Our last night in Gulfport we celebrated by going to Pia's, a nice Italian restaurant downtown. We didn't plan ahead and get a reservation, but we were able to wait at the bar until a table became available. It was a chilly evening but we were able to sit on their beautiful patio next to one of those heaters. We were quite comfortable.
Lots of people had told us that Pia's was good, and it was. It would be worth going to even if you weren't staying in Gulfport. But we enjoyed one last time of just strolling the 5 blocks to downtown to eat at a nice restaurant in this cute, funky little town.
Its a long drive the next day from Gulfport to Charleston, South Carolina. We stop along the way to buy large five pound bags of Florida oranges and grape fruits. They are so incredibly sweet and citrusy.
Charleston is a beautiful place. We don't get there until after 5 pm so we only have one short evening to get a taste of what it is like. We decide quickly that we will have to come back, maybe during our drive to Florida next year. I am very curious about the history and culture of the town. It seems very prosperous and well preserved, or perhaps restored.
Cabell House, our dog friendly b&b, welcomes us with a bottle of wine. We take the dogs for a walk along the nearby river and watch the sun set. Then we make them comfortable in our room and walk to the Charleston Grill for dinner. This is a fancy restaurant in a hotel. The food is good and the service is great. There are some highly recommended restaurants in Charleston but I didn't plan ahead enough to get reservations at one of them on a Saturday night. Oh well, this is fun anyway. We are seated in a banquet, which is perfect for people-watching. We seem to be surrounded by businessmen and rich southerners. I wonder where this town get it's money?
In the morning I run in 40 degree weather along the Ashley River. This seems seriously cold to me after two weeks in Florida but I warm up quickly, stripping off my hat and gloves. That won't be the case on Tuesday. Another big snowstorm is coming through Virginia on Monday. We've already changed our plans to stay in Durham, North Carolina for two nights. We can't outrun this storm so we might as well outwait it. Now we just have to figure out how far we can get on Tuesday before we make our way home on Wednesday.
Monday morning in Durham a drizzly rain changes to a steady downpour. Farther north in Virginia it is already snowing. All we can do is hang out with Lee's friends Richard and Catherine and relax.
We watch in a coffeeshop as the rain turns to sleet and then to ice. Later that evening we make a quick run to Whole Foods to get food for dinner and breakfast. On the way back to the hotel we skid a bit. Time to hunker down.
We wake to the tv warning us about black ice. Even I take this seriously for once and run on the hotel's treadmill. We wait until 10 am to head to our next destination, Philadelphia.
The drive to Philly is uneventful, but we run into backed up traffic from an accident when we are about an hour outside the city. We try using the Beat The Traffic App on my phone to get around the trouble. Sometimes this works, but in this case something goes wrong and we end up in a different traffic jam in a small town, probably from all the people off the highway trying to do the same thing as us. Then we make a wrong turn as we enter the city and end up going over the Ben Franklin Bridge back to Camden, New Jersey. But eventually we get checked into the Hotel Monaco, another great Kimpton hotel, right by Independence Hall. Its a pleasant surprise to get to be back in Philladelphia again so soon after the marathon in November. We get to eat at Kanellas again, and it is almost as good as the first time we were there.
We wake up knowing we have one final day of driving left and then we're home. New Hampshire is buried in old snow. Our driveway is clear but the walks are piled high with snow that will probably be there until April. Even though it is 5F when we get up in the morning it's great to be home!
In retrospect, although driving like that is a lot of work, if we split it up, its not so bad. We are debating different ways to do it next year, and are even considering trying flying at some point. But we loved having that break from winter. Florida is definitely in our future!