Last weekend, While linds and I headed to the Hamptons of DC for first time, Megs jumpstarted her roadtrip - marking Chez Copa as her first pit stop. Megs is, shall we say....creative...and downright impulsive..but no one can compare to her reckless charm. She was oh so kind to privately recap her little adventure for a select audience, to which I am completely exploiting and broadcasting over the Wahine Report Channel. Thought this would also be a nice little read for you all while Chez Copa and I remake The Lonely Planet "I'm on a boat" video this week from Bermuda. I would just link to her blog...but she has yet to start one...so here's her first shot. P.S. Megs this took 45 minutes to format...just sayin.
Long long ago in a land far far away (about a week and a half ago in New York), there lived a couple of fair maidens who turned to each other and said, “You doing anything?” “Nein.” “Wanna go on a southern road trip?” “Sure, why not?”
Welcome to the Southern Road Trip Recap Newsletter. The trip will be re-capped in four issues this week, beginning today. Please submit all queries and complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org, all compliments email@example.com.
WASHINGTON DC/ANNAPOLIS: "This would be great material for your blog."
While Caroline was whooping it up in DC on Thursday at events for her brother’s wedding, I was home alone pining for adventure over “so you think you can dance.”
I embarked for DC at last on Friday, but Smarty Pants didn’t check her ticket and ended up at penn station with three hours to kill so I did some souvenir shopping (read: drinking alone at the bar which is called “kabooze”- very classy establishment for those who care to know...).
Once in DC, my college roomie Jen and her now roomie Lindsey actually left me to my own devices in their apartment for 36 whole hours. Realizing the weight of this responsibility, I abused it immediately and took advantage of the pool and laundry situation. Now, you may be asking, "Laundry?You were only there for 3 hours and you packed for 10 days- what gives?"Well, let me tell you about this smart guy (me).I had the happy surprise of realizing I packed dog treats (host gift for stop 2 in NC) in with my clothes.Now, as alluring as it sounds, it's actually not terribly exciting to smell like cured meat.So yes, I did laundry.You're all welcome.
The next day I stole Caroline away and we finally began our epic adventure- first stop: Annapolis.Here are some fun facts about Annapolis:1) Did you know it’s the capital of Maryland?Good thing after 4years in DC I totally knew that…2) Also, a lot of important historical things happened there.For example, Thurgood Marshall did something there.I’m not exactly sure what it was that he did but there’s a statue dedicated to racial equality.Caroline took a picture in front of it while making an equals sign.We asked the other tourists present if it was “too soon”.They just stared at us.This means it's okay.
Have you ever eaten steamed crabs?Caroline hadn’t, but I think the dining experience was enhanced by her outbursts of “EWWWW!!!IT LOOKS WEIRD!”Such a life-changing culinary event could only be topped by a trip to the Naval Academy, where we met a guard who was DA-REAM-Y, and told us we could do whatever we wanted.He didn’t actually say this but it’s what I heard.
The chapel at Annapolis is gorgeous, and so are the sailors.Some strolled on by us and said “Good afternoon, ladies.”Folks, these were officers AND gentlemen, but 1) we didn’t think they could see us staring, this was embarrassing, and 2) The embarrassment was only equaled by our inability to get words out because we were so blinded by the white.Caroline managed a “good afternoon?” while I stammered over “Hi- I mean… hi.”We opted NOT to take a picture with Dreamboat Guard as he was really serious and military-ish and also really pretty, so we got ice cream instead and capped the night off with drinks on Jen’s gorgeous terrace in preparation for the next day's journey...
FORT BRAGG, NC: “Now is Not the Time to Start a Gender Battle.”
The train ride to Fort Bragg is 6 hours long. This is a long journey that requires extensive provisions like bourbon flasks, miniature bottles of wine and m&ms. These purchases get you funny looks at 9am,but look more normal around noon- at noon it’s positively adorable.
By the time we got to Fayetteville, NC (where the fort is), we were adorable, but the weather was not, so GI Joe packed us in and took us on a tour of the area before the rain got worse.
GI Joe is not his real name, but it’s funnier to say and probably helps me remember who he is better than his real name (jokes).Sean (before he was GI Joe) and I were in “The Crucible” together in college before he left to go join the army… something about “freedom” and “bad guys”or whatever.Personally I think he joined so he could teach me how to shoot.
