Downtown Charleston's Battery, with its beautiful homes and crystal clear horizon, is a tourist landmark and a runner's paradise. It also happens to be a cranky bladder's nightmare. We're not sure why one of those "going problem" commercials haven't been produced on this historic stretch of concrete that looks out on Fort Sumter and James Island, but it's only a matter of time.
Restrooms, particularly public restrooms, are nowhere in sight. Residents have complained about tourists asking to use their bathrooms. Even the closest businesses are a good walk from the Battery, and they hang prominent sings warning that restrooms are for patrons only.
With Managing Editor Chris Haire and Web Editor Joshua Curry, we headed out to test just how bad the long, dry walk could get.
Before attempting the feat, I did a little research and found that holding your pee too long can damage your urinary tract. But, knowing that I've had uncomfortable car trips longer than the Battery made me feel reasonably comfortable that I wouldn't be damaging anything.
We stopped at The Griffon, a downtown bar convenient to the waterfront. Not surprisingly, a sign on the door warned that the restrooms are just for customers. We had two pints and a tall glass of water, and then we headed out on the walk.
Even at the start, we already felt that slight tingle your body will give, saying, "Hey, I don't have to go yet, but don't go walking to the end of the peninsula with no bathroom." And that's exactly where we headed.
The first thing that hits you is the water. The pineapple fountain at Waterfront Park was running like a porcelain dream and, farther down the Battery, the saltwater maliciously lapped against the ocean wall.
Haire offered a bit of advice — getting your mind on other things — but not Curry. As a bystander/videographer, he'd happily relieved himself before we left the pub.
"Can you believe all the rain we've been having?" he asked not too far into the trek. "The way that it runs off the roof ..."
The trip down wasn't particularly bad, but when we got to the end of the Battery, two things struck me: 1. The urge to go was getting stronger. 2. We were half-way to the finish line — it was going to take just as long to get back to the land of 2,000 flushes.
We'd stopped to help tourists take pictures on the way down, but there was no time for politeness on the way back. I was a man on a mission, eventually abandoning Haire and Curry.
With a sufficient cramp, I walked up to the bathroom at The Griffon and encountered an obstacle I really should have expected: The loo was occupied. Fortunately it didn't take long (or the women's restroom would have been Plan B).
As we were walking back to the car, Curry, who didn't make a second trip to the restroom when we returned to the bar, commented that he should have gone before heading back to the car.
"You know," I said, smiling, "I can't believe all the rain we've been having.
"The way it runs off the roof ..."