|We have found the South! Live oaks and palmettos plus sunny days and temperatures in the 70s welcomed us. We spent 3 nights in Lake Aire RV park near Charleston, and drove to the Visitors Center to get started on our tour. The Visitors Center here is very helpful with many different choices for tour buses or horse-drawn carriages, boat rides, and guided or self-guided walking tours. We enjoyed the film "Forever Charleston," which described the city and its heritage. We opted for self-guided walking tours aided by the Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH), which is a trolley system that runs frequently and has stops at many different places. We were only going to be in Charleston Tuesday and Wednesday, and the DASH was free both of those days because of a PGA promotion-a very lucky break for us!
With Pat Conroy's book South of Broad in our minds, we started walking south from the King and Broad Street intersection. We had listened to the book when we drove back from Arizona last spring. The diversity of the architectural styles and the many historical houses built before we became a country fascinated us. The streets and alleys were narrow, and we were happy not to have to maneuver a vehicle anywhere near them! Single houses which have a side entrance, second and often third story piazzas designed to catch breezes off the water, and a lovely southern charm were gorgeous. Double houses with a front entrance on the street and rooms on either side of the entrance, especially those on South Battery Street almost took our breath away with their splendor.
Everywhere we walked was wonderful and we never tired of the sight of courtyard gardens, beautiful architecture, and found White Point Gardens with its many monuments and views of the harbor especially lovely. We walked back to Broad Street via Water Street and Church Street spotting Catfish Row on the way, and rode the trolley back to the Visitors Center. It was a wonderful day for our first day in Charleston.
Because we had found sunshine and warm temperatures we decided a boat tour of the Charleston Harbor and a trip to Fort Sumter would be a nice way to start out second day of touring. The Fort can only be reached by boat since it is on a man-made island foundation of New England granite, and the Park Ranger even explained in her talk that it was always on Union "soil." We enjoyed the boat ride in the harbor with lots of different pleasure boats and commercial shipping. The new bridge over the Cooper River is North America's longest cable stay span and is a lovely sight. It was completed in 2005.
Fort Sumter was almost totally destroyed by the constant bombardment of the Union forces during the Civil War. There are several artillery shells that are still embedded in the brick walls from that time. The seige lasted 535 days and was the longest seige of modern warfare. The Massachusetts 54th, the first totally black regiment, was the first to enter. Let's hear it for Massachusetts!
The Yorktown CVA-10 is a floating museum in Charleston Harbor and was commissioned the Bonhomme Richard but was renamed after the sinking of the Yorktown CVA-5 at the battle of Midway. It went on to see dury in Vietnam but is most known for recovery of the Apollo 8 crew and capsule after the first manned flight around the moon and back to earth.
We walked along the river to Waterfront Park where wading is permitted in the fountain and signs are posted that there is no lifeguard on duty so one wades at their own risk. There are even 10 rules for use of the fountain and includes that one must shower before entering the water. We weren't sure exactly where to do this, so we ended our visit to Charleston without a "wade." The city is a beautiful southern city that has both charm and history.