Saturday, March 31

For only our second time in our years of biking adventures, we are staying stateside due to the high airfares to Europe.  We discovered a small family-owned cycle touring company called Carolina Tailwinds and are taking a six-day tour in the Beaufort/Charleston area of South Carolina.  

Afterwards, we'll spend a weekend in Savannah, GA.  Although it's a bit early for us to vacation, Mother Nature blessed us with a gentle winter, and we got our training rides in during March, with temps ranging from from 60-80 on the three weekends leading up to the trip. This is our first time leaving the three kitties, Max, and Kato and Cleo who also gave us sad faces as we left.  Hopefully the house will be in one piece when we return!

We landed in Charlotte on time but had a delay with our connecting flight to Savannah.  On arrival we were met by our driver for the ride to Beaufort. We're staying at the Beaufort Inn, a lovely period home gutted and renovated as an inn in 1994.  We have a pretty room - we unpacked and headed out for dinner at a casual waterfront restaurant called Plums, where we had a lovely table on the veranda overlooking the Beaufort River and riverfront park.  It was a delightful, balmy evening, and Bill enjoyed a plate of fried oysters followed by tuna over Cajun risotto, while Diane had a starter of plump peel-and-eat shrimp followed by steak and sweet potatoes.  After dinner we walked along the riverfront park and window shopped on Bay Street; then retired early.

(Click on the first photo to start slideshow)

Beaufort Inn Beaufort Inn Beaufort Inn Beaufort Waterfront Beaufort Waterfront Downtown Beaufort Beaufort home

Sunday, April 1 (10 miles)

We had the morning to ourselves, although the town was shuttered tight being it was Sunday morning.  We strolled the sleepy streets of Beaufort to admire the homes and then swung by the support van for an early bike fitting at 10:00 with tour owners Greg and Anne and guide Kim (the tour didn�t officially start until 2:00).  After getting our bikes, we walked around town and bought a picnic lunch to eat in the waterfront park; then returned to the inn to relax on the veranda outside our room.  At 2:00 we met up for a ten-mile bike tour of Beaufort to admire the lovely antebellum homes along the estuaries of the Beaufort River.  It was a lovely ride � sunny 80� weather with an offshore breeze.  We were back by 4:30; showered and changed for cocktails, introductions and a route talk on the Inn�s patio.  Our group this year is Lillian and Donna (friends who belong to a senior cycling club in Annapolis); Ken and Susan from VA; Robert and Sharon from VA; Guy from Montreal; Mike and Ann from MA; and Larry and Lynda from GA.  Afterwards we walked back to the riverfront to dine at Saltus.  Bill had soft-shell crab, and I had shrimp and grits.  We were dead on our feet so headed back to the Inn and hit the hay by 10:00.

(Click on the first photo to start slideshow)

Carolina Tailwinds Van Getting our bikes Meet, Greet &  Eat Ken, Kim, our tour guide, Lillian & Guy Beaufort Horse & Buggy Tours All biked up and rarin' to go Beautiful antebellum home Nice waterfront view Beautiful antebellum home Beautiful antebellum home Beautiful antebellum home Beaufort National Cemetery Beaufort National Cemetery St. Helena's Episcopal Church Kim telling us about the church history The famous moss Beaufort River Estuary Beaufort River Estuary Waterfront Another beautiful antebellum home Bike break Group photo

Monday, April 2 (35 miles)

