A Love Letter from CeCe Mikell

CeCe:

Every Monday morning, I deliver an East Cooper Meals on Wheels hot lunch to thirteen people who have lived and have lived in Mt. Pleasant, SC longer than I have. That’s saying a lot since I’m a born and raised native of Mt. Pleasant for nearly 42 years.

Late last month, I stopped to talk for a while with one of the children/caregivers of a recipient, and in our conversation, he asked me what I think of how Mt. Pleasant has changed since we were kids who went to the same (old) Mamie P. Whitesides Elementary School on Rifle Range Road at Myrick Road, (old) Laing Middle School on Highway 17 N at Six Mile Road, and (old) Wando High School on Mathis Ferry Road.

For context, here’s a glimpse of the Mt. Pleasant I knew as a child and teenager:

  • The stoplight at Bowman Road and Highway 17 was the last stoplight before you got to Georgetown.
  • East Cooper Family Practice (now Roper St. Francis Physician Partners on Wingo Way) functioned as the emergency room because there was no hospital at all on our side of the bridge.
  • Boone Hall Farm was just another farm to drive by on the way from Mt. Pleasant to Georgetown or Myrtle Beach. 
  • Rifle Range Road was a simple 2-lane back road with no stoplights or even stop signs and was the local drag strip for daredevils on Friday and Saturday nights. The now traffic circle at Porchers (pronounced poor-shay) Bluff was all dirt and gravel and was better known as Dead Man’s Curve.

Do I miss the much smaller town that could boast these memories? Of course, I do – in the same way I miss nap time in kindergarten, recess in elementary school, and the days when my folks footed my clothing bill before school started. Just as I grew up, so did my small town, and in some amazing ways: 

  • The stoplight at Bowman has been replaced by a 4-lane flyover, reducing the number of stops during rush hour. That allows the nearly double the population to get home to kids, evening activities, churches, and beaches more quickly, enjoying more of life in a still-small town with ever more engaging life activities to choose.
  • Our side of the bridge has gone from zero hospitals to having three hospitals, with East Cooper Medical Center exclusively dedicated to our East Cooper/Mt. Pleasant community. Improved medical care means that we who live in Mt. Pleasant get to enjoy it more and longer.
  • Boone Hall Farm has grown into a huge, year-round local produce provider through community supported agriculture along with its farm stand and farm store. Its leading support from the community played a large role in the establishment and growth of the Mt. Pleasant Farmers’ Market located at Moultrie Middle School.
  • Rifle Range Road has opened up to new schools serving both existing and new neighborhoods, and our East Cooper Moultrie District #2 Schools are top in the Lowcountry and among the best in the state.

It's easy to complain about the increase in traffic and paved roads, the loss of wooded land, the number of people who simply weren’t here when the first Wal-mart (now Pivotal Fitness) was built for our small community. These are some of the reasons Mt. Pleasant has earned the nicknames “Mt. Plastic” and Mt. Perfect.” The thing is, that’s not their fault. 

It’s our responsibility – we natives and decades-long residents – to cherish and continually share the evolution of our East Cooper Mt. Pleasant community with those who choose now to make it their home. While new residents can’t share in an experienced history, we can all shape our wonderful still-small town together.

Bio:
CeCe Mikell is a 41-year-old native of Mt. Pleasant, SC. She is best known as a writer, teacher, singer, and home cook. After a successful career as a college professor in New York, CeCe returned to Mt. Pleasant to care for her family. Today she is a consultant with Armstrong Consulting, specializing in project management, business start-ups, and non-profit initiatives. Follow CeCe’s cooking, singing, and every day adventures on her blog SingingAboutCooking.com. 

Lowcountry Beer Is Here (Pt.2)

Trevor:

A lot has happened to the Lowcountry Beerscape since my last love letter. Can you believe 10 breweries have opened up?! Charleston City Paper follows the new arrivals, but Charlestonbrewerylist.com is even more on the up-and-up. There are a few breweries focused on distributing, but no tap rooms, just yet; Fatty’s Beer Works, Lo-Fi Brewing, Snafu Brewing, & Fat Pig Brewing. Snafu tap room is imminent. For the ones with open tap rooms NOW, keep reading:

Ghost Monkey
@ghostmonkeybrew | MAP
This nano is adjacent to the Wando Port Terminal on Long Point Road and their primate braincase is always howling for a pint. Garage doors are up in nice weather with music, food trucks, and a constantly rotating draft selection Thursday through Sunday. Special shoutout to the monkies for hosting Lowcountry Libation’s Colonial Cup Competition last year shortly before they opened their doors to the public.