Here are some fun facts about Fort Bragg:1) It is not placed on a precipice surrounded by stone walls.2) It’s basically like summer camp with a couple of differences.You can canoe, play polo, and do karaoke, but they will NOT let you jump out of a plane (even with a parachute) if you are a civilian, so don’t bother asking… it just makes them laugh…
After introducing us to a very large statue named “Iron Mike” and very large planes at Pope AFB (Caroline ran around with her arms spread pretending to be a plane, but decided that making the airplane noises was beneath her dignity), GI Joe took us shopping to acquire the basics like cake mix and Kevlar gloves.
At dinner, I think GI Joe began to realize what a hurricane his little whim of inviting us down would turn out to be, because we were best friends with the waiter before the first course and had already given each other nicknames.Caroline and I are basically popular everywhere.This was followed by Caroline dominating the pool table sat ITS, a Nascar bar behind the train tracks.GI Joe tried his best,but didn’t stand a chance against Caroline, who can actually play, and me, who can not, but who cheats shamelessly.
The next morning, Caroline and I invented “Army Tennis”- if it doesn’t go over the fence, the ball is still in play.The soldiers walking by were big fans, and I think they’ll adopt “Army Rules” next time they play, but the Army wives were more suspicious.
After a sweaty 20 mins in a stay-in-the-car-no-AC-car-wash, Caroline kind of lost her mind in need of the AC, so I ran to the WalMart for provisions like milk and water balloons.
WalMart is about 5 minutes away down a straight road.I was lost for two hours when GI Joe called and asked me to pick him up as he was done with work...
Driving on to an army base is complicated.First I went in the wrong entrance and they had to stop traffic so I could turn around and go back to the civilian part.When I finally got there they asked for my license and tags.Do you know what tags are? I didn’t- so I handed every single piece of paper in the car to the guard, which got a little bit awkward when we got to the parking ticket in GI Joe’s glove compartment. Apparently “tags” is secret army code for registration-they should just say that.
GI Joe was a little angry when he found out I was detained, but I was having a marvelous time!The guard and I were joking about how I was the only troublemaker of the day (the army now has a file on me- this is true), and the MP (military policeman), who I nicknamed Captain America, generously insisted on escorting me to GI Joe’s workplace.I told him this was wonderful as I was probably going to get lost anyway since I’d already been lost for two hours that afternoon- and how could I turn down my first police/military escort?!He laughed.When he finally got me there I asked him where he was when I was looking for Wal Mart for two hours. He told me he wasn’t on duty yet but to give him a call next time. I did not realize this was a pick up line until later.
In compensation for my “troubles” (I was soooo upset by all that undivided attention…) GI Joe bought a round of the biggest cherry limeades I have ever seen from Sonic.This was my first trip to Sonic, which is a drive-in like in the Flintstones.It is pronounced “Sonique,” and it is amazing.
We picked up Caro, who, with Harley the dog, had made the most delicious cake ever in my absence, and we all went to the shooting range.I wasn’t sure if I was going to be allowed but GI Joe promised“You’re not coming to Fort Bragg and not shooting anything.”He was a marvelous instructor and took us through all the safety features and what to do (Caroline decided to cautiously observe and provide moral support rather than shoot).I am told I did very well (I got a bullseye!!!!!).My target’s name was Henry.Henry got what was coming.I named GI Joe’s target Phillip.GI Joe is a good shot, but when he let me get a few, it was me who capped Phillip twice in the head… just saying…Apparently I am a “killing machine.”I guess it runs in the family- thanks, Mom.
After dinner I learned how to hip toss, head-butt 5 different ways,deflect knife attacks, and stuff about cigars. Caroline was going totake pictures but I asked not to have photographic evidence of me getting my ass kicked, which did not actually happen as GI Joe is a gentleman, and I think got a little uncomfortable when I kept flinching- which is a natural reaction when you grow up with boys and not actually an indication of mistrust of your instructor, but whatevs.
