Cali and I slipped out early for a hike through the swamp behind the playground area then a walk along the beach. The weather was calm and the rising sun quickly warmed the cool morning air. I found myself getting overly indignant over the campgrounds lack of trash bins as I toted a bag of poo through the majority of our outing. By my overreaction, it was readily apparent that I could use an AA meeting so after a hot shower, we headed into Beaufort (Byoo-ferd) not to be confused with North Carolina’s Beaufort (bow-fort).
Beaufort is an artsy, fashionable city just south of Charleston. We made a quick stop at the visitor’s center and got some general information from the kind lady at the desk. From there, we raced to our meeting arriving just a couple of minutes late. We met some cool folks and got a shot of recovery to carry along throughout the day. A couple of the guys gave us tips on local happenings and we went on our way to the downtown historic area.
We set out walking through neighborhoods where many of the homes preceded the civil war. When Sherman burned Georgia to the sea, he decided to spare Beaufort and many of the antebellum homes are still standing. We wandered around with our little tourist guide and checked out the houses used in the filming of the Big Chill and Prince of Tides. Lots of Spanish Moss has draped itself all over the stately trees lining the gentile old streets. A cool old gentlemen on a bicycle stopped us and pointed out a few things. He lives in the house on the end overlooking the bridge. He must have been close to ninety and pumping the pedals around town.
We strolled over to the marina area and checked out the fancy shops and the boat slips. It was a pleasant day and lots of people were out taking in the last mild day before tomorrow’s storm hits the area. We took a different block back to the car and headed down the islands to eat lunch at a Gullah restaurant on St. Helena Island.
Service at Gullah Grub moved at a snail’s pace. The older Gullah gentleman worked as waiter, cook and host. He got each table’s order, returned to the kitchen and cooked it up. After completing that table’s meal, he moved on to the next table. It was laid back and he was cool to talk to. He works with local kids to pass on the Gullah culture by teaching them how to grow and harvest the food used in cooking. Everything’s fresh and the food changes with the season using only local ingredients that are available at the time. He put his gentle spirit into the making of our lunch. We had a rich shrimp gumbo, red rice, collard greens, fried shrimp, corn pone and potato salad. For beverages we had swamp water and topped it all off by splitting a slice of sweet potato pie. A unique experience.
From there it was back to Hunting Island to tend to the mutt and plot our course for the upcoming weeks. Cali was extra restless and kept returning to the door for walk after walk throughout the evening so we all got a lot of exercise exploring the park. We sat out on a playground bench in the pitch black darkness where we turned off the flashlights and watched the millions of stars move across the heavens. PJ spotted a shooting star zipping across the horizon. I’m not sure what she wished for, but it probably involves a quaint little cottage on a quiet beach somewhere. We’ll keep working towards that end.