We spent our first day in the historic district of Charleston. We had booked another walking tour through "Ashley on the Cooper", which focused mainly on the Civil War history of the city and the historical buildings. The tours are a nice way to get an overview of the city, and by going slowly on foot, I feel like we have more time to appreciate the beautiful buildings and monuments. Our tour guide was very well versed in her history, actually bombarding us with so many facts that it was hard to keep up with her :-). It was very interesting.
Churches always seem to be highlighted on these tours, and this one was no exception. I was interested to learn that there was a significant Jewish presence in the early history of Charleston, which is normally associated more with the northeastern area of the country.
We saw several very old, beautiful homes that belonged to influential people of the early colony. I really like the "welcoming arms" stairways like you see in the first picture. Very graceful. We also see a lot of wrought iron work all throughout the historic district.
While not as impressive as the garden squares of Savannah, the small parks and memorial areas were certainly very pleasant.
Our tour finished up near the area of the city known as "City Market", and we walked down this cobblestone street towards it....
ducking into this "dueling alley" on the way. It's said that duelists would meet in these alleys to settle their disputes. We stopped at Low Country Bistro for some lunch, and it was very good. Al had the she-crab soup, and shrimp and grits, and I had the chicken and waffles. We very highly recommend this restaurant, everything was delicious. We then strolled through the City Market, taking in all the various handcrafted and not-so-handcrafted items available to purchase. I was particularly interested in the "sweetgrass baskets", being a very famous cultural handcraft of the African slaves that had been brought to this country. They are very beautiful, and I admire the amount of work that goes into each basket, but they were just a bit out of my price range! Very beautiful and very expensive, a small basket maybe large enough to hold your car keys runs about $50.00. I will just admire them from afar.
The next day, we had something totally different planned. We were meeting our very dear friends from New York, Bob and Chrissie Savage, who have a second home in Charleston. To our delight, when they heard we were going to be visiting the area, they cleared their busy calendar in New York and came down to see us. Bob, being an avid birder, was the person who first took me out birding when I became interested in it, and suggested we visit a wonderful facility nearby in Awendaw, South Carolina, The Center for Birds of Prey. We took their very interesting tour of the facility, first viewing all the different birds they have under their care, and then we had a flight demonstration by several of their raptors.
Sara is out in the field with a lure that she is using to tempt a peregrine falcon to demonstrate it's ability to hunt and catch it's prey.
He did an admirable job, and then displayed "mantling", in which he is protecting his catch from any other predator that may be in the area.
Sara then brought the falcon around for us to get a closer look. What a beautiful bird.
We also saw a barred owl. He looks quite tiny here in this picture.
When he took off in flight, though, look how wide his wing span is!
Our last demonstration was by a kite, but I don't remember what kind. We have the swallow tail kites in Florida, usually coming in sometime in March.
Lastly, they took us over to a different section of their aviary, where this cute little baby barn owl was brought out for us all to see. He was a little fuzzball :-).
We then finished off our visit with lunch across the street from the Avian Center, the Seewee Restaurant. It's a little scary looking from the outside :-), but Bob recommended it and he wasn't wrong -- it was very good, tasty food. After a good afternoon of catching up with each other, we bid a fond adieu to Bob and Chrissie. It's always so wonderful to see old friends from "home"!
Our last day in Charleston arrived, and unfortunately, it was a cold, rainy, windy day. We had planned to visit Fort Sumter, but with the weather being so nasty, we didn't quite feel up to a boat ride across the harbor and then walking around an open fort area. We did still go to town and stop in to the Fort Sumter Visitor Center, and spent some time there reading all of the exhibits.
As is the case with most National Park Service exhibits, it was very well done, interesting and informative.
We walked by the aquarium on the way to the Visitor's Center, and Patti found a friend on a bench.
We then decided to spend the afternoon at Patriot's Point, touring the USS Yorktown, an Essex-class aircraft carrier.She participated significantly in the Pacific war theatre, and was also the carrier that picked up the Apollo 8 astronauts.
Several different aircraft were on display inside the ship, and we wandered around them after having toured the living and working areas of the ship down below.
Up on the flight deck, we saw several more plane exhibits. It was quite interesting to walk around the planes and see them up close.
We ended up spending several hours here at the USS Yorktown, and still didn't see everything. But our time ran out, and it was time for dinner and our last night together with Ginny and Patti. This was our parting point, with them returning home and we were continuing on with our travels out to Wyoming. It was so enjoyable having them spend a week with us on the road, and before you know it, we'll be back in Florida again! Doesn't it seem as if time really flies the older you get?
Our next stop on Expedition West: 2016 is another historic building, although in a completely different way. Join me for my next installment, as we head to Asheville, North Carolina and tour the Biltmore Estate!