Knoxville, Tennessee to Charleston, South Carolina (and back)
Best laid plans
From Knoxville it is around six hours to the Port of Charleston, South Carolina, where the car was to be collected from. Originally we’d planned for the car to be delivered to Tennessee, ready to go when we arrived, sparing us of any hassle at the port in South Carolina. But of course the ship ended up delayed for one reason or another, so we arrived in Knoxville to find that the car would not be where we wanted when we landed in Nashville from Heathrow, which in turn made collecting it in person (a 12-hour round trip) an interesting diversion. Doing so removes some of the risk involved in transporting the car, but also offers the chance to visit a different city, so we piled into an SUV at 6am since my parents were keen to drive us there.
The magic number
En-route we were busy calling the port, making sure everything was in place to get the car released and it seemed that despite the mountain of paperwork and email chains that could probably reach South Carolina we were missing a ‘loading number’. Six digits that were nowhere to be found, and with the shipping agent based in California in a different time zone, we were lucky to get hold of it just before we reached the port. When we pulled up at security we were told to park up, and escorted in one of the security vehicles to the Porsche. It all seemed too easy.
After collecting the car, we headed to the Marriott, calibrating our brains, adjusting to being in a car with the steering on the wrong side, whilst trying to follow all the different rules of the road. I was shouting “STOP” often at various intersections, but otherwise all went well without incident.
Eating, drinking, fixing…
We went to Hyman’s Seafood for dinner, which has been in Charleston since 1890. Eli, one of the owners, introduced himself to us and chatted about the happenings in the UK. If given the option, my father always orders oysters as an appetizer and this day was no different. Being allergic, I tend to sit patiently whilst everyone else noisily slurps at the half shells, but thankfully Eli sent some complimentary hush puppies and fried green tomatoes over so that I didn’t feel hungry or left out! We all ordered grilled or deep fried fish, which all came with side salads and deep fried okra. Afterwards, we briefly strolled around the town shops, but were in a hurry to get back to an air-conditioned room due to the humidity.
Still recovering from jetlag, Anthony and I woke up at 5am and decided to go for a drive around admiring the beautiful houses and neighborhoods perched along side the ocean as the sun came up. We found a brilliant barista at The Rise Coffee Bar who made delicious flat whites and even had coconut milk!
Shortly before the Rise opened, we pulled up outside a little wooden church spreading the Word on its tower. The car then refused to start. I’ve been here before in various old Porsches but we stayed calm and after adjusting some cables the 911 came back to life. Maybe Jesus saved the day.
We then picked up my parents and went to Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit for breakfast sandwiches, which we ate at the gazebo in the White Point Garden along the oceanfront.
…back to Knoxville
It was time to head back to Knoxville, so we turned up the AC and got moving on the interstate. That particular day it was over 100ºf and high humidity, so it was hot outside and very early on in the drive we felt that something was missing. Why were we sweating so profusely? Why did we feel delirious and nauseous? Oh yes – that AC which was repaired three years ago was clearly not working. We had a 6-hour drive ahead of us and were only an hour in, roasting in that car. After countless visits at rest stops for cool vending machine drinks and hours of sitting in I-26 traffic through North Carolina, it wasn’t just the car that was over-heating! Tempers flared, arguments led to silence and worry set in. Was this mere 2-day taster foreshadowing a painful and blisteringly hot 4-week road trip to come? Would the broken AC in this classic car be enough to break us?