Thursday, June 30, 2011

True Friends

Scholar and professor, Leo Buscaglia a noted expert on relationships once said, "a single rose can be my garden, a single friend my world." As is usually the case with catch phrases and quotations from learned individuals, so much truth is being communicated in such few syllables. This week while spending our annual vacation with some dear friends I was reminded of these words while observing my oldest son, JD and his old buddy Andrew spend some rare time together, again, as friends.

Their friendship witnessed it's beginning on a youth soccer field back in West Virginia and continued in a church pre-school program. It was solidified with Little League baseball and grade-school basketball. But the real medallion of friendship developed, as many do, when the two young boys experienced tragedy. Tragedy in the form of the disease I have blogged about often, cancer. Midway through their fifth-grade year of school the diagnosis descended upon Andrew's family and filtered out to close friends, my son's friend was seriously ill and would have a long, yet hopeful road in front of him. Now my son, JD, was no stranger to the harsh meanness of the disease, he had just watched both of my parents, his grandparents, die of lung cancer over the past four years. Although, he was too young to fully understand and comprehend the complexities of the illness and the impending death that often accompanies it, he did understand that the bitch of a disease had robbed him of two of his favorite people, two people that poured adoration upon him and spoiled him with butterscotch pies, and toys and movies, etc. I have no earthly idea what he truly felt as we left Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia that rainy cold night after visiting his friend Andrew in the hospital. He had just witnessed his buddy, laying in a bed surrounded with the same type of equipment, tubes, bags and beepers that had kept his grandparents company during their stays in the hospital. There is a good chance that those memories and thoughts occupied his young mind as we drove out of the hospital parking lot and he maintained his position in the back seat of the car, backwards and peering out the back window as the lights of the hospital went out of sight, straining I am sure to see the building in which we had left his friend. Refusing to turn around and face forward, for miles. I am confident, he didn't want us to see his pain, his fear and his tears.

But, as God has his purposes and ways, Andrew was blessed with recovery and Andrew and JD were blessed with a friendship that would grow and deepen as the years would pass. JD once told me that he thought God had all of this in mind when he prepared him for helping Andrew through his cancer by watching his granma and granpa die.

The Roman playwrite Plautus said, "nothing but Heaven itself is better than a friend who is really a friend." I of course, have no way of knowing, what is truly in the hearts of JD and his friend Andrew. I don't know for sure whether their friendship fits the description from Plautus, don't know if it meets the varied criteria for true friendship or whether theirs is like many that most adults experience, a good relationship rather than a true friendship. It is not the intent of this piece to discredit the superficial friendships that most of us invest in, for the most part they sustain us and although they leave us sometimes feeling empty, they provide the warmth and connection that we need when our true friends are miles away. No, the purpose of this expose is to underscore true friendship, the kind that no matter what the circumstances, what the gains are or what the losses total, a friendship that stands by you. True friends are happy when you are happy, satisfied when you enjoy success and hurt when you hurt. Someone once said, "a true friend always stabs you in the front, and never in the back." A true friend does not fall all over you, but instead falls for you. I hope, and I believe it is true, that is the type of friendship JD and Andrew are developing. They have done a pretty good job of staying in touch after we moved during their sophomore year of high-school to the Lowcountry. They both are entering their junior years of college, Andrew at West Virginia University (my Alma Mater, Go Mountaineers) and JD at the University of South Carolina (where I send my money, Go Cocks) While they are both very busy, and weeks and months may pass between text messages or phone calls, there are always those limited times that fate or planning pulls them together, if not for days, at least hours and I can see through their non-verbal communication, that even though they are going in seperate directions, building lives that don't necessarily parallel one another, over the years, their lives will intersect and merge from time to time, sometimes for good times and sometimes, I am certain, for not so good times.

I am hopeful that they both develop "true friendship" for one another, you know the kind that I described above, that they will always be the type of friend to one another that, while they may spend more time and share more commonalities with others, they will always KNOW that they have somebody who will hold their hand, no matter what is on the other side of that hand. I once read a comment saying, "my true compass in life is not to have a true friend, but to be a true friend." As I reflect on my life and my many friends I somehow wonder, am I that "true friend" to somebody? Have I earned that designation through my words, actions, and examples? These are personal questions that thanks to JD and Andrew getting together for a few days this week at Hilton Head Island I have started to think about this, and now maybe I will start putting more effort into being a true friend, than looking for one.

