Monday, August 16, 2010

Extreme Vacation: Charleston Edition

On Wednesday we donned some actual clothes, as opposed to bathing suits, and headed out for breakfast before the 90 mile trip to Charleston, South Carolina.

Along the way my Mother looked at some books about Charleston and I told her about the beautiful sweetgrass baskets that are sold in Charleston, especially at the Market.  I had been to Charleston twice before and gazed longingly at the baskets, but even a small candy-dish size is over $100 in Charleston.  Along Rt. 17, as we were driving along we saw little huts set up alongside the road and my Mother, as an anniversary present, got the basket and hot pad below for James and I (for a lot less than Charleston prices).  Charleston is known for these baskets, and now we have a little bit of the culture of Charleston sitting in our home, and I couldn't be happier.  If you would like to read more about the origins of sweetgrass baskets you can go here.   I will tell you quickly that the art was brought over by West Africans into the port of Charleston where there was a slave mart (which you can visit as a museum).


Our first stop heading into Charleston was the Sullivan's Island lighthouse.  The lighthouse was easy to get to, and we took some photos before moving on. 

And here is where the extreme vacation began people...I should have known better..but NOOOOOO....I was so wanting to impress my Mother with some new lighthouse experiences that I had us heading to Folly Beach to the Morris Island Lighthouse.  What a folly on my part!  By this time it was hot as Hades out.  But we just didn't know what was waiting for us.  The Lighthouse Friends website said that we had to drive as far as we could til we reached a barricade.  There, we were to park and walk a half mile to see the lighthouse.  It was more like a couple of miles.  And my Mom and I in cute sandals for the nice restaurant we were planning to go to later.  But still, when we reached the barricade we stopped to photograph this beautiful trellis.  Then we trudged onward.  There were creepy noises coming from the woods, and I made a comment about alligators which then resulted in me scaring myself...especially when I saw a sign from a distance that I thought said Caution: crocodiles...(it said, Caution: Currents!)...

Now seriously, we all griped (to use a more polite word) about the heat.  We were sweating, we were red...and just when I didn't think I could take anymore, we came to a LOOOONNNGG stretch of hot sand, up a hill that we had to cross to be able to even view the lighthouse.  It was like we were being punished for complaining about the long walk on the asphalt.  And remember I mentioned the cute sandals my Mom and I were wearing?  The hot sand surrounded our feet and burned us til we were crying from the pain.  I could have vomited at that point, I really could have...and then my nervous laugh kicked in, because I realized we would still need to get back, and what if one of us fainted?  I still can't even believe we pushed on and finally made it.  I myself wound up running (while crying) to a piece of driftwood that gave me a much needed refuge from the hot as the sun sand.  My husband asked if I was going to come over to the water and at first, I didn't think I would ever make it off that wood.  But I forced myself to touch the sand again, and I tell you, I think I saw steam come off my feet when they finally touched that water.  And then my feet were a wet, sandy mess.  And we took in the lighthouse.  And dreaded the return trip to the car.


And I'm a bit ashamed to admit it, but damn it, I was aggravated that there was a crane distracting from the view when we got there!  The websites said nothing about that!!!  Because, isn't it gorgeous!?!

Here are Hubby and Mom, way past the sand-trap of hell, but...

...look, you can't even see the end of the trail that we still had to walk back!  Half mile my butt!  And again, I heard the creepy animal noises, and in my delirium, I feared what I would do if an alligator/crocodile came out after Little Man and I who were walking ahead...I decided I didn't have enough oomph left to pick him up and run back and forth (never run straight from an alligator/crocodile...they can beat you running straight), so I figured I would have to throw myself in front of it and tell Little Man to run like hell...yes, that's what went through my mind as I suffered from heat exhaustion and dehydration.

And then, I kid you not, we get back to the car, looking half-melted, and we had gotten a parking ticket because Hubby hadn't parked perfectly straight in front of a number in the otherwise empty lot.  Pfft!  We were ready for some civilized sight-seeing after that.  Although the heat and friction left my Mother greatly disabled for the rest of the trip...she had enormous blisters that made her limp around like she hadn't had her hip replaced.  And later we realized Little Man too had blisters from friction.  We had to laugh, otherwise we would have cried.  On to The Battery!

10 years ago, Hubby and I had our photograph taken in this exact spot while on our honeymoon...we returned for our anniversary!!!

And we were happy to share some of the beauty of Charleston with my Mom and Little Man.

One of the most beautiful areas of Charleston...the waterfront with the antebellum mansions.

After a quick stop at the Battery (where we watched sailboats, and saw dolphins and horse-drawn carriages), we made our way to Poogan's Porch.  The restaurant, named after a neighborhood dog, is well-known for lowcountry cuisine.  Hubby and I ate here during our honeymoon as it was highly recommended by Frommer's (lots of celebs have eaten here too, think Paul Newman, Jodie Foster, and lots more).  There are loads of amazing restaurants in Charleston since it is considered a culinary capital.  We chose Poogan's Porch because of the romantic significance and Mom treated as an anniversary event!  The food was totally yummy! 

We started with Fried Alligator with honey-jalapeno dressing (gator tastes like chicken y'all), and Fried Green Tomatoes with pecan-encrusted goat cheese and peach chutney on the side.  (I had my first taste of fried green tomatoes in Charleston, and have been a fan ever since).  Then, we all (including Little Man) enjoyed She-Crab Soup, which is similar to a bisque and is a regional specialty, and wonderfully prepared at Poogan's Porch.

Luckily, we had eaten breakfast late and skipped lunch, because after our yummy starters, we still had room for our entrees...

For Me:
Pan Seared Jumbo Scallops with apple-wood smoked bacon grits, wilted spinach, and crawfish buerre blanc

Filet Mignon with glazed carrots and potato croquettes

Sweet Tea Glazed Salmon with candied lemon and mint risotto with sauteed asparagus

We left Poogan's Porch (above) fully satisfied, with Little Man carrying a Baby Poogan to remember the trip. (And he hasn't stopped talking about wanting to go back to Charleston).

Next, we drove to Waterfront Park which has two OUTSTANDING water features...and you know I love a water feature!!!

There's the pineapple fountain.  Pineapples are the Charlestonian symbol of welcome...

...and the great big, fountain of fun at the park entrance nearest the pier.

Children are allowed to play in both fountains and the bigger one, where Little Man is playing in the photo, is a favorite.  There's also a remarkably clean public bathroom 1 minute's walk away where we were able to dry Little Man up and change him into dry clothes.  His fountain playtime was completely unplanned, but with a change of clothes in the car, and a blanket to stand in as a towel, it was some much needed unwinding time for Little Man.  After that we headed back to the beach spot, all of us talking about a return trip to Charleston.


Sinéad said...

Sounds like a great trip, apart from the lighthouse. Thanks for the warning! Hope all your feel were ok afterwards.
Thanks for all the great info in here, I'll have to take notes of all the place to go when we hit Charleston.

Anonymous said...

a wonderful narrative and great info on my latest 2 lighthouse quests! Great pics of all of us too!