While my plan had been to get going early Sunday morning, the body was weak and I took a little longer to get out of bed. I ordered my ride to go to Magnolia Plantation. Well my plan was to stop at Charleston Coffee Exchange and then walk to the plantation. My driver and I have similar driving styles which is best described as “a wee bit on the fast side” *ahem* and at one point I looked over at him to see that our heads were both bobbing in time to the music. It made me smile until I realized we were way past my breakfast spot. Oh well. He turned back around and soon I was walking into the Charleston Coffee Exchange. The smell was intoxicating and the sight of sacks of beans was a feast for the eyes. I ordered a bagel with bacon, egg, and cheese. It was a decent breakfast although I had hoped for more options and I soon set out to walk to the plantation.
It didn’t look like a far walk on the map and initially I happily strolled along the sidewalk. Then the sidewalk ended and I found myself picking along the side of a busy road with a tangled mess along the shoulder as there was next to nowhere to walk that wasn’t on the travelled portion of the pavement. The blister on the bottom of my left foot didn’t help and my normal ground-devouring stride was more of a stilted hobble. After what felt like forever, I saw a sign and let out an audible “Oh come on” when I read I still had a mile to cover.
Finally I was walking down the driveway to the plantation, getting a quizzical look from the staff that I passed. I guess there isn’t a lot of foot traffic from the road. I knew that I wasn’t going to see the same riot of colour that I had seen on my last trip as this is technically winter. I was so happy when I saw trees in flower and I was soon snapping away. The wealth of birds in the park more than made up for the lack of flowers.
When I had mentioned to people that I was going to Magnolia Planation, many suggested that I go to Middleton Place instead as it had the oldest landscaped gardens in America. When given the choice between well-manicured gardens and wilderness, I’ll take the wilderness each time. I doubt I would have seen a fraction of the birds at Middleton as I did at Magnolia.
As I was walking along the side of one of the ponds, I was thinking about the alligators. I thought that surely it would be too cold for them. “It’s too bad I won’t see a gator. It must be too cold for gators. I wonder where gators go in the winter. Oh look there’s a gator.” So not only was I now looking for birds but also gators. Since I didn’t have the dogs with me, I didn’t have to worry about them becoming gator snacks and since it was cool, the gators were more concerned with sunning themselves.
After a loop of the plantation, I stopped at the resident Peacock Cafe, somewhat chagrined to realize that I could have come here for breakfast and saved myself the walk on the highway. After a chilli dog, I decided that I would do another lap of the plantation. On this lap, I met a pig and saw a plethora of alligators. One gator was on the side of the trail and at first I thought it was dead since it didn’t move when a cart full of people drove by. I stood and took it’s photo for a while and even got a selfie. Not a single twitch from it the entire time. It was more concerned with soaking up the sun. Now I’ll be the first person to criticize anyone that torments animals for self-serving photos and had this gator shown the slightest hint that it was bothered, I would have moved on. I don’t even think I saw it’s eyes open, I kept my distance, and watched it very closely for any sign of distress. I walked back past it later and it had shifted position to be out of the water so it was in fact alive.
It was almost closing time when I ordered a ride and decided to go to Park Place Circle. I had heard about a display of Christmas lights and from my previous visit, to Charleston I knew there would be good places to eat.
The display of lights did not disappoint. There were lights on both sides of the road and it was a delightful contrast to see Spanish moss draped over lights.
As much as I wanted to eat Southern food, the only places in the area were closed so it was going to be pizza and I made my way over to EVO Pizza for dinner. I ordered a Coast saison beer before settling on a pork trifecta pizza. Topped with bacon, sausage, and pepperoni, it was one of the best pizzas I have eaten. I washed it down with a pint of Lo-Fi Glitter Pony beer. I’ll admit that I partly ordered it for the name. From where I sat at the bar, I was able to watch the pizza maker spin the dough; it was a show in and of itself. The restaurant has a bakery at the back and I sauntered around to order a peanut butter chocolate pie. It is exactly how it sounds and is as delicious as it sounds. The service and food at EVO is outstanding and worth the trip.
Pleasantly exhausted and delightfully full, I went back to the Airbnb and collapsed into an exhausted sleep.