Two Blokes
@twoblokesbrewing | MAP
Walk through the double entryway just off Long Point Road to find the Blokes’ Half Pints kids corner up front and a 7bbl brewhouse in back. Patrons, alewives (I'm referring to Emily, here), blokes, and lady blokes take refuge from the heat 7 days a week for a lineup of solid flagships and a steady drip of special releases.

Cooper River
@cooperbrewing | MAP
The shotgun style tap room near the “bridge to nowhere” runs parallel to the production floor. Gaze out through the glass with a pint in hand for a picturesque view of stainless brewery operations or chat with the Herron behind the bar. Find their warehouse 4 days a week for patio fun and food trucks to boot.

Low Tide
@lowtidebrewing | MAP
Open 5 days a week on Johns Island, this tap room has plenty of space indoors and out. Feed off their dozen beer offerings, plenty of food trucks, yoga and the natural beauty of the Island. Bring the dog and pick up an LT collar from their merch area.

Charles Towne Fermentory
@chsfermentory | MAP
Rustic meets fresh in this modestly sized Avondale tap room. You’ll find a small but distinctive tap list, with a healthy dose of hop haze for those who dig it. Go early with the kiddo before the crowd heats up 6 days a week.

Lagunitas Brewpub
#lagunitascharleston | MAP
Same vibe, different tastes from the old Southend location. Live music at 4:20pm every day to go with plenty of picnic style seating and hop forward favorites and seasonal brews. Grab some brewpub grub and chill.

What's your favorite new spot around town? Old favorite? 

Drink local, drink fresh! Cheers.

Bonus:
Thanks to my wife for carting us boys around for our field work on this post!

A Love Letter from Emily White

Emily White:

Dear Lowcountry,

You have raised me. I was born in July of 2000 at Trident Medical Center in North Charleston, and from there I was brought home to James Island. I was the first child my parents had, and it remained that way for another two years, until my brother was born. We all lived together in a cozy home that I don’t remember much of, except that there was a koi pond, sunflowers, and big trees. We remained there for the next four years, until my parents decided to move to Mount Pleasant. The following years, I was signed up for numerous sports and attended many city coordinated activities with my family. We were never bored.

Hurricane Irene, 2011, with my brother, Louis

Hurricane Irene, 2011, with my brother, Louis

This past summer, for the first time, I went West Coast. West Coast, Best Coast was a saying I had heard many times, and before my trip, I believed it to be true. We drove all along the California coast, and it being the dead of summer, we stopped at more than a few beaches, and to put it candidly, they didn’t meet my expectations. The beaches could not compare to the ones I had back home. I desperately missed Isle of Palms (IOP), Sullivan’s Island, and Folly Beach, where you were guaranteed water at the perfect temperature, and beaches that weren’t too crowded (especially if you went to the right spot during the right time). Another thing I frequently missed when traveling was our famous Charleston sunsets. I have never traveled anywhere where the sunset was as beautiful and colorful as it is in Charleston, South Carolina. My family’s go to spots to witness this Lowcountry treasure are the Pitt Street Bridge, and the Waterfront Park Pier, but our own backyard also serves the sight justice. 

My family's addition to the Charleston Strong wall, downtown

My family's addition to the Charleston Strong wall, downtown

One of the other many things that I love about my home is the opportunity it has given me. I am able to go to one of the best high schools in the nation, hang out downtown with my friends, play Ultimate Frisbee with my parents, and run the Ravenel Bridge whenever I want (something 40,000 people from all over the country come to do once a year). And, if the rare feeling of boredom comes about, you can guarantee that a city activity is happening.

My family, exploring Botany Bay, earlier this year

My family, exploring Botany Bay, earlier this year

Today, I begin my junior year of high school, so the topic of college keeps working its way into the conversations I have with relatives, advisors, and friends. I was born and bred in the Lowcountry and I carry that with me everywhere I go. I’m excited to make my own way, but I also dread the day I may have to say goodbye to the only home I have ever known. Regardless, I know with full confidence that the Lowcountry will always be part of me. For now I am enjoying the next two years under my parent's roof and care in this wonderful city. I am also enjoying the beaches, the sunsets, the weather, and the people whom are unlike any other that I will ever experience anywhere else.

