Patriots Point, We Salute You

Patriot Point is probable the best naval museum in the United States. Patriot Point is located just north of Charleston, SC. It took us about a 2 hour drive from Myrtle Beach to get there. The cost of parking was $5 for the day. Side Note: Ever notice when you drive up to one of these parking booths that your passengers are always looking out the opposite side window. The cost of admission for an adult was $18 which we feel is a pretty good deal for the amount of time you will spend there. You can explore the USS Clagmore (submarine), USS Laffey, USS Yorktown (aircraft carrier) and Vietnam Naval Support Base. Doing all of these would take up a good portion of the day. We will break down each section of Patriots Point.

USS Clagmore

Currently the USS Clagmore is having maintenance work done so we were unable to explore this time around. They posted that the repairs would be done in Mid-July.  But during a prior visit we had the opportunity to check out the inside of the Clagmore. I could only imagine my 6’1″ frame would be a hinder if I was a sailor back in the sub’s active day. The corridors were very tight and cramp. If you have a phobia of tight places this would not be on your high level of fun.

USS Laffey

The USS Laffey was nicknamed “The Ship That Would Not Die” because the ship held off so many kamikaze attacks. The USS Laffey took about 30 minutes to walk through the entire ship. The highlight for us was the ability to check out the area where the crew worked the cannons. Manning the cannons had to be the worse job on the ship, to sit basically in a hot box for hours with no air circulation.

USS Yorktown

The USS Yorktown is the best part of the Patriot Point experience. The ship is broken down into 6 different tours with each taking about 30 to 45 minutes to walk through. We had a lucky opportunity stand in on a tour given by one of the volunteers. Most of the volunteers were in the Navy during World War 2 so the stories they have to share carry that much more weight and interest. If you have the chance to follow a guide around the ship do so, it takes the experience to a much higher level.

When taking these 6 tours, you will be going up and down stairs at a constant rate. You will get enough exercise and no need to hit the gym later. This place is a perfect father/son outing, guarantee no boy would  turn down this adventure. Our favorite spots (kinda obvious) flight deck, hangar bay and torpedo workshop. The added aircraft (over 20) on the deck and hangar was a very nice collection.  Please make sure to check out the Medal of Honor Museum near the entrance of the USS Yorktown. It was done very well and the tunnel caught me off guard in a good way. Some added photos below with 2 videos.

Photo from the flight deck of Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge leading into Charleston

Torpedo workshop aboard the USS Yorktown

Where pilots go over flight missions

The HD Video

The SD Video (different from HD)

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Coccadotts, Rule 106: Never Turn Down a Good Cupcake

It was a nice surprise that Coccadotts Cake Shop recently opened just two miles away from us. They had some pretty good credentials for making good cupcakes.  An automatic decision was made to go check them out and welcome them to the neighborhood.

As soon as I walked in Coccadotts, I was greeted with a warm welcome and smile.  They encourage questions to help out with the selection that fits your taste buds.  They have so many different cupcakes;   it would take a couple of trips to just go through the top-tier ones. On the first trip we sample several flavors.

Below are photos and comments about each one.

Gnome Cupcake: Shawn's Favorite ~ Chocolate cake with peanut butter flavor Nice surprise at the base

Tough Cookie: Josh's Favorite ~ Chocolate chip throughout the cake with cookie dough pieces on top.

Snickers Cupcake: Very good, has piece of snickers in the center of the cake.

Guinness Cupcake: Actual made with Guinness Beer

Chocolate Mint Cupcake: Makes your kitchen smell minty.

Boston Cream Cupcake: Sadly no cream in the center of the cake.

Bacon Maple Cupcake: Definitely taste the maple.

They were all good cupcakes; we will be back for sure.   Rule 106 applies here  “Never turn down a good cupcake.”

Firefly Distillery , Our Perfect Combination of Tea and Grapes

Firefly Distillery

If you are ever in the Charleston area, The Firefly Distillery (must be 21 to enter their website) is a unique place to visit. It is only 30 miles south of Charleston. It was a beautiful day to visit the Firefly Distillery, we had the windows down and, as always, we were enjoying our music. We all have different tastes in music so we are never listening to the same genre twice. It was nice to see all the beautiful Live Oaks as we got close to the entrance of Firefly Distillery. It was a bit hard to spot the entrance, so when using a GPS you will have to pay close attention. As you enter the Firefly Distillery, there are 11 acres of grapes along a winding dirt road. There was plenty of parking as we arrived. There were plenty of picture opportunities. One being the old Fashioned Out House. We stuck Josh in there to snap a hilarious photo.