We were up early and down to breakfast by 7:30.  The Beaufort Inn does a fabulous breakfast each day, with pans of thick French toast & praline syrup and omelets made to order.  Our ride today was to St. Helena and Hunting Islands.  We rode up and over the bridge to St. Helena, stopping first for a tour of the Penn School, founded by two UU women to educate emancipated blacks.  We cycled the loop of St. Helena Island (mostly humble homes, with a few tomato farms in the center of the island).  We then cycled onto Hunting Island and into the state park, where Carolina Tailwinds had organized a catered lunch of chicken gumbo, cornbread, tomato cucumber salad and sweet potato pie.  Afterwards we climbed the lighthouse and then headed down to the lagoon for kayaking, guided by Kim and her husband David, who own a kayak tour outfit in Beaufort.  It was another sunny, clear day with temps reaching 90s, and we paddled along looking out for birds and jellyfish.  We beached the kayaks at the tip of the island to walk the beach, and Kim gave a short talk on the birds and geography of the barrier islands (she is a certified naturalist).  We then paddled back to our starting point, arriving at 5:00pm.  We had intended to cycle back the remaining 17 miles to Beaufort, but since it was so late, everyone agreed to van shuttle back to the Inn (Greg said it would have been on main roads the whole way, so we didn't miss much).  There was an abbreviated cocktail hour on the patio again; then dinner on our own.  We headed off with Lillian and Donna to try BBQ at a riverfront restaurant called Q's.  The food was good, but the service was very slow. All in all a wonderful day!

(Click on the first photo to start slideshow) 

Woods Memorial Bridge Over the bridge to Hunting Island View of Beaufort Ospry nest with hatchling Bill on the road There's Diane The historic Penn School Penn Center &  School- Local artwork Chapel of Ease Tabby cement made of sand and oyster shells St Helena's Island Pay attention to the sign! Grand entrance to an old cotton plantation

Former cotton fields Low country Bill & Diane Bike tour owner, Greg Fleming Hunting Island Lighthouse Lighthouse stairs View from top View of beach Planning strategy Kayak instruction with Kim David, owner of Beaufort Kayak Tours Here we go! Bill, looking good

Tuesday, April 3 (48 miles)

Today we were up and packed by 7:30 to leave Beaufort for Charleston.  Our route took us inland, mostly through forested roads (as Bill said, rather one-note), and we both joked that we could have been cycling through Rehoboth.  It was peaceful, pleasant cycling nonetheless, and the weather was overcast in the mid 70s.  Greg set up lunch along a scenic stretch of road overlooking a marshy area, and afterwards we had a final 12 miles to reach the van for transport into Charleston.  We arrived at the Ansonborough Inn by 4:00 to shower before cocktails/route talk on the roof-top deck and dinner at Magnolia's.

Wednesday, April 4 (30 miles)

Today we met for breakfast @ 7:30 at a small cafe called Saffron (Greg thought we might enjoy a hot breakfast instead of the cold continental breakfast which we'd be getting otherwise at the Inn on our other two days).  I think we overwhelmed the waiter and/or kitchen because some folks didn't get their food right away.  Afterwards the group headed out for a horse-drawn carriage tour of Charleston, which took us through beautiful residential sections of the city.  Today was an optional biking day, and after yesterday's long ride, half the group opted to tour Charleston on their own.  The remaining 7 of us (Donna, Lillian, Mike, Ann, Bill, and me, with Greg leading) met up at 11:00 to bike across the 2.5 mile Ravenel bridge over the Cooper River to Mt. Pleasant and then onto Sullivan Island.  I loved the ride through neighborhoods filled with Victorian cottages along the marshlands.  We stopped at Poe's for lunch, and then Lillian and Donna called Kim for a ride back (Lill didn't want to go back on the narrow sidewalks over the bridge).  Greg took the rest of us on a tour of Sullivan Island, where we pedaled past lovely  beachfront homes along the pristine white-sand coast, and then we biked back to the Inn.  By the time we returned and freshened up, we only had one hour until cocktails, so we walked over to the marketplace to poke around for treasures.  After cocktails with the group on the roof deck, we were on our own for dinner.  We found a nice spot for gourmet pizza, followed by gelato for dessert.  Yum!

