MGA Mid-Atlantic Chapter

Gallery of Past Club Events

Spring Romp 2011 — A Charleston Adventure

April 16-22, 2011

Submitted by Betty Ann Johns

Our group met at the Marshalls' house bright and early at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 16. We all departed shortly thereafter on our adventure. Liz opted to tow her MGA. Bill & Karen Marshall, Charlie & Alana Adams, Larry & Diana Newman and Butch & Judy Smith all drove their MGAs. We were on our way to Charleston with an overnight stop in Lumberton, NC. After driving on I-95 South in frustrating stop-and-go traffic, it was delightful to see Terry & Martha Anne King’s smiling faces in Sandston, Va.

We stopped for a long lunch at a Denny’s and continued on I-95. Our trip to this point was quite uneventful. Then we began to hear NOAA tornado alerts. While Liz was driving, I, with map in hand, was pinpointing where the tornadoes were hitting down. The weather was so unpredictable. “We don’t need to worry about the tornadoes – no, it doesn’t look good – yes, the storm is behind us – no – yes – OH NO!”

Suddenly, we ran into lightning and thunder, and horrendous rains followed by a devastating hail storm– some as large as lemons. Fearing we would run into the eye of the storm, we thought it would be smart to stop. Bill Marshall took a chance and found an overpass to park under. Charlie Adams drove down in to a ditch under trees and the rest of us pulled off to the side of the road, the cars “bare-naked” to the storm. Liz & Charlie covered Liz’s MGA with the car cover. I found myself jumping out of the car to help as well. Looking back, I couldn’t believe I did that since I am petrified of storms! Sitting in the tow car, Liz’s Toyota 4X4, the pounding of hail on top of the car was very loud & frightening. All the while, “Auntie Em” was reassuring me that we were going to be all right – as usual, she was right. Then came tremendous winds whipping pine branches and sap onto the cars. We were on the periphery of a tornado! We later learned that no less than 83 tornadoes touched down in eastern N.C. that day.

After the weather calmed down, we regrouped at the next exit at Dunn, N.C. We stopped at a service station to gas up the MGAs. But guess what – no electricity – no gas! Worse yet – no electricity – no bathrooms! We all decided that we would wait it out hoping the electricity would come on before too long. In the meantime, the guys found a place between two buildings that accommodated both men and women – but not at the same time!

Cars were lined up at the gas pumps hoping for electricity soon. We waited for a few hours until someone came along with info on an up and running gas station several miles away. We all headed down to the Wal-Mart service station along with many, many gas-thirsty cars. It was another long wait and the only fear was the station would run out of gas – didn’t happen, yea! Sadly, a man was asking if anyone saw two little children along the road. A few miles down I-95 past Dunn, N.C. we saw devastation where the tornado crossed the interstate. Had we been a few miles further down the road we may have been toast. That day, as fate would have it, we had a long wait before being served at Denny’s. Someone was watching over all of us!

Totally exhausted, we limped into Lumberton, N.C., much later than we anticipated to a very nice motel. The cars did fine mechanically in spite of driving through a lot of water but took a “hail” of a beating. We planned on a nice dinner that evening, but were so exhausted that a pizza party in Butch and Judy’s room sounded good to all of us. We were a team that day and were there for each other, so grateful we had escaped what could have been very a devastating experience.

What a difference a day makes! Sunday morning, the sun was shining; the birds were singing and it was a beautiful driving day. Unfortunately, Charlie and Alana had to return home for a family emergency. They were very much missed for the rest of the trip.

The remainder of the trip was wonderful. Liz knocked herself out planning activities, restaurants, motels, etc. as only Liz can do, all via the internet. We left Lumberton for Charleston Sunday morning on Routes 41 & 17. We owned the roads as we saw very few cars in either direction and it was a very pleasant drive for MGAs.