Josh Checking Out the Old School Outhouse

The Firefly Vodka tasting was the most fun part of the day. We were welcomed in by the bartender. She made us feel right at home. Firefly was opened right from the families’ backyard and is the only Distillery in South Carolina. My favorite flavor during the tasting was the Lemonade Vodka. I think it was Shawn and Nick’s favorite also because they ended up buying a bottle each. I ended up saving my money for the wine tasting next door. That way I could bring back a bottle of wine for my girlfriend. It’s one of the very few dual Winery and Distilleries. We ended up doing two tastings which made us feel quite tipsy(no driving involved)!

Tasting at Firefly Distillery

It’s a unique and exciting place to visit if you’re planning a trip to Charleston, SC. Just don’t try to visit in January. They are closed the entire month. All and all, it was a well spent afternoon with my close buddies! I can’t wait for our next Tasting! Thank You Firefly Distillery!

Hominy Grill, Good Breakfast Leads to a Great Day

Back in spring we decided to go to Hominy Grill in Charleston for breakfast. We had heard that they serve the best breakfast in the country and we had to test that rumor out. The challenge was trying to get to Hominy Grill without going crazy. Like most historic towns, Charleston has numerous  one way streets and a shortage of parking spaces. The Garmin GPS we were using had no clue where to direct us once inside Charleston and the catchphrase “Recalculating” repeating over and over again was ruining the good tunes from our ipod. Once we got to Hominy Grill comes the parking portion of the challenge. The Hominy parking lot can only hold about 10 to 15 spots and being such a popular place they were already taken. We went around the block once looking for street parking but the people living in the area had those spots on lock down. I considered us very lucky though because on the second attempt at the parking lot a spot was available. Time for some breakfast at the Hominy Grill.

Outside the Hominy Grill

There was a small line formed outside the Hominy Grill’s door and we figured we will add to the back-end of the line. After a minute in line the nice couple in front of us informed that we needed to put our name on the list. Without that knowledge, we could have been outside for a much longer period of time. So as a reminder: Put your name on the list when you arrive. The space inside the Hominy Grill is small, not much room to navigate around the tables. Must be a challenge to be a server there. The building back in the day was a barber shop and it definitely has that old school feel with the hardwood floors and one person bathroom. Let’s get to the most important part, the food:

I had the strawberry pancakes (it was the special and not on the menu) with a glass of orange juice. I was giving them a task of making me a believer by what I ordered. In general I’m not a fan of oj or strawberries. The only kind of orange juice I care for is the no pulp version. The only time I can handle strawberries when I have them with a little sugar and whipped cream. The Hominy Grill’s orange juice is about as fresh you can get and has a very high pulp volume to it. The orange juice was alright, I know there was nothing artificial about it. The strawberry pancakes were awesome, they used nice whole slices of strawberries in the pancake. It was just the right portion amount and they kept the ingredients simple and fresh. The pancakes were so good I did not need to kill them with maple syrup which is rare for me. Overall I had a very good breakfast.

I asked each guy to write one sentence sum up the menu item they ordered.

Josh had something of the daily special (he has short-term memory) : I forgot what I ordered there. HaHa All I remembered, it was good and the sweet tea was excellent.

Jerry: Big Nasty – It was perfectly fried chicken breast with a hint of spice in the gravy to even the dish out. It was the perfect portion, very authentic place on the sidewalks of Charleston

Nick: Big Nasty – The menu is like any other breakfast place, but the Hominy Grill has one thing you won’t find anywhere else, the Big Nasty!

Big Nasty: Biscuit with Fried Chicken Breast, Cheddar Cheese and Sausage Gravy

Overall we thought that Hominy Grill was a great place to have breakfast. We recommend if allow go during the weekday for crowd reasons.

Congaree National Park, No Paddle Necessary

After working from 7 pm til  3am on a Saturday night at one of the busiest night club in South Carolina, we decided to take a road trip up to Congaree National Park. I was worn out from the busy night of work.  The Congaree National Park is the  largest remnant of old-growth floodplain forest remaining on the continent. It’s about a two-hour drive from Myrtle Beach and located right outside of Columbia, SC. Shawn did some research and found out that they offer free canoe trips guided by the park rangers. Have to make reservations ahead of time in order to do this activity. The park is way out in the middle of nowhere, which is the type of places I love to visit when on road trips.. Once we arrived at Congaree National Park (around 9am) ,  we had to sit in a class room and get the run down on the park and how our canoe trip was going to go. There was about 14 people in our group, the ranger asked the group who had experience canoeing, Shawn and Josh both raised their hands quickly like little children at school that knew all the answers in class.