I hope you enjoy the photos of Andrew and JD spending some time together this week and I hope know matter where you are that today you have a true friend in your life. Have a great day, From The Land of Palm Trees.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tuesday's Are So Much Fun At Hilton Head Island

Tuesday began with a walk on the beach and ended with a walk around Shelter Cove Harbor with a single dip Espresso Chocolate Chip Ice Cream under the watchful eye of King Neptune. In between was a whole lot of fun and action. When it comes to fun, night time reigns supreme on the island. Here is a picture of my Michelle and I on Tuesday Evening before we headed out to dinner at Frankie Bones.

Frankie Bones turned out to be a great restaraunt although when our group of family and close friends get together on HHI for a night out, it always turns into a happening, and last night was no exception. Of course, an afternoon of beachball (a ridiculously competitive group game perfected by our HHI vacation group several years ago) we were all ready for some cold beverages and great cuisine.

Here are several pictures of the delightful delicacies enjoyed by some of our group last night. You have got to love an establishment that asks, "how many olives?" when you order a dirty martini with blue-cheese olives. We started off with a medley of appetizers highlighted by a great offering of crispy fried calamari. All thirteen of us ordered a different entree so we experienced a great cross-section of the classic American-Italian menu at Frankie Bones Hilton Head Island location. The Veal Osso Bucco looked exquisite, and my Saltimbocca, a sauteed veal cutlet with prosciutto over fried eggplant and topped with fresh mozzarella and tomatoe sauce was outstanding. The order of Frankie's Lobster Mac and Cheese won the presentation award last night, a heaping bowl of baked three-cheese macaroni tossed with a one-pound Maine lobster and garnished with the emptied lobster shell. Of course, some of the group saved room for dessert. I have eaten my share of smores in back-yards and on camping trips, but have never seen them on a menu at a restaraunt, and could never have imagined a restaraunt serving the smores in the high fashion manner that Frankie Bones does.

After a deliciously wonderful meal we made our way back to Shelter Cove just in time for the end of Tuesday Night Harbour Fest. As we made our way past the Shannon Tanner Show, Shannon recognized Noah's Southern Tides Oxford and called him up on stage from the sidewalk for a photo. A nice ending to a nice day, From The Land of Palm Trees.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Where The Dream Started...

For many years we have vacationed for a week at Hilton Head Island, as a matter of fact, HHI is the reason we ended up in Charleston. As most vacationers do, we imagined what it would be like to live in paradise, then one year we decided to stop imagining and, well you know the rest of the story. Ultimately, we decided on Charleston, for many reasons, but we still love HHI and still get here every chance we get. Unfortunately, most of those chances involve driving to the island for a high school football or baseball game and back home late at night.

Morning is one of my favorite times at HHI. Over the years Michelle and I have enjoyed many walks and bike rides with our besties Todd and Lisa from Elkins, West Virginia. This morning I decided to capture a little bit of what I like about those early morning beach jaunts.

As you can see, my morning stroll began with a casual walk along the water. I love to watch for dolphins feeding along the shore, remember, "I'm such a baby, yeah the dolphins make me cry." (BTW we have our tickets for the Hootie and the Blowfish Homegrown Concert in Charleston in August).

Not too far down the beach I came across two teenagers catching sharks in the surf, and a little farther down this group of friends chatting about the day caught my eye. These two images pretty much define mornings on a South Carolina Lowcountry Beach.

It is loggerhead turtle nesting season along the Lowcountry coast and HHI has a fair share of nesting sites that are protected quite aggressively by local laws and regulations. It warms my heart to see this nesting site co-existing with the outside world, notice the boat in the background. I am proud that the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston has such a great turtle hospital and each year saves the lives of many of these ancient sea creatures who have the misfortune of being injured by propeller strikes, shrimp nets and other dangers that they face.

Finally, after a nice walk and bike ride we made it back to our villa in Shelter Cove and enjoyed a little breakfast, a cup of coffee and a little blogging harbourside From The Land of Palm Trees. Whether you are enjoying the good life today or hard at work, I hope you have a wonderful day. Thanks for stopping by my blog and remember, don't just dream about it, make it happen, you will be glad you did.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lazy, Hot, Humid Days of Summer

Yesterday was the first day of Summer, but somebody forgot to mention that to the calendar since those of us in the Lowcountry have been in summertime mode for a couple of weeks now. I was thinking today that my air-conditioning condenser has been running non-stop now for about a week, that's right, non-stop as in day and night, hummmmmmmmmmmm....

