Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Barker's Newsbites: Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I know... I know... I'm a broken record when it comes to bitch'n & moan'n about today's crap music compared to the stuff my generation was raised on.

Tough!

(*GRIN*)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sarah Palin's "Going Rogue" Left Me Cold


I have always been a Palin supporter, a Palin booster. But I've gotta tell ya... after reading her book - her own story - I'm shaken.

Do I admire Governor Palin? Yes. I still do. But what "Going Rogue" makes perfectly clear is that "VP Candidate Palin" was not the Sarah Palin I thought I was supporting at the time.

The "pre-McCain" Sarah Palin was someone I could - and did... and still do - look up to as a sincere, caring, compassionate, resourceful, usually right on the issues, forthright, brave, hard working, qualified candidate for federal executive office.

Unfortunately...

The "VP Candidate Palin" who put up with shit from the likes of Steve Schmidt isn't anyone I'd want within a hair's breath of the presidency. Heck... "VP Candidate Palin" was no one I'd want sitting on the Wasilla, AK. city council - or sitting on my local PTA board for that matter!

Those of you familiar with my views know of my deep abiding disgust for Senator John McCain. But that aside, I can't knock Palin for accepting a place on his ticket. After all, for good or ill (and believe me... it was for ill!) John McCain was the GOP presidential candidate in 2008.

Hell... I can even understand the loyalty Sarah Palin still feels towards the man.

Here's where Palin lost me, however:

Page 321 of Going Rogue --

"...life is too short to hold a grudge. If I ever see Schmidt again, maybe I'll bring him a pretty white Peace Lily."

You've gotta be shitting me..!!!

I know... I know... I try to keep my blog postings free of cursing and vulgarity, but I've gotta be honest... reading the chapters in "Going Rogue" detailing Sarah Palin's treatment by the McCain campaign left me fairly trembling with rage.

Oh, sure... I'm disgusted by McCain's part in this; after all, Schmidt was McCain's boy and thus ultimately McCain was responsible. Still... McCain is who he is. He's a backstabber. He's a vain, self-righteous, shallow, stubborn, mercurial phony, a selfish and self-serving old man desperate for power and willing to do anything in the pursuit of it.

The thing is... I'm just as disgusted with Sarah Palin for allowing herself to be "managed" and frankly abused by McCain's staff.

A leader... someone worthy of his or her Party's nomination for the Vice Presidency of the United States acknowledges one superior in the campaign hierarchy - and that's the Presidential Candidate!

To read "Going Rogue" and realize that Sarah Palin - at the time Governor of Alaska as well as the "Number Two" on the GOP Presidential Ticket - allowed Steve Schmidt and his creatures to "manage" her, to control her, to "forbid" her this and "allow" her that... it just makes me sick to my stomach - physically ill.

To those of you who haven't read "Going Rogue," I strongly urge you to read it. This applies especially to those of you so ignorant as to rely upon SNL skits and the rest of the mainstream media news and entertainment liberal establishment for "thinking points."

In many ways - in most ways - Sarah Palin was and is everything her proponents (including yours truly!) portray her as.

Qualified to the Presidency? Allow me to answer that question this way: She was and is more qualified to be President of the United States than John McCain was or Barak Obama is.

But... and this is key...

The "She" I'm referring to is the "real" Sarah Palin, not the woman who ran as John McCain's running mate.

The "She" I'm referring to is Sarah Palin, former Governor of Alaska, the woman who took on and beat the corrupt GOP establishment of her state and who as Chief Executive of Alaska governed - quite effectively - as a true conservative.

Would I vote for Sarah Palin should she seek and win the GOP nomination in 2012? Sure! Absolutely! Does this mean that I'm a "decided" voter in terms of the 2012 GOP primaries? No. Of course not. It's 2010... there's a long way to go.

The bottom line is that Sarah Palin possesses far more strengths than weaknesses - more pluses than negatives.

Again... to those of you who haven't read "Going Rogue," I respectfully suggest you do so.

Barker's Newsbites: Friday, June 25, 2010


I just hate the Age of Obama...

