Tag Archives: Charleston

Day 11 – From Savannah to Charleston

Swamps dominate this region of the South.

Swamps dominate this region of the South.

Once the ride was over, we did a little shopping in the marketplace, then returned to the car to drive on; this time we went via Route 17 over the massive cable bridge over the river to enter South Carolina; This is a cultural corridor, with all the signs of local culture; the first thing you see is a gentlemen’s club with live entertainment. Shortly after that is a billboard advertising a fully automatic shooting range. Then the cap it all off, there is a billboard advertising hospital services for those who did not fare well at the first two cultural establishments.

Driving on to Charleston seemed to take longer, but we made it just before sunset, so we could see the bridge to Mt. Pleasant.

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Day 4 – Wrapping up a full day

Fort Moultrie, with a World War 2 tower upgrade.

Fort Moultrie, with a World War 2 tower upgrade.

Once back in the car, Mum insisted on going to the Old Charleston Port – we made it there with just an hour to view it, and were assured by employees that they would lock us in if we were not out of there at the appointed hour – no public announcements, nothing, tough luck, and thanks for visiting. We paid, and once Mum went in, she realized how BIG the site was- so we gave up on it, visiting the exhibit hall, and escaping with time to spare.

A visit to Fort Moutrie on the Northern side of the Harbor was our penultimate stop – it was closed for the day, but we walked a little on the beach, and walked in front of the brick fort that replaced the original Palmetto log fort of long ago. That first fort is why they opted to put the Palmetto on their seal; it defied a British fleet in a duel of 31 American Cannon against a foe with 300 cannon. The next time the British struck, they bypassed the fort entirely.

The views there were impressive, but flat – the coast a long dark line in the slowly setting sun, with nary a hill to be noted. No wonder the Sullivan Island Light, which we saw on the way back, was so tall – and angularly ugly, looking more like an end station for a fort than a lighthouse.

After a brief drive over to Patriots Point to see what we could, we returned to the hotel for a well deserved nap.

Day 4 – The City Market

Trixie and Pops with Bob and Dustin after the ride.

Trixie and Pops with Bob and Dustin after the ride.

Thanks to Trixie – who behaved wonderfully – we had the front seats, and a good view of everything. Once the tour was over, Pops took Trixie to the car to fetch her carriage so we could go into the marketplace – Mom started there first, and had such a good time we may have to return.   In any case, we saw plenty of unique arts & crafts, including sweetgrass baskets, a unique art form here. We got one of course.

Once Mum exhausted herself in the market, we drove to the Battery and Pops got out to take some photos – once it was a battery of guns to defend the city, but now it is a park, dominated by live oak trees, and the relics of long obsolete canons. A memorial to Confederates who defended Sumter is there – reminding any Southerner about their lost cause for all eternity.

 

Day 4 – A Carriage Ride through Charleston

The streets of Charleston, SC

The streets of Charleston, SC

Once we returned to shore and visited the shore museum, we drove on to get a carriage ride. These we could catch near the old city market. Mum was thrilled to see they had a private carriage ready to go – for a mere $150 for an hour’s ride. Not feeling quite that rich, the three of us opted to go to the Old South Carriage Barn, and took a ride in the ‘bus’ version, which could seat 12 brave souls behind a gray-white horse named Bob, who was being directed by a great guide named Dustin.

There are 32 carriages in the city, but only 20 are permitted on the street at any one time. So we had a brief wait, before going off from the city center market towards the churches, through the historic streets, and on to the Battery at the end of the peninsula that the city clings to. The talk was quite informative, as he noted any building over 75 years old is considered an old house, and therefore cannot be demolished.

They vary of course, from the colorful and fanciful to the more mundane, all built from brick, since stone is so rare that it was shipped in from New Jersey. Some buildings were covered with a façade to make it look like stone, but wood was a rarity, due to fire hazards, and insect damage. Not to mention water damage – Charleston is below sea level in places, and surely any major storm would flood these narrow streets.

Day 4 – Aboard Spirit of the Low Country

Church Spires of Charleston, South Carolina

Church Spires of Charleston, South Carolina

The boat, Spirit of the Low Country was a three decked tour boat, made up to look like a side wheel paddle wheeler; the façade of the wheels hid stairs to the upper level, and it was propelled by screws. Mom and Trixie settled down in the aft of the mid-deck cabin, which was the deck we got on the ship from the dock. I would circulate from side to side, taking tons of photos during the two and a half hour tour.

The boat left the dock and followed the city’s eastern coastline, providing splendid views of the more developed areas – the warehouses and the cruise line dock – before reaching the older part of the city, out at the point. Charleston Harbor is vast, and the audio tour indicated it was one of the five largest ports in the United States, and one of the two largest on the East Coast. Having seen Miami, Norfolk, and New York, I am not so sure about that – but in New York’s case – and Philadelphia – it may be that the ‘port’ is fragmented beyond the city proper, and hence does not count in their way of considering things.

Day 4 – Preparing to visit Charleston

Leaving for Fort Sumter; the mainland museum is on the left, the aquarium to the right.

Leaving for Fort Sumter; the mainland museum is on the left, the aquarium to the right.

We awoke earlier than we expected, and after hearing the weather, we opted to go to Fort Sumter first. Better to be at sea before rain and a thunderstorm rolled in. Actually, aside from a few spits of rain, the skies were partially overcast, and the weather warm and pleasant.

There are two ways to get there by ferry; one is by way of Patriots Point, where the USS Yorktown is moored as a museum ship. The other is from Charleston, next to the Aquarium. We opted to take the 9:00 boat from the Aquarium, and managed to be first in line after getting the tickets. Yes, Trixie made it out to Fort Sumter before her boy did, the lucky dog.

The landside museum to the fort resembled an old warehouse from the era of tall ships, with a long flight of steps up to what would be the second floor; the ground floor is an open area of brick columns. Given the fact that the city is prone to flooding, you can see why they would want the museum up on stilts to keep it high and dry. We did go in before the tour so Mum could use the facilities – and inadvertently wound up in the administration area, as they had not properly locked the elevator down.

The museum was rather small, with a few key artifacts, such as one of the flags flown from the fort, and a chair from the secessionist meeting that made South Carolina opt to leave the Union. These and a small gift shop we explored after visiting the fort.

While waiting, we saw dolphins in the harbor, just popping up and down, teasing us.

Day 3: Arriving in Charleston, South Carolina

We eventually had to stop and refill the car, but nice filling stations seem to be few and far between here.  But we did find one.  Presumably a prosperous town lies nearby, because the gas station attendant was busy locking up and rolling down steel shudders that would have been about adequate to keep the walking dead at bay. Yes, North Carolina was shaping up to be everything Pops had heard it was.

We made it out of that state and into South Carolina under the cloak of darkness – and the entertainment of “Captain’s Duty” – an audio book by Captain Phillips, who had been seized by Somali Pirates in 2010, and was rescued by Navy Seals.

Approach Charleston at night, and you won’t see the city – its too dark, and low. You will see the highways, which snake around like they were laid out by a kid gone crazy with a hot wheel stunt set. Luckily, we found out way across the bridge to Mount Pleasant, and to the hotel – far too late for Trixie’s tastes, but the room was quiet, clean, and when you’re tired, that’s all that really counts.