The End of an Era

All aboard the party bus, next stop Freedomville.
All aboard the party bus, next stop Freedomville.

And the start of a new one — one that will suck really, really hard. As of tomorrow, I’ll be (finally) starting prototype after being on various stages of hold at three different commands since May 25th. It’s been amazing to have done pretty much nothing for so long, but also it sucks because I have literally forgot almost everything I knew… and now I have to stuff it all back in there. Not fun! For the sake of keeping things simple, I’m just telling everyone that I’ll basically disappear for six to nine months, depending on how long I’m actually stuck in the pipeline (there are numerous delays).

It’s actually making me a little sick thinking of it. I’ve been able to spend so much time with Carissa that this is… strange, to say the least. It’s going to be such a switch from getting to see her all the time to pretty much only at night, and only so I can pass out and go to bed. On top of her working until pretty late, I’m not sure when we’re supposed to get a chance to see each other. Oh well, part of the Navy — and much less sucky than a deployment where I won’t even come home at night. But, that’s still down the road.

So, to make the best of it, we went to the 30th Annual Lowcountry Oyster Festival, put on by the Charleston Restaurant Association. I’ve always done the restaurant week things in the past and thought they were cool, and we both love oysters and other seafoods. It’s been featured on billboards and posters, and it’s all over the radio. I’ve been pumped up about this event for over a month.

The event is at the Boone Hall Plantation, which is about a 35 minute drive from our place in Summerville and it opened today (on a Sunday, strangely) at 10:30 AM. We left the house at about 11 AM and about 5 miles away from the event is where we ran into the most ridiculous problems. The parking situation was the single most infuriating thing I’ve ever dealt with and will largely be the reason I won’t ever be back. We waited on the main road for over an hour and half and then we turned into a winding, dusty dirt road that took another 45 minutes of standstill traffic to reach the parking lot, which took about 15 minutes to park in.

It is this packed and more, and completely disorganized.
It is this packed and more, and completely disorganized.

From there, we walk about 5 minutes to the entrance, waited another 10 minutes, and get through (tickets at 15 dollars at the door). After that, you have to wait in a line for another 15 minutes to buy tickets to buy the oysters and alcohol. The tickets are 2 dollars each, and each bucket of oysters is 10 dollars. (Amazingly, wine and beer were 3 tickets each, meaning 6 dollars for less than a solo cup of beer. Cool.) And, if you’re going to eat oysters, you need to wait in line for 10 minutes to get the knife tool (4 dollars) to open them (and gloves [2 dollars each glove] if you don’t want your hands to get all cut up like ours did). So we get all the tickets and the tools finally, and we wander around to where the oyster bucket line is. This time, everyone was packed together like cattle with no real line, and fighting my way to the front took another 35 minutes. We got 3 buckets of oysters, with about 1 1/2 dozen in each bucket (it comes with crackers, hot sauce, and cocktail sauce though horseradish was definitely missing).

After that, if you want to use the provided tables, you have to wait until they open up or each sit in the grass. We got lucky and jumped in a spot fast. We probably spent 40 minutes having fun and eating oysters (damn you will get messy). We had a good time and ate a lot of these sea loogies, which were really hot and delicious. So, we finish and try to get cleaned up, but the sanitizing stations are empty already (bring wet wipes with you, trust me!). We try to go to the bathroom, but there were obviously not enough units for everyone and the wait appeared to be a good 20 minutes or more, so we just held it in. Fun.

There was some live music, but nothing that caught our attention. Most people were just out there getting slammed drunk and eating fried foods from the other vendors (who gets fried chicken at an oyster festival?). The size of the venue is almost a little small for all the people, despite being a massive plot of land available for use. Every inch of space was taken up by people’s stuff, so finding your way around wasn’t too pleasant. If there were more things to do than the music, eat oysters, and get drunk, we didn’t see it. We wandered around a little, but there wasn’t a map of the event or anything, so we just left after we got somewhat full. Our big loop into the plantation put us right next to one of the entrances, so I thought we’d have an easy out. Wrong, of course. They closed it off and had us drive through the front of the event, near the ticket gates. Of course, everyone was walking everywhere, so we had to wait on all the people and then drive through another winding dirt road in bumper to bumper traffic, taking around 45 minutes. When we got to the highway, we were so relieved to finally leave.

