Tuesday, May 29, 2007


It's time.

Edit: not really an edit, but I continued the post at the bottom.

J's mom, my mother-in-law, MIL, arrived a bit late around 3:30. We set off on the road listening to my Primus/Smashing Pumpkins CD fresh outta the burner. J falls asleep about 30 minutes into the drive. MIL wants to know if she wants to hop in the backseat and lay down. Sure and if J's mom was in our demographic, I wouldn't have stopped and laughed at them both while they used Focus like a jungle gym, threading themselves between the seats while swapping spots. I pull over on the side of the interstate, mash the emergency flashers button and patiently wait. As I put the pedal to the metal, as it were (it's a 4 cylinder with luggage and 3 passengers and I'm merging into traffic with no merge lane), and we get back on the road.

Around 3.5 hours later we're driving around the block looking for our hotel, the Harbour View Inn. Lovely place, complimentary breakfast served on the rooftop terrace, main lobby or your room, fresh cookies and milk from 9 pm until 10 pm (get there on time if you want nice cold milk and fresh ooey gooey cookies) and cheese and wine from 5 pm to 6. We had a nice harbor view and 2 queen beds. We paid too much in my opinion but J justified it by saying it was our Mother's Day present. Fine.

We unpacked, had some Merlot, relaxed a bit while we decided where to eat. Jestine's (recommended by Rachel Ray), Magnolia (pricey but right down the block), but neither one of those sounded right. Fortunately I contacted Subaru who graduated from a certain military academy, to get all the good places to see and eat. He highly recommended the Mustard Seed. We went to the "C" location of the restaurant. My only other experience with "Seed" restaurants would be the Laughing Seed in Asheville, NC which is THE place to get delicious vegan and vegetarian fare. They do serve meat for those so inclined.

Dinner was amazing! We started with an asparagus and parmesan dip with toasted sesame bread. I had the soba stir fry noodles. Wow. So delicious. Everything tasted so fresh and there was so much food! It was at least 2 meals and maybe a late night snack. The desserts looked amazing but we were all too full to indulge. Besides, there were cookies waiting at the hotel. I would not be afraid to try anything on their menu and even lifted my "NO ASPARAGUS" ban for the meal.

Back to the hotel, cookies, milk, TV, sleep. Hmmhuh? What time is it? 5:30 am! What am I doing up? What's that sound? Oh great. Another snorer. MIL was sawing logs and spraying sawdust everywhere. I finally manage to go back to sleep and wake up again at 8:30 am. Crap, last night when we were ordering breakfast for the room, J of course, picked the latest possible time, 10 am, so I have to wait until we eat. Ah well, it's vacation, I'll go ahead and get up. I wander up to the rooftop terrace and take in the wonderful view and sunshine. Rain greeted us into C-ton but is now a distant memory. What's the lobby like? They had Skittles and M&Ms out last night. They also have coffee and tea in the lobby and no Lipton. This was herbal tea and very good in my completely amateur opinion. Wish I could remember the brand. There was also a computer down there for use of the guests. So I posted this, which some of you may remember.

I walk back up to the room about 9:30 and figure that that is enough sleep for the both of them, so I open up the blinds a bit, but not all the way to save their corneas from an instant death. J wakes up and I snuggle with her since it's the only chance we'll get all day. The phone rings and lets us know that breakfast is on the way. Sweet! Finally I can get my bagel! The food arrives, tip is handed out, they forgot my espresso. No biggie, so she runs and gets it. It's all very good and made even better by the fact that I didn't have to go anywhere to eat it.

J's mom finally wakes up and her carafe of coffee is still warm and that's all she cares about. I'm pretty sure she didn't eat anything.

I don't bother with a shower since I'm going to the beach! Hooray! J and MIL get me to drop them off near the horse drawn carriage tours and I'm off! Traffic is surprisingly heavy for a random Friday at noon, but I guess it's lunch time. I drive through the suburbs of Mt. Pleasant, spot the Barnes & Noble and Whole Foods, just in case I need to kill some time later, and only make one wrong turn getting to the beach.

