Sunday, November 6, 2011

Reliving the past in Charleston

Nov. 2-Nov. 5, Charleston, South Carolina
We heard about an amazing county campground in Charlotte but we had also been given the recommendation from a couple in Willow Tree to check out the Plantation Oaks Campground just south of the city. The price was good, the sites were large, and we were happy with the proximity, so we pulled in for three nights.  High on Vic’s list for visiting Charleston was a trip to Ft. Sumter National Park which requires a ferry ride.  We investigated the plan and headed out fairly early the next morning to the waterfront area where you catch the ferry.  The whole ride was part of the tour.  It was pretty fascinating to imagine the Union trying to battle the Confederate soldiers from this small atoll.  Of course, we all remember this place as being known for the dubious distinction of the first shots of the Civil War being fired here.  The tour took about two hours and the bonus was the beautiful day we chose with terrific views of the harbor and city shoreline. Charleston itself is a foodie's dream come true so we found a terrific old ale house for lunch on the downtown before heading back to relieve the dogs of their time in their crates.

A view of the island of Ft. Sumter from the ferry

Fort Sumter memorial plaque

Ruins of officer quarters at Fort Sumter

North America's largest cable bridge in Charleston Harbor

Charleston day two called for a visit to a Southern Plantation. (We were thinking of going to one in Savannah until I read—and then was reminded—that General Sherman burned them all in his march to Atlanta). I read about several classic plantations to visit, but one stood out the most, as it is still a working plantation today: Boone Hall Plantation. The entry is almost a mile of two-three hundred year old live oak trees arching over the driveway. The house itself was incredible—the movie The North and The South with Patrick Swayze was filmed here as well and scenes from The Notebook (especially the famous scene with Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams in the rowboat on the Ashley River). The plantation has preserved several slave cabins which were incredible to visit as each had a flat screen TV with video footage and music that enabled visitors to see what the cabins would have looked like inside and also hear music from that era. We also took a 30 minute buggy ride around the plantation where we could see the farm crops still being grown which included mainly strawberries, corn, pumpkins, tomatoes, and peppers. Our last stop at the plantation was at their own farmer’s market kitchen where we had blue crab chowder, fresh biscuits, and a glass of wine. We both agreed this was a worthwhile tourist attraction to visit.
Boone Plantation's  grand entry of live oaks

Boone Plantation estate home

Four-hundred-year old live oak on Boone Plantation

Boone Plantation slave quarters in background

Slave quarter cabin at Boone Plantation
 Our last day in Charleston took us back to explore the amazing city.  I especially wanted to walk the famous Broad Street and explore the many shops and restaurants of this incredibly charming place.  (What a contrast to Myrtle Beach!)  We finished our tour of Charleston by finding the famous Citadel—the military institute which played a big role in at least two of Conroy’s books: The Lords of Discipline and The Great Santini.  It looked way less imposing than my mental image of it.

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