On the road to South Carolina we tuned into quite a few podcasts, sang Darius Rucker (Hootie) songs and leaned all the way into Wagon Wheel, although the lyrics were as upside down to our experience as could possibly be:
Headin’ down south to the land of the pines
I’m thumbin’ my way into North Caroline
Starin’ up the road and pray to God I see headlights
I made it down the coast in seventeen hours
Pickin’ me a bouquet of dogwood flowers
And I’m a-hopin’ for Raleigh, I can see my baby tonight
So, rock me mama like a wagon wheel
Rock me mama any way you feel
Hey… mama rock me
Rock me mama like the wind and the rain
Rock me mama like a southbound train
Hey… mama rock me
We were headed north to the tippy top of South Carolina, but it sure did set the tone. Our destination was Hotel Domestique, Tucked at the base of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Wending our way through the state of South Carolina offered a glimpse into what we thought we could expect upon arrival. Taking the byways instead of the highways was a nice way to enjoy the state’s foliage. Loving antiques, it also gave us an opportunity to stop in and poke around a few local treasure troves. Friendly people, natural beauty and centuries old sites pulled us from every direction as soon as we crossed its border. We were bound for Upcountry, blew through Lowcountry as we wanted something more than Charleston this time around. We certainly got what we asked for. The Old World style of this hotel transported us upon arrival. There she was, this grand manor with her monochromatic plastered walls, in the midst of an undulating field of green. As we made it up the drive and parked in the grey gravel drive, a feeling of being transported, metaphorically this time, came over us. We could have very well pulled up to a Tuscan villa without leaving the US. This was a treat for the senses and inside did not disappoint. A slate floor, thick wooden beams bracing the ceiling, a stone-clad fireplace, and chandeliers reinforced the image of being elsewhere, but after climbing the open staircase to our room, there was no place we would have rather been. What was even better was that we only had to cross a gravel courtyard to get to dinner at Restaurant 17. The juxtaposition of the modern clean lines with a light fixture that cascaded from the second floor the the first, against the uplit plastered walls across the courtyard was stunning. This slice of South Carolina was stealing the show.
Rising with the sun, we made out moving shapes through the mist. They were cyclists. The hotel is renowned for being a mecca for world-class cycling. If that adventure is not your thing, there is also golf, fishing, and hiking that abound in every direction. The short, scenic, trip to take in the award-winning culture and cuisine of nearby Asheville and Greenville are to be added to the list as well. We did Greenville and Travelers Rest, on our way to an adrenaline inducing day on another sort of road trip at the BMW Performance Center!
That’s right, the BMW Performance Center for what they call a Track Meet.
The event included a gourmet lunch, 3 driving events and a cocktail reception. I am pretty sure that was the order. However, after ripping around the courses, driving at speeds not legally allowed on public roads, I could have reordered the agenda and put lunch after the track meet. What a rush this day was. The BMW plant in South Carolina actually produces about 80% of the cars we see today. The uber cool thing about this driving experience is not only the rush of adrenaline you feel while doing it and the heightened confidence you feel after, but the fun fact that if you buy a BMW from anywhere in the US, from any dealer, you can choose to pick it up right here in South Carolina and enjoy a day of tearing up their performance vehicles on the tracks before taking your new baby on the roads and treating her like the dainty flower that she is, because…laws. At least we got it out of our system! This was a climactic end to our road trip.
*This experience is held rain or shine and the dress is casual – just no flip flop type sandals or open toe/heel shoes. Participants must possess a valid driver’s license and be 18 years of age. Feel free to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, Gopros, cameras.