Road Trip: Visiting the South – Georgia and South Carolina – Part 3

The in-laws in Charleston.

Memorial Day Weekend in Charleston, South Carolina is a lot like politics. Everyone shows up with good intentions, but after things heat up, and waves start hitting you, you relax and look for a source of pork.

The road trip from Aiken, S.C., to Charleston, via Orangeburg is just gorgeous … for the South. This isn’t like the Pacific Coast Highway in California or the I-70 pass in Colorado. It’s not that kind of gorgeous. It’s the kind that makes you fantasize about moving to an idyllic, secluded village. It was, in every way, the DEEP South.

Once past Orangeburg, however, we connected with I-26, and were off like a shot.

Our plan was to swim the beaches, dodge the leeches, eat some peaches, and get back home before the drivers fell asleep.

In two vehicles, our family filed, along with every other car in South Carolina, over a two-lane bridge to the waterfront. And that’s where all the people were. ALL of the people.

To call it a crowded beach, I, an avid beachcomber, must redefine the term. It was certainly a beach, because I saw an ocean beyond it, so I presumed there must be sand somewhere under the people. Our belongings were neatly piled – somewhere – and we posted my mother-in-law (the toughest one in our group) next to the gear, armed with a parasol and a friendly smile.

We swam briefly between the sandbars, and enjoyed the warm, gentle Atlantic tides and the greasy feeling of the saltwater that slicked our skins and grated on our hair. It was the first ocean experience that my wife and I have shared, and we loved it.

After the sun had done us in, we ambled (or perhaps, shambled) across sand and hot pavement to rinse and dry ourselves. The warmth of the sun had infused our skin with a heat that would last for hours. We dressed in coordinating, photogenic, white-and-blue, casual ensembles for the evening, and continued to Old Town Charleston.

In the carefully preserved Old Town, we dined on sea creatures that, away from the dinner plate, would have been quite imposing. We then hopped to a nearby ice cream joint for some cold custards, which cowered under the warmth of the sunset and raced past even the quickest of our tongues, over our knuckles onto our carefully selected clothes, rendering them, as declared by the photographer, “useless.”

My wife’s primary goal for the day was to “swing on those swings they have at the pier.” So, in the fading light, we strolled there, and once we found them, those swings, by us, were swung. The cooling breeze and lackadaisical motion of the swing was a balm to our bodies. To further enchant the evening, dolphins courted the pier, attracting photographers and children to point lenses and fingers down at anything dolphinish.

I couldn’t have written a better finish to the road trip. It will stand as my most memorable Memorial Day.

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