The Gastonian Inn, where we stay, is the nicest place on our trip. The gracious staff hosts a cocktail hour before dinner and then dessert and coffee after. In the morning, cooks make eggs to order, and there are plenty of good grits.
We’ve done a lot of drive-bys in the last five days, and it’s almost time to head to Charleston, a night on the town, and the flight home the next morning. Heading up Interstate 95, we pass turnoffs for Hilton Head Island, then Beaufort, and stop at Edisto Island for lunch.
Years ago, I spent a lot of time in Edisto but hadn’t returned. It used to be a place where there was nothing but a couple gas stations and a few stores for basic provisions. Edisto has managed to stave off developers and for the first dozen miles along Highway 174, over a massive bridge, through a canopy of oaks with dried moss, some wetlands, more tree canopy, we see a bank, a fish market, and not much else. Down a side road along Edisto Beach, we stumble on Whaley’s Restaurant & Bar, established in 1948.
After 1,000 miles, in this little eatery, built in a defunct gas station, is the Old South in all its glory: picnic tables outside, a waitress both friendly and delightfully sassy, a big basket of boiled peanuts (the menu reads, “Caution remove shells”), “raw” fries (homemade potato chips), and a grilled flounder sandwich so fresh, the fillet is practically still flipping.
Should we just stay and forget the flight home? The thought occurs to us several times that afternoon.