I'm not the kind of guy who bellyaches endlessly about the weather. It's hot; it's cold; it's rainy; it's snowy; it's dry; it's weather. I can't change it. So, to hell with it.
Of course, that liaise-faire attitude evaporates rather rapidly when the weather in question is snow that I have to drive more than three hours through. Then I revert to “old Russ” mode and throw a tantrum. Well, maybe not a tantrum, but I'm less than thrilled.
|Greenville's "big snow" as observed from my front porch.|
That was my situation last Wednesday when Greenville got its first dusting of snow in two years. Scheduled to drive down to Charleston for the media launch of the redesigned Toyota Highlander, I wasn't eager to battle the elements. The snow didn't end with Greenville either. Greenville received enough of the white stuff overnight to almost hide the grass and coat the streets. It was a bit worse – but not by much – farther south into Columbia. The foul weather continued all the way down to Charleston, my ultimate destination.
I wasn't tremendously worried. It wasn't much snow and I had an AWD Kia Sorento for the excursion. Yet, it was cold and I had a concern or two about ice.
Actually, I-385 and I-26 were fairly clear. It wasn't until I got into Charleston that the ice began to get a little ugly. There are so many elevated highways and bridges in Charleston, ice was a much bigger issue. Police had lanes blocked and traffic averted in some areas.
|Market Pavilion Hotel.|
Toyota put us up at the Market Pavilion Hotel on the corner of S. Market St. and E. Bay St. It is ideally located as base camp for a Charleston visit. It is central to everything downtown. Sadly, downtown was closed. It was almost spooky. E. Bay St. was empty of traffic, vehicle and pedestrian.
After checking into the hotel around 1 p.m., I struck out for the Southend Brewery about a block and a half away. Slipping and sliding my way down the sidewalk, I reached Southend's entrance to find a sign on the door telling me it would be closed all day for weather. I was crestfallen. I had to settle for a few beers at the hotel bar. They were serving a Southend Amber, so it wasn't a total loss.
|The bar and downstairs dining area at McCrady's.|
Dinner that night was scheduled for McCrady's – another E. Bay St. establishment. I'm not convinced it would have opened had it not been for Toyota's scheduled dinner. The food was terrific. A couple of glasses of after-dinner tawny port was the perfect capper to a great evening.
|Drink at your own risk! I'll pass.|
Rather than port, I could have opted for a Nitrotini that is made with a couple of scoops of nitrogen. But, my policy is to steer clear of any drink with a warning label. Yikes!
The next day our ride and drive went off as planned.
Toyota has an interesting two-vehicle midsize SUV strategy. The 4Runner fills the wants and needs of owners looking for the extra capability of a truck-based SUV; while the Highlander answers the call of owners who are really looking more for a minivan alternative.
With three-row seating for up to eight, Highlander is comfortable and loaded with standard features. All but the base LE come equipped with a 270-horsepower V6 and new six-speed automatic transmission. It delivers an EPA-estimated 25 mpg in combined city and highway driving.
|The Highlander at Magnolia Gardens.|
I hustled the Highlander I drove out to Magnolia Gardens. It wasn't a taxing route, but did showoff the Highlander's levels of comfort and off-the-line acceleration when the light turns green.
I got back into downtown in time to take part in the fantastic southern lunch at Poogan's Porch. The fried-chicken sliders brought tears to my eyes.
No adventure in the drive home. Traffic was much heavier, but there wasn't a trace of Tuesday night's weather.