Friday, Dec. 2nd
A short journey today as we leave Myrtle Beach and head down to Charleston about 120 miles south on SR17 – so basically one road all the way – easy…
Well it turned out to be an easy day on the navigation but Betsy still got her moments of stress and a few gripping moments for me (hands on the wheel). I did say at the end of my last blog entry “driving adventures tomorrow”…
As we set off down the 17 I said to Betsy “looks like a blowy day today” as the leaves swirled over the road in front of us and the trees seemed to lean over as if throwing those leaves at us. I thought nothing of it as a few of the gusts wobbled us a little but not enough to send me from between my two white lines and anyway the road wasn’t too busy so I could get used to my “Sea Breeze” in a stiff breeze without traffic. Within the first hour the breeze became a wind and the traffic arrived with it. Ooh, the fun began – we noticed that some of those bendy trees started to throw their branches away with their leaves. The gusts got me to grip a little tighter and it became a fight at times to stay my line, important when you are flanked by trucks. Betsy seemed to be hanging on as much as me! – think she was glad that she didn’t have the wheel to grip though.
Now I had the hang of it and possibly had a little bit of a “Southern Ocean grin” on my face – never get complacent – look at the road ahead… It seemed to rise into the sky and disappear – like a ramp built for a stunt driver to jump a canyon, did I ever tell you I wanted to be a stunt driver? Did I ever think my first stunt would be driving a bus towing a car? Oh well nowhere else to go so it was up, up (just like on a roller coaster, you look up knowing that when you get to the top there will be a moment of emptiness then a quick fill of adrenaline on the way down) and as we went up and up the wind went up and up with us, not so much with us as across us, gusting and trying to throw us over. How I wished I had some roller coaster rails to stick too. Over the top we went and down the other side – wow, made it, toad still there. What a ride, glad that’s over – I think Betsy had taken a couple of dozen pictures as the camera is her something to grip! Before getting to Charleston the “Windy bridge ride” got repeated another three times, the bridges got higher and longer (my Southern Ocean grin got wider) and we ended up with loads of bridge pictures for the album. Seriously though I think it was my most stressful drive time so far, having said that its one of those experiences that I sort of enjoy too – afterwards! We got to Lake Aire campsite just south of the town by 2pm so after a nice cup of tea we unhooked toad and went for a drive into Charleston, a real town, very busy, loads of traffic and no parking spaces – what a way to chill out after a few miles on the road, anyway sussed it all out for tomorrow.
We knew exactly where to park the car – we had sussed a multi-story not far into town and close to our first visit. We were first in for the boat trip to Fort Sumter, this is a manmade island 3miles into Charleston habour with a fort built on it. This is now a ruin with only one of its original three stories left – it’s the place where the first shot of the American Civil War took place. After that it was held under constant bombardment for 20 months; www.nps.gov/fosu There is an exhibition/museum shore side with many stories and civil war artefacts including what is left of a 38’ x 20’ flag flown at the fort during the initial bombardment of 36 hours when over 3000 canon shots were fired. Then a 30 minute boat trip to the fort where you can wander around and/or listen to the ranger tell some of the battle stories. After the return trip we wandered into town. It was and still is a very important port. The grand houses are left over from the rich families here at the time of slave trading and the golden rice grown in the many plantations surrounding this prosperous “capitol of the south”. We lunched at AW Shucks a restaurant featured in one of the guidebooks and as our companions at the Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede night recommended us to try when in town, we ordered the shrimp and grits (one portion – just in case and the seafood casserole as a backstop). It turned out the shrimp and grits were great – very heavy on the cream and so was the casserole so we had an afternoon of walking off lunch. Did I mention we washed it all down with a Carolina Blond – a nice beer (but we can all fantasize).
The walk took us round many of the large houses down to the southern tip of this peninsular between the rivers Ashley and Cooper. We took a guided tour round Nathaniel house built by the very monied Russell family in 1808. I think lunch had gone down as we made it back to the car and returned home (yes it is now) to write this blog.