The next day saw a successful 4:55 am wake up call for the guy who said waking him up couldn’t be done because “I’ve slept on helicopter pads.”Nein!I learned from the best- (my college roommates), and nothing is a better wake up than turning all the lights on and singing“Good morning, Starshine!” at the top of your voice.Effective AND marvelous.Caroline thought so too, she couldn’t stop laughing.I think the army should adopt our methods, seeing that they are so effective.
This time we were not trusted with the car, and were left to our own devices at home, where we made friends at the pool, and then built a fort in GI Joe’s room.
He got out of work early and we all went to the Wa-Ho (Waffle House)for lunch, followed by a tour of the home built by Edgar Allen Poe.Did you know that’s a really common name?Yeah, you go in and they tell you “No, not the writer, the other one- the businessman nobody knows about.”The tour was educational, however.And even though Poe’s daughter had more stuff, the son had the bigger room.When I vociferously objected to this, the already awkward tour guide stammered and GI Joe suggested, “This is not the time to start a gender battle.
We ducked out of the tour early and headed to historic Fayetteville for $2 beers (this was the regular price, not happy hour- I love the south).
GI Joe then dropped us at the train and went home to recover from the48 hour Hurricane- during which he was the most gracious, good host we could've asked for at Fort Bragg.
Amtrak was 2 hours late.
CHARLESTON, SC: “Just Walkin’ Mah Bird”
Success in travelling depends on an important combination of planning,and asking the locals where they go- it’s usually cheaper and better.Seeing as how in my ridiculous excitement I only planned for SummerCamp (read: Army) and Savannah, I didn’t really know a lot aboutCharleston, so it was lucky, the morning after we arrived (2 hourslate), that we were pointed in the direction of Joseph’s for abreakfast of amazing pancakes and tablecloths on which you may color.
After our morning feast we picked up Clara Barton- our car for theremainder of the trip.Clara Barton is a sleek, sassy, incrediblyfuel efficient silver fox of a Chevy Malibu.
First stop was the sleepy little town of Seabrook, as featured in “TheNotebook.”It looks different... almost opposite. The marsh waslovely though.
Then: Caroline's Undoing... The Battery is the tip of the Charlestonpeninsula.The homes there are ridiculous (Caroline was in heaven).We did not see many locals.They were steering clear.Caroline wouldsnap a picture.Stop.Walk.Shout (loudly), “STOP IT!THIS IS JUSTTOO CUTE!”and Repeat.Another thing you can see at the battery isFort Sumter… very far away.
Also at the battery is the Coast Guard, capping off our makeshift goalof hitting all the branches of the armed forces on this trip(Sidenote: You may be asking about the Marines.I chatted with one inJen’s building in DC.We talked about the weather.We're bestfriends).Caroline captured a beautiful picture of the Coast Guardbuilding with the beautiful sign in front of it that says “NOPHOTOGRAPHS.”
After sweet teas at the Barbados lounge, a crowded stroll throughMarket Square, and pictures in front of the “Cougar Club,” we arrangedto attend a charity event sponsored by Bombay Sapphire Gin and GQMagazine, honoring “Charleston chefs feed the needy," which is exactlywhere we headed after dinner at the Shem Shack and FREE COOKIES at thehotel.(The cookies = my favorite part about Charleston).
This event... was not what we were expecting.I think in our Yankeeminds we were imagining an antebellum event with pizzazz, and charmingSouthern gentlemen entertaining us.It was different... almostopposite...The Sapphire Collins was being rolled out with no lemonjuice and our social companions were... not the velveteen bunny.However, pictures of our mugs were snapped for “Carolina Nighlife” and“Charleston Magazine.”On the balcony Caroline saw her first PalmettoBug (flying cockroach), and used me as a human shield against it…twice.Good thing I’m nice and meaty.
Afterwards at a bar called Henry’s, a conversation struck up with theonly people from Jersey.Caroline made a joke about their reluctanceto disclose their professions, and the rest of the night was spentwith the boys insisting they were not, in fact, male escorts.I didnot talk to them very much, as the band was perfect for a dance party,and SportsCenter was on.But I did learn that boys don’t like it whenyou address them directly as “Hey, Wingman!”This was followed by anight swim sans boys.
