Okay, I gotta admit it. I wasn’t prepared to be so amazingly charmed by this quaint southern town. Both Dudley and I enjoyed Beaufort SC, and we were so glad we were able to extend our stay one more day in order to fully appreciate its gracious beauty.
In my humble opinion, no self-respecting town can exist without an outstanding coffee shop. Dudley has quickly learned that my highest priority, as soon as our boat is docked, is to inquire about and/or research the local coffee shops. But Yelp reviews only go so far. The Cheryl-Approved-Coffee Shop needs several different seating areas, electrical outlets near those seating areas, strong wifi, a welcoming atmosphere for non-locals (no turned-up noses and raised eyebrows when the door squeaks open), and fabulous decaf coffee. Yes, I only drink decaf. Don’t shake your head.
We scouted out the perfect coffee shop in Beaufort on Sunday afternoon, but time was tight so we returned to Common Ground on Monday to savor its offerings. Dudley doesn’t drink coffee so he set out to find the local bookstore to buy a memoir by local resident Pat Conroy, The Water is Wide. Captain D remembers liking the movie Conrack, which is based on the book and stars Jon Voight.
While he was shopping, I sunk into a comfy leather chair to enjoy my coffee and look out over the waterfront park. My eyes were drawn to the colorful umbrellas lined up along the plaza by a local hospice.
The sun peeked through the Spanish Moss as kids squealed with laughter playing on the expansive public lawn. Joggers ran along the promenade while others were swinging (yes swinging) nearby. It felt like I had just entered Seurat’s painting “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte” but it was Monday in Beautiful Beaufort. Absolutely beautiful.
My only regret is that I didn’t visit this coffee shop sooner, and stay longer. It gets a 5-star rating from me. It even has a fireplace. Well, sorta. The fire is fake, but it still gives that ambiance that is so welcomed on a brisk fall day. I wrote a few postcards, made an entry in my journal, and then scurried to the post office that was across the street from The Baptist Church of Beaufort, which enabled me to get an exterior photo of the church that so warmly greeted me the day before.
Dudley returned from shopping and we walked a few blocks to meet a friend of a friend, who lives in Tabby Manse, one of the signature historic homes of Beaufort, built in 1786. Tabby Manse is also the childhood home of Richard Fuller, the former pastor of the abovementioned church I visited on Sunday, and the former pastor of my recent two churches in Baltimore, Seventh Baptist and Woodbrook Baptist (see blog post Days 34-35). Yes, the history lesson continues and it gets sweeter.
We were warmly greeted by George, Barbara, and dog Moses, and a very welcoming fire in the library’s fireplace. There were a few chuckles exchanged when wine was offered to this Baptist, and I eagerly accepted, as did Dudley. Conversation was easy, and I was instantly grateful that friend (and former pastor) John Roberts had connected us with this gracious host and link to local history. George has owned Tabby Manse for 46 years, and raised three children in the historic house. As he gave us a tour, we marveled at the exquisite architectural detailing, especially the 32” thick tabby walls composed of oyster shells and lime mortar, an early local building material in Beaufort.
When the tour concluded, we decided that an impromptu dinner was in order and we all dined at Saltus, yet another fabulous restaurant in Beaufort. Afterwards, George and Barbara drove us back to the marina and accepted our invitation to tour our waterfront home. Not quite the historic tour of a 229-year old house, but Belle Bateau did impress them with the fine detailing of an 18-year old classic Canadian yacht.
After they left, I opened the book George had given us at the close of the house tour. Tabby Manse graces the cover of the Beautiful Beaufort by the Sea Guidebook. And I know that we’ll be back to Beaufort and will use this book as our guide to tour other parts of the city that we didn’t get to visit this time. I hope we return as early as next spring, on our way north. There is much left to explore in this beautiful seaside town.