(*SIGH*)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Barker's Newsbites: Thursday, June 24, 2010


Wow...

Isner over Mahut - 70-68.

Unbelievable...

Say what you will about the frigg'n French... but Mahut did his country proud!

As to the Big Man... congrats on a job well done.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Friday, June 18, 2010

Barker's Newsbites: Friday, June 18, 2010


Seems appropriate...

A Good Man Passed On Yesterday


Two of my closest friends - Phil and Rob (who are brothers) - lost their dad yesterday afternoon.

He was a good man.

The obituary hasn't been posted yet, but when it is I'll post it here.

In the meantime, just a few words:

Phil Leiter was an American. I mean he was an "old school" American. Tough. Opinionated. Fair. Generous. Phil was a no bullshit kinda guy.

He worked. That's what Americans of his generation did.

He built a business, supported his family, did what he had to do, and the result can be seen in how his "kids" - Phil, Rob, Susan, and Linda - turned out.

They all turned out ok. Better than ok in fact.

Their mom - Fran - will now persevere without her husband. She's tough - as tough as Phil was. She'll be ok. Phil was the patriarch. Fran is the matriarch.

Phil always reminded me of my own dad - who passed in '89.

Like my own dad, Phil was of that generation of men who carried cash in their wallets and who prided themselves in being "givers," not "takers." Phil was the kind of guy who picked up the tab at a restaurant and if you knew what was good for you... you didn't argue.

That was my dad too. To men of that generation it didn't matter if you were flush or not. You were always "in character" and by that I don't mean it was "an act." Nope. It was the real deal. It's a thing called pride. If in reality money was tight in a particular week or month, you still outwardly made sure no one else knew and if that meant picking up a impromptu dinner tab and then making up for it by going without your own lunches for a week - or a month - so be it.

Phil played handball, racquetball, and paddleball. I do too. He was a big guy, physically imposing with a voice and manner to match. Gruff? To some. Me...??? I always looked upon him not as "gruff," but as "no nonsense." As his daughter Susan put it so well a couple days ago, her father was an iconic figure to the younger members of their extended family.

Well, Susan... he was an iconic figure to me as well.

Anyway... when the obituary is published I'll post it here, on this thread. I'll leave it to the family to describe a man I was privileged to know for, oh... near on 29 years now.

In the meantime, I just felt the need to post this our of respect, and yes, love.

Rest in Peace, Phil.

* Obituary

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Barker's Newsbites: Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Ya know... a live performance may not always have the polish of a studio recording, but it'll tell you who's real and who's just the visual vehicle for computer generated, auto-tuned bull$hit.

Contrast live and intimate to live stadium...

Now... the
studio version.

(*WINK*)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I Love the WSJ, But Sometimes I Feel Like I'm Reading the Mad Hatter's Blog...


Orwellian...?

Obamian...??

Bushian...???

Take your pick, folks... but when I read "reporting" such as the following I simply scratch my head and wonder if I'm nuts or is it the "establishment" that is mistaking down for up... bad for good...

OK. First of all... the heading: Oil's Climb Helps the Dow

Hmm... ok... let's assume that rising oil prices are part of the explanation for today's (so far!) rising Dow.

Let me ask you... are rising oil prices good for you...???

Here's the opening sentence: Energy stocks helped lead the broad market higher as crude-oil futures climbed above $76 a barrel.

Folks... am I the only one reading that line wishing that instead I was reading... crude-oil futures fell below $66 a barrel... or perhaps $56 or even $46 a barrel...???

Hey... raise your hand if you're hoping and praying that before the year is out crude-oil futures are at $176 a barrel and climbing and that filling up your car (we'll leave heating your home out of it for now) costs you $5... $6... $7 a gallon... or more?!

(*SNORT*)

I don't know... if my reasoning too "divisive" for you... too "pro Main Street," "anti-Wall Street?"

Not being a stock broker or "major player" in "the markets" I tend to look just a bit askance at those who report my personal economic pain (and that of every American who uses energy... meaning... er... every American) in a tone that invites me to cheer my own approaching pain at the pump and elsewhere!

