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fourfortravel Nov 25th, 2019 05:50 AM

A couple of weeks prior DS had messaged me: “Hey. Want to spend a weekend in Greenville?”

Both of our children inherited our wanderlust, good for them. But, Greenville?

DS continued. Amtrak had a great overnight fare from DC (where he lives and works) to Greenville, and that he's always wanted to take an overnight train (I learned something brand new about our 20-something!) and that Greenville sounded cool. I responded that I would make a decision closer to the date once I had checked the weather and confirmed the start date of the contractors (the 1989 interior of the gorgeous brick home we just purchased (carpeting in the bathroom! and floor-to-ceiling wallpaper in the half-bath—it looked like Laura Ashley had vomited all over the space.) was crying out desperately to be bought into the 21st century).

On the Monday leading up to the weekend I skimmed my Fodors “The Carolinas & Georgia” guidebook sent to us by friends who live in SC as a, “Welcome Back to the U.S./Come Visit Us!” gift along with the Greenville tourism site and found plenty of things to do on a long weekend. And perhaps more importantly, plenty of things to eat on a long weekend.

I checked the weather: 40-60% chance of showers for Saturday, the full day we would have. Meh. Pack an umbrella and duck into a brewery or café if necessary. How often are forecasts like this accurate, right? Then I scouted around for lodging, finding little that we consider true “dog-friendly;” that is, does not charge more for the pet fee than the room itself. Not really wanting a hotel for its lack of sitting area (DS would obvs bunk with us); and with no airbnb available, either I put the project away for the day.

Tuesday morning a place called, “Kasa Apartments” popped up on Expedia. “Pet-friendly” with a mere $15 pet fee per night. Having long since learned to read the fine print on pet-friendly lodging I scrolled their website and noted that they have “Breed Restrictions.” Doubting that the American Foxhound is a restricted breed, I called them nevertheless. The usual suspects (Bull Terriers, etc.) were restricted, but The Father of Our Country’s breed, from which DDog is descended, was not. I also asked about “Weight Restrictions” as that once reared its ugly head at check-in, too. Nope, no weight restrictions. Thinking I’d cleared that “Pet-friendly” hurdle I checked the forecast one last time before making our non-refundable reservation: 50-60% chance of showers for Saturday. So be it. I pushed the “Reserve” button and messaged DS that we would meet him in Greenville.

Late Tuesday an email with the virtual check-in requirements from Kasa arrived. Mostly standard stuff: upload a selfie and an official ID and indicate an approximate time for check-in; and declare you won’t smoke or hold an event/party.


What the living…? Who travels with their dog and at some point doesn’t leave them in the lodging?

Fearing I had missed something, I went back to both the Expedia site and to the Kasa site and searched every single page. NOT ONE WORD about leaving pets unattended anywhere on either site. I screen-captioned each page, just in case.

Now what to do? The newly identified dog-sitter was not available, so that option was out. Should we scrap the weekend? We couldn’t take DDog everywhere with us, like the Greenville County Museum of Art (on my list); and dining out meant dining outside, not a pleasant prospect if the forecast rain actually happened. But the contractors were whirling about the house and I had to turn my attention to paint colors and tile squares and the day just slipped away.

Give yourself 10 points if you suspected the forecast would change for the worse. On Wednesday morning I checked again to read: “90% chance of rain. Rainfall of up to a half inch.” But the real problem of the day was that the color I had selected for the great room was entirely wrong. Way wrong. Even the design consultant I had (necessarily) splurged on agreed that the color had failed us. Back to the drawing board for a new color, putting out little design fires around the house and otherwise accomplishing nothing of substance. The clock was ticking closer to departure and I still had no solution for the not-so-pet-friendly issue.

On Thursday morning the forecast was downgraded to the pre ark-building stage. “100% chance of rain. Rainfall of possibly over an inch. Locally heavy rain at times.” The forecast for Knoxville (home) was the same. Now there were two choices: stay at home with the rain (and the contractors) and leave the Greenville apartment to DS; or drive 3+ hours across the mountains to do…what, exactly?

Finally the light bulb turned on: why not call Kasa and find out what they really mean with this restriction. I blame this processing delay on the paint and primer fumes affecting my ability to multi-task.

It turned out that this particular restriction is in place to avoid the “hyper puppy” who will tear up the place if left unattended. DDog is 12-ish; while he loves to travel with us, he seeks out his bed and konks out until it’s time to do something interesting. His tearing-the-place-up days are long over. Problem solved.