Life seems to be pretty mundane right now, at least on my front porch From The Land of Palm Trees, and since it has been a week since my last published post, I thought I would share some awesome pictures from my last trip to the beach. Seems like in the summertime, if you live in the Lowcountry you are either thinking about the last day you spent on the beach or looking forward to your next day at the beach, and we do have some beautiful beaches to occupy our days.

These photos are from Folly Beach. I have never encountered a perfect starfish like the one I literrally stumbled upon this day, another reason I love living in The Land of Palm Trees.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Mountain Getaway: Wild and Wonderful Style

For the first 44 years of my life, I called the Mountain State of West Virginia my home. Since moving to the Lowcountry of South Carolina I have a whole new perspective on my home state, the natural beauty, the adventure and the true "wild and wonderful" nature of "Almost Heaven." Don't get me wrong, I am loving where I am now living, but I am always amazed to meet new friends and neighbors who have never been to West Virginia or who have only enjoyed the beauty and wonder of the state through the windows of their vehicle as they travel along one of the interstate highways that pass through the state.

Recently Michelle and I had to make an unplanned trip back to our old home-town of Elkins, West Virginia. I suppose that maybe since four years have passed from when we called ourselves residents of this mountain hamlet we readily noticed the changes that had been taking place in the area. Elkins, the lovely little town that has always been "on the road" to Snowshoe Mountain, is slowly becoming a year-round entertainment destination.

For several years prior to our decision to leave the high-country and whitewater and move to the lowcountry and saltwater, the Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad Company operated a scenic train on several miles of rail around Elkins on track previously abandoned by CSX (the metamorphesis of the B&O, C&O, & Western Maryland rail companies). For the better part of ten years, the Durbin and Greenbrier scenic train excursions slowly gained popularity attracting rail fans and tourists who were looking for a unique way to enjoy some of the mountain scenery of North Central West Virginia. I can't say that hordes of tourists were flocking to the Elkins area just to ride the trains but it was an attraction, albeit, in it's infancy. The town of Elkins as a destination was for the most part a hidden gem. Thanks to the Randolph County Development Authority who had the foresight to see the potential, the area of town surrounding the old railyard became the focus of a re-development and revitalization project and now the previously abandoned rail yard space is home to a nationally acclaimed "Branson-style" theatre, a restaurant, hotel, and historic train depot that serves as the headquarters for the Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad and it's various scenic train excursions. It is apparent by the steady stream of tour busses that we witnessed during our recent visit, as well as the no vacancy signs at area inns, motels and hotels, Elkins has indeed become a tourist destination.

The Durbin and Greenbrier River RR features five different excursion trains. The New Tygart Flyer departs the depot in downtown Elkins enroute along a mountain railway through a 1500 foot canyon to the High Falls of The Cheat River, a beautiful and pristine 18 foot high waterfall that generates miles of whitewater down stream along the Cheat River. A buffet lunch is included in the price of a ticket and you can also purchase an advanced reservation for seating in the parlor car of a 1920's style Pullman Palace Car.

If you are looking for a little bit more backcountry, try the Castaway Caboose, 2 Wabash RR cabooses that have been remodeled as comfortable suites accomodating up to six people for overnight stay in a remote location along a rushing mountain stream. Your caboose will piggyback on to the steam powered Durbin Rocket until you reach your remote destination, then you will be dropped off for pick up by the same train on the next day. We are talking real remote highland back-country, no cell phone service available, the firewood for your campfire is included in the deal, sounds dreamy, doesn't it.

The D&GV RR also offers a special train ride that caters to those who enjoy the finer things in life, like gourmet food. The Mountain Explorer Dinner Train departs from the Elkins Depot several times each season providing a return to the great dining car era of days gone by. During your scenic ride enjoy a four-course gourmet meal, prepared enroute. The recipes for the menu items come from the golden era of rail travel when fine dining and train transportation were a way of life for the privileged class of travelers.

In addition, throughout the season there are many special events including murder/mystery trips and for the holiday season, the Polar Express leaves the Elkins Depot traveling to the North Pole with a train full of children in pajamas.

