Thursday, October 14, 2010

Charles Town


I'm not entirely sure how I managed to get so far behind on posting. I think the door project in New Bern took a lot out of me, and we've been pretty busy at each stop since then.

Monday night we were in Wilmington, North Carolina, at a Wal-Mart there (map). That was a great stop, with a nice large SuperCenter store, several other stores we needed right nearby including a PetsMart for the cats' prescription food, and a boatload of dining options. We opted for the Carrabba's right next door, although there was also an O'Charleys and a Ruby Tuesday, with Olive Garden right across the street. There was also a Cracker Barrel and we uncharacteristically decided to have a restaurant breakfast there on Tuesday.

One of the things we found in the Wal-Mart was an unusually large selection of plastic storage bins. I've been meaning to reorganize the starboard tool drawer for some time now, including protecting some items from the water that inevitably finds its way in there in driving rain, and I spent most of Tuesday doing that project right in the parking lot. It took four trips to the store to finally settle on a combination of bins that would fit snugly in the drawer, hold all the items, and not bind the mechanism.

In the middle of that project I was nearly sorry I had started, because I couldn't really stop until everything was back in the drawer. The end result was that we left Wilmington close to 4pm, a very late start for us, and definitely no time to be starting a blog post. We opted to leave town on the freeway route rather than work our way through downtown, since we've done that before anyway. We did not see any signs of serious flooding anywhere we went in town, although the road to Topsail was closed to through traffic, we presumed due to flood damage.

We had figured to be at Huntington Beach State Park near Murrell's Inlet Tuesday night, a familiar stop for us, but with the late start, Louise started looking through our guides to see if there was an earlier option. We were both surprised to learn the the Camping World store in Myrtle Beach allows overnight parking, considering it has been banned at all the Wal-Marts there, and they even have five hookup spaces available first-come, first-served. As late as it was, we knew the hookups would be gone, but we didn't need them, so we dialed it in to the GPS.

We did need a few items at Camping World anyway, so we asked permission while we went in to shop. We learned that all the hookup sites, which were not only occupied when we arrived but clearly taken by long-term tenants, were currently being used by seasonal employees. They are available for customer use only when not used for this purpose. We instead picked a nice anonymous spot among the coaches awaiting repairs in the back lot (map).

There was a Mexican restaurant right next door in the Days Inn, and a Bob Evans down the block past the strip club, but we opted instead to pull a scooter out and ride to the mega-tourist-trap that is Broadway at the Beach for a nice Italian dinner at Amici's, where Louise found a coupon on The whole tourist mall experience, which is pretty much all of Myrtle Beach now, is not our thing, but the food was decent and it was good people watching. Had we needed any other entertainment there is also a Red Box dispenser at the mini-mart a short walk from where we parked, making this Camping World a sort of full-service overnight stop.

We had hoped to use one of the hookup sites to dump our tanks on Wednesday, but with all the spaces occupied, we instead set our sights once again on Huntington Beach. We paid $5 for the privilege of dumping there, which was better than the $10 it would cost just for day use, or the $26+ for an overnight stay (still pretty cheap for this area). Oddly, this park is not listed in any of my dump station guides, but of course we already knew about it. En route to the park we also stopped for fuel at a gas station in Surfside Beach, which my guides said would be the cheapest we will see for the rest of the year, at $2.779. Between the slow car-sized pump and the fact that it insisted on shutting off after $300, we were at the fuel island for well over 40 minutes, much to the annoyance of the other guy waiting for diesel from the lone dispenser.

The late start from Camping World, owing to spending the morning installing the parts I bought in case I needed to exchange any -- and I did -- meant another day with no time to blog before hitting the road. Nevertheless we decided to push to Charleston yesterday rather that stop somewhere earlier, even with the lengthy fuel and dump stops, so that we could have a day of downtime today for Louise's birthday. We are now parked at the Charleston Elks Lodge (map), one of the oldest lodges in one of the oldest cities. In fact the current lodge site is just a couple miles from the site of the original Charles Town Landing settlement, now re-created as a historic park.

Louise once again used her mad coupon skilz to find us a deal at a nice waterfront joint at a marina right across the Ashley river from here, appropriately named The Waterfront, and we enjoyed a casual meal on the deck with a wonderful sunset. Tonight we have reservations downtown at the Harbour Club for a very nice birthday dinner; we'll leave a bit early to spend some time riding around the historic downtown in the daylight, as it was nighttime when last we did this.

In order to maintain our fairly relaxed driving schedule of just a couple of hours each day, we will need to leave tomorrow towards Savannah, Georgia, where we have several overnight options. We have friends there, too, out towards Tybee Island, but we are feeling some pressure to be in Tampa early enough to get the animals squared away and Odyssey well parked, so we don't really have time for a proper visit. Perhaps we can see them between our California trip and our already-scheduled return to Florida for Trawler Fest at the end of January.

Photo of Chloe the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel by
Rach ♥, used under a Creative Commons license. Because, come on, who doesn't want to see cute puppies?

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