Ashley River at Magnolia Plantation
The first thing you think about when someone says “Charleston” is Live Oak Trees draped in Spanish Moss and large, beautiful plantation houses. We saw both and a whole lot more . . .
Magnolia Plantation is one of the original rice plantations along the Ashley River. The plantation was once over 1000 acres. Today you are able to view the restored Plantation House, walk the gardens and grounds, take a guided boat ride through the old rice fields (the area is permanently flooded now to create a wildlife sanctuary), take a guided train ride through the grounds or walk though the Audubon Swamp Gardens. Admission is somewhat pricey but worth it.
Magnolia Plantation Flooded Rice Fields – Working Plantation; Today these fields are the Wildlife Sanctuary
Do you know the difference between an Oak and a Live Oak? A Live Oak stays green all year long. That why the Spanish Moss always looks so majestic and southern. I’m just full of facts today. . .did you know that Spanish Moss is neither Spanish or a moss? It’s an airborne plant that is part of the pineapple family.
We didn’t see any alligators during our boat ride because of the weather (cool and somewhat windy) but the birds were incredible. The largest alligator in this sanctuary is over 30 feet long and weighs over 900 lbs. It is against the law to feed the alligators so they survive on the natural foods found in this waterway – lots of ducks and other small birds. The caretakers have named all the alligators and keep records of the matings, where the hatcheries are in the marsh and track the survival of young gators. This was one of the most interesting tours we’ve taken.
If you look closely at the “Ducks” photo above, you see a greenish shadow around the
ducks. This photo is a close-up of the vegetation. At first glance, it appears to be an algae
on the water but is actually a plant. Each little speck of green is a single plant and under
the surface of the water you can see that each one has a root system.
To continue our exploration of Civil War history, we took the harbor cruise out to Fort Sumter. The boat ride out includes a recorded narration of the history of Charleston and the role that Fort Sumter played in the history of the city. You are met at the pier by US Park Service Rangers who conduct a 15-minute lecture about the fort and are available to answer questions for the hour that you have to explore on your own.
Cannon Row at Fort Sumter
Can you believe we actually found a new way to eat Blue Crabs? We stopped at a local seafood shack called “Fishnet Seafood” to get crabs and realized that they were selling them deep-fried not steamed! We agree – deep fried seemed a bit strange BUT. . .when in SC, we decided to eat like the locals and guess what. . .they were good. The crabs are rolled in corn meal and deep-fried just like shrimp or oysters.
Crabs – Charleston Style
The Market and The Battery in downtown Charleston are “don’t miss” sites. The Market is a multi-block flee market with all kinds of local wares as well as “tourist” items. The Market area also includes boutique shops, food, food and more food.
The sweet grass baskets were absolutely beautiful and one of the local specialties – cost is rather pricey but the basket are all handmade. This is a craft that has survived since the days of slavery and has evolved into a cottage industry for the locals.
The Three Sisters (or, The Brunette, The Redhead & The Blond) – This is a great example
of the different Charleston Architectures. Many of the balconies built like these on the
second floor were curved in the front to provide room for the ladies’ hoop skirts.
Remember the Aunt’s Charleston Home in “The Patriot” – this is it. In the movie you saw the
children run un the steps from the
street door to the porch and enter the house.
It was the
custom in Charleston during the mid-1800’s to use these street doors as a sign of whether
or not the family was accepting visitors in the afternoon. The door does not open into the
house but into the garden. The door would be open if visitors were welcome for afternoon
refreshments and visiting. Note the color of the ceiling on the piazza – this was said to
repel insects. Also, the shutters appear to be black. This is an example of Charleston Green.
The Union supplied the South with gallons of plant during the Restoration – mostly Black.
The residents added tinting to the black paint and came up with this color – if you are close
and in the sunlight it does have a green tint.
The Battery is the point where the Ashley and Cooper Rivers meet at the foot of Charleston Harbor. The park is beautiful and buffers the mansions from the open harbor. The carriage ride we took toured the historic houses and circled The Battery. We later walked down Meeting Street from The Market to The Battery and back to Riverfront Park.
The public pier at Riverfront Park has
swings and this is a self-photo. The view of the
river at sunset was beautiful!
We saved our trip to Patriots Point and the USS Yorktown for Veteran’s Day. We arrived just in time to attend the awards ceremony and dedication. This year’s dedication was directed to Veterans of Korea. We spent most of the day walking through self-guided tours on the Yorktown.
There is a Flight Simulator (F-16) on the Hangar Deck and Ron wanted so bad to experience the ride. Learning that the simulator capsule has seats for 14 or 15 people on each ride, he decided to check out the “space” before committing to the ride. He claimed the stairs, sat in a seat – with the door open – and immediately got out! The operator even offered to let him go by himself but his claustrophobia took over and he wanted out!
We decided to have lunch in the Officer’s Mess on board. The meal was a duplicate of one that would have been served while on active duty – baked chicken or meat balls, rice, salad, vegetables and roll – served on an authentic metal mess tray. Nothing fancy and the signed told you to “bus your own area.”
As we walked and climbed all over this aircraft carrier, it became obvious that if the sailors were tall or big, life would not have been comfortable. There were countless stairwells and narrow hallways most of which were only big enough for one person to pass at a time.
The mess areas were interesting. In the bakery, there were ovens large enough to bake 10,000 cookies or 100+ loaves of bread at one time. The cookie recipe called for 500 eggs, 200 lbs of flour and 50 lbs of sugar!
When we got to the engine room tour, after three decks down, I (Nancy) said enough! I wasn’t going any deeper into the bowels of the ship just to look at another diesel engine. . .
My (Nancy) Great Uncle served on the USS Enterprise during WWII as a Master Sergeant on the Flight Deck. The museum contained lots of history and information about the battles and experiences of the all of the carriers that have been part of the carrier fleet.
Patriots Point from the USS Yorktown Flight Deck
USS Yorktown – Look at how small the yacht looks compared to the carrier Patriots Point Pier
Veteran’s Day Ceremony
NEXT STOP: SAVANNAH, GA