If the adventure of scenic train rides isn't enough to entice you into a mountain getaway, how about not one, but two "Branson-Style" theatres with top flight variety entertainment. The American Mountain Theatre, a 13,000 square foot state of the art auditorium with seating for 527 guests opened it's doors in July 2007 and since that time the AMT has developed a reputation for providing top quality family style entertainment with shows from April to December featuring country, pop, and bluegrass music infused with lots of comedy and impersonations. This past year the theatre has attracted over 500 tour bus groups with current year sales figures already indicating a record year.

As of this month, Elkins is now home to yet a second Branson Style auditorium, The Gandy Dancer Theatre and Conference Center recently opened in a brand new 11,000 square foot building with seating for over 400. The Gandy Dancer will offer dinner theatre and present entertainment on par with what you would find in Pigeon Forge, Branson or Myrtle Beach.

The mountains, forests and streams surrounding Elkins, West Virginia have always been popular destinations for outdoor enthusiasts. From the snow ski resorts in the winter to hiking, mountain biking, camping and fishing in the summer months, but now there are entertainment options for those looking for lower impact adventures. Overnight accomodations range from the convenience of at least two national hotel/motel chain franchises to mountain-side cabins and lodges. One of my favorites, The Cheat River Lodge offers several options including some great riverside cabins with hot tubs and decks overlooking the beautiful Cheat River.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Summertime Goodness

My Saturday morning jaunts around the Summerville Farmers Market usually include some time spent at the Gruber Farms produce stand. While all of the vendors at the market offer quality produce and goods, the folks at the Gruber Farms tent just seem to have that something special in their presentation and style. I have friends who participate in the Gruber Farms CSA and they also boast about the quality of their weekly bounty as well. This past Saturday morning I "picked" some fresh eggplant from the market with the intention of making one of my two favorite eggplant dishes, either eggplant parm or stuffed eggplant, a dish that I am still trying to perfect, just can't seem to duplicate the recipe used by my childhood neighborhood italian cuisine chef of choice, Frank Perry.

Yesterday afternoon before Michelle and I headed off to the neighborhood pool to soak up some sun and deal with the record high temps yesterday (the mercury hit 100 in downtown Charleston but the water was perfect), I prepped a new dish that I found in Charleston Receipts Repeats. If you don't own this cookbook, and if you are a fan of sophisticated southern cuisine, do yourself a favor and buy it online, NOW.
I actually found this recipe by accident as I checked the index for eggplant parm. I didn't find an eggplant parm recipe in "Receipts" but I did find find five new eggplant recipes including a version for stuffed eggplant that I will undoubtedly experiment with in the near future and a recipe for Meatless Moussaka (Baked Eggplant) that I just couldn't pass up, mainly because I noticed the recipe was credited to Mrs. J. Michael Grayson, the wife of my cardiologist. A quick scan of the ingredients list and I knew any recipe for eggplant that included fresh basil, parsley, and mint combined with oregano, garlic and cinnamon had to be good. And, so I was off, out of the starting blocks to the kitchen herb garden to trim some herbs, then to the cutting board to chop the newly snipped greenery.

If you try real hard, you will imagine the way our kitchen smelled after cooking chopped onions and garlic in olive oil and then adding tomatoe sauce along with the herbs and cinnamon to make the ragu for the dish. The bi-line in Receipts for this recipe states, "worth the time and effort" and I say, "you bet it is." When prep was complete and we headed out to the pool I think Michelle and I were both looking forward to getting our afternoon at the pool out of the way in order to bring on supper. The Moussaka combined with some Italian bread and olive oil dipping sauce and a heart of romaine salad with balsamic vinegarette was a big hit.

Don't be intimidated by the seeming complexity of this recipe, while the prep does take about an hour, it really isn't that hard and you will be thankful that you took the time, once you taste the first bite. Let me know what you think, buy the cookbook, but first, here is the recipe.

Meatless Moussaka (Baked Eggplant)
Charleston Receipts Repeats

2 medium eggplant (sliced 1/2 inch) 4 tbsp fresh parsley
4 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp fresh mint chopped
2 medium onions, chopped 1 tsp sugar
1 clove garlic, minced 1/2 tsp oregano
1 cup tomatoe sauce 1/2 tsp basil, chopped
1 cup water 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt vegetable oil
1/8 tsp black pepper 1 cup grated romano
Filling Ingredients
1&1/2 cups cottage cheese 1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, slightly beat