(*HEADACHE*)

So... OPEC and other oil producers - many not exactly "buddies" of our country - are set to see their income and profits rise while my standard of living declines as my wallet empties faster...

This is good news...???

OK... reading on...

Helping commodity prices, the dollar slipped against the euro after the European...

Again... HUH...?!?!

By "helping" the author means "increasing." So let me get this straight... rising prices - the prices we pay for the products we need - are... er... a good thing...??? A lower dollar - which ultimately depresses our standard of living by making the good we import more expensive - is a good thing...???


OK... reading on...

Investors said President Barack Obama's Oval Office address, scheduled for Tuesday evening, could help boost parts of the energy sector.

Again, folks... not to be a wet blanket... but you are aware, I hope, that by "boost" these "investors" mean simply that with any "luck" you and I will soon be paying more for our basic energy needs - paying more while our incomes are staying mostly flat and in many cases declining.

Call me "unsophisticated"... but I don't see the "good" in this from my perspective... or yours...

(*SHRUG*)

Anyway... just throwing it out there, folks!

Barker's Newsbites: Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Unfortunately... the Age of Obama continues.

Why Has Bob Etheridge Not Been Arrested...???


You folks have seen the video, right...???

This nutcase - Bob Etheridge (D-NC), a Member of Congress for God's sake - actually laid hands upon someone, it was caught on camera, tens of millions of people have seen the video... and no arrest...???

There's something up with this. Exhibit A: Bill O'Reilly totally ignored the "incident" on his show last night.

Now, com'on... imagine instead of Big Bob Etheridge manhandling a young guy in a suit who had dared to "ambush" him on a public street with a camera and a question it had been Big Bill O'Reilly caught on video...?!?!

Seriously...!!!

Suppose instead of Big Bob Etheridge it had been... oh... Trent Lott or Jim DeMint or perhaps former congressman Tom Tancredo or former congressman J.D. Hayworth...

(*SHRUG*)

I mean, jeez... create your own scenario; it ain't hard to come up with one where you know damn well an "incident" would have quickly escalated into arrest and 24 hour wall to wall media focus.

No, folks... something's off here. Something's not right.

Not only
did this Congressman try to grab the young man's camera...

Not only did this Congressman grab the young man by the wrist and for a time refuse to let go...

This hulking clown towards the end of the video reaches out and grabs the kid by the neck!

Seriously... no arrest...???
You've gotta be frigg'n kidding me!

Last question: What would have happened if the young man with the camera had defended himself?

I mean... I doubt that Ol' Bob would have tried to grab a camera out of my hand, let alone grab my wrist or reach for my neck... (*SNORT*)... but if he had...

See what I'm saying here...???

Something isn't right here, folks; strange things are happening in the Age of Obama.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Barker's Newsbites: Monday, June 14, 2010


Obama's "Plan B" on... well... everything...

Hey... seriously, guys... those of you in your late 40's, early 50's... remember riding in the car with your dad driving and this song playing on the radio? I do! A great song for traveling in an old 60's or early 70's Caddy, Lincoln, Buick... those big old American cars...

I miss America...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Weekend Newsbites: Sat. & Sun., June 12 & 13, 2010


Oh, well... guess you can't find everything on YouTube, but what the heck - that's life...

Originally I was looking for one of my favorite songs - "I'll Be Seeing You" - the swinging version Frank sings on "I Remember Tommy."

(*SHRUG*)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Barker's Newsbites: Thursday, June 10, 2010


It's true!

I did "have me a Chrysler" and it was "as big as a whale!"

Ah, man... my (dad's) '73 Chrysler Town and Country Wagon with the 440 engine with the little chrome air filter housing...

(*HAPPY SIGH*)

Ah... memories...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Barker's Newsbites: Monday, June 7, 2010


Well folks... hate to do it - but it's gotta be done; back to the old "newsbites" grindstone!

(I glanced over a newspaper exactly once during our vacation; no talk radio or TV talking heads either - just country music...!)

Well... I'm back now... and
this ain't no country music!

...or maybe it is... in the greater sense that is...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Back from South Carolina!


Well, gang... as always... it was a hell of a trip!

