A Very Unparked Domain
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Feels like travel already

After a six-month stopover in Charleston, we’ve unchocked our wheels and hit the road again.

And it feels GREAT.

We checked out of the Mt Pleasant Extended Stay America, ate a fantastic brunch at the Glass Onion in West Ashley, snuck in one more visit with Neil’s mom in Summerville, grabbed a bottle of water from the Piggly Wiggly, and headed North on I-95.

  • The Extended Stay America was a great place to stay. Until I tried to cook a duck breast for Neil–what possessed me? No one knows–and the smoke set off the hotel fire alarm. We now refer to the hotel as the House of Burning Duck. We suspect “duck flambĂ©” may not catch on in the aromatherapy world. But we do recommend the hotel.
  • The Glass Onion is one of our favourite places to eat in the Charleston area. They serve healthy, balanced meals of Low Country and Louisiana cuisine prepared with produce from local farms, fresh caught fish, and hormone-free meats. The portions are generous without being obscene and provide great value for the price. They have wonderful, friendly staff (Brian! We’re talking about you!) and they even give you crayons so you can draw on the brown paper table cloths. The menu changes daily and somehow they find the time to update it every day on their website. Every meal we’ve ever eaten was fabulous. They have been completely accommodating in making substitutions for our bizarrely restricted diets: good place for non-dairy, gluten-free, and vegetarian; limited but possible for vegan. The Glass Onion is about everything we could hope for in a restaurant.
  • Canadians’ first and only contact with the Piggly Wiggly in most cases seems to stem from the movie Driving Miss Daisy. I had no idea the store was real, and Neil was amazed at how ecstatic I was to see one the first time I can down to visit his family. When we brought my parents to visit Charleston, we made a special trip to “the Pig” (as its known locally) so they could take pictures of it and get plastic and paper bags to take home. Doesn’t everyone make pilgrimages to grocery stores when they travel? We’ve also taken a grocery bag from a Food Lion as a gift for friends in Montreal…so maybe the grocery store obsession is a Canadian thing. The Pig also offers a range of Piggly Wiggly merchandise. I wonder if my brother registered there for his wedding?

So far today we’ve driven half way from Charleston, South Carolina to Richmond, Virginia. We’re getting reaquainted with our gear, our travel gadgets, and our driving protocols (e.g., parking a car full of heat-sensitive vitamins in the shade).

We pulled over in Lumberton, North Carolina for dinner, and put our navigation and on-the-fly restaurant research skills to the test. We discovered that…we’re a little rusty in that department. We won’t be reviewing the restaurant we ate at (because our mothers taught only to say nice things), but after a few false starts we did manage to discover one of the healthier eating options in the area and a meal that, while perhaps not Michelin-worthy, did fit our diet restrictions.

Right now we’re tucked into the independently-owned Four Oaks Lodging & RV Resort at Exit 90 of Interstate 95 near Smithfield, North Carolina: at $28/night, our super clean, no-smoking, free Wi-fi room is the best deal we’ve ever found on I-95.

We pulled in to Four Oaks just as the rain started coming down. We weren’t suprised: for the past 15 minutes I had been taking pictures of the amazing purple sunset through the Mini’s sunroof. We’ll try to post some of those next time we have a little energy–meaning not tonight!

To sum up, we’ve already hit adventures, bad food, cheap lodgings, bad weather, and at-speed sunroof photography, and we’ve only been on the road for a few hours!

It definitely feels like we’re traveling again.

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1 Sean Paul Kelley { 05.10.09 at 6:44 am }

It is about time you got back on the road!

2 Neil { 05.10.09 at 10:03 am }

We couldn’t agree more

Yet, at the same time, it was far too short a stay in Charleston. We hardly saw a fraction of the people we wanted to–although the couple of visits we did get were excellent. We hope to do a better, more raucous version next winter.

Perhaps “you can’t go home again” is only in the sense that “you can’t cross the same river twice.” It mostly looks like the same place (with some horrifying subtractions in Downtown Charleston) but the flow seems mellower and smoother.

3 Sean Paul Kelley { 05.10.09 at 3:36 pm }

“You can’t go home again.” Hmm, I’m coming to grips with a wicked case of that myself. I’ve been away almost a full year now and I really do worry about the day when I return. How will I reintegrate, etc. . One of my road buddies returned home two months ago and he’s already miserable. Oy. I’m ruined for normality, I tell you. Sounds like you two are as well! :-)

4 Ian Welsh { 05.10.09 at 11:25 pm }

Why reintigrate. Treat it as another place you’re visiting for a while, but which you won’t stay at forever (or perhaps, even that long…)

5 Neil { 05.11.09 at 10:53 am }

You can’t cross the same river twice. You’re not quite the same person you were then, neither are the people you know, and it’s not quite the same place; you don’t have to have the same integration.

You get to do it the way you think it should be done, the way you are now. you don’t have to go back to your old life any more than you have to re-wear the clothes from your childhood.

6 Sean Paul Kelley { 05.13.09 at 11:21 am }

Neil and Ian, it’s good to hear someone else say the same thing I’ve been thinking.

7 eileen { 05.15.09 at 10:02 pm }

I’m glad that the hospitalized family member is doing well, and glad to see you guys have not abandoned this project! I’ll be interested to see what develops from here, and glad to have you back!

8 Neil { 05.16.09 at 9:39 am }

We’re treating it as less of a project, and more of a lifestyle =]

Less Project Management, that way

9 Shaula { 05.20.09 at 8:08 pm }

Eileen, thank you so much for keeping tabs on us. We’re having so much fun that we’re talking about seriously expanding our travel plans (in terms of years vs weeks or months).

SP and Ian, I’ve thought a lot about “going back” myself. Still needs some time to percolate. Let me get back to you.

And Neil is in no position to make comments about rewearing childhood clothes, given that it was only a few moves ago that we both finally got rid of clothes we still had from high school and college!

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1 Live from Little Rock — Your Mileage May Vary { 05.16.09 at 10:22 am }

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