Pennsylvania or Bust

Thumbnail - TIKI LIFE“Nothing behind me, everything in front of me, as is ever so on the road. Jack Kerouac (American author and poet) from the book, On the Road

 

Right around Thanksgiving we received the upsetting news that Alex’s mom was ill and might have lung cancer.  WHAT?  This is a woman who eats healthy and spent her younger years teaching fitness classes.  She doesn’t smoke either… Lung cancer, or any cancer for that matter, is not supposed to happen.  This diagnosis happens to other people, not our family….  Isn’t that what everyone who goes through this experience says??

Alex’s mom, Debbie, went in for the preliminary testing and they found a mass in the lower section of her left lung.  Surgery to remove a portion of her lung was scheduled for mid-December.  Alex coordinated with his siblings and we decided we would go spend some quality time with Debbie over the Christmas holiday.  Additionally, we could be there for her and provide for her post-operative needs.  We took the hand-off from Alex’s sister, Carrie, who tended to her the first week she was out of the hospital.

NORTHBOUND

So, the four of us, kitties included, set off for Paoli, PA, just outside of Philadelphia.  We built in an extra day of travel northbound so that we could stop in Charleston, SC for a day of R&R.  We have nothing planned while in Charleston, but are sure we can find at least one good meal (wink, wink) and some sights to see.

The first hour outside of Jacksonville, FL included two stops for car sick kitties and then we were finally all settled down and underway.  We have found that allowing the girls to access their cat box and giving them some free range inside the van makes for happy cats and in turn a very happy driver

Luna hanging in the back seat while Sola stays in her carrier.

Luna hanging in the back seat while Sola stays in her carrier.

Sometimes the girls choose to ride in their carriers.

Sometimes the girls choose to ride in their carriers.

Sola likes to bury into a hidey hole somewhere, whereas Luna is always curious as to what is going on and prefers to be where the action is.  She also has been known to enjoy a nap in my lap.

Luna is a diva even in the car.

Luna is a diva even in the car.

STOP IN CHARLESTON, SC

Charleston, SC has been called  “The Culinary Capital of the South” so no stop in foodie nirvana is complete without some tasty vitals! We have both been to Charleston several times and each time we visit we expand our list of food establishments that we fall in love with.

We booked a hotel that is located by the airport and away from the downtown historic district. Let’s face it, it is SO much cheaper and hey we have a car… so we can get where we want to go.  After we check into the hotel and get Sola and Luna settled it is time to look into our dinner options. We pull up the Yelp app on our iPhones and start looking for a new place to dine.  We come up with a few options that sound promising and stop at the front desk of the hotel to ask the staff which one they would suggest.  The resounding winner was Low Country Bistro.

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Posing for a selfie outside the Low Country Bistro.

Posing for a selfie outside the Low Country Bistro.

The restaurant is located just a block away from The City Market in the historic area on South Market Street.  This little hideaway is known for farm to table, lowcountry cooking.   Lowcountry (one word, not two) Is a term which refers to the blending of Creole, French, Southern and comfort foods.  The restaurant also flexes their offerings around what is in season and available at the local market.

The food here is kiss yo’ momma good!!! I went for an entree I had never tried before.  Chicken and waffles.  A dish described as “truly” southern or at least a “once or twice removed southern cousin”, as it was, and is, a favorite among expatriate, African American Southerners.  This favorite is found on many a menu in the south.

Sweet potato bacon cornbread waffle, crispy half bone in chicken, pecan butter and bourbon reduction maple syrup.

Sweet potato bacon cornbread waffle, crispy half bone in chicken, pecan butter and bourbon reduction maple syrup.

Alex opted for one of the most iconic southern dishes – shrimp n grits. Every southern restaurant has their own twist on this staple and The Low Country Bistro is no exception.

Grilled shrimp with parmesan and chive grits bedded on fried green tomatoes with a local tomato medley and bacon sauce

Grilled shrimp with parmesan and chive grits bedded on fried green tomatoes with a local tomato medley and bacon sauce

Both meals were outstanding, especially paired with a nice bottle of merlot.

Ok, nighty night…. Queue the food coma.

Next day we slept in and decided to venture back into town for some lunch and exploring.  I had a hankering for something simple and substantial… something to keep these Floridian bones warm in the 30-40 degree weather.  Soup!  I want soup!  I jumped back on the computer and ta-dah… I found a soup stop.  Ladles it is!

Ladles Soup Shop

Ladles Soup Shop

Ladles is located just off of Marion Square in Charleston.  This is exactly what the doctor ordered!  They offer an assortment of soups, sandwiches and salads.  You can also get a combination of any of the two.

I opted for tomato basil soup and a pimento grilled cheese sandwich.  Makes me tingly just talking about it! Pimento cheese is known as “southern caviar” and I just can’t get enough of it.

Tomato basil soup with a grilled pimento cheese sandwich - OH MY!

Tomato basil soup with a grilled pimento cheese sandwich – OH MY!

Alex chooses a traditional grilled cheese and buffalo chicken soup.  He shared that his soup was full of flavor and a good choice on such a chilly day.

The facility is compact and only boasts about eight or so tables.  A majority of their business is carry out from the staff and students at the nearby College of Charleston.

Good until the last slurp!

Good until the last slurp!

Once we have drained the last bit of soup from our bowls we set out across the street to the Charleston Farmers Market, a weekend staple at Marion Square.  Marion Square is a 10-acre greenspace in the heart of downtown Charleston.  As this was the week before Christmas, people were out and about securing that final gift or meal ingredient needed for their holiday celebrations.

Monument in Marion Square

Monument in Marion Square

Here's Santa's workshop, I wonder where the big guy is?

Here’s Santa’s workshop, I wonder where the big guy is?

We took our time and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the park.

Mini Christmas trees on sale at the farmers market.

Mini Christmas trees on sale at the farmers market.

Eventually the chill of the day won out and we had a unanimous vote to head back to the hotel. Tomorrow is a new day and we have many a mile to put behind us.

Luna was helping Alex drive.

Luna helping Alex drive.

We are northbound on I-95. Look out Pennsylvania here we come!

 

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