Still hangin in Charleston
Dec 13, 2011
|Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Still here, still alive, still happy. Sunny day today, yippee. Been gloomy for a few. Gloomy days weren’t forecast but they done arrived anyway. How dare they, spoiling our vacation like that. Last Saturday we headed downtown to a farmer’s market. Ya, can you get over that, a farmer’s market in December. I dunno, they said things were local grown. Had some BIG carrots, nice lookin maters, lettuce and stuff. And I found some okra, been lookin for it so I can make a batch of jambalaya since I found some Andouille (ann-doo-ee) sausage here in a store. That’s a spicy sausage from Cajun country. Goes great with shrimp in jambalaya. Anyway the market was far more arts & crafts but it was good size.
After that we decided to tour an old house. There’s a bunch of em around town. Hard to pick just one, they’re all kinda expensive, so we went with the Aiken-Rhett House which “stands alone as one of the most intact buildings showcasing urban life in antebellum (pre-Civil War) Charleston” so says the brochure. We did enjoy it even tho it was dark and gloomy. This place still had intact slave quarters. There was a kitchen/laundry building behind the big house with slave rooms upstairs and a stable/carriage house with rooms above that. They had fancy outhouses also. It was a self-guided tour with an mp-3 player. Then we hit the big house. Unfortunately we found out that although the house had been lived in til 1975, hurricane Hugo in 1989 ripped a big chunk of the roof off and did a whole bunch of water damage. Was sad to see. It is owned by an historical society and they fixed the roof but decided not to restore the interior as that would affect the historical value. The place had 3 drawing rooms (don’t ask me why they are called “drawing” rooms) that could be opened up as one. Anyway these rooms were closed off in 1918 (can ya believe it?) and not used again. One of the more interesting items were the windows leading from the drawing rooms onto the veranda. They were triple hung windows that were also used as doors. In case that doesn’t mean anything to you, on many houses there are double hung windows. These open from the bottom and you push the bottom pane up covering the top pane. So these are triple and the bottom 2 are pushed up creating a door (see photo). They also had a “joggling board.” Whassat you say? Well kinda entertainment thing I guess. Invented here in the low country, check out photo.
Following that we walked down to the waterfront and went thru the Fort Sumter visitor center. I had planned on going out to the fort but my cheapness got in the way, everything costs bucks around here. So instead we looked at the pictures. That’s an inside joke. Years ago we were in California redwood tree country with several other folks walking trails looking at the big trees. We decided to walk to one more tree when one of the gals said “What do you want to walk way over there for just to see another tree, there’s a picture of it right here in the brochure.” We laughed long and hard then and still chuckle about it frequently. Now whenever something’s more expensive than we want to pay or too far and there’s a picture we say “We don’t need to see it, there’s a picture right here.”
Made a quick run to a Camping World store. Had to get some new water filters and looking for a new grill. We were looking for a Baby Q by Weber. They didn’t have one but had another model. We thought it might be too big for us to store and carry. A guy said to check Lowes down the road, a Lowes is the same as a Home Depot. We asked a guy at Lowes where the grills were and he took us over there and asked what we were looking for. They had a Q similar in size to the one at Camping World but it had a few more features on it and was $30 higher. We figure the Baby Q had been replaced by this model. Anyway the guy asked how much they were at Camping World and we told him. Then he said how bout if I knock $20 off the price. Wait a minute, we’re in a BIG BOX STORE, who dickers on price with those guys? So for an extra 10 bucks we got more features. The guy was a manager and he said tell the checkout person Rodney put the new price on. So Merry Xmas to you to Rodney.
Sunday was a lay-back day. Putzed on stuff and then watched the Packers throttle Oakland. Was another crummy day anyway.
