Charming Charleston and Beyond

Being an ex Goth, Nick is a real fan of cemeteries… actually, some of the monuments make for superb infra red photographs. So off we went to wander the enormous Bonaventure Cemetery. As a stop off on our way to Charleston, it’s Savannah’s oldest, and packed with angelic monuments and obelisks reaching for the sky from many of the family plots. The setting is stunning, lots of old Oaks and Magnolias draped in Spanish Moss which in the low sunlight, creates an ethereal and haunting atmosphere.

Charleston, originally Charles Town, after Charles II who was King when it was under British rule, changing its name formally in 1783. Further north up the coastline and into South Carolina, it’s a smaller historic town than Savannah and is quite different. It’s true, we do spend a load of time just wandering the streets, but when there is so much to see and buildings evoking so much history, why not? Charleston has a deep history which is reflected throughout the historic areas, a lack of any high rise gives for an open and relaxed feel. There are several reference properties, back to 1868 when the SC Constitution was written and, remarkably for the time, African American men were able to vote as this declaration made no distinction on race. Sadly, in 1895 a new constitution mandated segregation and disenfranchised them again. Many buildings referenced the British influence as settlers prior to the War of Independence. We were taken aback by the volume and variety of older style houses in Charleston. The area called SoBro (South of Broad) had magnificent, grand properties, historic wealth on show and interestingly, the majority were built side on to the road, to catch the cool breezes off the water onto the front, by all accounts.

Several historic buildings such as the Old Market with original ceilings and the grand Customs House lead down to a lovely waterfront park and a walk to to Battery Park with its unusual Pineapple Fountain close to the southern tip of the peninsula. Charleston has a small French Quarter but it isn’t a patch on New Orleans. They do have fun with their ornate street furniture though!

Off the main roads were lots of quiet restaurants and cafes on lovely tree lined side streets and King Street, one of the main arteries down to the water. had lots of boutique shops cafes and eateries. Every building is different, no ‘cookie cutter’ properties here at all. One of the buildings, now H&M was one of the original “sit in’s” from the 1960’s Civil Rights action. There’s Art Deco, Georgian, Victorian, Plantation Style houses all over. It’d be easy to photograph everything! One dilapidated building was full of old stock and signage from a bygone time.

Close by to Charleston is Patriots Point Naval Museum, home to “Yorktown aircraft carrier”. Decommissioned, it’s a pretty big space that is explorable over a few hours of lost time. Walking on the flight deck there’s a real sense of scale and below in the plane storage areas its huge, below that the other decks are crammed with all the equipment and machinery to keep the ship and its 3500 crew going. They wouldn’t have had to look after the four dolphins we saw very close by though! Part of the same museum is a submarine plus another ship, The Laffey which was heavily bombed by Japanese kamikaze’s in World War 2 but survived. Not far out is Sumter Island where the US Civil War’s first shots were fired from.

From Charleston, via numerous white sand beaches, we had a pit stop at Georgetown. Not somewhere on the touristy routes but with fascinating history and as always, with a small historic heart and main street. The wealth in Georgetown was built on Indigo when it was under colonial rule then Rice growing became it’s cash economy. After the Civil War however and slavery was abolished it was no longer viable to farm rice so it shifted to ‘lumbar’ then paper. These days the paper mill, which was the worlds largest once upon a time, and a steel works sit by the water at the edge of the town. Sadly, we wondered if there was a connection to the dead fish floating at the marina area….

Heading to Wilmington we had a brief stop at Camping World just off the Interstate for a look around some RV’s and 5th wheelers, just for fun. Ours is dwarfed by them for sure, the space is ridiculous but there are over a million ‘full timers’ in the US and we’ve seen a lot of the ‘snow birds’ heading south to the warmer climes already. Can you see the ‘bar’ in the photo in one of them?!!

Wilmington was our last coastal stop before heading inland to the mountains. Its a University town on Cape Fear River but also home to the third largest film and TV studio complex in the US. Typically, a main street of bars and restaurants but a charming historic area too and we had the good fortune of finding a superb historic home converted to a hotel which showed just how well the old properties can be renovated. Just stunning really! Having something to eat downtown, we dropped into a very traditional dive bar where we discovered an app that connected to the juke box. We had great fun listing Showaddywaddy and ABBA among the locals selections of heavy rock…. anonymously of course!

We’ve had some long drives but the ‘Fall’ colours, vibrant reds and oranges and fallen leaves on the ground is glorious to see in the low sunlight warmth. We’ve seen miles of white sandy beaches, a load of birdlife and even dolphins. We’ve also seen way too many Waffle Houses, Pancake Houses, McD’s, Wendy’s and Taco Bells…. Anyhow, off inland now with the beats of John Denver and Laurel & Hardy in search of a lonesome pine on the mountain roads home!

PS… Jigsaw is fine, we get regular updates and she’s chilled out and relaxed at the spa, she’s no fool!

1 thought on “Charming Charleston and Beyond”

  1. This is definitely going to help improve my geography of the US! My goodness, these RV’s look like a proper house, they’re massive! When do you pick up Jigsaw? Cheers Lesley


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