Our last morning in Charleston began with big plans to have brunch atthe world famous Jestine’s, which does not open until 11am.Carolineand I spent the better part of the morning eating donuts to hold usover and whining, “What kind of brunch place doesn’t open until 11?!”As we were finally heading over, we saw a woman walking a pinkcockatoo.“Just walkin’ ma bird.”
When we finally got to Jestine’s, we realized why it took so long toopen- it did not serve brunch.We made that up on our own.Thecatfish was awesome though, with red rice and okra gumbo.Our sassywaitress came over and said, “Yeah!Y’all eatin’ Suthun now.”Sheloved us.We took our corn bread to go.The pecan pie didn't makeit.
Then the three classy ladies: Megan, Caro, and Clara Barton hit theroad and meandered down to Savannah.
Stayed tuned for Volume 1 Issue 4, First Ed: SAVANNAH, GA: “What’d yado, crap your pants?”
Last one, folks.A little longer, but Savannah's my jamma.
SAVANNAH, GA: “What’d ya do, crap your shirt?”
"We have a saying: If you go to Atlanta, the first question people ask you is, 'What's your business?' In Macon they ask, 'Where do you go to church?' In Augusta they ask your grandmother's maiden name. But in Savannah the first question people ask you is 'What would you like to drink?'"- Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt
Clearly, Savannah and I were meant to be together from the start.
Here are some fun facts about Savannah (some may have fuzzy origins):1) The city, laid out by James Edward Oglethorpe, was designed beforehe knew where he was putting it.He was really excited.Also, hisstatue looks like Captain Hook.2) There are 21 squares in Savannah.3) Savannah is known as “The Hostess City.”It is such a friendlyhostess, that it even entertained the Yanks on General Sherman’sinfamous march to the sea.The Union forces were approaching the citywith 70,000 troops, with only 10,000 Confederates defending beauteousSavannah.The mayor, in a strategic business move (Savannah was abusiness hub in those days), marched out to meet the general andsurrendered the city without a single shot having been fired.Savannah hosted Sherman’s forces as they kicked up their heels for afew months.They then went and burned Columbia, SC instead…4) Savannah was a popular vacation spot for pirates.5) Savannah is the nation’s 2nd most haunted city (New Orleans is thebrat).There were lots of wars and other stuff…6) Our hotel, the Planter’s Inn, was intended to be the nicest hotelwhen first built.But it’s by the river, so… It was the nicestbrothel instead- you know, sailors…
Our first few hours in the hostess city (or as I now call it, “home”),were spent in typical fashion, pralines (pronounced prah-leens, notpray-leens) in River Street, wine and cheese at the hotel, and dinnerand cocktails at the Olde Pink House.Then we ghostbusted...
A haunted pub-crawl (Cobblestone Tours), showed us around the finestimbibing establishments in the city with the scariest ghosts.MoonRiver Brewing Co., has a very angry Confederate ghost in the basementwho I do not think knows the war is over.Or he does.Either way heis very cranky.We screamed a lot.But we found some great localesfor fun!
After the tour we backtracked to Congress Street, where the sounds ofa dirty bluesy band named Jubal Kane (they looked like ZZ Top) wereemanating from the Mercury Lounge.Without missing a beat I walkedright in and onto the dance floor to glorious domination.Carolinetook a little longer to warm up.The band liked our moves so muchthey stopped the music and handed us a CD saying, “We like the way yourock out to our music.”Win.
There was a guy in a fedora dancing like it was his birthday.And itwas!He told us that our dance party had improved his special day.Abachelorette party came in and glowered at us for dancing better thanthey did (suckas).And as I was cutting a rug, some guy tapped myshoulder and thrust a piece of paper in my hand, saying, “Be there,"and just left."Mysterious," I thought to myself.I glanced at thepaper briefly and threw it in my purse.
After two and a half hours straight of dancing, we left the bar, onlyto be told by some guy “I’ve been waiting for you all night!”Me: “You have?”Guy: “Yeah!”Me: “What a waste of time!You don’t even know me!”Apparently everyone knew we were coming to town because everywhere wewent that's what we heard!
The next morning at Clary’s, the best place to eat brunch in all theland (as featured in “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” or asSavannahians call it, “the book”), I took another look at the piece ofpaper shoved in my hand at Mercury Lounge.It was an invitation to anevent called “Combat Paper,” which displayed the art of Iraq vets whohad made paper out of their uniforms as a cathartic way to deal withtheir war experiences and transition to civilian life.Why not?
