East Coast Fall 2021 – Durham, Summerfield, Charleston, and Fernandina Beach

November 3-8

We made the now familiar drive up to Durham to spend one night there as we continued to work on Joanna’s mom’s placement and the next morning drove the short distance to Ann and Rendy’s where we would spend just two nights.  It would be a low-key visit, with a couple of highlights, the first being we’d head to a nearby park to watch their grandson Charley play in a soccer game on a chilly evening. 

The second would be taking Rendy’s mom Melody out to lunch, a treat for me whenever I get to spend time with this woman who has known me for so very long.  On the way to her residential facility, Rendy mentioned to me that when asked what she would want to eat, she would respond simply “meat”.  Sure-enough after she got into the car and we said our hellos, when asked what she wanted for lunch she did simply respond, “meat”.

Seating at Longhorn

We get the same kind of comment from Joanna’s mom which obviously connotes the boredom these folks must face with the food choices they get in senior housing arrangements.  Then again, knowing these two lovely ladies, it could just be one more thing to complain about.  We did get Melody to a local Longhorn Steakhouse and although I didn’t have a steak (just a salad for me), I was impressed with the quality and the amount of food we received for the price that was asked.  It helps to explain the popularity of this and other chains like it. 

Summerfield to Johns Island

From Ann and Rendy’s we drove to Johns Island, South Carolina, a tranquil state of mind about 13 miles southwest of Charleston.  Susan and Shawn’s house backs up to a large section of marshy estuary that abuts the Stono River, and the view seems to draw your attention night and day.  The Stono is a tidal channel that runs southwest to northeast between the mainland and Wadmalaw Island and Johns Island, and the Intracoastal Waterway runs through southwest–northeast section of the channel.

Johns Island

It is also known for the Stono Rebellion in 1739, started by slaves from West Africa, that became the largest slave uprising in the British mainland colonies prior to the American Revolution.  And in 1863, as part of the American Civil War, a Confederate force captured the Union steamer USS Isaac Smith in which 8 men died and a further 17 were wounded in crossfire.

Stono River County Park

On the drive down we hit heavy rain and it was pouring when we arrived at the house, hastily exiting the car in a dash for shelter.  And that is what we would do the rest of the day and into the evening, shelter in place while nature threw a party outside.  As fate would have it, we were there on a Saturday which means all the college football a person can stand and as both Susan and Shawn are both University of Michigan graduates, that game against Indiana was a highlight of the day. 

Johns Island to Fernandina Beach

The next morning saw us on the road again for the easy four-hour drive to Fernandina Beach and a couple of nights with my Uncle Dale, his daughter Debbie, and her husband Marshall, who have all been chronicled here a number of times.  As always, we love the view from their kitchen and back porch, wetlands stretching out on the horizon westward towards the South Amelia River, Fernandina Beach proper and the Atlantic Ocean further on still.

View from the Back Porch

The next day Joanna and I set out on a bike ride we’ve done before, that is to turn left out of the development onto The Buccaneer Trail/South 8th St., crossing over the river a short distance later on the Thomas J. Shave Jr. Bridge.  This is a bridge where if one stops at the top, as the trucks rumble across their weight flexes the structure and one thinks they are living through an earthquake.  A fast descent to the bottom leads to a right turn onto Amelia Island Parkway and we rode that until we could go no further, as it dead ends into the A1A. 

We then followed that road north with the plan to ride it all the way into downtown Fernandina Beach, a hope dashed when we came to realize after a number of miles pushing into a headwind, that the A1A didn’t land there, but instead hit a dead end at the top of the peninsula abutting Fort Clinch State Park.  So, we doubled back and eventually worked our way to familiar territory near the outskirts of downtown and now knowing our way, headed back to the house for some downtime before dinner.

Which would be at a current favorite for Debbie and family, Shucker’s Oyster Bar and Grill.  It’s a big busy establishment, a good sign if you are looking for tasty food (and believe me, Debbie, Marshall, and Uncle Dale know it when they see it), this is a place to frequent.  Joanna and I started with a couple of drinks, a Mai Tai for me and a Mule for her which went well with the Bloomin’ Onion the table split. 

For entrees her choice was the Shrimp and Grits while I got the catch of the day, two nice pieces of blackened grouper accompanied by fries, Cole slaw and hush puppies.  It was all uniformly excellent, the fish fresh tasting, the fries extra crispy, and the slaw hitting that middle ground between sweet and sour.  It was the best way to end our stay with these fine folks, who we don’t get to see now as often as we did when we lived in North Carolina.  But rest assured, we will be back the next chance we get. 

Uncle Dale, Debbie and Marshall


Shucker’s Oyster Bar and Grill: https://www.shuckersamelia.com/

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