Monday was rainy again and got going late. We drove in the country to THE ONLY tea plantation in North America. Yup, the only tea grown in North America is on a 127 acre farm in the low country. So now I’ll bore ya with those damn statistics that you probably just don’t know but are dying to learn. Over 50% of the tea consumed in the US comes from what country? Nope not China, Argentina. In the US about 85% of tea drank is iced and down south its 99%. The 3 main types of tea, black, oolong and green all come from the same plant. Herbal tea does not come from a real tea plant, it’s just mashed up herbs and stuff. So where does tea come from. Well it is a bush that looks like a hedge. The actual bushes at this tea plantation came from China in the mid 1800’s and were planted several hundred miles away. Then when the owner wanted to start growing here he got cuttings from those bushes and planted them here. A bush will live for a hundred years or more. They let them grow to about 3’ high before harvesting. Then about 3” – 5” of just the top leaves are nipped off. They have a large one-of-a-kind machine that does this. They only want the tender top growth. It takes 14 – 20 days for new tender leaves to grow back and then it is harvested again. About 18 – 20 cuttings take place between April and November.
Ok, so how do they get 3 kinds of tea from the same leaves. I don’t want to get too lengthy or carried away here so I’ll try to keep it short. The leaves are layed out and dried for 18 hours, not 17, not 19, 18. Then they are finely crushed, this exposes the cells of the leaf to oxygen. So here is the secret, to make black tea the leaves are allowed to oxygenate for 50 minutes, for oolong tea the oxygenation is 15 minutes and green tea is not allowed to oxygenate at all. Then the leaves are quickly dried which seals in the flavor. After that they are put thru a couple sieves to clean out any branches or junk then it is more finely chopped and voila – ya got yerself a cup a tea.
Oofda, you’d think that was all we could handle for one day but no, there’s more. Now we headed to the Holiday Festival of Lights. This was something that Barb had read about last year in an RV magazine. It is held at a county park outside of Charleston. There is a CG in the park and many RVers go there and volunteer setting up lights for the show. We checked into camping there but at $44/nite, no thanks. But we had to take in the lights. It cost $12/vehicle to get in, so more bucks. But I have to admit it was unlike anything I have ever seen. Now to you Nordern MN folks, yes it is somewhat like Bentleyville, but you drive thru it. There is a 3 mile drive in the park and the lights are everywhere. Most of them are figures of objects, some are xmas related like toys, elves and the like but there are sections on dinosaurs, planets, animals, bugs etc. and many were in motion. I have to admit we were impressed. There is a section in the center of the drive where you can get out and walk thru a large area. They had just a great sand sculpture showing Santa delivering presents to mermaids under the sea. There were also lifesize xmas cards made by different schools. And just a fantastic music and light show with lights dancing faster than anything I’ve seen. Then they had a bunch of food booths and a couple carnival type rides for the kids and a couple big gift shops. I can’t remember how many miles and miles of extension cords they use, but a lot. I can’t believe this was all done inside a county park. Since we were there early it was still a little light on our first round so we went around again in the real dark. Oh what an exciting life we lead, once ain’t nuff, ya gots to go roun twice!
Yay, nice and sunny today. I typed all morning (groan, I wish I could learn to keep my mouth shut) while B did another load of laundry. In the afternoon we shoved off and headed for town. We had to get our mail but we violated our mail rule which is “don’t get mail sent to a town where there is more than one post office.” At least it is now a rule for sure. Barb had spent about an hour trying to find out which post office general delivery mail is sent to and finally got an answer. But when we got to town there was still a snafu cause there are 2 post offices downtown and we didn’t know that. Anyway we finally got an envelope in our hands so it all worked out.
We wandered around town for a while to kill time cause at 7 we went to church. Ya, ya, da folks dat know me is sayin “whaaaaat!” “Highland in a church.” “Must be a weddin or funeral.” Nope we went to the Praise House to learn about Gullah. That’s right, Gullah. Its part culture, part language and part tradition of the African Americans along the coast in these here parts. You could liken it to Cajun down in Louisiana.
A Praise House was what the slaves called their places of worship. 4 black women put on a presentation using the Gullah language and did some wonderful singing. It was very entertaining and we are really glad we went. It was some good hand clapping foot stomping music. And so ended our time in Charleston. Tomorrow we’re heading south.