Arriving in Mount Pleasant, S.C., we checked into the Holiday Inn Express. Bill & Carol Shamonsky – our hosts at NAMGAR In The Poconos - had arrived the previous day and Bruce & Bert Rauch from Tampa, Fla., arrived shortly after we did. The Shamonskys had scoped out the area and suggested Sticky Fingers restaurant for lunch. After lunch, unpacking and relaxing, we left for the scheduled boat trip to Fort Sumter. The entire tour was about two hours and 15 minutes, with a 35-minute narration while cruising historic Charleston Harbor. One hour was spent at the fort, very interesting and well preserved, then 30 minutes of continued narration on the return trip. That evening we had dinner at Vickery’s on Shem Creek.

On Monday morning we enjoyed a carriage ride through Charleston – a must for everyone visiting the area. Next was shopping at the open market in downtown Charleston. Sweet grass baskets are made in the area and can be found everywhere, including at roadside stands. Liz and I passed on the Charleston walking tour and instead took a drive to Wadmalaw Island. There we visited Charleston Tea Plantation. I hadn’t a clue as to how tea was grown. Not only did we learn about the plants but also the harvesting and processing of tea leaves. We had lunch at Poogan’s Porch restaurant, and dinner that evening at Hominy Grill, both very good.

The food in the Charleston area was great! I enjoyed fried green tomatoes, fried oysters, crab cakes, pulled BBQ pork, she-crab soup, sweet potato fries, BBQ ribs AND the desserts were to die for!

Boone Hall Plantation was scheduled for Tuesday. It was all I envisioned a plantation should look like – massive live oaks with hanging moss, and beautiful gardens. I did not envision chiggers, but learned about them in short time! (If you haven’t noticed, I am from the northern part of the east coast!) We had lunch at a very interesting restaurant called the Graze – excellent food!

The Spirit Line Dinner Cruise was outstanding and not a buffet like most cruises. The menu consisted of three main choices – fish, chicken or filet. I chose the filet and it was done to perfection! I highly recommend the dinner cruise – it is well worth the price!

Instead of going to the Naval Maritime Museum tour, Liz and I drove out to see some additional plantations and stopped at the Middleton Place Plantation Museum Shop and the Garden Market and Nursery. We then returned to Mount Pleasant and had lunch at Boulevard Dinner – a hole in the wall but great southern food. Martha Anne, a gifted artist with a great eye for picture taking, spent an entire day in Charleston taking tons of pictures. Wednesday evening we had reservations at Tbonz Gill & Grill in the historic area of Charleston. While walking from the parking lot to the restaurant, I ran smack into a friend from home, small world! After dinner, we went next door to Kaminsky’s, known for their outstanding desserts.

It was a wonderful trip with a great group of people and the weather was quite pleasant while in South Carolina. The girls managed to get in a game of Mexican Train Dominoes one evening in the motel lobby, while the guys talked MGAs. One evening, returning from dinner to the motel, we got lost. Martha Anne was also lost as we learned after returning to the motel. When she and Terry, and Diana & Larry got out of their car, they burst into laughter, because they didn’t realize it had been us on their bumper following them back to the motel. Apparently they had a few choice words in the car about those #*+% who were following them – not allowing them to turn around.

Sadly, Thursday morning came and it was time to leave Charleston. Bruce & Bert and Bill & Carol headed south to their homes in Florida. Larry & Diana stayed on an extra day. Bill & Karen, Terry and Martha Anne; Butch & Judy and Liz & I headed north on 17N. On the way north we stopped at the Wheels of Yesterday Car Museum and later lunch in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

The accommodations and fine restaurants did not stop here. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Wallace, N.C., and walked to the Mad Boar restaurant right next door – great motel and fantastic restaurant. If anyone should drive to Charleston, do stop in Wallace, especially for the restaurant! Another great “Liz choice”!

Terry & Martha Anne and Butch & Judy left us on their way to Mathews, Va. We experienced bouts of rain again in Virginia but bearable after our “trip from hell” heading south on Saturday. Nevertheless, we all survived and Charleston was enjoyed by all! Can’t get any better than that!

Though I do not have an MG, I very much enjoy traveling with NAMGAR folks. I am in the market for an automatic MGA with AC, the color doesn’t matter. If anyone comes across one, give me a holler!

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