South Carolina and North Carolina
Apr 5, 2012
|Our time in these two states was a mix of beaches, cities and Appalachian Mountains - all very beautiful with such rich history: Antebellum homes, Revolutionary and Civil Wars.
* Spent a fun day at Folly Beach on James Island right outside of Charleston. Biking was good, enjoyed the surfers and an outdoor restaurant across street from the Tides Hotel where they were having a sand sculpture contest. At the restaurant we met Bo and Mack, a gentle pit bull and sweet American Bulldog whose "parents" gave us some excellent tips on "must do's" in Charleston. They were Michigan transplants who loved the area. Her field was restoration - seemed like a perfect fit.
* We stayed at "Plantation" campground which was full facility campground, laundry, great showers and warm weather. Location was good - 15 minutes from historic district.
* We toured two antebellum mansions - Aitken-Rhett house and the Russell house. First, example of preservation and second of restoration. First had furnishings family had purchased in Europe such as crystal, art and furniture but you could see the layers of history in paint and wall paper. Second had been restored with colors, wall paper, period furnishings to give you a feel of how it looked then...painstaking and expensive work involved in restoration. Both owners involved in cotton industry as plantation owners and/or cotton traders. Both used slaves to help manage the large mansions and plantations.
* Saw 7.2 million dollar home in historic district owned now by one of Boston Celtic owners...he also is in process of building a 22,000 square foot home in Boston...Very few homes in historic Charleston that aren't in excess of 1 million and are either still in families of original owners or "Celtic" type folks.
* Fort Sumter tour, where first shots of Civil War were fired was interesting...sits in middle of harbor and sure looked impregnable. Union shelled it for months upon months with confederate soldiers hanging on until near the end of the war.
* A house guide gave us a glimpse of 1800's life which one doesn't often think about with the opulence of the homes, food and lifestyle. Picture a town filled with horses, well fertilized streets, dust, heat, humidity, less then ideal sewage system, and people that only bathed a few times of year and you will understand the importance of perfume and perfumed kerchiefs to hold to ones nose when traveling. Houses were cold in winter and people wore many layers and dinners were served from 2:00 - 4:00 due to lack of light in homes.
* Bike trip over Ravenhauer Bridge and part of Sullivan Island.
* Tour of the USS Yorktown (retired aircraft carrier) that saw duty in WWII, Vietnam, and as a shuttle recovery ship for Apollo Astronauts. Floating city but without luxury of a cruise ship.
* Great visit with Ray, Robin and Tyler, former Kutzke neighbors in Columbia, SC. So good to catch up with them and see Tyler, their 3 year old who was full of energy, smiles, laughter and energy. Ray's surgical practice is going great and we enjoyed kayaking on lake they live on, dinner in the city and relaxing. Thanks Ray, Robin and Tyler.
* Asheville NC is a very cool city! Artsy, college town, with beautiful forests, mountain biking, parks. Seems like a very progressive city. The Vanderbilts' Biltmore "Castle" is there and is a major employer today. We really enjoyed our stay and learned more about the state of art technology of the day on a Butler's tour of the mansion and the art of restoration as Biltmore has been restored. There are acres upon acres of gardens and we hit them in full bloom - tulips, azaeleas and many more we couldn't identify.
* Met "Ric" at the Cedric Tavern on the grounds. A retired jeweler who had spent last year biking across the US (east to west). Still into adventuring and told us we couldn't miss traveling on the Blue Ridge Parkway - 469 miles of two lane road through the mountains. Enjoyed a couple hours of conversation over beers with Ric. Found out his son lives a few blocks from Ryan in Brooklyn.
* Blue Ridge Parkway led us from Asheville to the Virginia border. Gorgeous...like stepping back into the 50's (yes, I can remember), narrow two lane roads, surrounded by lush forests traveling the ridges of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Scenic overviews every few miles with no billboards, 45mph speed limit and no commercial vehicles or businesses. It was the most peaceful drive we have had in our travels.