Sunday, April 14, 2013

Day 4...Amazing Charleston

As Day 4 dawned, we bid adieu to our hosts in Atlanta and continued east in I-20. As we were driving, Doris mentioned that although Georgia was known as "the peach state," we had not passed any peach orchards. In fact, we had not even passed any signs that advertised peach orchards...hmmmmm, the things you think about while driving on long trips. As we got close to the Georgia/South Carolina border, we noticed that we were approaching Augusta, GA. Now, if you've been reading my previous posts, you might remember that Haime is a golfer. We actually passed through Augusta on April week before what would be the final day of the Master's Golf Tournament which is played at Augusta National Country Club. Silly me, I thought it would be very cool to get Haime a cap/shirt/golf ball...something from the course. So, we On-Starred the directions and went in search of some "Master's Souvenir" for Haime...SCREECH!
HOLY TRAFFIC NIGHTMARE!!! Good grief people, the actual tournament wasn't even scheduled to begin until Thursday but you'd have thought that Ben Hogan (non-golfers, just google him) had reappeared and was signing autographs to the first 500,000 people lucky enough to get within 3 miles of the front gates to the club. OK, let me just cut this short, Haime did not get his souvenir...I think I'll order him something online after I finish this post...that's sort of the same thing, right?

So, after our little detour, we continued east and made a quick stop at the South Carolina Welcome center...remember, old ladies stop a lot. After making some inquiries about things to do/see/don't-even-think-of-missing while in Charleston, the nice attendant mentioned that it was sure to be crowded because with the Master's in town, everybody from Augusta had probably fled the city and was now in Charleston...GREAT! We also asked if there was a more scenic, but not too much out-of-the-way route to get to Charleston. She directed us to a very charming little town, not far from the center, where we could have lunch then turn to take a nice ride through the countryside to get to Charleston. Mom and Doris were more excited about this prospect than I, until she explained that it would actually take about the same amount of time as the interstate. It was the shorter route but because of reduced speed limits through some of the towns, it would still take about 3 (read 4) hours. While we were stopped, I also took advantage of the WIFI available and made a reservation at a Charleston hotel, just in case everyone from Augusta was indeed headed there ahead of us.

We stopped at the little town (Aiken), and mom and Doris ate lunch at a very cute deli while I perused the antique store next door. Actually, I was on a mission. A few years ago I bought 6 red (yes, I'm sure they are not actually called "red," probably something like cranberry or ruby or something, but I'm not sure what their real name is so I just call them "red"...OK?) antique sherbet glasses. Then a couple of months ago I dropped one. Well, glass, being glass, it broke. BUMMER! I love my red sherbet glasses. I looked at several local antique stores for a replacement but had no luck. So, since I wasn't particularly hungry, I thought I'd check at this place. SUCCESS!!! They had the exact glasses I needed, and, they had 10 of them, which I bought and, since I bought all of them, I got a great deal (I think...). So, off we went, all of us happier than we were when we got to the "cute little town."

We got to Charleston and took advantage of the daylight to do some preliminary site-seeing. One of the first "must sees" was the Mount Pleasant bridge...the picture to the right doesn't do this thing justice. It is HUGE, and gives you a bit of a rush as you approach and especially as you drive under the supports.

Another "don't-even-think-of-missing" thing to do in Charleston, is to watch the sunset from the "Battery." The historic purpose and the origin of the name is from the fact that the area was as an artillery battery during the Civil War. It is stretches along the Charleston peninsula and is bordered by the Ashley and Cooper rivers. Today, it is lined with GORGEOUS homes and has a beautiful park and sunset was lovely.

We all loved Charleston, it is historic, charming, and beautiful. We met the most friendly and genuinely helpful people while we were there. The colorful homes to the right are called "Rainbow Row." They are very pretty and definitely colorful. We learned that the houses were painted these colors during a renovation of the area and that the colors were chosen to resemble the colors of homes found on some of the islands in the Caribbean  Well, that fact is much too mundane for me, I like the myths much better. One being that the house colors helped drunken sailors, on leave, remember which house they were to bunk in by the color.

The Charleston market was another cool place we visited. In its early days, beef and produce was sold there. Now there are many shops that sell everything you would expect to find in a historic part of a very popular tourist destination. Thankfully, there are many local artisans represented there and especially Gullah Sweetgrass Basket vendors. These folks sit and weave their baskets, to the delight of tourists and onlookers. Some have developed special ways of dying the grass to introduce unique colors and designs...very cool place.

After leaving Charleston itself, we ventured out to the Magnolia Plantation. One of the coolest facts about the plantation, to me, is that it has been in the same family (Drayton), since 1676. Of course, much of the original property has been sold off over the years but it's amazing to think of the history surrounding this place. In addition to the house, pictured to the left, there are some AMAZING gardens on the property.   We had a limited amount of time here but we can tell you that it is definitely a MUST SEE! We didn't get to see nearly all of the surrounding lands and various wildlife habitats that are part of the property. I've included just a few of the pictures from the gardens but, again, they do not do justice to the beauty we saw...



Oh, I almost forgot to mention, I also got an oil change in just can't leave out the important details...right?



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