Myrtle Beach is characterised by, among other things, diners and shops. These establishments generally subscribe to the idea that, in order to best make us aware of their existence, they should make their frontages big and bold. All of this goes on for quite a few miles along the coastal road and it gets a bit much after a while. It isn't pretty.
Travelling south on Highway 17 you notice the shopfronts becoming less gaudy. You pass through a few pleasant looking towns. Georgetown in particular, with it's antebellum (before war - look at me learning Latin!) houses, was very pretty. That's as long as you stay down by the waterfront and try to ignore the steel works. After this there is about an hour of countryside before you reach Charleston and it was during this time that I felt that I was really seeing America for the first time. There's a fantastic feeling of well being to be gained by driving (or being driven - Becky was driving) in the sun in the American south with the radio playing Lynryd Skynryd and other rock classics, like a nostalgia for something not yet experienced. Some kinda wonderful.
Charleston is where the first shots of the American Civil War were fired. The city has retained much of its architecture from before that period and has encouraged later buildings to fit in with the existing surroundings. The result is a real step back in time, the kind of place that I could not imagine existing here, although modern encroachments are apparent and will probably only get worse. It's also very beautiful and has joined the small list of places where I'd be happy to live should England drown. (Though I don't imagine the local alternative music scene to be up to much but, hey, you can't have it all)
Becky and I ate She-Crab Soup and Fried Green Tomatos (a tasty first for me) in a restaurant that had the names of famous diners engraved on small plaques and nailed to various tables. At my table, quite thrillingly, the Beach Boys had sat! We then went on an entertaining and informative guided tour by horse drawn carriage before taking a slow walk around and then settling at a hotel's rooftop bar. It was one of the few occasions in a place up high where I've felt that the view wasn't as good as at ground level. I think that's a compliment. I had a very enjoyable day.
At this very second I'm watching Fox News ("Fair and Balanced" If you say so...). In Dallas last night one woman was killed when struck by lightning and another drowned when her car was swept away by flood water. We don't get that in England, that's real weather. We think it's an emergency if a roof leaks. And now Fox News is reporting the outrageous news that gas is hitting $3 a gallon. $3 a gallon! Ours is $9 a gallon, deal with it!
I'm still enjoying every minute here but New York is looming quite close on the horizon and if I'm honest I'm a little nervous. I have the guidance of my hosts here but will be all alone in the big city. I'm not worried about my personal safety or in fact anything specific at all, more that a developed sense of initiative a) would be useful in New York and b) is something I'm lacking. I know everything's gonna be cool though.