DOING THE CHARLESTON!: Piers, Plaques, and Prison

Tuesday starts a bit more slowly than had Monday, but it turned out to be a great day in its own right. I of course woke up early and posted while rocking out to local Charleston radio again. I also picked up and put down at least four different books and could settle on neither, so with that, I basically capitulate to coming up just short in my 50Book50Author challenge. Well I am now reading book 50, a fictionalized history of Charleston by John Jakes that promises to be interesting and bring the history to life. But it’s 19 hours of audio, so no way I finish by tomorrow night. It’s ok though, as I learned much just from the attempt.

Anyway, we decide to take advantage of the hotel’s free breakfast today, so she goes to grab a couple plates and bring them back to the room. I had a sausage patty, eggs, and pretty good grits. The orange juice was the last of the take, but it did its job fairly decently I suppose.

Out we head, I think around 11:20, for the trip to Folly Beach. I had been here before, but couldn’t remember much about it. As we did on this trip, I believe we’d probably visited the Edwin S. Taylor Fishing Pier that extends nearly a half mile out over the Atlantic. It goes so far out in fact that you can’t even hear the waves anymore. There is just a cold, brisk wind. We spend a little time on a bench at its far edge, then retreat to benches that are a bit more sheltered where you can in fact hear the breaking waves. A gaggle of teens with their chaperone comes bouncing by, stopping to take pictures before continuing on. She also sees people preparing for a volleyball game on the sand down below. Finally, there were some folks actually in the water. I’m sure I’d have been a popcicle if I’d done that.

There wasn’t a whole lot else to do here though, especially as it was a bit frisk for a picnic. So, we made our way back to the car to get into something else. We found a Sonic Drive-in, yes a chain, but not one we go to very often. The cheese coney I have is good, but the strawberry and banana milk shake hits the spot! She finds an old-school station, and turns it up for an hour-long sit in the car till about 2.

Back to downtown, but this time we park at the Mills House Hotel’s outside lot. Even with two days, there is so much history in Charleston that we’d barely scratched the surface. We pass a courtyard with fountain where you are permitted to wade, with the proviso that “No lifeguards are available. Wade at your own risk”. They also list a series of disgusting things, (spitting, blowing nose, releasing other bodily fluids) that you are not to do. If you do opt to wade in, you have to also be accompanied by someone else. I might be tempted to do something like that in the summer.

We find a pier that extends out over the river also, not as far as the Folly Beach one, but a good enough distance to take us to a more isolated spot where we listen to motorboats zip by. She notes that some have metal, as opposed to fiberglass bottoms, causing them to make a different sound as they slap the water. Someone else goes by on a jet ski.

Many things impressed me about Charleston, but one of the neatest was the plaques denoting history as it occurred in the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, located right outside of the Harborview Inn. These plaques had a Braille overlay, somewhat dusty but readable. They were also quite long! I’d have to stand there for about a half hour to complete them all. But I’m impressed that someone took the time to make that accessible to a wider audience, should blind folks want to read things for themselves. It reminds me of the Braille Trail I saw up at the waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains.

The final thing we did was cool. We entered the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, the place where ships came to pay taxes on imported products, and where persons who opposed the British had been imprisoned during the American Revolution. They’d shoved 60 people, men and women mixed, into a small hall; providing only four buckets of water and four buckets into which they should urinate. Yuck, I’m certain it got unimaginably nasty in there. The dungeon below had broken up floors and still smelled very old. The Great Hall, on the level above the museum, contained a scent of horses and perhaps sweaty men. It wasn’t hard to picture George Washington and the other 200 or so important folks who would cram into that room both for partying and to hold assemblies. If you think you’d be interested, visit their website. They provide an extensive and rather interesting history of the facility and of Charleston.

And that’s about it. The only other thing we did, after a brief respite in the hotel to try and get a bit of rest, was grab a couple sandwiches from Ye Ole Fashioned Café and Ice Cream Shop. Good stuff, but I kinda had to suck down the last of the gigantic burger. I wasn’t wasting it!

And so pretty much ends 2015. What a fantastic trip that hopefully puts my mind in a better place as I venture into the craziness that the New Year is likely to bring. Given the gallons of rain this area has gotten, we were really fortunate to avoid it down South. I’m just glad that I got to build such great memories with a special person, and am looking forward to more. Later.

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