I have traveled from one end of Kentucky to the other. In fact I have written several books about those visits. “Eating Your Way Across Kentucky,” “Shopping Your Way Across Kentucky,” “101 Must Places to Visit in Kentucky Before you Die,” and “Road Trip Eats.” So I know a little about our state.
There comes a time, however, when there is a calling to visit another state.
My wife and I chose South Carolina.
Our first stop was Greer, a small outpost next to Greenville, one of the prettiest cities in all of the South.
It just so happened that I have an old frat brother/college roommate while at the Uni-versity of Kentucky who lives in Greer. Mike and Nancy Webb’s success has spilled over to a collection of BMW’S, one that dates to 1949. Mike has twenty-two of them, fourteen of which are protected by a climate-controlled warehouse he built. The two are 1962 Louisville Waggener High School grads.
Mike also has 150 quilts to his credit, some that have even been shown at The National Quilt Museum in Paducah. If that’s not enough, he is also a concert pianist. Nancy doesn’t stay idle. She has her paintings, jewelry making, and for the past twenty-four years has had a leadership role in the area’s soup kitchen. Unfortunately, as a roommate none of Mike’s talent rubbed off on me. By the way, there’s a BMW plant in Greer, and a museum open for tours.
We then moved over to Greenville for a night. This town is a destination trip. It’s also the home to Furman University. This is where Corbin native Frank Selvy lives. In 1954, he scored a college record 100-points in one game before going on to being named National Player of the Year, followed by a successful NBA career.
From there we headed south to Kiawah Island where we met up with friends, Doug and Teresa Gibson from Elizabethtown for several days. The beach there is made for walking: Flat, firm and void of sharp shells. The only thing to watch out for is an occasional jelly fish. All of the deer, alligators and visitors have managed to co-exist here.
The over-priced oceanfront five-star Sanctuary Hotel is a must visit. With rooms at $500 and up a night, you guessed right, we didn’t stay there, but we did stay next door to it. Their restaurants are first class and almost affordable. You’ve got to at least step into the lobby and walk the grounds.
Kiawah Island is known for its golf. None, however, is more revered than the world-class Ocean Course. The Pete Dye designed layout hosted last month’s PGA, the Ryder Cup in 1991, and the 2012 PGA. It was fun watching 50-year-old Phil Mickelson turn the golf world upside down on a course we had visited a few days earlier.
Although the $383 green fees, plus tips, is a bit strong for the average duffer, what is affordable is a lunch or dinner on the porch at the Ocean Clubhouse. I recommend it.
From Kiawah we headed to Beaufort, South Carolina. We had never been there before, but after reading that Southern Living Magazine called the town of 15,000 the best small town in the South, it closed the deal.
This coastal town is charm, charm, and more charm. Street after street and even a few alleyways of historic, colorful huge houses was evidence that Beaufort is the second oldest town in South Carolina. To me it was a blend of New Orleans and Key West. The waterside dining and shops on Bay Street, and a stroll past the marina were more than we had expected.
After two nights in Beaufort we pointed in the direction of Hilton Head. That’s where we spent a couple of days with our friends Bill and Sharon Olsen. We had visited the Olsen’s a few years earlier, and they, as usual, were perfect hosts. Our last night on Hilton Head, Bill and Sharon planned a sunset cruise on a party boat, and as if on cue, our boat was surrounded by dolphins just as the perfect sunset appeared.
Bill was the director of athletics at the University of Louisville from 1981 to 1997. It was his hiring of football coach Howard Schnellenberger in 1985, that saved football at the university.
The sport was on the verge of being dropped before Olsen put together a package that brought the pipe-smoking coach to Louisville. It was then that Olsen spearheaded the drive to build Cardinal Stadium.
While in Hilton Head I pitched a book idea to the Olsens: “The Howard Schnellenberger I Knew,” by Bill Olsen. So far no go.
As much as we enjoyed South Carolina, it was good to get back to Kentucky.
There’s no excuse, get up, get out and get going! Gary P. West can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org