Sunday, June 3, 2012

Hittin' the Road, Jack - Day 2

After a Celtics win and a great night of sleep at the always luxurious La Quinta Inn, my Dad and I woke up early and headed to downtown Savannah. Now, I definitely don't consider myself a world traveler by any means, but I like to think I get around. And Savannah is one of my favorite places on the planet. It's small, but not too small. It's quaint & quiet, with the perfect amount of hustle and bustle. Giant oak trees tower over the charming squares, cobblestone streets line the river, and majestic statues rise above the old row houses. One of my absolute favorite aspects of Savannah, however, is its history. That town is OLD - and therefore, haunted, duh. I've gone on multiple ghosts tours in that lovely city, including a chauffeured jaunt AND a haunted pub tour (so. much. fun.) 


My Dad and I started off with a stroll along the river. It was early, so the shopkeepers and street vendors had just begun their morning routines. It was overcast, but that didn't stop us from enjoying the morning. We gawked at the giant yachts and cruise ships. We jealously observed the owners of the big beautiful sailboats that lined the docks.


We mingled with the local "Savannahians" and even bought ourselves souvenirs! 


After a nice long talk with the mr. palm crafter, we headed inland towards Chippewa Square -- location of the Forrest Gump bench and Gallery Espresso, only the quaintest/coolest coffee bar in all the land. On our way, we stumbled upon an Irish memorial. I'm always such a sucker for anything Irish. Erin Go Bragh!  


We settled into our table situated next to the window, read the newspaper and people-watched. So relaxing! After eaves dropping on a conversation between a wedding planner and the quintessential perfect southern couple, my Dad and I decided it was time to head out and continue our adventure up the eastern seaboard to South Carolina! 


Off to South Carolina we go! 


We took the scenic route up the coast through low country. I've always wanted to see Beaufort, so we decided to do a quick drive through. It was so worth it! We took a random turn off of a main road, and found ourselves in the prettiest neighborhood with big southern mansions and perfectly arranged gardens. We drove further into the mansion maze and found beautiful views of marshes and docks that jutted out into the tiny bays. On our way out of town, we drove down Main Street and along the water. Beaufort is definitely a place I'd like to get to know better.


After our pitstop in Beaufort, we headed north to Charleston. Let me just say - I was so in awe of Charleston. We weren't there for very long, but man, I love that place. We drove through Battery Park and up King's Street. I felt like I was in a different country, or possibly in a different era. For a late lunch, we went to the amazing Hominy Grill. A staple of Charleston, Hominy Grill has been featured on the Food Network and the Travel Channel's Man Vs. Food. If that doesn't shout EAT HERE, then I don't know what does. My Dad and I munched on fried green tomatoes, shrimp & okra beignets, and she-crab soup. We finished off the meal with a slice of homemade pecan pie. SO GOOD. I can't even begin to tell you. It was the perfect southern meal, and totally Charleston-appropriate. This restaurant gets the MC stamp of approval as well as the hipster stamp of approval (MDiamond if you're reading this, hi, you need to go here.)


Re-energized, we hit the road and began our journey west to the Appalachians. After a (very boring) 4-hour drive, we finally reached the mountains. We decided that we wanted to take the Blue Ridge Parkway north, but it was only appropriate that we start this journey at the official start of the parkway, located in Cherokee, NC, just outside of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. 

I snapped this on the curvy, extremely steep drive to Cherokee, NC. 

Cherokee, NC is somethin' else. Quite literally in the middle of nowhere, this mountain town is definitely a tourist trap. A town run by the Cherokee tribe, Cherokee's main drag is overrun with log cabins, totem poles, and podunk homestyle cookin' joints. But the most shocking attraction is the GIGANTIC casino that sticks out like sore thumb nestled within the mountainous skyline. I literally couldn't believe my eyes. And I still couldn't believe it was actually a successful, money-making venture until my Dad and I decided to go in and take a look for ourselves. I can't lie, I was definitely drawn to investigate because of the Paula Deen restaurant advertisement that kept flashing on their obnoxious giant-screened sign outside. Did Paula Deen really think she'd make money by starting a restaurant at a casino in the middle of the mountains?! As soon as we stepped inside, I knew my assumptions were incorrect. There were people. Lots of them. Everywhere. I was in shock. Unfortunately, we did not stay for the Paula Deen buffet (hot butter & oil, y'all!), and instead opted for the always healthy Dominos in our hotel room, which by the way probably had about 5 guests. Despite my negative rambling, Cherokee really was absolutely breathtaking. And the perfect overnight stop to gear up for the Blue Ridge Parkway! 

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