Beautiful Beaufort

My wife and I ventured to a quaint town and area called Beaufort for the weekend. Pronounced Bew-fert, it is located on the coast of South Carolina between Charleston and Savannah. It is a historic town and has beautiful architecture as it sits on the Beaufort River. We just wanted to get away and this trip did the trick.

Beaufort is where the South Carolina leaders fomented the plan to secede from the United States. Ironically, Abraham Lincoln had an armada and ten thousand troops invade the port town just after the war started, so it fell into Union hands as the town leaders left quickly. It was called the “Great Skedaddle.”

The historic homes and stories behind them are marvelous. One interesting story is of a slave named Robert Smalls, who was educated and became an indentured servant which led to him being a ship captain. He later bought his old slaveowner’s house and brought in his destitute owner as she became homeless following the Great Skedaddle and Civil War. He took care of her until his death and asked his family to continue such until she died, letting her stay in her old bedroom.

Smalls later developed the first church built specifically for African-Americans. It was featured in the movie “Forrest Gump,” which was filmed in the area. Tom Hanks is remembered fondly in Beaufort and even used a box of chocolates from a store there in the movie.

Other movies filmed there include “The Big Chill,” “The Great Santini” and “The Prince of Tides” to name a few. The southern author Pat Conroy penned several of his books there, two of which were made into movies noted above.

The nearby islands add so much to a journey there. While we stayed in town, we did venture to Hunting Island State Park and enjoyed a beach with no houses, just tree-lined. Plus, I did climb the lighthouse to get some cool pictures.

The scenery and the food make it happen. Low country food such as shrimp and grits or Frogmore stew are worth a try.  Plus, one of the restaurants had a local guitarist perform his own and orher songs, so it added to one of our meals. We toured one house and did a carriage tour, which we both enjoyed and recommend.

If you come from a distance, the area has a lot to offer. Savannah, Hilton Head or Charleston are neat by themselves, but could easily be included in a longer visit to Beaufort. It is worth the venture.

A few favorite cities

What are your favorite cities to visit? Through business and pleasure, I have had the opportunity to visit some wonderful places. There is so much more I would like to see, so I would love to hear from you. Here are my list of top ten places, with a few others noted at the bottom. By omission, you will likely guess where I have not been, as some choices would be obvious inclusions.

  • San Francisco – a city worth the travel and cost. It is so scenic and quaint, plus it offers access to wine country, Muir Woods and the Monterey coast.
  • Montreal – a city which offers a blend of French and English cultures and beautiful scenery. It is a great walking city and has wonderfully designed churches. Check it out during the Jazz Festival in the summer.
  • New Orleans – a vibrant, eclectic place with great music and food. Avoid the hot summer if you can, but do go. Also, indulge a tour to the Bayou to get a sense of the geography and fragility of the place.
  • London – a favorite city because of the cosmopolitan culture. It is a great walking city with numerous parks, pubs and historical places. Take in the theater while there, as well. Plus, it is a great launching pad for a journeys to France, Ireland, Scandinavia, etc.
  • Dublin – another great walking city, but ladies beware of heels on some of the cobblestone streets in Old Dublin. Much to see there in terms of history, pubs, etc., plus it is great place to view the rest of Ireland from.
  • New York – a must see for all, but you have to expect crowds. Also, a great walking city and there is so much to offer in theater, restaurants, shopping and sports.
  • Washington – I think this city is highly underrated as a place to visit, as there is so much to see and do. I always feel worn out from walking, but there is so much more to see and appreciate from the memorials to the museums to the zoo and restaurants.
  • Chicago – I have only been on business, but I love Chicago. It has a vibrance to it and is not as crowded as New York. Plus, the vistas of the lake are wonderful. It is a great place to fly into for a few days. Check out Lawry’s and Second City.
  • Toronto – Is a lot like Chicago with its lake venue. I wish I could have spent more time there, but it is not inexpensive. There are many things to do in close proximity be it the aquarium, Skydome, Second City, restaurants, sports, etc.
  • Cannes – I was able to go to a business conference here and what a trip. It is beautiful and has so much to offer in food (the right way over lengthy meals), shopping and casinos, if that is your cup of tea. My best memory is our group having dinner up in the hills overlooking the city and the meal lasting over three hours, leading to wonderful conversations.

Other cities I would give high marks to are Boston, Savannah, Charleston, Ottawa, Miami and Seattle. I would love to tour the northwest and check out Vancouver and set off for Paris, Florence, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Sydney, Hong Kong, etc.

Let me know some of your favorites. Or, please reinforce or share concerns of some of those above.