*Slice eggplant, soak in a pot of salt water for 30 minutes
*Heat olive oil in skillet and saute' onion until transparent
*Add garlic to onion and saute' for additional 3 minutes
*Add tomatoe sauce, water, salt, pepper, parsley, mint, sugar, oregano, basil and cinnamon
*Simmer, covered for 30 minutes
*Drain eggplant and squeeze slices with paper towel to drain and absorb excess moisture

*Brush eggplant with vegetable oil and broil 4 minutes on each side (4 inches from the heat)
*Mix the cottage cheese, egg and salt for the filling
*Grease a 13 x 9 casserole
*Spread 1/2 the tomatoe sauce over the bottom of the casserole
*Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of grated romano
*Arrange half of the broiled eggplant on top of the sauce, overlapping slices
*Spread the cheese filling over top
*Place remaining eggplant slices on top of cheese filling
*Cover with remaining tomatoe sauce
*Sprinkle with 1/2 cup romano
*Bake at 375 for 30 minutes
*Remove from oven and let it stand for 15 minutes to firm before cutting into squares and serving

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Septermber 11, 2001 was a day that will forever bring a stern and sober feeling to the hearts and minds of Americans. At the risk of drawing undue attention to that dark day of American and World History, I reflect on the tumult of the day, the uncertainty, the utter confusion of not knowing and not grasping what was happening and why, and the apprehension of what might be coming next. As we all recall, at least in the part of the world where I was, the day began as a beautiful, bright and sunny Tuesday morning. While most of us were falling into our normal daily routine the events were unfolding that would change our lives forever.

Meanwhile in Charleston, South Carolina a group of excited individuals were excitedly preparing to open there new venture for the first time, The East Bay Deli was set to open it's doors on East Bay Street in downtown Charleston close to the tourist rich Aquarium Wharf. What they didn't know is how much angst and uncertainty the days events in New York and Washington DC would add to the nervous excitement of opening a new business.

Fast forward to June, 2011. Five New York Style dellicatesans are now operated by the East Bay Deli people, and thanks to one of the best breakfast burritos in the world, East Bay Deli has become one of my favorite breakfast spots. The interesting thing is, every time that I pull into an EBD parking lot during breakfast time, they never seem to be crowded, at least by East Bay Deli lunch and dinner standards. And that surprises me, GREATLY. A jumbo sized burrito stuffed with egg and ham or sausage with just the right amount of sauteed vegetables, paired with a fruit cup provides satisfying fare to fuel up for a day at the beach or on the golf course, or doing yard work, household chores, etc. etc. etc.

I have read many favorable reviews and blogs about East Bay Deli, deliciously describing their wraps, sandwiches and burgers. One of my favorite bloggers, Lisa over at Charleston Treasures did a wonderfully complete blog on East Bay Deli's lunch time menu. I encourage you to click the link on Charleston Treasures above, you can almost taste the mouth watering deli cuisine. I haven't, however, read any reviews of the East Bay Deli breakfast menu, so I'm figuring it's time to introduce y'all to the little known treasure I have discovered.

For starters, all of the East Bay Deli's locations provide spacious and comfortable areas to dine. As I mentioned before, the breakfast hours seem to be very laid back and casual at the restaraunt, very conducive to catching up on the news of the day while enjoying a great breakfast. Whether you are in the mood for a light breakfast or a hearty daybreaking feast, East Bay Deli fills your belly (for those of you out of the local broadcasting area you can enjoy the jingle by clicking on the link to the home page for EBD). An appropriate "lighter" side breakfast might include an english muffin or bagel with a fruit cup side dish, but if you have the appetite of a shrimp boat captain, try the pancakes along with a side of your favorite breakfast meat (bacon, sausage or ham) complimented with an order of loaded hashbrowns.

If you are an omelet fan, the Western Omelet, a three-egg version made with diced onions, green pepper, tomatoe and just the right amount of american cheese may grace your breakfast plate. In addition, the EBD Breakfast Menu also offers some Fabulous French Toast, a breakfast platter and a country ham breakfast that pairs a generous portion of sugar cured Country Ham along with eggs.

Hopefully this will provide you with another morning meal option for that lazy day breakfast or when you are hosting out of town guests. Whatever the situation, I am confident that you will be pleased with your breakfast experience at one of the Lowcountry's best lunch and dinner spots, The East Bay Deli.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Porch Sittin'

The front porch is as American as apple pie and the piazza's of the Lowcountry are no exception. The front porch is functional as well as decorative and in many homes around Charleston it has become the most frequently used room of the house. Whether a garden spot to enjoy a glass of wine with a neighbor after a day at the office or a haven for reading the morning paper and enjoying that first cup of coffee, the residents of White Gables often begin and end their days with a little front porch sittin'. Michelle and I learned about the delightful virtues of a Lowcountry front porch during our first Autumn and Winter in Summerville.

