After leaving Indian Springs, we relaxed for about three days and then headed out to Charleston, SC, pups and RV in tow. It was nice to finally use the camper for pleasure and take a vacation. No toilets to clean, no late night taps on the door. When deciding where to go, we debated between Charleston and Nashville, neither of us had been to either. But Charleston won the vote! We boondocked at the Walmart in Summerville our first night and saw this fun road sign in the shopping area, loving the Spontaneous Celebrations sign mostly, since that’s kind of what this trip was for us….deciding to go on a whim and celebrating getting through our first hosting gig!
We booked a site at James Island County Park, a quick drive from downtown. The park was nice, with FULL hookups, which you don’t normally get at State and County parks. It also had a huge dog park, where the pups could run and play and even jump in the small pond, but ours don’t tend to like the water much. It also happened to be the first week of their Festival of Lights display. Because we were camping at the park we got to do their annual fun run and walk the lights and eat fair food at the end. It was a great kickstart for the holiday season and helped get us in the holiday spirit. A few sites down from us were those adorable little campers all done up for the occasion. It felt like we were walking through Whoville. The timing of our trip couldn’t have worked out any better.
And speaking of perfect timing. Our wonderful RV repair man, Pete, his wife Janice and their friends Chuck and Robin also happened to be staying at this same park at the same time. We backed into our site, that’d we had picked when booking and realized we were right beside Chuck and Robin, who are also fellow Campground Hosts. Pete planned a sweet surprise for Janice’s birthday and asked us to join. So our first night in Charleston, we ended up on a sunset sailboat ride in the bay. I’m just blown away by his kindness and the coincidence of it all.
Our second day in Charleston was a whole lota walkin’, eatin’, picture takin’, learnin’, and being mesmerized by all the history and architecture. Our first stop was at Hyman’s after hearing so much about their signature dish, the Carolina Delight. We got to meet the owner, Eli, who then brought us another signature dish, the Wadamalaw Delight, after we had already ordered some Gator Sausage and fries, and what’s brunch without a bloody mary?!?! Everything was so wonderfully delicious, the grits, the cheese, the fried green tomato and the shrimp. This joint is a MUST when in Charleston.
I’m glad we started our adventure at Hyman’s with all the food and calories, because we had the rest of the day to walk it off. I downloaded a free self-guided walking tour from FreeToursbyFoot.com. We did ours a little zig-zaggy and backwards, which is what I really enjoyed about doing our own tour. We stopped when we wanted and veered off track if something caught our eye. In my opinion seeing Charleston by a horse drawn carriage, just doesn’t do the city justice (or the horse for that matter). You’ve got to feel the cobblestone under your feet, walk the cemeteries, take the selfies, and touch the buildings and read all the historical plaques, to truly experience what Charleston has to offer.
There were so many churches on our tour. I can’t remember which one is which, or the oldest, but they were all beautiful, and the cemeteries at each had historical figures buried there. We also found where a family pet had been laid to rest.
We saw the Dock Street Theatre, built in 1736 and believed to be the first building in the country built specifically for theatrical performances. I fell in love with the huge mirror, as you walk up the stairs. I just pictured all the ladies of the day in their gowns and gloves, standing there primping and gossiping,
But with all the interesting and inspiring history Charleston has, you’re also bombarded with the ugly truth and history that Charleston is known for, the horrific slave trade hub of the country. We stood in front of the Old Slave Market, where human beings were sold and treated worse than animals. It brought a chill down my spine just being there.
We then ventured over to Coates’ Row, on East Bay Street, which begins with a tavern, that is the oldest building in Charleston, built around 1686, the second oldest building, the famous Pink House, being the first. The Pink House had a tavern on the bottom floor and a brothel upstairs. Seems like the men of Charleston had very specific priorities… Booze and Women! 🙂
On our walk down to the Battery, we saw this neat pineapple fountain, which was the perfect smoochie selfie spot and we couldn’t resist. We strolled past all those multi-million dollar homes along the coast, pondering who had built them and when, imagining Sunday supper on the porch back in the day of hand fans and homecooking. We walked through White Point Garden, under all the oak trees. There was a couple getting married in the gazebo, I can’t imagine a more stunning place to get hitched. We decided this would be the perfect place to rest our feet for a bit, and plot out the rest of our tour.
Worried if we sat too long, we wouldn’t be able to get back up. We walked back towards city center on the hunt for a place for dinner. Wanting to take our time and pick a good spot, we decided to mull it over, over a few cocktails. We ended up on the rooftop at Henry’s House. While I sipped a Old Fashioned and BJ, an adult coffee concoction the bartender mixed up, we decided on Fleet Landing. They’ve been voted Charleston’s best seafood joint multiple years in a row. We split a shell fish/mussel mixture pasta dish and were not disappointed. Like most nice restaurants, they brought out bread while we waited for our food. But not just any ol’ bread, the official bread of the south…..BISCUITS. Tiny little biscuits, perfectly warm and soft, with an amazing sweet butter spread. That may have been my most favorite part of the meal, but Shhh, don’t tell them.
Of course we wanted to check out the night life, but figured with it being a Tuesday, there may not be much going on. After a quick Google search we decided to check out Upper Deck Tavern and Burns Alley. We walked past the door for Upper Deck Tavern, maybe three of four times before seeing it. You have to walk down this very sketchy hallway and up even sketchier stairs and push on a door that doesn’t seem like you should, to enter the bar. It was the epitome of the term dive bar. With crazy drawings all over the walls and mismatch tattered and torn furniture. There were cocktail napkins taped on the walls with doodles from patrons, so we decided to add one and leave our “we were here” stamp at Upper Deck.
We downed a couple of drinks and decided to head over to Burns Alley. Which was just as divey, but they were hosting open mic night. Jackpot! It was a night I’ll never forget, Obviously we stood out like sore thumbs, everyone there was a regular, But by the end of the night we had shared stories, laughs and libations with almost everyone there. I didn’t want to leave! But knowing we had a long day of more site seeing ahead of us, we called it a night around 2am.
We woke up to a drastic change in weather. It was chilly, windy and rainy. But we decided to bundle up and still go do our tour of Fort Moultrie. The guys manning the sailboat we went on, gave us some tourist tips and said, that even though Fort Sumter gets all the hype, that Fort Moultrie was really what we should see. I’ll admit, at first, I did not want to go, especially once I realized how cold it was outside. But I’m so glad BJ was so excited about going, and we went. I was genuinely fascinated with the experience of walking through the hundreds of years old tunnels and standing in the lookout towers. The pure ingenuity it took to move equipment that weighed tons, without any electric machinery and talk to men rooms away without phones, light a room of ammunition before there were light bulbs, using a candle, but ensuring the whole thing wouldn’t blow. Maybe Fort Sumter is just as neat, but if you’re visiting Charleston, I’d say you’d at least have to tour both.
The next morning we had to say farewell to Ol’ Chucktown. It’s a city, that’s doesn’t feel like a city and even as the cars and delivery trucks buzz by, it is as though you’ve been sent back in time. A place you can visit over and over and never see the same thing twice. My neck hurt from the whiplash of trying to take it all in as we walked down each street. As we pulled out we were already planning what we’d do the next time our travels landed us in Charleston, and regretting not having more time. Keeping our fingers crossed that not too much can change between now and whenever we met again.
Charleston, Check! South Carolina has officially been added to our RV map. Just 47 more to go.