The flights were great; both left early and arrived early! We flew Spirit Airlines out of LGA into MYR for $37 each way per person plus taxes and fees - $213.80 total for two people to fly roundtrip!

(The fact that $65.80 of that was taxes and fees... well... you tell me with a straight face that government is not out of control...)

Our full-size Enterprise rental car cost us just under $200... and again... something like $60 of that was taxes and fees...

(People... think about that... think about the percentage of taxation that is... does it sound like anything even close to reasonable to you...??? At what point is excessive taxation an unconstitutional impediment to travel...???)

Anyway... early Sunday afternoon arrival... we hit the road and our first stop... Hog Heaven, formerly Yum's Barbeque. Nice down-home barbeque; nothing fancy, but one hell of a buffet for $6.99 per person plus sweet iced tea for another buck and a half or so. We're talking the real deal; nice little high school girl waitress who told us with an authentic drawl that her momma hailed from New York... up by Lake George!

(Hey... speaking of the drawl... the young lady at the rental car counter at MYR had a drawl that could melt butter; I actually asked her to talk some more because the sound of her voice just put a grin on my face!)

Anyway... back in rental car we continued south on Rt. 17 headed for Charleston. In Georgetown we discovered that gas could be had for $2.45/gal. We also discovered that it's pretty easy to mistake "17 South" for Route 17 "alternate" South/Charleston - which we inadvertently "detoured" upon.

(Actually, as it turned out... no biggie; it may have added a half hour to our trip, but we got to see more of "the country" and we also experienced the drive through Congaree Swamp.)

Anyway... we made it to North Charleston easily enough and checked into our hotel, the Hyatt Place.

Now as friends and relatives reading this know, I'm a bit of a lodging snob. I'm partial to Grand Dame hotels, upscale B&B's and historical inns. Yet... bang for the buck is a key consideration. Bottom line... we got a mini-suite at the Hyatt with a 42-inch flat screen TV and complimentary continental breakfast each morning for $76/night! (Plus, the location was right between Charleston proper and Pat's place in West Ashley!)

So... we check in... unpack... I take a "rainfall" shower... and then off to the pool. (One downside to the hotel - there was only an indoor pool, no outdoor pool; oh, well... it was a nice enough indoor pool and for $76 a night...)

(*CHUCKLE*)

Anyway, rather than get too bogged down in detail, let's skip right to dinner!

Our first night in Charleston we took Pat and the boys out to the Mellow Mushroom.

Check out the menu! A perfect place to take three teenagers and brother-in-law who's not a huge foie gras kinda guy! Right in the middle of town... restaurant on street level, bar upstairs, even a bit of rooftop action! Best of all - from my perspective - a damn fine beer selection, both bottled and draught!

We had a bunch of stuff at Mellow Mushroom, including pizzaa, a calzone, and subs. A good time was had by all!

After dinner we strolled around town for awhile just to get our bearings. We had considered hitting Kaminsky's Most Excellent Cafe for dessert... but after all the beer and food... I was done for the evening and Mary and Pat were stuffed as well. The boys of course could have ate more... but we decided "give the adults a break" and so back to the hotel we went while Pat and the boys headed home.

Come Monday morning Mary and I were up, showered, and down to breakfast by 8:30 a.m. followed by an hour at the pool.

We were on the road by 10:30 a.m. or so and our first stop was to pick up the boys at their place. With the boys in tow we drove out to Kiawah Island to check out the area. While there we stopped at the King Street Grill for a few beers and lunch for the boys.

(Jeezus those frigg'n kids can eat...) (*CHUCKLE*)

Leaving Kiawah (St. John's) we stopped by Rosebank Farms (which is a must stop - especially if you have small kids!) and then off we went in search of The Firefly Distillery and the Charleston Tea Plantation. We found both (they're actually pretty much right next to each other) but to my great disappointment the Distillery was closed for the Memorial Day holiday.

Heading back to the hotel for our late afternoon swim break we made one more stop prior to dropping the boys off; we dropped in for a "snack" at Fiery Ron's Home Team BBQ. I've gotta say... outstanding brisket! Fun looking bar too - they host live music!