No blog dedicated to the peerless institution of Lowcountry Living would be consummate without a section devoted to the front porch, the symbol of leisure and easy livin' in the South. The spot where young love is born, mature love is embellished and cool drinks amongst friends sets the tone for whiling away the evening hours of a hot Summer night.

For my innaugaral blog on the front porches of the Lowcountry I have chosen my neighborhood, White Gables, located in Summerville, South Carolina. White Gables is a new neighborhood designed and built with traditional concepts and colorful Charleston style row houses with Victorian elements, large front porches and immaculately landscaped common areas reminescent of "the great neighborhoods of the past."

On any given evening in White Gables you can stroll along the sidewalks or ride your beach cruiser bicycle on the streets and observe couples and families enjoying a cold drink or visiting with neighbors on the front porches in the warm glow of a table lamp, a White Gables staple. Or if morning strolls are your preference you just might notice that front porches and upstairs piazza's are very popular spots for morning coffee and the daily newspaper. Many nights as I walk down the street to my car and head to work, I will hear quiet greetings from the front porches on my street, "have a nice night at work."

Southern hospitality abounds in White Gables. The impeccably landscaped lawns complete with lawn benches and sculptures beckon you onto the cool oasis of the front piazza of a Charleston Style home.

Enjoying a large part of your life outdoors is a major attribute of life in the Lowcountry. It was fun for me while researching this blog post to see how many of my neighbors have infused their preferences and personalities into the design and decor of their outdoor living spaces. Some of the retreats were cozy and made you just want to sit down in a comfy chair and loose yourself in your favorite book while other areas are more suited for entertaining and socializing. Overall, I have to admit, my neighbors have impeccable taste.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Taco Boy and Folly Beach Go Together Like Guacamole and Tortilla Chips

While hanging for the day at Folly Beach it's always nice to take a little break from the sun, sand and waves and enjoy a little lunch and a cold beverage. Taco Boy, an authentic taqueria/cantina on Center Street in Folly Beach is just the place. The motto of the dive is "skip Siesta, let's Fiesta," and I like to do just that when I am at Folly. All of the decor within the restaraunt is authentic mexican and fun creating a laid back dining and drinking atmosphere that just feels like "the edge of America." It's easy to hang out for one more round inside of Taco Boy at Folly, even though blue skies and beautiful surf await your return to an oceanside perch.


Taco Boy just doesn't look good, they serve good food and they spare no expense on quality hot pepper sauces at the table either. On the afternoon that I stopped by I enjoyed the Carne Asada Taco, a taco made with grilled flank steak, green chille sauce and salsa cruda paired with a side order of Cowboy beans, a spicy combination of beans, tomatoe sauce, onions, bacon and brown sugar. The dish was just perfect paired with a cold beer, and just the right amount of food for a light lunch at the beach. The choice wasn't an easy one though, some of the other dishes that caught my eyes was the Tuna Taco made with seared Ahi Tuna and Chipotle slaw, and the Chorizo Potatoe Taco made with spicy Mexican sausage and potatoe with green chille sauce and cilantro. Taco Boy also offers a huge Taco salad that can be prepared with chicken, beef or shrimp. The salad topped with one of the exclusive Taco Boy salad dressings finishes off a great meal choice, my favorite dressing? The lime/cilantro vinagierette.

As good as the food is at Taco Boy, the real attraction may be the drink menu. In addition to the standard margarita, custom margaritas are available to patrons of legal age. Also on the drink menu, mojitos, sangria and frozen screwdrivers. And if you are a true tequila connoiseur try a tequila flight featuring 100% Agave tequilas served with sangrita, salt and limes. Of course, if you are just in the mood for Cerveza, there are twenty plus beers avaiable.


