East & West> SC 170 East>SC 802 East>US 21 North> US 17 North>Sc 703 North>US 17 North into Wilmington

Lodging: America's Best Value Inn - Wilmington, NC

Hominy Grill (***Food *Service)
Gullah Cuisine (*****Food ****Service)

$$$: $68 Motel $22 Fuel $40 Meals $3 Car Wash = $133

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