Well... after dropping the boys off and heading back to the hotel we hit the pool for awhile and then drove into town, parked, and started exploring. We checked out a couple of the city hotels which had been on my list of possibilities... The Mills House Hotel... The King Charles Inn... while waiting for the boys to drive in and meet us.

Charleston's a nice little city to walk around. When the boys arrived we all walked down to the water and strolled the harbor, ending up on the pier. From there - armed with a thirst that needed quenching - we hit The Griffon. A fine, fine pub... let me tell ya! Friendly, knowledgeable bartender along with equally friendly and knowledgeable fellow customers at the bar! (We met two guys there who clued us in to Hominy Grill - more on that later!)

After a few beers and some good conversation it was time for us to part company with our nephews so that they could get home and we could get dinner!

Dinner Monday night... Fulton Five.

Excellent...! Service... atmosphere... food... Fulton Five gets the Barker Seal of Approval.

By the time we finished up, it was after 10:30 p.m. on Memorial Day evening. After a fine meal the thought of our comfy bed and 42-inch flat screen appealed to both of us more so than "hitting the bars." So... back to the Hyatt we went.

Next morning... Tuesday... same morning routine and then off to Highway 61 for a plantation tour!

Only... it was thunderstorm weather. (*SHRUG*) So... Plan B.

We were already halfway to historic Summerville, S.C., so we decided we'd continue driving and explore the scenic little Town. I'm sure glad we did because besides the town itself, there's Azalea Park, the Summerville-Dorchester Museum, and last but not least, the beautiful homes and gardens you'll see just driving and walking around the neighborhood.

Oh... and finally... there's Perfectly Frank's. No website. Just a hole in the wall hot dog joint, but boy, oh, boy... what great hot dogs! Something like 26 different combination dogs! Fine onion rings... excellent sweet tea!

Back to the hotel for a mid-afternoon swim and before we knew it... it was happy hour!

Oh... com'on... you guys know how I love a good happy hour!

A quick shower and off we went into town to check out Carolina's. Fine, fine cocktails... (*WINK*)

As for Tuesday night... it was off to the ballgame - minor league baseball featuring the Charleston Riverdogs playing at home at "The Joe."

Mary is a baseball fanatic and the Riverdogs are a NY Yankees farm team. Mary was in heaven! And me... well... with two dollar mystery beers (I even scored a PBR on one trip to the cooler!) I was a man content...

(*WINK*)

After the game we headed out to Art's Bar and Grill in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., where nephews Sean and Dom did a bit of jamming with their friend, mentor - and most recently producer - fellow artist Danielle Howle.

A few beers... a few wings... great live music... a nice way to finish off the night.

Next morning... Wednesday... I'm in the mood for a bloody mary - or two... or three...

Start the morning with breakfast, followed by a swim, shower and shave. Then... off to Shem Creek!

Specifically... off to Red's for bit of "that non-frozen concoction that helps me hold on."

Let me tell you, folks... Red's is a happy place - even at eleven-something a.m.!

As Mary and I sat down with our drinks... (ok... with my drink...) (ok... ok... ultimately with my drinks - plural) dolphins were literally frolicking just yards away off the pier. And while we had driven to Red's and parked in the lot, others had sailed on in - tying their boats right alongside the bar!

I've gotta say... Red's was one of my favorite stops on the trip.

Across the harbor from Red's there's another well-known drinking and dining establishment, Vickery's, which we checked out. We had a couple beers and some appetizers there, but to tell you the truth, I wouldn't go back. It wasn't that they were "bad;" it's just that if the choice is between Red's of Shem Creek and Vickery's of Shem Creek... well... then there is no choice - Red's wins hands down. (Red's is authentic; Vickery's plays at being authentic.)

Oh... by the way... on the "Vickery's side" of the harbor there's The Shem Creek Inn. I tell ya... good location (in Mt. Pleasant) and a real friendly place based upon our quick walk-around. Plus... attractive, nice-sized outdoor pool overlooking the waterfront.