So the next time you are at Folly Beach, leave the peanut butter and jelly with pickles at home and "have a Fiesta, not a Siesta" at Taco Boy. Taco Boy is one reason that Folly Beach just may be one of the best little beach towns on the East Coast.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Unexpected Dilemnas

It's funny how sometimes we picture or imagine things going a certain way and in the end, they turn out to be almost opposite of what we originally thought. I had one of those experiences today. Yesterday evening my youngest son told me that a friend from school had invited some friends to her house at Folly Beach to spend the day at the beach. He was interested in going but wasn't sure whether he would have a ride, since my wife is still teaching school this week and he wasn't sure what my plans were. At first I thought that there might be an opportunity to look for a carpool partner, then when that didn't look like it was going to work, I volunteered to "take one for the team" and "suck it up" and drive him to the beach and then hang out at the beach myself for the day. Yes, I felt a little tinge of guilt, knowing that I would be relaxing at the beach while my wife was wrangling first graders on the verge of their summer vacation. As the guilt subsided I was somehow able to look forward to a day on the beach, alone.

I pictured myself having a very relaxing day, not burdened with all of the preparation that usually goes along with a day trip to the beach, you know, packing coolers, lugging sand toys, frisbees, footballs and boogie boards. No wife, no kids, just me my Ipod and a good book. So off we went, after I loaded my chair and beach umbrella, sunglasses on and Ipod in tow. I dropped Noah off at his friends house up near the Washout at Folly and I headed for the area of the beach near the Folly Fishing Pier. That would provide me with a prime beach spot, close to downtown Folly Beach so I could walk up from the beach at lunchtime and grab lunch and a refreshment whenever I felt like it.

All was going well, until I parked and began to gather my "light load" to carry with me to my waterside oasis for the day. Then it hit me, I was in a bit of a predicament. How was I going to carry a chair, a beach towel, a book, sunscreen, a beach umbrella and a beach umbrella sand auger all by myself? Unless of course, I loaded most of the things into that nice, cute, beach tote that the wife uses, you know the one with the nice embroideried beach umbrella and chair. For a minute I considered it, then all I could picture would be men and teenagers snickering as I walked past them, toting my girly girl tote bag. Now I had carried that same tote down to the beach at least a hundred times and never thought anything of it, but, that was when my wife was with me and I never felt exposed as a girly girl tote toter, I was being a he-man chivalrous gentleman carrying my wifes heavy bag for her. Not to worry, I figured it out. I would just use the East Bay Deli take out bag that earlier had Noah's lunch in it before he ate the whole thing whilst I drove him to the beach.

It wasn't until I was half way down the beach that it hit me, how ridiculous this chubby forty-something old dude looked walking by himself with a bulging shopping bag that announced to the world, EAST BAY DELI TAKEOUT. In my mind, I could hear the comments, "just look at that poor man, he couldn't even come to the beach without bringing a sack full of food." Or worse yet, "no wonder that fellow is so portly, look at that grocery bag of takeout." These people have no idea that I do a daily 2.5 mile walk/run and that I'm in relatively good cardiovascular condition, for a dough boy. Finally, I made it to my appointed position along the beach seemingly with my unforseen quandary behind me.

I positioned my umbrella perfectly tilted into the sea breeze, settled into my beach chair, chose a Jimmy Buffett shuffle on the Ipod and opened my book and began to read. All was going well until I took a break from reading and began gazing down the beach, fixating on the waves as they gently rolled upon to the shore. Then it occurred to me, no it hit me like a ton of bricks. Every women that was walking up the beach was detouring around my little piece of paradise. No kidding, they were avoiding walking between me and the ocean. They were walking out of their way to avoid what they obviously presumed was the dirty old man sitting alone at the beach behind mirrored sunglasses. Are you kidding me? Really? No. Yes, it was happening, and it was blatantly obvious as I watched one after another, shift course to avoid coming near me. I uncomfortably changed the direction of my gaze, then realizing, "Great, dummy, now they do think you were staring at them and when they caught you then you quickly looked away." Finally, I just gave in, picked up my book and immersed myself into C.S. Lewis once again. And I read, and I read, and I read some more. Needless to say, the relaxing day by myself at the beach, with no kids constantly wanting me to get in the ocean and ride the waves. And the carefree day of not having to worry about my wife being comfortable or properly shaded by the umbrella or thirsty or hungry was turning into a very stress filled excursion. Jeesh, where are my wife and sons when I need them? Who's idea was this anyway? What time is it? How much longer do I have to waste time before it is time to go and pick him up? And, the real kicker, just then I realized I hadn't put any sunscreen on my back, and of course I can't reach my back to put sunscreen on now, what am I gonna do? "Pardon me Miss, would you mind..."