Vibey in Tybee: Week 3

Greetings from sunny Tybee Island, Georgia, located just east of Savannah. For the fourth time in as many weeks, we woke up today in a different place than the previous Monday. I’ve considered instituting one of those systems that musicians and performers use, where they prominently display the name of the city just off-stage so they don’t accidentally say the wrong place when greeting the crowd.

Thankfully, the furious pace of travel will, for now, slow down a bit. We’ll be here in Tybee until Thanksgiving, 34 days in total. Looking back, it’s pretty obvious we had very little idea what we were doing in planning this when we started. While 10 days is certainly enough time to get a feel of somewhere, it can feel somewhat frantic when it only includes one weekend. Essentially, everything Morgan and I want to do together that can’t be done after work needs to be fit into two days. That’s potentially doable in a town the size of Helen, but we could have killed ourselves trying to see everything in Charleston and the surrounding area in that time.

It feels like a lifetime, but we’ve been gone from DC for less than one month. I was wandering down King Street one day when it occurred to me why Charleston felt so familiar but different. In a lot of ways, the downtown area reminds me of Georgetown in DC, except…actually good. It’s got the same striking early Colonial look, with far fewer scowling suit-clad older men and only a comparable number of fratty bros. The food is good, the drinks are still mostly affordable, and the Ashley and Cooper Rivers beat the Potomac and Anacostia seven days a week. And I’ve fallen in love with the style of old Charleston homes – a normal-looking, solid wood door that leads from the street to an extended porch that runs the length of the house, where the actual door to the home itself is located. Most of the time, the second and third stories also had similar balconies. Frankly, my broken DC brain had a hard time believing that actual human beings currently lived in the entirety of these things and that they hadn’t been subdivided into eight one-bedroom condos. As Morgan and I walked around downtown one night after checking out the famous pineapple fountain, we brainstormed potential schemes/ruses to at least let us get a peek inside some of them. We’re still accepting submissions if you have any ideas.

During our last week in Charleston, I actually fell into what felt like a real rhythm for the first time since hitting the road. I’d wake up early, write for a few hours, and head out to explore a new part of the area around lunch. This was exceptionally easy to do since (in the same vein as the store in O Brother Where Art Thou?) Park Circle is a geographical oddity – 25 minutes from everywhere! Want to go to the beach? You’ve got your choice of a few, each about 25 minutes away. How about the famous plantations along the Ashley River? 25 minutes. Downtown? 25 minutes, maybe, with traffic. The longest trip I took in the area was the 40-minute National Park Service ferry to Fort Sumter, which, all in all, was better than the fort itself.

Even better, the strip of shops, restaurants, bars and other spots along East Montague Avenue east of Park Circle is simply awesome. A few good sports bars, wine bars, a Mexican place, a few pizzerias. There’s a Thursday night farmer’s market in Park Circle itself, and quite frankly, too many breweries to reasonably go to in a short period of time. We were big fans of Commonhouse Aleworks, where Morgan’s continued quest to find the best cinnamon everything may have ticked off another box with their incredible Sin of Man porter.

I could get used to this being a 10-minute walk away, I think.

On Wednesday, I hopped in the car and headed to the Charleston Tea Garden. I don’t drink tea, nor does Morgan unless it’s on ice and sweetened to just below diabetes-inducing levels. But to my profound surprise, Charleston Tea Garden is not just the only tea plantation in South Carolina – it’s the only one in North America. This very much fit into one of my guiding principles for how to spend my time during this trip, which is to do things I can’t do elsewhere. A quick look at the next nearest tea plantations confirmed that we probably wouldn’t be in the neighborhood of any others anytime soon.

Naturally, Darius Rucker was there. Yes, Hootie. This fact was mentioned very casually by my tour guide as our trolley pulled away into the tea fields, and I caught a fleeting glimpse of him from behind as we turned a corner. He was gone by the time we returned, but my tour guide seemed to suggest he was something of a regular. Maybe this is just a strange prank they play on gullible yankees.

Much like rice, I couldn’t have told you how tea was grown and processed for a million dollars. After two good tours of the factory and the fields, I now can! Leave it to the state of South Carolina to teach me about agriculture. The plantation runs like clockwork – you can count on one hand the number of full-time employees who work the massive fields thanks to the custom-designed harvester, and the greenhouse runs with more efficiency than some, ahem, other, more high-dollar greenhouses I’ve gotten tours of.

Charleston Tea Garden is located on Wadmalaw Island, the most rural of the islands in the immediate Charleston area. The difference between here and the surrounding area is noticeable. I stopped at this delightful old grocery store, grabbed a Cheerwine (when in the Carolinas, right?), and stood in the center of the road to take this picture. I could have stood there, probably, for half an hour before having to move for another car. I don’t know for sure; I gave up after a few minutes. I could get used to that, too.

One thing I would, unfortunately, never get used to is the bugs and spiders down here. The size of these things look like something out of a 1950s Godzilla movie or deleted scenes from the 2002 Scarlett Johannsen and David Arquette classic “Eight Legged Freaks.” There’s something hair-raising about walking down a peaceful trail through the marshes and forests (like at the delightful Caw Caw Interpretive Center) and then seeing a spider the size of your palm lazily dangling a foot or so above your head. I was so motivated to get away from it that I nearly walked into a swamp that, as you might expect, had a fairly large gator in it. No one told me about these monstrous siders and “spider season” before we came down here, and I view them as the number two threat to my health and safety, behind literally everyone who drives on the highways down here.

We’re here in Tybee now, and I’m still having a hard time with the idea that we get to stay here for a month. As I write this, I’m sitting on the beach about a five-minute walk from our home, watching the sun set over Tybee Creek. As someone who’s spent a lot of time on New Jersey beaches that almost seem to fetishize rules, I consider this place fairly lawless, somewhere a bit short of Deadwood on the ocean. Being able to drink alcohol openly not only on the beach but anywhere on the island is going to take some getting used to. Every bar seemingly sells $2 Jello shots, and Morgan and I are undertaking a rigorous, scientific study to determine the best, along with a similar program for the multiple “Best Seafood On Tybee” signs. People still smoke in bars here, and on the beach, and just about anywhere else. It seems like as long as you don’t bring glass bottles or a keg, keep your clothes on, and don’t walk over to Little Tybee at low tide, you’re pretty much left to your own devices.

I’m going to close out this dispatch with some appreciation for the third member of our traveling party, the one who has no idea what’s going on or why he keeps getting taken on car rides. Linus has been an incredible trooper through three stops, in small dark cabins and houses along loud, busy roads. Through it all, he’s the same old weirdo, stuffing himself into every tiny space he can find, chirping at birds, and waking me up with a cold nose on my face right around 7:30 every morning. It seems like he’s enjoying the quiet, space, and sun of Tybee the best. He’s even learning to walk on a leash – tentatively and only on the patio for now.

We have three beds here, so naturally, Linus gets one of his own.
Early attempts at leash walking

Unfortunately, Tybee doesn’t allow pets on the beach, so we may not get to see Linus on the sand – unless we’re feeling even more lawless than usual here. We’ll keep you posted.

-Nick and Morgan

5 thoughts on “Vibey in Tybee: Week 3

  1. Can confirm Hootie is a local! Went to elementary school with his nieces.

    Did not recall this fear of spiders or would have warned you ha!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to top