This past Saturday morning started like most - Calvin and I planning the weekend tasks: mow the lawn, do the laundry, change the sheets, bathe the dogs, etc. While making the list over coffee, the conversation somehow drifted to our mutual longing for a visit to the coast to see shore birds and take in the salt air. Our eyes met across the breakfast table and it was clear that the stir-crazy had taken hold. Within the hour, we had reservations at an inn for us, reservations at the pet hotel for the dogs, and an extremely random assortment of clothing items packed in bags (after all, it was laundry day). We dropped the dogs off at their overnight accommodations and hit the road, masks and hand sanitizer in tow, bound for one of our favorite coastal towns - Beaufort, SC.
Image Above: Front Porch, Rhett House Inn, Beaufort, SC
When we travel to Beaufort, we like to take back roads through some of South Carolina's tiniest and most interesting towns. We got barbecue for lunch from an old roadside stand - where the 85 year old pit master had been smoking ribs since dawn. We enjoyed a brief detour down a washed out farm road in pursuit of the endangered Swallow-tailed Kite outside of Sycamore, SC. I stood proud of the sunroof on the center console, aiming my telephoto lens at the sky, while Calvin raced over bumps and around curves, blinded by the thrill of the chase and not remotely concerned for my personal safety.
Image Above: Swallow-tailed Kite
We made a final roadside stop in Yemassee, SC at the ruins of a rural piece of architectural brilliance - the Prince William's Parish Church (Sheldon Church). Originally built in 1751-1757, the church succumbed to a fire during the Revolutionary War. It was rebuilt in 1826 but was destroyed again by war in 1865. Only the masonry elements remain today, a beautiful example of Flemish bond brickwork. Lowcountry ghost stories claim that the grounds are haunted and even the most ardent scientists and logicians might take stock in that claim on a visit to the deserted spiritual site, hidden behind a curtain of Spanish Moss on a lonely back road, surrounded by a century old graveyard.
Image Above: Prince William's Parish Church, Yemassee, SC
By mid-afternoon, we were extremely excited to check into our Beaufort accommodations - the Rhett House Inn, a Greek Revival Mansion constructed in 1820 and operated as a gracious Southern inn since 1987. We reserved Room #10, a nicely appointed suite with a private entrance and private screened porch - perfect for enjoying in-room breakfast and coffee.
Image Above: The Rhett House Inn, Beaufort, SC
After freshening up and adding some product to our hair to fight the coastal humidity, we made our way to Beaufort's Waterfront where the sea breeze cancels out the otherwise oppressive heat of July in South Carolina. This waterside park is Beaufort's crown jewel, constantly alive with activity. We found a welcoming spot on a tabby bench and watched the comings and goings of the city's watercraft - yachts, shrimpers, fishing boats, and speed boats squeezing every second out of a beautiful Summer evening.
Image Above: Beaufort Waterfront
Image Above: Waterfront Bench Spot, Beaufort, SC
As the sun fell in the sky, we found a socially distanced outdoor table overlooking the Waterfront at Saltus River Grill and enjoyed an excellent meal of sushi and beef tartare with a quail egg - amusingly dubbed "Steak and Eggs." We were excited to find one of our Sonoma Valley favorites featured on the wine list and shared a beautiful bottle of Scribe Winery Rosé to round out the meal. We returned to the inn via a leisurely waterside walk, saying goodnight to the moored sailboats while a local act played Johnny Cash covers in the distance.
Image Above: Scribe Rosé at Saltus River Grill, Beaufort, SC
On Sunday morning, I woke to breakfast and coffee, kindly fetched by Calvin from the kitchen during my "five more minutes." We enjoyed our meal on our private screened porch and then took a stroll through Beaufort's beautiful historic neighborhoods, the estates of the Point, the waterfront mansions of Bay Street. We found our way back to the Waterfront and found a spot on a porch swing to look out over the marshes while a church choir sang hymns nearby in the park. Boats were just beginning to take to the waterways from nearby docks as we finished brunch at Plum's - a long time Beaufort favorite. With full stomachs, we began our return journey, blowing Beaufort a goodbye kiss, at least until our weekend to-do list inspires another escape.