SAILING TO SUMTER: The second big event of the conference was a dinner cruise and visit to historic Fort Sumter. It’s not LawyerCon without a dinner cruise. Not sure why the lawyers love piling on a big boat and floating around for a couple of hours, but they do it almost every year.
For the history impaired, Fort Sumter was where the first battle of the Civil War was fought. It looks about like what you’d think an 1860s island fort would look like. Lots of cannons. There was a guide there who gave a long talk about something but I lost interest so Andrew and I went walkabout. We weren’t going to have that much time on the grounds so why stand around and listen to a lecture? That’s what the History Channel is for.
MAN VS. WAITING IN LINE FOR FOOD: One of the best things about vacation is eating. One of the worst things about vacation is eating. I was pretty sick of French fries by week’s end. Is there no other side item?
Laurie has a thing about not eating at chains while on vacation so we tried a variety of places. I liked Sticky Fingers because the food was good but also because they had the season two Colbert Report painting hanging in an alcove of honor. It was as close to a museum piece as we would see, despite our hotel being on museum row.
Apparently — judging by the constant line of people outside the door — the most popular restaurant in downtown Charleston is Hyman’s Seafood. We had a coupon for free crab dip that I was determined to cash in, but there was always a mob surrounding it. I wait in line for hours at a restaurant for no man — nor any free crab dip.
But then they had an 8×10 glossy of Billy Joel on the window along with many other, lesser, celebrities so I figured I had to go now. I’m betting Joel didn’t have to wait outside in the 100-degree heat. We decided the best time to go was early and the only time that worked out was Thursday night when Laurie was at the closing banquet.
Andrew and I went to Hyman’s around 5 p.m. and got seated right away. The waiter brought out boiled peanuts, which was a nice change of pace. I got my free crab dip, which was decent. The menu was quite varied. I so wanted a gyro but figured that wouldn’t be proper for a seafood restaurant, so I got some Cajun seafood pasta dish. It was good, but frankly I think the whole thing was greatly overrated. It wasn’t any better than any of the other fine establishments we had dined in over the week. I guess Hyman has a really good publicist.
CHURCHES AND BATTLESHIPS: Laurie had one free day during the convention and she wanted to see two things: Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum and St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. We stopped at the church first, where I believe George Washington once prayed. It was pretty nice but once you’ve seen the churches of England everything else pales in comparison.
Then we got our car and crossed the big bridge over to Patriots Point, home of the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, the submarine USS Clamagore, the destroyer USS Laffey and the Medal of Honor Museum. We punted the submarine because after touring the Yorktown and the Laffey we were exhausted, overheated and had our fill of claustrophobia for the day. Once you’ve been in the bowels of an aircraft carrier, you don’t really need to tour a submarine.
We walked all over the Laffey first, since it was just a puny destroyer and wouldn’t take long. It was another hot day and strange as it may seem, they don’t air condition these giant war ships. Or at least they don’t leave the AC on for the tourists. Next we went to the Yorktown, where the nice attendant suggested we visit the Medal of Honor Museum first, as it was air conditioned. We thought that was a good plan.
As usual, Andrew and I breezed through the museum before Laurie and finished reading the first kiosk of exhibits. I would’ve been happy to sit and wait for her, like usual, but there were no seat inside the museum. So we waited by the snack bar, which didn’t have AC but had decent fans. We shared a drink.
After that we took a pretty exhaustive self-tour of the living quarters and saw all the inner workings of an aircraft carrier. Then we went back to the main floor and looked at all the planes and a space capsule. Then finally to the top deck where all the action is. It was very impressive. And very hot.
ON THE ROAD ONE MORE TIME: For the return trip we decided to break up the drive more evenly — 8 hours Friday, 6 hours Saturday. Our second major meltdown occurred when we missed an exit and pulled off at the next exit thinking we could easily turn around but unlike most exits it didn’t give you the turnaround option, it just kept taking us farther away in the wrong direction so I (naturally I had to be driving at this time) had to get off at another place and everything was roundabouts and Laurie was screaming at me and hey, I’m not the Map Goddess, she is, and we found a gas station with surprisingly cheap gas so it wasn’t a total loss and the nice lady at the counter told us how to get back on track.
Andrew did not have a single meltdown on the entire trip back.
On the last day Laurie wanted to make a stop at Aunt Patty’s or Cousin Patty’s restaurant near Kentucky Lake so we made a brief detour but when we got there it was an hour wait and see paragraph five for how I feel about that. We wound up at a Cracker Barrel which was just as good. But seriously — three sides? No wonder America has an obesity problem. Fortunately, I found three sides that did not involve French fries. Laurie got some blackberry cobbler dessert that she wouldn’t stop talking about after we left.
“So, did you wear your red shoes at all this week?”
“Yes. I got many compliments on them, thank you very much.”