That evening, DH and I clinked our wine glasses to, “Why did we buy a big house again?” and a, “Let’s get out of here for the weekend.”

Melnq8 Nov 25th, 2019 06:08 AM

I've missed your trip reports fourfortravel, so signing on. Never mind that I've never heard of Greenville:).

thursdaysd Nov 25th, 2019 06:17 AM

Will be interested to hear about Greenville.

carpeting in the bathroom! and floor-to-ceiling wallpaper in the half-bath
Yep. My house, not that far from you, was also built in 1989. Finally got rid of the carpet in 2013. But I thought I heard that wallpaper is coming back.

jhk3rd Nov 25th, 2019 12:53 PM

Greenville is a neat old mill town in western (called "Upstate") South Carolina that has undergone a tremendous transformation in the past 10-15 years. Downtown is vibrant with a fairly new performing arts center, and the city's old downtown hotel, The Poinsett, has been refurbished and is very nice. Lots of food choices there and plenty in comfortable walking distance downtown. They've also done a lot with the river that runs through one end of downtown. The place fills up for Clemson football weekends but otherwise is a perfect weekend visit.

starrs Nov 25th, 2019 01:41 PM

The Greenville downtown is wonderful. They used to have a fabulous dog treat bakery there but it moved further out, I think. It's fun to look for the Mice on Main -
Mice On Main

MmePerdu Nov 25th, 2019 02:29 PM

The title might indicate that we don't know yet if it's the SC Greenville we seem to assume, or have I missed a "SC" from fourfortravel? If not, waiting for the punchline.

willowjane Nov 25th, 2019 03:24 PM

We love to take a quick trip over to Greenville, SC! What a great job they have done with the downtown area. There are great restaurants, shopping and shows. A great little weekend getaway!

fourfortravel Nov 26th, 2019 06:09 AM

Friday. No change in the weather, sigh. The painters arrived about 15 minutes before we were to depart and painted a large swath of the new color on the wall. I approved the color, not at all dried; handed the house key to the lead person and asked that they message when they left the house so that I could activate the security system.

On the road. The scenery along I-40 East is marginally interesting from Knoxville to the Smoky Mountains. The drive through the Cherokee and Pisgah National Forests, though, was prettier than expected even on a cloudy and late November afternoon. Traffic was light and everyone seemed to be more or less driving at tempo, rather important along this winding stretch through the gorge.

The drive once leaving the forests and into Greenville was b.o.r.i.n.g., much like the westbound stretch of Autobahn from the end of the Wachau until the first peaks of the Salzburg Alps. In fact, we almost missed the nondescript sign informing us that we had crossed the Eastern Continental Divide.
We motored along past a roadside store selling “Wedding Sparklers.” Is it a Southern thing to douse the happy couple with fiery metal shards, we wondered?

Our flat was lovingly designed by that Swedish furniture goddess and her slightly more upscale cousin and had a balcony on which to enjoy our morning coffee. The flat was located in the up-and-coming West End section of Greenville in a new construction building surrounded by lots of beautifully restored 20’s and 30’s Craftmans and bunglaows, all swoon-worthy for those with an architectural interest. Plenty of neighborhood vibe, too. A block or so away was Fluor Field, home to the single-A affiliate of the Red Sox and a full complement of hipster millennial restaurants, cafes, and organic shops. Thus far our brief glimpse of Greenville was all positive.

The week having caught up with us, rather than apply some lip color and go out to dine I suggested I walk with DDog for carryout from the nearby tap room while DH procured a bottle of wine and breakfast provisions from the grocery for the morning. (DS’s Amtrak was due in at 0549; we advised him to Uber to our flat where breakfast would be waiting.) Dinner was not at all southern cuisine (a Reuben for me and the “Certified Angus Beef Meatloaf “for DH), just a delicious supper on the balcony of our flat on a mild late autumn evening, the scent of rain edging closer and closer.

Saturday Morning. DS would naturally message when he arrived, but I still set the iPhone alarm for 0545. On a Saturday. ‘Tis a good thing we love our children. The alarm sounded and I messaged, “Where be you?” and DS replied, “An hour out. We sat in Charlotte for some reason.” Aaahhh, back to snooze we both went. I noted that the rain had not begun to fall, and crossed my fingers that this was a good sign that the meteorologists had been wrong.