(Click on the first photo to start slideshow)

The sign says it all The Ansonborough Inn Historic Charleston Tours Our guided tour St. Philip's Church Historic downtown Charleston Charleston Battery Park Charleston Charleston Charleston Charleston The Arthur Ravenel Bridge Climbing the bridge Headed to Sullivan's Island Bridge span day4-28 At the top of the bridge Charleston view from Sullivan's Island day4-32 Diane & Bill Lunch stop at Poe's Tavern
Poe's Tavern beer selection Sullivan's Island home Unique dome house Island home Sand dunes Tour group - Charleston

Thursday, April 5 (32 miles)

Today we were up by 6:00, had breakfast at 7:00 and were on the road by 8:00 to transfer by van to our starting point for a 32 mile ride on Johns and Wadmalaw Islands, with the American Tea Plantation as our final destination.  We rode through forest, wetlands and residential areas with a stop en route to visit the Angel tree, the area�s oldest live oak tree which is estimated to be in excess of 1500 years old, stands 65 ft tall, measures 28 ft in circumference, and shades with its crown an area of 17,000 square feet.  After visiting the tree, we cycled on to the end of Wadmalaw Island to a park and boat launch park overlooking shrimp boats; then returned for a picnic lunch at the tea plantation before taking a trolley tour of the tea fields and watching a video of the tea production process following.  It was a very interesting tour and a lovely spot to visit.  We van transferred back to the hotel by 3:45 with plenty of down time to relax and shower before cocktails at 5:30 on the roof deck again.  It had been another beautiful day in the mid 80s with rain holding off until evening.  We walked to the High Cotton for dinner, where we had a delightful dinner (despite our hassled and distracted waiter).  Our group was broken up into 3 separate tables, and we ate with Ken and Sue.  They're a very nice couple.  He's an avid cyclist and runner and trains with a cycling club.  She had just taken up cycling and completed her longest ride to date (30 miles) on this trip, preferring the van for the busier and/or hilly routes.

(Click on the first photo to start slideshow) 

Greg doing some bike maintenance Ken & Susan Lillian Donna Guy Keep on truckin' Angel Tree Oak - over 1500 years old Low Country horse Charleston Tea Plantation Beautiful lane leading up to the plantation Tea plants Tea tTour bus Harvesting equipment On the job More tea Tour bus driver/guide Tree with moss

Friday, April 6 (32 miles)

Today's ride started with a 45-minute van transfer from Charleston to the ACE Basin, where 3 rivers merge in a huge marshland.  After sunny, warm days all week, the mild weather abandoned us, and we woke to a cold and windy day.  We all bundled up for our 16 mile ride to our lunch stop at the ACE Basin Estuarine Research Reserve.  It was a straight shot along a long road through sections of woods and old abandoned plantations burned down by Sherman on his march through the south.  The road eventually opened up to wetlands that normally teemed with birds and even the occasional sunning alligator.  Unfortunately, all the wildlife was huddled down out of sight in the marsh grasses because of the inclement weather!  Lunch was thankfully set up inside the warm Research center, where we were treated to a very interesting lecture and slide show given by the wildlife veterinarian, who discussed the local wildlife, history of the marshland when it was used for rice plantations and current ecological focus projects.  After lunch, we returned to our starting point along the same 16-mile route, but this time we were battered by a strong headwind.  We were pedaling as hard as we could and only going 12 MPH.  Ugh.  It was a shame that the weather had not cooperated with us on this one day, as the scenery and wildlife would have been spectacular.  

(Click on the first photo to start slideshow)

Our wonderful tour guide, Kim Robert & Sharon Estuary day6-03 ACE estuaryKim Susan & Ken ACE Basin Reserve Research station

Once finished, we all boarded the van, which brought us back to our starting point at the Beaufort Inn to freshen up before everyone headed their separate ways home.  Larry and Lynda very generously offered to drop us right at the door of our inn in Savannah since they live just beyond on Tybee Island.  We were staying at the 1895 Inn, and our inn's owner, Ed, greeted us on arrival and gave us a tour of the inn and an overview of the sights and attractions in Savannah.  He was quite the character and chatted nonstop for 40 minutes before depositing us in our room!  The inn was gorgeous, stuffed with antiques and art and beautifully renovated eight years ago.  We arrived, conveniently, just before 5:00, when wine and cheese are served in the salon.  We chatted with two other guests from Andover, MA; then changed and headed to dinner at Six Pence, a nearby pub.  We were so tired we almost fell asleep in our food, but we managed to rally enough to stop for a coffee to bring back to the inn to enjoy with Ed's complimentary tray of chocolate cake,a necessary fortification since breakfast isn't served until 9:00!