Love,
Emily 

Bio (By Emily Gildea):
Emily lives in Mt. Pleasant with her parents, Eric and Meredith, and her two siblings, Lewis and Molly. Today, she starts her junior year of Academic Magnet High School with her brother starting as a freshman. Emily is an active community volunteer and wrote this letter without any coaxing from a parental unit. I personally connect to Emily through our shared namesake and height advantages.

Boone Hall: Through the Seasons

One of my favorite parts about living in Mt. Pleasant is the proximity to Boone Hall. No matter the time of year, their plantation and farm always have something going on for families, foodies, and fun. Today, I'm going to focus on my favorites from the seasons:

FALL
The secret is out; the Lowcountry serves up the best weather in the fall months. Well, temperatures, at least. As a Lowcountry resident, the majority of us own rain boots for fall and spring endeavors. This past weekend, Boone Hall Plantation hosted Southern Living's Taste of Charleston. The event, now hosted for 35 years, featured 50 of the Lowcountry’sfavorite casual and fine dining restaurants serving sample size portions, plus beer and wine. In true Charleston fashion, the proceeds benefitted several local charities. Miss out this year? The Greater Charleston Restaurant Association has another event you might be interested in coming up in the winter. 

To get in the true autumn spirit, Boone Hall also hosts a pumpkin patch, the entire month of October. There are lots of activities for the kids, from a corn maze, to a rock climbing wall and hayrides. If you're looking for something to add to the Halloween spirit, you'll want to check out Fright Nights. With four 'terrifying attractions', you're sure to get your share of zombies and strobe lights.

WINTER
One would think that the Lowcountry would slow down in the winter months. Not so, as the calendar of events show for Boone Hall during the winter months. My personal favorite of all the seasons is the Lowcountry Oyster Festival, in January. Basically, this is the world's largest oyster festival that serves up 80,000 pounds of oysters, along with other tasty delights and libations. You guessed it, this event also benefits local charities

Before the oysters, is A Lowcountry Christmas, where you can visit Santa's Castle and Christmas Town after taking a holiday hayride. This time of year is also when it's hard to leave the safety of your own, warm home with temperatures falling into the low 40s (Listen, my blood has thinned since moving from the mountains). So, it makes a great time to run out to the Boone Hall Store for your fruits, veggies, and prepared dishes. I promise, I've never tried to pass off their spinach and artichoke dip as my own.

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SPRING
The oyster festival may be my favorite event held at Boone Hall, but my favorite service their farm offers is their Spring Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). By signing up for a CSA (and there are many CSA options in the Lowcountry) you're buying local, seasonal produce directly from the farmer by purchasing a share of the farm. Sign-up is required well in advance, so being added to their mailing list is the way to stay on top of getting your weekly fill of basket goodies.

Another benefit of their farm during this season are the strawberries! The Lowcountry Strawberry Festival, in April, hosts more family fun with over 30 attractions and rides. Looking for a way to get your run on? The Rugged Maniac, in March, is packed with 25 obstacles that are sure to get your heart rate going and your entire body dirty.

SUMMER
We may be perspiring (ahem, glistening) through the Lowcountry summers, but that doesn't mean we slow down. Boone Hall hosts weddings and music events all summer. It just so happens the actress, Blake Lively AND one of my good friends got married there. Their cotton dock and row of oaks make for a perfect, romantic backdrop. Just a few years ago, I spent a hot July night on their lawn with my parents, KC and the Sunshine Band, and The Village People.

Last but not least, the summer brings the best peaches you'll ever eat. From Mid-May to August, you can visit the farm for U-Pick or stop by their store for a basket. They move pretty quickly in my house, so we visit the store a couple of times a week during those months. Other farm specials are updated frequently on this site.

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To really keep up with all Boone Hall has going on, their Facebook is updated pretty regularly and has tons of photos.

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Did you miss us last week? Well, we sure missed you. We spent Monday-Friday in a continuing education class and didn't take one nap! All the better to serve your Lowcountry home searching needs, friends.