You can eat oysters at a sit down place all over town, for less than the price you'll get them for at the festival. Try Coconut Joe's and have a walk on the beach while you're there.
You can eat oysters at a sit down place all over town, for less than the price you’ll get them for at the festival. Try Coconut Joe’s and have a walk on the beach while you’re there.

So, if you total everything up, we spent 60 dollars, 30 on food, and 30 to enter (and more, counting the gas). We spent more than 5 hours total trying to get to the event and actually being there, and of that, we spent a total of 40 minutes actually eating the stupid oysters. I am completely amazed that people were actually having a good time here. I went to the fair, which was packed and it took us maybe 30 minutes to get in the gate, and maybe 10 to leave. I wasted my entire last day of freedom trying to get out of the house and do something fun, but I can’t figure out why I just didn’t lay in bed. If I was a smart man, I could have gone to a really nice seafood place and had more food for less money and be way more happy. I’m not sure if this is what South Carolina calls a good time, but it really sucks.

What should have been a really fun day turned out to be a huge waste. Today is the day that Carissa and I spent in the car together hanging out. If we wanted to do that, we would have done it in our driveway. They’ve been putting this thing on for 30 years and they haven’t figured out the logistics it takes to do this yet? Ridiculous.

The reason I wrote so much detail about the event is because I Googled it myself and could only find a couple of facts, such that it existed and that there is a lot of oysters and live music. So hopefully someone else Googles this and decides to never come here and do this. You can get oysters at tons of seafood places around town, and your day won’t suck. Avoid it at all cost.

3 thoughts on “The End of an Era

  1. Laurel LaFlamme March 8, 2013 / 6:08 PM

    Clay! I’m quite impresed with the body of your work thus-far! I’m thriled to have met you. Looking forward to some collaroration(s) in the near future, and reading the rest of your Blog.

  2. Laurel LaFlamme March 8, 2013 / 8:12 PM

    I always said, one sign of a great man is publically praising his wife. Well done.

  3. Laurel LaFlamme March 8, 2013 / 9:26 PM

    “30th Annual Lowcountry Oyster Festival, put on by the Charleston Restaurant Association” — They mean well, but it’s just like you said. It’s a poorly planned “logistics” thing.

    For SOME events, Boone Hall Plantation’s actually a very nice venue. The wine tasting event last year was amazing! And we got to see Christopher Cross live in concert — so close I could’ve beaned him in the head with my sunglasses (or a tennis ball for sure.)

    He sings that song “Sailing” that was the theme for Joey’s & my high school Prom. It’s “our song” so being there was an extremely significant event for us!

    I lived in New Orleans for a good five years or so and there’s a huge difference in what WE jokingly call a *cough* “Festival” and what a real FESTIVALE is! HUGE difference.

    Seriously, I don’t think I’d eat raw oysters at a Charleston Fest of any kind anyway! I’m a scaredy-cat who studied Microbiology in college, so no Festival “sea loogies” for me. Oh yeah, thanks for planting THAT visual in my head — I may never eat oysters again ever.

    I don’t want people to think they can’t come to Charleston for a Fest and not have a good time. Just remember that everything is relative to the location, location, location.

    The best place to eat oysters and ALL kinds of yummy, evil, fried food delight is “The Blessing of the Fleet” each spring down at Alhambra Hall. Nice venue. Nice view. Great event, in “my” humble opinion.

    Alhambra Hall down in Mt. Pleasant is actually an old ferry terminal building. There’s a spectacular view of the water and the salt-marsh. Great for photos, too.

    Now the age old problem of where to p*o*t*t*y? Like they say down in Nawlins’ “…ain’t no place to pee on Mardi Gras Day!” No really. That IS a real “thing.”

    I don’t think it matters what kind of Fest you’re at, here or there…just know it won’t be a pleasant experience.”Ain’t no place to pee on Super Bowl Day,” either.

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