My family is pretty unique in that the entire Rogers clan live all the way across the country. When my dad was in his early twenties, he and a few buddies decided to take a trip to Lake Tahoe. He fell in love with the place and never went back home to Georgia! So, in a nutshell, this is how I came to be a Californian.
Every couple of years, my Georgia family hosts a reunion on the shores of the East Coast and this year, Steve and I were lucky to be able to attend. Steve hadn't met the entire family yet, so it was especially cool that we could all be together.
We planned on arriving in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on Tuesday afternoon to spend 4 nights living large minutes from the ocean! Since we live in little SLO, we drove to SFO for a red-eye Monday night, heading into DC and then onto Columbia, South Carolina for a quick detour that I planned to surprise Steve.
On the way to SFO, we stopped off in Palo Alto for dinner. One of our first trips together was in Palo Alto so walking down University Avenue brought back lots of lovey memories of our first months together. We ate at Pizza My Heart - one of our favorite memories of 5 years ago. This was a great start to our vacation!
When we arrived at the airport, we learned that our flight would be delayed over an hour, which isn't bad, but meant we'd miss our connection. We couldn't do anything about it at that point, so we went to the bar, grabbed a couple of drinks, and headed back to the gate. I had one too many drinks and felt like dancing, so I did some Egyptian moves down one of the moving walkways and one of the airport workers sang out "walk like an Egyptian!" Loved that someone had a sense of humor at midnight. Made my night.
We waited in DC for over four excruciating hours, tired after our red-eye. We arrived in Columbia, got in line for our rental car for over half an hour, and finally were on our way to the secret surprise for Steve. It was over a two hour drive to Charleston where the surprise was, and it started raining and getting dark. We were starving but I knew we had to get there before dark. We ended up driving down a muddy road in the middle of nowhere, and I was crossing my fingers that my GPS led me to the right place!
Then, there it was. The famous Angel Oak Tree, whose crown spread makes it the biggest Live Oak tree in the nation. We pulled into the gate to the Angel Oak Park and saw the sign: Open 9am-5pm. I looked down at the clock. 5:05. SHIT! We pulled in through the gate anyway since it was open as people were leaving the park. The attendant looked up at us and started yelling, "we're closed!". I pleaded with her that we came all the way from California and we only needed one minute. She didn't give in. "Read the sign! We close at 5!!" Oh my gosh, at that point all I could do was laugh. We parked outside of the gate and walked up to a chain-link fence and luckily, we were able to see the tree through it. I brought my nice Canon SLR to snap a few shots, and the camera didn't work! The lens rattled and I knew it was broken. Another setback. I never bring my nice camera anywhere and the one time I do, it breaks before I get to take one picture.
My iPhone saved the day and I was able to get a couple of pictures of this glorious tree. Even though we drove two hours out of the way, couldn't see the tree in it's full glory, hadn't eaten all day, my camera was dead, and we still had a 2 hour drive ahead of us, our spirits weren't completely broken. Steve was very appreciative that I thought up this surprise because Live Oak trees are his absolute favorite tree and it was pretty amazing even from behind the fence.
At this point we decided it would be best just to stay in Charleston for the night, have a nice dinner downtown, and get some much needed rest before finishing our journey to Myrtle Beach. We were only in Charleston for a few hours, but managed to have a nice time touring through the historic district, enjoying dinner outside on a quaint patio, and topped off the evening with some yummy gelato!
To be continued...