Following our ridiculous breakfast, we took a Megan-guided tourthrough beautiful historic Savannah (I did not get us lost and I hitall the best features, thank you very much)- the perfect setup for atrip to the picturesque Bonaventure Cemetary.
Here are some fun facts about Bonaventure Cemetery:1) The majority of Savannah’s most famous photographs are taken herebecause of the quiet lanes and Spanish moss.2) Conrad Aiken’s grave is there.His grave is a bench.You aremeant to sit on the bench, gaze at the river, and bring a cocktail.You are meant to spill one on the ground for him and his family, andhave some yourself.We did.I want this done for me when I kick thebucket- it’s a fabulous idea.
Eventually we made our way back to the hotel so Caroline could showerand I could partake of more complimentary wine and cheese.It washere the hotel hostess (not the concierge, the hostess- she sees thateveryone has wine and cheese and serves as a one-woman welcomingcommittee and Savannah goddess) told me I would fit right in, inSavannah, as my manners were impeccable.I told her this was mydream.
Following the wine and cheese (to which a cleaner Caroline eventuallymade her way), we made our way over to the Combat Paper show at theMoon River Brewing Co, which made me nervous that we were going to runinto that angry Confederate again.We didn’t.The event was lovelyand included poetry readings and a paper exhibition by the vets, someof whom are our age.They were a really laid-back fun group, so weexchanged digits and made plans to meet up later.
We had bigger fish to fry until then.Namely… Paula Deen had fish tofry at “The Lady and Sons.”And she did, and she made cocktails, andI am in love with her.
After the love fest at Paula’s we made our way to a perfect littledive called Hang Fire, where a live band with, get this- AN ORGAN- wasplaying, and the biggest PBRs on the planet were being served.Danceparty with paper making vets ensued and an awesome party was had byall, even after I was accidentally elbowed in the face during thedance party (it got a little intense).
Brunch at Clary’s the next day involved more delicious pancakes andnever-ending coffee, a perfect start to a day which included a trip toTybee Island (pronounced, Tie-bee, not Tih-bee).Tybee Island isSavannah’s answer to Coney Island, only with a clean beach and nohypodermic needles.About twenty minutes outside city limits, thesand stretches long and wide.
We later headed across the street to a bar called Benny’s, whichboasted the coldest beer in America.Not only did Benny’s have coldbeers, but it also had a seven year old girl in the bar heckling herfather about his poor pool playing skills.She wore a swimsuit and ashirt but no pants (in all fairness the bar specified not serving youif you are shirtless- it said nothing about pants).Little girl wentto the bathroom and came back in just her swimsuit, to which herfather barked, “What’d ya do, crap your shirt?”After the novelty andhilarity of this wore off, we realized there was a little girl in abar… and we left.
We headed back to historic Savannah only to learn our flight had beencancelled.Savannah clearly did not want to part with us.To behonest, the feeling was mutual, even when I realized I would have towake up at 3:45 the following morning to catch my re-booked flight.(How do you like them apples, GI Joe?)
We spent our bonus night in style- dinner at the Olde Pink Houseagain, where we sassed the staff, with whom we are now best friends,about the simple syrup to bourbon ratio of a mint julep.Then off tothe Mercury Lounge again for some more bluegrass, this time a littlemore country, courtesy of Turkey Collar.
After a well-thought-out night on the town, we stumbled back to theroom for our 3:45 check out and 4am cab ride.
As we stepped off the curb to our airport-bound cab, we noticedanother passenger in the front seat.He was the cabby’s friend, thereto keep him company.And who do you think this man was? The owner ofthe Mercury Lounge!Shwing!Beau and I talked shop for a while, andI think I made a great new friend in my new home.At the very least Ican be a bouncer at the bar- I learned how to hiptoss on this trip.
And thus our adventure ended at the Savannah airport, in trueadventure style.Everything was unbelievably marvelous- from seeingmy beloved Jen, to summer camp and badass life skills with GI Joe, tofinding my true love in the entire city of Savannah.Uncle.
Over and Out.