Safe travels and take along an extra dose of patience

In spite of retailers trying to steal the thunder, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It means time with family and friends. My favorite memories as a child were going to my grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving. Now, we have that house, where we will host 15 or more folks for dinner. And, we honor my grandmother, who we called Big Mama, by making her cornbread dressing.

I have written before about Big Mama and Granddaddy. They were each very special people and very different personalities. My grandfather was very quiet and worked with his hands building houses. He also loved to fish and we would leave early morning to drive to the lake returning with endless lines of fish.

Big Mama was a character and had character. She was very funny and was as talkative as my grandfather was quiet. She worked in retail sales for years and had relationships with families as she helped dress their kids all the way through college. Yet, unlike today, she did not work in the store on Thanksgiving.

I bring this up today, as I want people to travel safely to their many destinations. This goes for folks in other countries as they begin travel for their various holidays and year-end events. With things that have occurred in Paris, Beirut, Egypt and Mali recently, we need to remind ourselves to live our lives to their fullest and hug our friends and loved ones closely when we see them.

And, as we travel, please take along an extra dose of patience. Many travel officials are doing their darnedest to make us safe from those who want to do people harm. Help them, help you by being patient, considerate and kind. Expect and plan for travel delays. And, always remember, we choose how we react to things. Don’t cede that power and get flustered by things that are outside of your control. People in line behind you do not want to be in the line with the exasperated or angry traveler, just as you don’t want to be behind one yourself.

Happy Thanksgiving all. Safe travels and may the force (of patience) be with you.

 

Touring Canada and the US with my sons – priceless

The MasterCard commercials which speak of the cost of various purchases and then conclude with something special you bought with the word “priceless” was defining my week with my two sons. Oldest Son graduated from college in early May and we decided to take the opportunity to pick up Youngest Son from a summer college term in Vermont as a good reason for a tour. So, Oldest Son and I flew into Cleveland and rented a SUV. We had an absolute ball at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which is a must see, spending about four hours there listening and watching.

From Cleveland we drove into Canada through Niagara Falls to see one of the great wonders of the world. Note to US citizens, it is much better viewing from the Canadian side. From there we ventured around Lake Ontario to Toronto, which is one of the great cities on our continent. We did many tourist things, but we capped it off by attending a Second City Comedy show. This stage had been home to Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, Bill Murrey, Colin Mochrie, Ryan Stiles, Mike Myers, Tina Fey and many other comedians.

From there we ventured over to Ottawa, which is a pretty cool city as Canada’s capitol. The architecture is terrific and it has a good vibe. It is also a good walking city. And, before heading down to pick up Youngest Son, we went to Montreal where we had been before. Our trip there was brief, but for US citizens who want to experience a taste of Europe, go to Montreal and Quebec City. The architecture of the churches alone are magnificent in Montreal, but there is so much more to do and see.

Youngest Son goes to college in Burlington, VT which is a very eclectic place. It reminds me of Asheville, NC which is in my home state. Since, Youngest Son is even more eclectic than all of us, he is truly in the right place. He has a favorite tea house which is where we met him before loading up the SUV. If you picture three tall guys being attacked by boxes and luggage, that would be what we looked like in the van.

We ventured south breaking the trip into two days. We went to a wonderful hole in the wall Italian place in New Jersey for dinner and it was terrific respite. Also, we stopped at a German restaurant in the Virginia mountains appropriately named “Edelweiss.” But, the best part of the two-part journey was being with my guys. We traded puns, observed beautiful scenery and just had a great time hanging out. We had some neat conversations on a range of topics.

We went through both sons’ I-Phone music playlists which was neat. Both are very global in their tastes, so we listened to great music from a Blues artist in Israel (Dani Dorchin), a Japanese singer (Yoko Kanno) who sounds like Melissa Etheridge, several rock and roll Irish bands (The Dreadknoughts and Flogging Molly, who is actually from the US, with Irish roots), a very good heavy metal band from Australia called Wolfmother, an instrumental duo with a cellist and guitarist called Montana Skies (very unique sound), and two Scottish folk bands called Old Blind Dogs and The Silly Wizards, both of whom are excellent. We went through some bigger names with Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Billy Joel and Muddy Waters to name a few, plus many others while catching some Big Band/ Ballads from Count Basie and Benny Goodman and some classical stuff on the radio, so we covered the gamut.

The guys loved the fact I liked hearing their music and liked a great deal of it. I had heard some of it before, but this was extra special as we had so much time to go deeper into the playlists. We had a big time and it leaves me with great memories. I get a sense they feel the same. It was definitely worth the expense as what it bought was priceless.