Sunday, August 26, 2012

Doin' The Charleston

Have I mentioned my love affair with Charleston, SC? Knowing I was going to be spending ten days in Savannah, I knew that I wanted to have the opportunity to return to explore more of Charleston, since it's only just over two hours away. As mentioned, the College of Charleston is where I had wanted to do my undergrad and I had always wondered about the city, so I had taken a brief detour to look at Charleston en route from Ft Bragg, NC to Ft Stewart, GA during my August 2009 road trip away from Louisiana. What I'd seen in the two hours I'd walked around had created a strong desire for me to one day return....and this summer's trip created a great opportunity for that to occur.

I had wanted the opportunity to see four different things, all of which came to fruition:

#1 Checking out downtown historic Charleston
Amazing old architecture--almost all the streets downtown look like this on both sides 
Four corners of "law:" Post office (feds), church (religious), city hall & a state office

Lots of bike riders, pedestrians, & dog friendly establishments 

Grave of old Calhoun, buried on the non-Charlestonian side!

This old building shows a couple Charleston traits. One: the door on the left there opens to a patio where ladies could lounge in their undergarments to escape the heat and not be seen when the door was closed. Two: the cross you see between the rows of windows is actually a long bolt through the bricks that is there to help create "give" for earthquakes. 
The Hunley replica outside Charleston Museum. The Hunley has much unanswered mystery that surrounds it but it was the first effective submarine. 
Even the buses in Charleston look historic (and from what I could tell they were free!)

I paid for Tour Three (Historic Charleston & Ft Sumter) from GrayLine and was quite impressed with the information gained! I've come to realize that sometimes these tours are the way to start a trip in order to learn more about a place...and then one can go explore and photograph in depth further.

#2 Taking a tour out to Ft Sumter
The boat out to Ft Sumter. 

A tug boat passing in front of the largest suspension bridge in the USA, which is part of Charleston Harbor. 
Coming upon the fort--smaller than you'd expect! 

One of many cannons. 
You can see the various building materials in the walls AND the piece of shrapnel from the Northern forces that is lodged near the lower left corner of the rectangle.

#3 Getting a glimpse of the College of Charleston

Walking around campus, it was hard to envision myself walking those same stretches as an undergrad student, and only further made me sure that the Big Man knows what He's doing when He shuts one door and pushes us through another. (Although I sometimes still think I should have been a marine biologist!) Aspects of the campus were gorgeous and the tour guide earlier in the day had described some of the traditions that are still in practice for graduation (no graduation robes, instead long white dresses for gals and white suit jackets for guys). It was the first week of the term so campus was teeming with young students and I definitely felt like the older tourist walking through campus! :) Although I also had a moment of wondering what it'd be like to be faculty..

#4 Visiting a real Southern plantation
The moss draped drive up to the house. 
The antebellum era home. The tour of the home showed some period antiques and also presented history of the Boone Hall Plantation and this the 3rd home. (No pictures were allowed inside.)

Toward the back of the property--a view of the river which historically was the transportation route for getting goods to the plantation from Charleston. Here commenced the mosquito attack on my body which didn't let up til I vacated the property--pretty sure my admittance fee equated to $1 for every bite!

The slave cabins. This particular plantation started with Native American slaves before transitioning to African slaves later in its history. Equal mix of sadness and interest walking through this part of the property. Thoughts ensued that while I'm glad we've long ago moved away from slavery in this nation, the reality of dual racism is still so prevalent....
The old Cotton shed propped up. Other buildings included the dock house, horse stables, the smoke house, etc. The plantation still to this day functions as a farm.

I seriously felt like I saw most of what I'd wanted to see. I definitely wish I could have enjoyed more of the food and a bit more time just enjoying the city, but I at least feel that I got to enjoy much of the history and culture of the place. If you get the opportunity to explore, I'd highly encourage you to go check it out!

The drive back to Savannah was gorgeous as well with the pink sky ablaze from the sun setting over the lowcountry swamps and moss covered trees. I took a brief side trek through Beaumont, as some online reviews had mentioned it was worth seeing, but I didn't stay long and instead scurried on.

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