After the brief discussion we had to get back in the car and follow the tour guide down to where we put the canoes in the water. We had light rain during most of the canoe trip. I was selected to be in the canoe with the park ranger while the “experienced” Shawn and Josh were in their own canoe. The water was a little low that day, so Shawn and Josh had a hard time getting around in the water. Out of all the canoes, they had the most weight in their canoe. When the water is low it take more time and effort to navigate around the shallow spots on the river. The Congaree National Park had a lot of shallow spots and broken tree limbs in the water. For most of the canoe trip, Shawn and Josh were way in the back and it was hard not to laugh at them. The park ranger had incredible paddling skills to the point that I decided to lay my paddle down and enjoy the scenery. We saw a few snakes hanging in trees, and we also saw a beaver dam which was a first for me. We were on the water for about 2 hrs and we covered a lot of water. The video below was shot from Shawn and Josh’s canoe.

I highly suggest taking a trip up to Congaree State park. The canoe trip was totally free and worth riding down the river in the rain.

Beacon Drive In, Yell Me a Hamburger!!!

Nick and I headed out to the Beacon Drive In located in Spartanburg because we had heard that they had the best sweet tea and good burgers. We went during a weekday after the lunch rush so it wouldn’t be that busy. The exterior of the place looks kinda run down but the Beacon Drive In has been around for many years so I’ll let them slide on that issue.

Before I go out to a location on the Wanna See It All project I do some research on the establishment so I know what to expect. I knew ahead of time that the ordering process could be unique and intimidating to some people. The process goes like this:

Step 1: A man will ask you promptly what you want to order minus the drink. He will next yell out the entire order to all the cooks behind him (It’s an open kitchen). He will tell you to move on.

Step 2: It is a cafeteria style set up, continue down the line and pick up a tray. As you move down the assembly line you will pick up your order and select your drink. Since the sweet tea and lemonade are the most popular they will have a bunch pre made already.

Step 3: As you head to the cashier, be ready with your money in hand. The cashier is super fast and doesn’t miss a beat. I was really impressed with the cashier.

If you remember these steps the whole process will go smoothly.

Double Bacon Cheeseburger A-Plenty

My order was the double bacon cheeseburger A-Plenty with a lemonade for around ten dollars. I’m not a sweet tea fan in general but I heard that the lemonade was popular too so I decided on that instead. I was curious about the A-Plenty option on the menu and how it comes together. A-Plenty is a huge stack of french fries and onion rings together on a plate. I don’t like onions at all but I thought the entire order would look good for the camera.  I love my hamburger and does this Beacon Drive In burger pass on my scale system. The bacon double cheeseburger was alright overall with one small issue. The burger meat(thin patties) and bacon was awesome and was cooked just right. The burger was huge and filled me up really quick. I like my hamburger buns to be soft and fresh tasting. The Beacon Drive In buns were dry out and had a stale taste. I think they might throw the buns on the grill for a second and that was taking the moisture away from the bun. The lemonade had a strong artificial lemon taste and it was alright. The A-Plenty was losing already with me due to the dislike of onions but the french fries could make up the difference. My mother makes better french fries and she buys them from the frozen section.

Overall the Beacon Drive In has some good burgers and a rich history. I would not recommend someone to drive a great distance to check this place out for the first time. Everyone’s experience is different due to we all have different taste buds and enjoyments.

Beacon Drive In , Sweet Tea Myth

The Beacon Drive In is a restaurant located in Spartanburg, SC. Shawn told me that this place supposedly had the best sweet tea, so I was definitely down to go because I love me some sweet tea. We got Beacon Drive In around 1 or so, wasn’t too crowded.

Luckily we were prepared for how  Beacon Drive In take your order. I have never seen anything like it. The Beacon food menu is on the wall right as you walk into the restaraunt. Take a look at the menu and tell the man at the counter what you want and he yells it out to the cooks and somehow they can understand it all. Once you give the man the order you continue down the line and order you drinks and then on to the cashier. The cashier is really quick with the money and ringing up your order.

I was so excited to try out this sweet tea. I couldn’t wait to sit down. Once we sat down I took a big gulp of that tea and was just disappointed. Sweet tea tasted as if they added some sort or artificial lemon sweetener to it which I do not like in my tea. I love freshly brewed sweet tea and this is not what I got.

Cheeseburger and Sweet Tea at the Beacon Drive In

I got the cheeseburger with fries which was just the average cheeseburger that you would find at a baseball game. I don’t recommend that you travel out of your way to visit Beacon Drive In, but if you live in the Spartanburg area this would be a good lunch occasionally.