My family and I spent the first week of October vacationing in charming Charleston, SC. I lived in the area for many years and, in fact, met my husband at Charleston Southern University. Although I did make occasional visits to the city, I took for granted living near such a beautiful and historic tourist destination.
Going back to my “home town” as tourists was quite fun! We rented a guest house in the heart of downtown. I had cooked our dinners ahead of time, froze them, and took them with us to warm and serve there. Eating in five nights saved a lot of money! We also enjoyed packing our lunches before heading out the door most days. We did eat one lunch out at Hyman’s Seafood Restaurant and one breakfast out Saturday morning at the Farmer’s Market in Marion Square.
We spent one day at Charles Towne Landing, a state park located at the site of the English settlement of 1670. It was the birthplace of the plantation system of the South and one of the major port cities of the New World. Since the kids are studying about early American history, the visit here was timely! We started in the visitor center where we participated in a “digital dig” uncovering sewing needles, tea cups, and buttons. We then walked through the Animal Forest where we saw pelicans, two cute otters wrestling (I determined they must have been brothers!), a black bear, all animals that the original settlers would have encountered, minus the fences! We toured the original settlement area, including reconstructed fortifications, the protective palisade (wall), and crop garden. The kids enjoyed boarding the Adventure, Charleston’s only 17th Century replica sailing ship, similar to the trader ship which carried supplies and livestock between New Amsterdam (present day New York) and Barbados during colonial times. We strolled through live oak alley which created a canopy over a huge lawn. The kids also loved climbing the trees and seeing Spanish moss everywhere! Near the pond, we watched an alligator swim, then get out of the water to stalk a bird. I think our presence delayed his lunch attack because when he saw us, he jumped back into the water and was gone like a shot!
After an early dinner that night, we headed for sunset at Sullivan’s Island. I took my tripod and camera to try and get a family picture. Family pictures are not our favorite thing to do. Actually, they are pretty stressful as I find myself yelling at my kids to look at the camera, brush sand off their pants, put their hands down, and smile, all while running to get in the picture myself! Maybe next time, we need to take Aunt Betty with us!
The next day we toured the USS Yorktown, the tenth aircraft carrier to serve the US Navy. The Yorktown recovered the Apollo 8 astronauts in 1968 when they landed in the Pacific Ocean. Our first stop was the Smokey Stover Theater to watch the hour long 1944 documentary “The Fighting Lady,” which was filmed aboard the USS Yorktown. It was very interesting and we learned that the Yorktown’s participation in the Pacific Offensive against Japan helped the US defeat them in 1945. The kids climbed into the cockpit of a Cougar jet before we ascended the stairs to the flight deck and walked around the planes and a helicopter on display. While touring, we looked over the side of the ship and spotted two to three dolphins playing in the water. They were fascinating to watch, one even made a lap around the ship. We had hoped one would jump out of the water and do a twist in the air and flap a fin at us, but it didn’t happen! The kids took turns sitting in the Captain’s Chair, and we enjoyed our six different tours which took us all over the ship and up and down countless sets of steep stairs. We saw fragments of Japanese planes that were shot down by Yorktown and lots of other memorabilia. We learned that at one time the ship was even home to a dog named “Scrappy” that some sailors found on the dock at Pearl Harbor and smuggled aboard! The USS Clamagore is a submarine that we also toured, and obviously it was a much quicker tour! After our day at Patriots Point, we headed once again for sunset at Sullivan’s Island. On this night, tidal pools had formed near the sand dunes, where we let the kids swim in their clothes and play in the sand. I found a live conch shell, and Lindsay found three whole sand dollars. I love taking photos on the beach!
On Thursday, we had reservations for a Charleston carriage tour ride. When we showed up at the big red barn, our tour guide turned out to be someone we knew from our previous church in Apex, NC. As we talked with Jeremy (who is now living and working in Charleston after graduating from college) after our very informational and humorous tour, we discovered that it was supposed to be Jeremy’s day off and that he did not even work for the carriage company we had tickets with. We were not even supposed to leave on the 10:00 carriage tour! Only God could have worked that out, and we enjoyed catching up with him. I believe the Lord allows those kind of “coincidences” (which I call God appointments) to happen for a reason…I’ve had the chance to pray for Jeremy specifically. When we left the barn, we walked the streets of Charleston, taking in the sights, a little Ben and Jerry’s ice cream (coffee coffee buzz buzz buzz is the bomb!), and the Marketplace. We actually did a lot of walking that week. The weather was absolutely gorgeous! You cannot beat October in Charleston! I love it! We walked to Waterfront Park and enjoyed the swings on the dock and looking at the fountains, especially the Pineapple water fountain. We noted that a Carnival cruise ship was docked at the terminal, and traffic was crazy. We ended the day touring Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island and then visiting the beach again. At the beach, we watched the same cruise ship head out to sea, along with several cargo ships. The kids played in the water and we walked quite a distance to watch a group of people wind surf. I think I could move to the beach…I love those Carolina sunsets!
On our last full day, we visited the Charleston Museum. This was a special request from Logan. We had driven by it several times, and he really wanted to see it. It was an impressive museum! A special exhibit featured antique silver serving pieces and platters. There was a Civil War room complete with dress up clothes. The boys dressed up as Confederate soldiers, and Lindsay and I donned hoop skirts! Those things took some coordination to wear! A children’s area taught the kids about sea shells and why fiddler crabs are called fiddler crabs (one front claw is larger which looks like a fiddle and the other front claw is considerably smaller and looks like a bow). There was a colonial play house with toys, games, and clothes for the kids to play with. We saw lots of animals, rocks, the famous polar bear, swords, and everything was so interesting! We took our picnic lunch to the Battery and ate in the shade of a palmetto tree. The kids loved climbing the huge trees. After lunch, we walked up Church Street, admired Two Meeting Street Inn, the Calhoun Mansion, and the Nathaniel Russell House, which houses the magnificent free-flying staircase.
Charleston has a charm all its own, and I loved our time there. It was great to get away and treasure time with my family. Charleston is a fun, family-friendly city to explore!