Friday, October 5, 2018

Our Trip to Charleston

We had a unique opportunity this week. My sister-in-law offered us a gift of a few days in their rental home near Charleston (rent free). The days fell during my husband's scheduled vacation, so how could we refuse? It wasn't a perfect situation. The A/C was broken and it was very hot all the days we were there. We are used to living without air conditioning at home, but the humidity in the low country of South Carolina is very different from our mountain home. It was rough going at times when the house temps climbed into the high 80's, so we purchased fans for the bedrooms. Nonetheless, we were very grateful for this wonderful opportunity to explore a new city.

It was important to us to do Charleston on a budget. I was pleased to find there were lots of free or nearly free things to do in and around Charleston. One of the first things we did was visit the Angel Oak Tree on Johns Island. It is estimated to be between 400 and 500 years old and is considered to be the oldest tree east of the Mississippi River. Angel Oak is a Southern live oak (Quercus virginiana) that stands 66.5 feet tall, measures 28 feet in circumference, and produces shade that covers 17,200 square feet. Many of its limbs lean down to the ground and are supported with wood beams. My photos don't do it justice. It is gorgeous, majestic and awe inspiring!

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A wide angle picture I took from the Internet.
We also walked around the streets of Charleston's historic district. It is a lovely city with wide streets and lots of colorful buildings that date back to the 1700's. It wasn't terribly crowded, either. We found it easy to drive around and find parking.

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Rainbow Row

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The kids really wanted to eat out in the city, but we could only afford to eat out once a day. Thanks to a little research and some awesome reviews, we found some great "hole in the wall" places to eat that were quite affordable. The ambiance was sometimes a bit uncomfortable for the kids, but I reminded them how we often got the best food on our New York City trip from eating at the "hole in the wall" joints. The kids got to try true, authentic Soul food for the first time. We also had Mediterranean food. It was delicious. Dean also enjoyed seafood whenever he got the chance.

We also had the opportunity to visit the Charleston Tea Plantation, the only tea plantation in America. My daughter and I love tea, so this was right up our alley. There was a free tour through the tea processing factory and lots of free samples of tea in the gift shop. You could opt to take an informative trolley tour through the fields of tea, but it was expensive, so we decided to just read about it in the brochure they handed out. We learned how green, black and oolong tea comes from the same tea leaf but is prepared differently. Did you know that tea plants can live for hundreds of years?! It was a really cool and informative tour. The gift shop was so much fun, too. My daughter and I struggled to contain ourselves. LOL There were lots of adorable things we could have bought for our monthly poetry teas.

Grandma loved this frog
We also visited the Exchange and Provost Building and took the dungeon tour. This tour was a little pricey for a family of six, but was very informative. The week before our trip, Dean read all about the pirate Blackbeard and his blockade of Charleston harbor and thought it was interesting to see where Blackbeard's boss (the pirate Bonnet) had been held before he was hung. 

Some of our family wanted to see Patriots Point and climb around in the three ships that could be toured. This was an expensive activity for us, so we only sent the ones who really wanted to go. The rest of us walked around Charleston some more.
Tim and Dad especially enjoyed exploring the aircraft carrier. 

We spent each late afternoon and evening at the beach. The water was the perfect temperature and the waves were calm. Dear daughter loves to perform and the backdrop of the ocean was perfect. The kids and Dad also spent hours boogie boarding. 

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We also saw so much wildlife. I didn't get many photographs, because we were very busy observing. We saw jellyfish, horseshoe crabs, sand pipers, eastern brown pelicans, great blue herons, one conch, great egrets, a whole family of deer on several occasions and, of course, the infamous palmetto bug (cockroach on steroids).

Lastly, our big expenditure was to go to a historic rice plantation. Grandma paid admission for all of us to visit the Middleton Plantation. It was very hot, so we decided to only do the self-guided tours in order to move at our own pace. The gardens were built by the same man who designed the Palace of Versailles in France.

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An aerial view taken from the Internet.
The house was nearly destroyed between the burning of the plantation during the Civil War and a major earthquake in the late 1800's. They had rebuilt only a small portion of the house when we visited. We really enjoyed the animals.

It was a great trip! I love that there was plenty of hands-on learning for which I can give biology and history credit -- not to mention the cultural experiences and tons of physical education!

Blessings, Dawn


  1. We too found that Charleston was so hot and muggy (we made the mistake of visiting in late July last year) but my husband and I did have fun.

  2. Wow! Just . . . wow! What a trip. I'm simply melting into a puddle at your gorgeous beach photos, and all of that marvelous touring and history come to life is just marvelous. I can't imagine a more lovely way to study history and geography and architecture and PE and everything else than the way you do it.

    1. Oops, I kind of over-used "marvelous." Can you tell how stunned I am by your trip? :)

  3. Somewhere I have a picture of me at 9 years old on that same tree! I love Charleston so much that it was our destination for our honeymoon.