(Click on the first photo to start slideshow)

THe 1895 Inn Front entrance The dining room Proprieter Ed & Dudley
Beautiful china cabinet & hutch Living room Fireplace in living room
Built in bookcase in study Our room Wine & cheese on living room credenza Six Pence Pub


Saturday, April 7

 We awoke on the early side, despite not needing to be downstairs for breakfast until later.  We headed downstairs anyway at 8:00 to read and study guidebooks in the parlor.  Ed made a lovely breakfast of quiche lorraine, hash browns and sauteed praline apples.  We headed off at 10:00 to walk the historic district as far as Forsyth Park; then headed back towards the river.  The Savannah School of Art & Design (SCAD) was having an international street festival, so we got ice creams and strolled the festival.

(Click on the first photo to start slideshow)

colonial park cemetery Colonial Park Cemetery Cemetery St. John the Baptist Cathedral, 1876  Savannah mansion Johnny Mercer Home Diane & friend  Another georgeous home Portico window with lace Wesley Monument United Methodist Church Savannah College of Art & Design Independent Presbyterian Church, 1816 Forsyth Park Forsyth Park Diane Fountain at Forsythe Park Fountain Forsyth Park Fountain Historic home near the park Home near the park Horsin' around Leopold's Ice Cream Parlor Waiting in line Street festival Musical entertainment Cool bike

We then headed out for a 2 hour biking tour of Savannah at 12:30.  It was a nice way to see the city, and it was a gorgeous 70-ish cloudless day.  After the bike tour we walked the riverfront, taking in an antique auto show and craft fair.  We slowly made our way back through the marketplace to the inn for 5:00 wine and cheese and to relax before our 7:30 dinner reservation at Alligator Soul, where we enjoyed a lovely dinner of lamb for me and tenderloin for Bill, followed by fried beignet bananas with ice cream.

 (Click on the first photo to start slideshow)

We're here for the tour! Waiting for the bike tour to start Our cruiser bikes! Our tour guide Pirate's House Tavern Factors Row on the waterfront Old Savannah Cotton Exchange City Hall Pulaski Square waterfront


Sunday, April 8

Happy Easter!  Ed prepared a yummy brunch of French toast casserole and herbed scrambled eggs.  We walked around town for an hour after breakfast and then headed to the Savannah UU Church for Easter services.  It was a lovely servic, a small but lively congregation with a mighty choir.  Their interim minister preached a great sermon.  We stayed for coffee afterwards; then headed back to the inn to change.  We had hoped to hit a museum or two, but everything was closed for Easter, so we headed back to the marketplace to listen to street music and stroll the shops and art galleries.  We returned to the inn at 3:30 to change for dinner and relax a bit; then headed to Vic's  on the River for an early dinner.  We shared a delicious, refreshing salad of spinach and arugula with watermelon, cantaloupe, feta and praline pecans with a mint and shallot white wine vinaigrette.  For an entree we both had flounder (stuffed with crab for Bill and pecan crusted for me), followed by ice cream and berries in a pecan toffee nest.   It was the perfect meal:  delicious food, great, helpful waiter, beautiful setting overlooking the river, all while being entertained by a friendly piano player.  After dinner we strolled the river front hoping to find a jazz bar, but no luck, so we headed back to the inn to pack and retire early.


Monday, April 9


Homeward bound.  We had an 11:30 flight so just had time for breakfast at the inn (yummy strata of eggs, feta, spinach, tomato and herbs); then caught a taxi by 9:45.  We've had a lovely week with just one cool, overcast day, lucky us!  Now we can't wait to see the kitties and hope they missed us.  To the lowcountry of South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia, thanks y'all!