Towels down, ipod on, sunscreen applied and back to sleep. It isn't a real sleep but more of a rest since I'm scared to death of skin cancer and don't want to be that guy who falls asleep in the sun and gets the half life threatening sunburn. Unfortunately I discovered one disadvantage of a solo beach trip. No one to get your back. Shit. I do have a cool spray can of sunscreen so I could just ask someone to give me a spritz. Eh, I don't feel like talking to anyone, just watching, so I gave it a shot and blindly sprayed my back.

As I'm reading Nemesis by Isaac Asimov, I realized that I miss the beach. It's so relaxing. Sure you can play football or soccer and be active or you can lay there and let the sun's UV rays do its work.

I'll finish this up tomorrow. Gotta go to a CGSO meeting right now.

I stayed on the beach for 3-4 hours, just relaxing, reading, watching the birds glide through the air, watching people. My towels both received good shakes to get rid of excess sand, through everything back into my bag and headed back to the car. We were going to a slightly nicer place for dinner, the aforementioned Magnolia, so I decided to change shirts at the car. Windows down, tunes up and headed back towards Charleston proper. I told J I would call once I was close to where they were. Hey there they are! I parked near the Battery and then we toured the John C. Calhoun house which is the largest privately owned residence in C-ton at a cool 24,000 square feet. The house had lots of history, changed hands many times and even homed homeless people and hippies in the 60's and 70's. But the current owner is a preservationist and once he heard some developers talking about tearing it up and making mini-condos, he sprung into action, checkbook in hand! He's an "international litigation lawyer" according to the tour guide and up until that point she had been dropping names left and right but was strangely silent about the current owner. Whoever he is, I like his style. He had such a varied collection of pieces. From early 19th century American landscape paintings to a Kandinsky and a piece of a 12th or 13th century chunk of an Indian temple. His collection of mounted animal heads was also impressive. The tour guide went out of her way to say that he isn't a hunter but liked collecting them. I especially liked his bear half that seemed to be attacking out of the wall.

We then left and went to eat. For future reference, there is a parking lot right next to Magnolia that is for its guests, so don't cruise block after block looking for a parking space like me. Dinner was exquisite. My baby beets with goat cheese was amazing. And the goat cheese is actually made by a lady about 15 minutes from Clemson in Anderson. I still need to go check out her farm and get some fresh goat cheese. Split Creek Farm is the name of the place and they offer online ordering, so please support local SC merchants!

J and MIL ordered the same entree, seafood with grits and I thought MIL was going to order another one! She devoured it while normally she just picks at her food. I had some port for dessert and some of J's raspberry creme brulee. It was all delicious and would highly recommend it. Although I did think my mahi mahi was a bit salty but the jalapeno grits and fried green tomatoes below it were outstanding.

We drove home after that. I took one of J's prescribed "trucker pills" just in case I started getting sleepy. NOPE! Prescribed amphetamines to the rescue!

Saturday was a lazy day. I came into work a little bit and brought J and MIL the second time I came in and showed them around the lab and department. Then we went to eat dinner at Copper River Grill in Seneca. Apparently it's a chain but it's pretty much the only nice place to eat in Seneca. No I'm not kidding. Your other choices are fast food, Schlotzsky's deli, Ryan's, and a couple BBQ joints. And their menu goes from NY strip steak down to burgers and pizza. If they would get better bread, their po-boy would be unstoppable but as is, the bread is too crunchy and crumbles everywhere. Their honey butter croissants on the other hand are pure heaven. I'm sure they would offend a true Frenchman, but they're just right for upstate South Kakalakie.

Went home, watched a movie, woke up and took MIL to the airport. Thanks for visiting! It was lots of fun!

Back tomorrow with another restaurant review (Cafe Fritz, a German eatery in Easley aka Sleazley, SC)

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