Oh I love the south! It’s green and gorgeous and the people are so friendly! I have not spent hardly any time in the south save for a couple business trips and a trip to New Orleans in college for a marketing convention. So I’m enjoying learning about and experiencing this part of the USA!
However, we are at a difficult point in our trip. We are feeling like we don’t have much time left. Only a little over 2 months left, but a LOT left to see and do. Wahington DC, New York, Boston, the outer Banks. Each of those are probably 5-7 days easily. Not to mention Virginia, and we’d like to get up to Maine if possible. Then there’s the drive back to Colorado and things we want to see on the way back. Nashville and Memphis, and Mammoth Cave in KY to name a few. So we’re trying to pick and choose where to spend our time. Therefore, we only had two days in Charleston, NC.
I thought we would spend one day in Charleston and one day at a beach on one of the islands. That meant getting Fort Sumter AND a tour of Charleston done in one day. Not as easy as it sounds. Especially since we were staying 30 min outside of town. Parking is not easy or cheap. And the tour of the Fort was at 9:30am, 12:30 or 2:30pm. The kids were excited to see Fort Sumter as they are trying to earn a special Civil War Historian patch. There are so many cool things about this fort. First it was where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Second, you have to take a ferry out to the island. Luckily we made the 9:30 ferry!
It was nice to have the Junior Ranger books and some pamphlets to look at on the ferry. They give about 15 minutes of good info/history each direction on the ferry. That is to maximize your time at the fort. You only get one hour at the Fort itself, and that is NOT enough time. Not for our family. We could have paid more to stay longer, but it’s already kind of expensive.
The first thing I noticed upon entering the fort is that there is a huge concrete structure inside the walls painted black. It looks like a battleship! I’m sure Dacen will cover the impressive cannons, and other facts in his post.
We decided to start at the top of the fort. We read a few signs, looked around, started down to the other plaques. That is where we saw the dolphins playing around. We all just love animals. Actually, the more I think about it, it would be quite fitting for us to own a zoo or something. We are slightly obsessed and could spend our whole day with animals. Animals of all sorts – land, sea and air – we’re not too picky. We were worried about one dolphin. It was acting weird and kind of like it was trying to beach itself. It was rolling on it’s back and practically on the shore. It looked like it was trying to scratch it’s back. I later found out from a ranger that it was just corralling fish. All told on the island and on the boat we saw around 12 dolphin.
Here is a video of the dolphin…we’re not National Geographic videographers so this of course isn’t as exciting to watch as it was live. To make it seem like you were there with us turn on a fan and have it blowing in your face and spray a little salt water aroma into the air.
We walked around the fort some more looking at the cannons and the other nearby forts as well as events of the Civil War and various battles. There are 2 different Fort Sumter museums. We didn’t get hardly any time at the museum that is on the island. We made a point to get atleast a few minutes in the museum at the fort. We saw a couple of the HUGE flags that used to fly over the fort. That was really cool. They were tattered and weather beaten. There were also some other relics that were fun to see.
We never did make it to 2 of the corners of the fort or the gift shop (not that we wanted to buy anything anyway, but it would benefit them to give people enough time to go in there.) Back on the main land we toured around that part of the Fort Sumter museum and filled out the rest of the Jr Ranger books.
After lunch we were finally on our way to the historic part of Charleston. I had found a pretty good and thorough and free walking tour of Charleston on the internet. It was divided into French Quarter 1, FQ 2, and South of Broad. The lady even clearly spelled out “go to King St and turn left. Head down to Brown Ave where you will see____” It was great. It was also about 3 1/2 miles total. Brielle made it through the first 2 parts, but her ankle was hurting. So, Caden and Dacen went with me on the “South of Broad” portion of the tour while Huck hung out with Brielle in a park area along the river that had fun fountains and people watching.
The thing that struck me the most about Charleston is that architecture was very diverse. Yes, there is a dominance of the “Charleston single house style” where the houses are one room wide in order to take advantage of the sea breeze. But the public buildings were very diverse. Part of that is due to the huge number of churches. Charleston is known as the Holy City since there are so many church steeples. The buildings were gorgeous. There were historic plaques throughout that would explain about the building and about the history of the time. There were explanations of how selling slaves in the streets were outlawed, so there were a few buildings/warehouses where they would be sold. Excellent conversations with the kids about slaves.
Our guide back in Savannah told us how (I think in the 50s) a group of women from Charleston and a group of women from Savannah were the first preservationists and they are the reason we still have these beautiful cities we can enjoy. I’m so thankful they saved the old houses and buildings and consequently preserved history as well.
At the docks
Fam at Fort Sumter
Fort Sumter flags
Waiting for the ferry
Kids with Ranger Anne
Waiting for trolley
Confederate Museum with a market area below
Selfie stick cam
Read and Read
Cool old Police Car. Still owned by the PD
Standing by part of the original city wall
A little windy at The Battery - If you had a house here you knew you had finally "made it"
Lake Aire campground
Weird speed limit