Traveling to South Carolina is never easy, and it often involves one very long day of travel.
In 2002, during our first trip to South Carolina, we had to fly to Atlanta to attend a wedding in Athens. We spent all day traveling, in hopes of getting to a rehearsal dinner on time, and still showed up an hour late.
In 2004 (sorry, no journal), we flew through Raleigh-Durham, NC - a non-stop flight, for once - then had to drive four hours to Myrtle Beach so that we could be there for Opa's 90th birthday celebration. Good thing it wasn't until the next day; we didn't arrive until late in the evening.
And on this trip, we weren't given any mercy.
Although we were fortunate enough to be able to get a cheap flight to Charlotte, NC - a flight that usually costs and arm and a leg - we had to travel during non-peak times (i.e. a 6:00 a.m. departure time) and had to change planes in Detroit. While it's true that these cheap flights aren't usually worth the price of your sanity, the big advantage was that we would be landing at the closest major hub to Columbia; Charlotte was only a two-hour drive away. So we just dealt with it.
When we arrived at Sky Harbor Airport, at 4:00 in the morning, we were surprised to find that it wasn't nearly as crowded as we expected it to be. The Thanksgiving holiday is typically the busiest travel holiday of the year; but apparently, traveling on the Saturday before Thanksgiving at 6:00 in the morning is just not that busy. We made it through the line at check-in - and the line at security - in record time.
Which meant, of course that we had lots of time to kill. There's nothing like sitting at an airport, with nothing to do, to emphasize just how long your day of travel was going to be.
We were in luck, though, because our flight departed on time and arrived in Detroit early. That gave us the opportunity to sit down and enjoy lunch during our two-hour layover at the Detroit airport.
The Detroit-Charlotte leg of our trip also departed on time; and around 5:00 p.m. (local time) we finally arrived at our destination. And all we could think of was how much we were looking forward to the America West/US Airways merger, when we could finally have non-stop flights to Charlotte. Soon...
By 6:00 p.m., we were finally in our rental car and on I-77, heading towards Columbia. Instead of paying for a hotel this time, though, we were finally going to be staying at the Lake House - Lotte and Richard's cabin on Lake Murray, in the town of Chapin, about twenty minutes west of Columbia on I-26. Lotte recommended that we take one of the minor state highways to Chapin, because it would be more of a direct route; but since we were just in a hurry to get there, we stuck to the interstates instead, hoping that it would be faster.
It was 8:00 p.m. when we finally arrived at the Lake House in Chapin. Exhausted and hungry, we just wanted to get the keys and enjoy a quiet evening to ourselves; instead, we had a whole welcoming party. Lotte and Richard were there, as well as Rick and Shirley, their friends who lived two houses down.
At least they had food and beer for us, as well as a fire going in the fireplace! For that reason, we let them stay for about an hour; then, we had to kick them out so that we could get some rest!
And that was just what we did. Once everyone was gone, we all crashed - hard - and slept until late the next morning.
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