No. Roughly an hour later we awoke to the pitter-patter of rain, its sweet smell wafting in through the open bedroom window. DS soon messaged that he was in an Uber, so it was time to rise. Within moments DS tapped on the door, and after the hugs and greetings we set about preparing breakfast only to be thwarted by the “Mixpresso,” some knock-off version of the Keurig that not only brewed nothing but brown water but also spewed out messy grounds all over the counter. Thankfully by the time the mess was cleared up the hipster café across the street had opened. Real hot coffee to the morning rescue.

Breakfast accomplished and the rain now pouring down, we headed first to the Greenville State Farmer’s Market where I had a conversation about turnip greens with “Joe” so lively that I bought a bag to bring home and prepare with ham bones. So many interesting products tempted us, too, though we did resist the temptation to play in the beans or break the ginormous collard green stems.

From the market we turned to history. The Upcountry History Museum taught us much about this part of America, its textile past and its forward-looking future (the introductory film was excellent); and the Greenville County Art Museum that exposed us to the stunning basswood creations of South Carolinian artist Grainger McKoy and the dreamy watercolors of Andrew Wyeth. Hard to believe the art museum was free, and that the docents thanked us for visiting!
In the charming Greenville downtown there is a whimsical hunt for the 9 brass "Mice on Main." We only found two because, well, the rain was falling as fast as our spirits. Good thing there were three spaces at the Dark Corner Distillery tasting bar. A flight of whiskeys, rums, and vodkas and once again we were all in good spirits. Pun fully intended.

Some light shopping here and there and then just as the rain began to fall even harder we ducked into Nose Dive for lunch, where I had made a reservation. That turned out to be a wise decision for the restaurant was packed. Craving a burger (I know, not very Southern. But remember, I have been deprived of a real American burger for the seven years we lived overseas, so please cut me some slack.) I nom-nomed that perfectly medium rare patty topped with sautéed onions slipping out of the bun while DH went Southern, with Mac and Cheese topped with Pulled Pork as did DS with his Fried Chicken and Waffle. Happiness enveloped our table.

On the way back to the car we walked past a nod to Joseph Poinsett, an SC native and the first ambassador to Mexico. He brought back to America with him a red, pointed-leaf plant that we have all come to know and love: the Poinsettia!

Just a little bit water-logged, we called it a day in the late afternoon and retreated to the apartment to watch our alma mater whoop their opponent in college football while noshing on barbeque with a capital B. This evening’s feast was courtesy of Henry’s Smokehouse, a local favorite from a little roadhouse just a short drive from our apartment. I am a fan of vinegar-based barbeque sauces and Henry’s did not disappoint. Needless to write there was nary a leftover morsel on this evening.

fourfortravel Nov 26th, 2019 06:30 AM

Originally Posted by Melnq8 (Post 17021227)
I've missed your trip reports fourfortravel, so signing on. Never mind that I've never heard of Greenville:).

Thanks for following along! I had not heard of Greenville, either until DS mentioned it. :)

fourfortravel Nov 26th, 2019 06:35 AM

"But I thought I heard that wallpaper is coming back."

Not the wallpaper in this house. :lol:

fourfortravel Nov 26th, 2019 06:36 AM

Originally Posted by starrs (Post 17021424)
The Greenville downtown is wonderful. They used to have a fabulous dog treat bakery there but it moved further out, I think. It's fun to look for the Mice on Main -
Mice On Main

It was fun! I wish it hadn't been raining so hard; I wanted to find all of them...

fourfortravel Nov 26th, 2019 06:37 AM

Originally Posted by MmePerdu (Post 17021441)
The title might indicate that we don't know yet if it's the SC Greenville we seem to assume, or have I missed a "SC" from fourfortravel? If not, waiting for the punchline.

No punchline, the #YeahThatGreenville is the city's tourism slogan. I thought it made a clever TR title.

Gretchen Nov 26th, 2019 06:58 AM

Not being familiar with your (now I know wonderful) trip reports, I am SO relieved you found the Wyeth collection.
Greenville is really a happening town these days. Seemingly a well kept secret.

thursdaysd Nov 26th, 2019 07:08 AM

Another vote for vinegar based BBQ sauce. But not for mac and cheese. Kudos for braving the weather.

Surprised Amtrak wasn't later, maybe the night trains do better. Virginia is usually a major hold up to/from DC.

tom42 Nov 26th, 2019 07:36 AM

I go to Greenville regularly to visit family. Unfortunately, I don't get to downtown anymore but I did a few years ago when my mom was alive and my dad was in better health. I love the downtown area. So vibrant and pretty.