Pat had Wednesday (and Thursday) off so he and Sean and Brendan met us over by Shem Creek after we had finished up at Vickery's and we all jumped into Pat's SUV and headed to the beach - and a tour of the "big money" beach homes on the Isle of Palms.

After the appropriate "oohing and aahing" at the "beach cottages" and getting our feet wet in the ocean surf it was time for... er... happy hour.

I'm a bad influence on Pat...

We stopped for afternoon cocktails at the Morgan Creek Grill. Nice place. Friendly bartender. Great views. Fine drinks!

Dom had been working, but he got out early so as to meet us there.

From happy hour on the Isle of Palms we drove out to Awendaw Green - aka: "The Barn Jam." (Aka: "Free Music Under The Stars.")

The boys play their frequently - sometimes as a band, often individually - just jamming with other artists; and when they're not playing, they're there to enjoy the music of others and the "down home, come as you are, sit and relax a spell" vibe. I tell ya... we just loved it! A cooler of beer... a congenial atmosphere... a beautiful setting... if you're ever in the area you've gotta check it out - a free show is held every Wednesday!

One other thing about Awendaw South Carolina... it's home to the See Wee Restaurant!

Hot-diggity-damn, folks... if you're ever within 50 miles of Awendaw you've gotta detour to See Wee! (Yep... it's that frigg'n good!)

Hey... do you like shrimp...? Do you like "spicy?" Do you like bleu cheese...??? If so... order the "Black & Bleu Shrimp." (If you don't see it as a special, just ask real nicely if the chef could see his way to cooking you up a batch...!)

Anyway... after a great day and night it was time to head back. Unfortunately, we had one detour to make. (*SNORT*) Dom had left the barn jam early because he had work the next morning... and... right as the rest of us were packing up to head home Dom called to tell his dad that he was stuck on the highway about a mile from home with a flat tire. (*CHUCKLE*)

Kids, huh... (*SHAKING MY HEAD IN AMUSEMENT*)

Well, the kid was having trouble changing his own tire so his dad - accompanied by us - had to "come to the rescue." No biggie. Pat had a better jack in his SUV. It took us 10 minutes to change the kid's tire for him with me busting Dom's chops the whole time. (*WINK*)

Afterwards... back to the hotel and in bed by 1:00 a.m.

Thursday morning... slept in a bit. No trip to the buffet because Thursday was to be our "Hominy Grill" breakfast day!

We had been clued in to the Hominy Grill by the guys we had met at the Griffon on Monday evening. They - and the bartender - told us that it was a "must stop" on the "foodie trail" - particularly for us yankees! And man... they were right!

I had me (*GRIN*) one of them thar (*CHUCKLE*) "Big Nasty Biscuits" that towers above the plate and is lovingly stuffed with
fried chicken breast, cheddar cheese and topped with sausage gravy - plus a side of homemade sausage of course! (Oh... and some homemade toasted sunflower seed bread with butter and homemade jam...) (*WINK*)

Yum... yum... yum... your truly just LOVES the South!

Mary had country fried steak.

Hominy Grill is a bit off the beaten track, but well worth the trip through residential Charleston to get there for a meal.

Next stop... off to the Beachwalker County Park on Kiawah Island.

A damn fine little beach; fairly secluded, uncrowded, a great place for the toddler crowd... the senior crowd... and everyone aged in between who just wants a pleasant day at the beach.

After the laid back Kiawah experience we headed back towards Charleston for a different beach experience - Folly Beach.

When I write "different" I don't mean better or worse
. Nope. I simply mean that Folly beach is larger, more crowed, more developed... it's a destination in itself aside from simply taking a dip or taking a nap or reading a book was the waves lap across the sands. Folly Beach is more like the Jersey Shore or Myrtle Beach or the more popular Florida beaches.

We met Pat, Sean and Brendan at Folly Beach. We swam for about an hour... hung for a bit longer than that... and after getting our fill of the sun and the surf we headed over to Rita's for a couple beers and... once again... some food for those bottomless pits known as "Uncle Bill's Nephews."

