Soul of the South~3

The next morning, after a good breakfast of eggs and sausage at the hotel — before we turned north toward  Charleston, South Carolina — we visited Tybee Island and the Atlantic Ocean

Love, Susan

That little red car down there is our rental.  There really wasn’t too much else to look at.

Some of Tybee Island reminded me of South Padre Island, where garages are “see-through,” protecting the rest of the house from high tides and hurricane floods.

We crossed the Talmadge Bridge one more time and steered toward Hilton Head.

The land was wet and marshy on the other side of the bridge.

In some places, trees branched out over the road, crossing clear to the other side.

We didn’t find anything for us at Hilton Head.  We stayed long enough to pick up a sandwich at Arby’s.

In Charleston that evening we found a room in the heart of town near Market Street.  It was an old Days Inn but it worked fine.  We weren’t going to spend much time there.

When we woke up the next morning it was raining, as predicted, but by 9 a.m. the sky was clearing so we decided to visit Fort Sumter, which is located on Sullivan Island and the only access is by boat.

I wasn’t taking a picture of the bridge behind us, but of dolphins playing near our boat.  By the way, we saw that the sister cities of Savannah and Charleston have sister bridges.  This bridge is called the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.

Our captain told us that the row of large homes on the point of Charleston gave residents a good view of the shelling and attacks on Fort Sumter — first by the Confederates in 1861 and then by the North for the next years until they took it back in 1865.

We could see the island ahead of us, outlined on the horizon by the morning sunlight, with seagulls flying here and there.

Allan took a few pictures, too. 

Sitting in the middle of the Charleston Harbor, the island gave the city protection from all angles.

I suspect the dock we were approaching didn’t exist in 1861.

As we stepped off the boat, a photographer was taking everybody’s picture.  Yes, we bought one.

I could see the big houses that were lined up on the point at Charleston.

This is the story:  South Carolina seceded from the Union, yet Union forces still occupied Fort Sumter.  The South demanded that Fort Sumter be vacated.  The North refused to vacate.

On April 12th, 1861, South Carolina Confederate troops from nearby Fort Johnson fired on Fort Sumter.  It was the start of a two-day bombardment that resulted in the surrender of Fort Sumter by Union troops.

After 33 hours, the North surrendered.  The South held the fort until it was finally evacuated on February 17th, 1865, at the end of the War.

The fort had experienced one of the longest sieges in modern warfare as the North fought to get it back in Union hands.  It is estimated that 46,000 shells — or more than 7 million pounds of metal — were fired at Fort Sumter.

In today’s museum at Fort Sumter, we saw a model of what the fort looked like and how it covered the island.  The walls were very much higher before the shells and gunfire brought them down.

Look at the beautiful blue sky day!  But the picture doesn’t show how windy it was.  This is looking toward the city of Charleston on the left.  You can even see the bridge on the skyline.

This is looking away from Charleston, out toward the big Atlantic.

On our way from Fort Sumter back to Charleston we went past an aircraft carrier whose real size we could sort of see because it dwarfed all the big yachts parked in front of it.

We wanted to tour a plantation that afternoon so we drove across the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge to get to the city of Mount Pleasant and the nearby Boone Hall Plantation, which was recommended to us by people we met on boat to Fort Sumter.

As we parked outside the gates and walked up the wide path to the Big House, I was reminded of Tara and “Gone with the Wind.”  We had a guided tour of the house but we couldn’t take pictures.  We were told this still-working plantation survived because it didn’t depend on slave labor.

Other plantations raised cotton and rice and after the Civil War, there were no slaves to farm those labor intensive crops.  But Mr. Boone had planted 15,000 pecan trees, which mostly take care of themselves.  The Wild Oaks on this plantation were bigger than those we saw in Savannah.

Boone Hall has been a working plantation for 330 years.  Today it is 700 acres in size, a little smaller than originally because of inheritance splits.

“Call me Brother Bob,” said this actor who performed outside one of the slave quarters.  He brought us back to the days of slavery and told us how some of our words originate on the coast of West Africa, words such as “tote” and “okay.”  He also mentioned words we don’t use back in Minnesota — “goober” and “cooter” mean “peanuts” and “turtle.”

Brother Bob told us about “Gulah Geechi,” which is a southern culture based on the culture of rice.  He said that rice was known as “California Gold.”  He said there were two religions in West Africa, from where people were stolen to be slaves — Islam and Vodoo.

I’ve never seen such trees, like paintings. I could have taken pictures all day.  I practically did.

It started to rain a little bit and so we drove back down this umbrella of Wild Oaks.  Look at that Spanish Moss clinging to all the branches and leaves.  Remember, it’s not Spanish and it’s not Moss.

It stopped raining, but look at the clouds.  And look at that bridge back to Charleston.

These coastal lands of Carolina are full of islands and marshes and swamp land — good for growing rice.

We didn’t want to leave Charleston without a tour of the city so we hooked up for a carriage ride.

We learned that the carriage companies buy 7-year old horses from the Amish.  At that age they’re too old for farm work and heavy traffic, but they easily work many more years on the slow streets of the South.

We were told various details about the buildings and homes,  Our guide told us about a widow’s walk at the top of this one.

Do you see where this street door leads?  Not into the house, but into their backyard.  It’s a Southern thing.

We walked through the shops on Market Street at least twice.  It was several blocks long, in different types of buildings and rooflines.  The wares were local and interesting — more sweetgrass baskets, stonework, artwork of all kinds, crafts, jewelry —  but we didn’t buy a thing. 

Charleston is a pretty city but, while there is a harbor, there is not easy visitor access to the ocean like with the River Front in Savannah.  Maybe it’s because during the Civil War, General Sherman burned and destroyed Charleston and the wharf was not rebuilt as the city was rebuilt.  Sherman did not burn Savannah but saved it as a gift for President Lincoln.”

We had dinner that evening at The Noisy Oyster.  The weather was wonderful and there were open-air windows onto the streets.  We had seared tuna steaks with crusted sesame seeds served with wasabi, cole slaw, and a baked potato.  I’m making myself hungry again!