KarenWoo Nov 26th, 2019 08:54 AM

Fourfortravel, welcome back to the U.S.! I've read your trip reports and posts on the Europe forum, and you gave me some helpful advice one summer about Brewster on Cape Cod.

I enjoyed your trip report about Greenville. Some day we want to spend several weeks or more traveling in the south, and Greenville sounds like a nice place to visit, off the beaten track.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Gretchen Nov 26th, 2019 09:01 AM

If you want a recipe to make pulled pork when you get back home, I can supply. And in a "face off" on BBQ sauces, my homemade western NC sauce won vs. the one from a Smithfield BBQ joint!! Plenty of vinegar and pepper but even more.

starrs Nov 26th, 2019 12:49 PM

Originally Posted by fourfortravel (Post 17021664)

We motored along past a roadside store selling “Wedding Sparklers.” Is it a Southern thing to douse the happy couple with fiery metal shards, we wondered?

It's a wedding thing.
Not a southern thing.
Don't know if Pinterest or wedding blogs get the blame / credit .

Good report.

fourfortravel Nov 26th, 2019 01:08 PM

Our final day dawned bright, sunny, and a little cool. Just perfect. Also perfect was our breakfast.

We had a gravy flight! From a biscuit place whose byline is, “Put Some South in Your Mouth.” Five fluffy (and rather large) biscuits ringed with Fried Chicken; Red Eye; Chorizo; Pork; and Venison Gravies, and the Gravy of the Day, a Maple Bacon variety. Plus a side of Pimento Cheese (because I love pimento cheese; to me it is like America’s version of Liptauer, which I also love(d).)

This was my first ever “Biscuits and Gravy.” More love. Full stop.

Most thankfully we followed this feast with a wander through the beautiful Falls Park in the center of Greenville. So pretty! And to my delight at one end of the park, a Chihuly sculpture! We had learned at the Upcountry History Museum that back in the 70’s the Reedy River, which put Greenville on the map was known by its pejorative, the “Rainbow Reedy” owing to the abundance of textile dyes that were being disposed of by the very textile manufacturers that brought economic strength to the area. It wasn’t until the early 1990’s that plans to restore the river and revitalize downtown Greenville gained traction, and not until the early 2000’s before the river and falls were once again the gem of downtown Greenville.
Blue Laws seemed to be in effect in Greenville; we had to occupy ourselves for a couple of hours before dropping DS at GSP for his return flight to D.C. so why not drop in on nearby Spartanburg? We had just enough time to walkabout the tiny downtown, most of its stores and restaurants shuttered as in Greenville. At one end of the downtown a 1990 beige monolith rose 18 stories into the sky…the Denny’s Corporate Headquarters. On the old Woolworth site was a marker describing the Woolworth Sit-In of 1960. In the park, a small plaque noted that the Marshall Tucker Band formed in the city in 1972. And that was pretty much Spartanburg.

The day was sunny and the air not so cool that we could not enjoy lunch on the terrace of Cribb’s Kitchenette, of the two open restaurants (recall that DDog was with us). Salads and the local brew for the boys; and a personal-size cast iron skillet of roasted Brussels Sprouts topped with crumbled bacon and blue cheese for me, plus a lovely Oregon white. Everyone was happy.

We left DS at GSP and routed home. Literally five minutes into our drive he messaged that he had cleared security and was at his gate. In good order we were home, too.

Did we genuinely enjoy the weekend? Weather aside, yes. We came, we saw, we learned, and boy, did we eat! Would we visit Greenville again? Absent a specific occasion, likely not. It isn’t that we didn’t enjoy a lovely weekend, it is that Knoxville has everything Greenville has. We suspect that Asheville will prove similar, but in the name of all things barbeque we will most definitely collect another data point.

Thank you for reading.

fourfortravel Nov 26th, 2019 01:12 PM

Originally Posted by Gretchen (Post 17021684)
Not being familiar with your (now I know wonderful) trip reports, I am SO relieved you found the Wyeth collection.
Greenville is really a happening town these days. Seemingly a well kept secret.

Gretchen, I loved the Wyeth collection. Greenville has a lot going for it, agreed. I shall PM you for that barbeque recipe. We'll have a crowd at the house for the New Year's Day bowl games that I'll need to feed. :)

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