Thursday, July 26, 2012

Charleston, South Carolina

From Savannah we headed north a bit to Charleston, South Carolina.

Typical street scene in Charleston.

Charleston used to be the richest city on the east coast at one time due to the tremendous exporting of a particular kind of rice called Carolina Gold. Supposed to be very tasty. The rivers on either side of Charleston had plantations all along them where the rice was grown, harvested and shipped. This crop needed much intensive labor, even more than cotton needed, thus South Carolina had one of the largest populations of slaves. After the Civil War, the labor pool was gone and a couple of hurricanes brought in too much sea water with surges that upset the water balance needed to grow the rice so the industry died as a result.

An old map of Charleston is the peninsula in the middle. Ashley river to the south, Cooper to the north.

Modern day aerial of the rich part of town. The Cooper River is to the right. Most of the city's population is in the 'burbs off the peninsula. That's where we stayed.

Nowadays, the big revenue stream for the city comes from the shipping port, the 4th largest container port on the east coast, Piggly Wiggly (the grocery store chain) has its headquarters here, Boeing just opened a new plant to build the 787 plane and there is a tremendous medical research community.

What's interesting about Charleston is that there is no skyscrapers, no tall business buildings like you see in SF, NY, etc. The business is tourism and the businesses listed above.

We took a tour of the city on Gray Lines and then the next day went around on our own with the car.
LOTS of gorgeous you can see below....

We toured this house....Joseph Manigault's home.

Charleston is known as The Holy City due to the prominence of churches on the low-rise cityscape, particularly the numerous steeples that dot the city's skyline, and for the fact that it was one of the few cities in the original thirteen colonies to provide religious tolerance, albeit restricted to non-Catholics. Many Huguenots found their way to Charleston. Charleston was also one of the first colonial cities after Savannah, Georgia to allow Jews to practice their faith without restriction

Always a nice thing to see in the south.

Market Hall...a four-block long structure with outdoor and indoor (air-conditioned) shops, food, and tourist traps.

The perfect activity for a hot day.

The famous Pineapple Fountain.

This is the celebrated "Rainbow Row" near the water that you see in all the Charleston literature and brochures.

This is the residence of the owner of Piggly-Wiggly (that's a grocery store chain). He has two pigs, one on each side of the entry stairs. It drives the hoity-toity neighbors nuts !

I did a search on for homes near here in the $3M to $12M range and came up with 17. The highest was $8.9M. It's an expensive town to live in...well in this part of Charleston, which is at the very west tip of the city.

The are actual ballast stones that used to be put in the bottom of the sailing ships for....well...ballast.
We toured a couple of homes as well as the South Carolina Museum, which was terrific.

One day we took the boat out to Fort Sumter which is where the Civil War "started". This was not as fascinating as I thought it would be....just an old, beat up fort. But, we had just come from Fort Pulaski, which was terrific. However, in a few weeks we'll be in Appomattox, Virginia where it all ended so we can bookend the war with these two visits.

The submarine, H.L. Hunley Museum is located here in Charleston also. We did not go. They open it up for viewing only a few times as they are still restoring it as it's immersed in water.

Hunley submarine immersed in refrigerated storage tank at the WLCC upon recovery. Note the cathodic connection to the sub at the spar attachment and the titanium anodes in the white pipes along the submarine.
 Lots to see and do in Charleston if you have the time (and money).

Next stop: Jamestown, Virgina

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Savannah, Georgia

We'd been trying to get to Savannah for a couple of months and finally made it for a few days. Our first day, we drove through the town a bit, took some photos and decided to head out to the Tybee Island lighthouse. Kim really loves lighthouses so this should be a good one.

We get all the way out here and, because it's Tuesday, it's CLOSED ! So, instead of a tour and getting to the top, we headed across the street to see the Atlantic Ocean and the entrance to Savannah River.
Walkway out to the beach. It was drizzling and rainy by this time....but 75 degrees.

There was a storm surge from Debby that pushed all this seaweed up the beach. The water was warm.

Savannah is a big shipping harbor.

The lifeguard was watching me verrrrry closely.

Artsy-Fartsy photo.

Tybee Lighthouse with sea grass in the foreground. Steve, the photographer at work.

Check out this Hurricane Storm Surge Elevation marker. I would not want to be around during a Stage 5.

After we caught our shark, the local surf shop wanted to display it out front.

Instead of posting numerous photos of Savannah, we made a simple collage instead. The town was set up around a series of squares, all of them very lovely. Savannah is city that is best seen walking and strolling around.

A very symmetrical city layout.

All through our journeys through the south, Kim kept trying to get someone to make her a Mint Julep. Finally, the bar in Savannah made one for her.

On the way back from Tybee Island, we saw some signs for Fort Pulaski.

Aerial view of Fort Pulaski. We got to tour the insides in the driving rain....well, I did. Kim stayed in the dry car.

Now...I LOVE forts so off we went to check it out. Turns out this fort, which was placed where it is and partially designed by a young Lieutenant named Robert E. Lee, guarded the entrance to Savannah

During the Civil War, the Union bombarded the fort until it surrendered. How they did is very interesting. The Union artillery commander, Captain Quincy A. Gilmore knew the blueprints of the fort and therefore knew where the magazine (the gunpowder) was kept in the fort so he devised a way to aim his cannon at that spot hoping to blow it all up. The complete story is in the website below.

So, for all of you fort lovers, here are some photos as well as the artillery sighting maps showing how they aimed towards the magazine in the fort.

The rangers in the visitor's center were extremely knowledgeable about the fort's history and details.

The damage from the artillery still shows to this day. Notice the different color bricks around the windows. Those were made of a different material than the rest.

You can see the arcs in the wood, especially in the far cannon, where they could rotate the gun.

This is the magazine room that was opened up by Union cannon. A couple more hits and it would've exploded taking the entire fort with it. This is why the fort surrendered.

How the lifted the cannons into place after servicing.
This shows the sighting of the Union cannon on the fort.

One last thing about Savannah...when we were walking down the street next to the river, a couple of HUGE ships went by...right next to us ! Pretty darn impressive. The locals just yawn when they come by while all of tourists go rushing to the edge to gawk and take photos.

Each one of the containers is equal in length to our motorhome...about 40-ft. !!!

We could not figure out what this one is carrying.

One of the gawking, photo-taking tourists...oh wait...that's my Kim !

Savannah was a nice town...nice people. We posted a few of the home photos here if you're interested.

Hope you enjoyed this one.

Kim and Steve