(*CHUCKLE*) (*GRIN*)

After Folly Beach and Rita's it was time for us to part ways with Bro-in-law Pat and the nephews. For on Thursday night... Mary and I had reservations at Robert's of Charleston!

As you read this, folks, Robert's is no more; Robert retired yesterday - June 12, 2010 - and the world is poorer for it...

Robert's is - was - a classic "Bill's kinda place."

Excellent food... truly outstanding service... and of course at center stage the founder, chef, host, and star of Robert's... Robert Dickson.

Let me tell you folks something: Prior to our trip I had thrown out a request to local Charlstonians to share their local dining recommendations with me. A few folks told me that they'd never recommended Robert's but after having been there... I'm guessing these folks had never dined there.

Now it wasn't that Robert's had the best food I've ever eaten. No. The haute cuisine was certainly up to the standards one would expect, but I'm a New Yorker... I'm a foodie... such food is "my thing." (*SHRUG*)

No. What made Robert's well worth the $220 we spent there was "the package," the whole experience... not just the food and wine (which was free flowing and both the white and red were excellent choices), but the atmosphere, the service... being surrounded by fellow diners who appreciated all the evening provided just as Mary and I did.

Allow me a "shout out" to a fine southern gentleman - Steve Peper - and his lovely wife Cindy who we met a Robert's. Two of the nicest people you'd ever hope to meet while traveling. (Funny thing... small world... Cindy has a cousin who is one of the owners of See Wee!)

Turns out Steve and Cindy - who were our "neighbors" at Robert's - are regulars there and friends of Robert. At one point during dinner I had mentioned that I hoped Robert would sing "Impossible Dream" from "Man of La Mancha." Unfortunately... by the time our evening reached its conclusion Robert had sung many lovely songs, but not that one.

Well... fortunately... before Robert could escape back to the kitchen, Mr. Peper buttonholed him and asked him to do one more song - The Impossible Dream. Well... at first Robert replied that he wasn't sure if his piano accompanist had the music, but after a quick consultation Robert again stood at the top of the room - right next to our table - and belted out my request.

What can I tell ya, folks... Southern hospitality is more than simply a cliche.

After leaving Robert's it was time to take a stroll (it's hard to beat a June night in Charleston!) in search of a nightcap. We ended up at the Rooftop Bar at the Vendue Inn. A Macallan for me... a decaf coffee for Mary... and our last evening in Charleston was complete.

Friday... our last morning...

Same morning routine only with packing to do. (Well... ok... packing for Mary to do...)

(*HUGE FRIGG'N GRIN*)

(Damn it! Don't HIT me, woman...!!!)

(Now... where was I...??? Oh, yeah...)

Although our flight wasn't till 6:25 p.m. we wanted to visit a plantation so we checked out of the Hyatt Place by 10:45 a.m and after a quick stop at in West Ashley to say our final goodbyes to the boys, off we headed up Rt. 61 to the the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.

Did the plantation knock our socks off? No. Was it worth the price of admission? Yeah... in the sense that it costs a heck of a lot of money to keep historical sites such as Magnolia operating and both Mary and I definitely want to live in a world where such historical sites are kept up and open to the public.

(Next trip down to Charleston we'll check out one or more of the other area plantations: Drayton Hall, Boone Hall, and/or Middleton Place.)

After a few hours spent exploring the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens it was time for a late lunch. Well... recall my raves concerning See Wee...

(*WINK*)

As it so happens, Awendaw - and thus See Wee - are right on the way to Myrtle beach from the Charleston area. So... of course we stopped at See Wee for lunch and the fine folks there were kind enough to humor this demanding (but friendly!) Yankee by fixing me up another order of those wonderful black and bleu shrimp. (With a pitcher of Palmetto Ale to wash 'em down with, of course!)

Mary had her country fried steak...

Well... not much more to tell. It was a straight drive up Rt. 17 to the airport. We got there in plenty of time... the plane took off right on schedule and landed a bit early... Mike (my father-in-law) and Mike (one of my brothers-in-law) were at LGA to pick us up... less than an hour later we were back in Pearl River... a half hour after that we were home in Harriman.

All in all, folks... another fine, fine Barker vacation!