Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Charleston, SC, April 2007
Back when I lived in North Carolina, I tried to visit Charleston semi-annually. It is quite possibly my favorite place in the United States, and up until I met ANN, the only place I would have considered living other than Charlotte. My best friend from childhood (who is also going to be my best man) moved to Charleston right after 10th grade. I spent my junior year spring break down there with my buddy, and have tried to go back at least once, if not twice, a year. If you've never been, I HIGHLY recommend you go.
The drive from Charlotte to Charleston is about 3 hours and 15 minutes. This makes for a long day trip, but always worth it. I usually take the back roads on the way down and the interstate on the way home. I have no idea why, it just seems to always work out that way. I love the back roads because they take you through small towns and past old plantation houses dotted along the Santee River. Plus Ryno's house is right off the main "highway" if you come into Charleston this way.
We started off by driving to Battery Park, which is situated right on the harbor. From here you can see the waterfront and looking out towards the Atlantic, Fort Sumter. This is where the first shots of the American Civil War were fired. (If you didn't know, I'm a sucker for history) Besides the beauty of the massive trees and murky harbor, there are some of the most beautiful and historic homes in the country lining the park. We walked amongst these massive houses along cobblestone streets, soaking up the atmosphere. There are usually basket-weavers on the sidewalks and an occasional musician or artist. On the other side of the historic district from Battery Park is the Slave Market. Of course, slaves aren't sold here anymore, but there is still a lot of bargaining going on. Where slaves were once put on display and haggled over, there are now many tables with novelty goods to haggle over. When we finished walking around the historic district, we hopped in the car and crossed the Cooper River.
On this side of the river is a place called Patriots Point. Docked here are the USS Yorktown, USS Clamagore, and the USS Laffey. At the time we visited, The Coast Guard Cutter Ingham was also docked here, but moved to Miami in 2009. We payed the entrance fee and get this...YOU GET TO RUN AROUND THESE SHIPS UNSUPERVISED!!! Naturally there are some parts of the ships that are off limits, but for the most part you get free roam of them. The Yorktown is a carrier, the Clamagore is a submarine, and the Laffey is a destroyer. Good times were had by all!
A brief history lesson on the Yorktown. The ship sitting in Charleston Harbor is not the original carrier named the Yorktown. The original is sitting on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, a casualty of the Battle of Midway in WWII. She was a flagship and the US did not want the Japanese to know that they sank one of our flagships, so they renamed the Bon Homme Richard (which was being built at the time) the Yorktown.