Charleston: Fooling Around!

March 25, 2017

We drove to Givhans Ferry State Park in South Carolina. Excited to finally be getting closer to Cortney’s parents and sister.

We chose this campground because of it’s proximity to Charleston. While it was certainly not the closest to Charleston or our first choice of parks near Charleston, we had to do it as it was the only one available for the length of time we needed. It was just over 45 minutes from downtown Charleston and it is a very small campground on the banks of the Edisto River. We are thankful to have a spot for the week without having to move sites or campgrounds. We scheduled our time at this park to include 2 weekends. I knew that with the history available in Charleston I wanted several opportunities to go into the city.

(NOTE: Most of my weekdays were spent, when possible – working on work stuff. So the weekends tended to be easier for me to ‘get away’. Though I enjoyed the mid week adventures because they tended to be less crowded but were more likely to be interrupted by a work call. So when possible, for the big stuff that I really wanted to concentrate on, we would plan for weekends.)

After getting our site set-up we headed into town to stock up on food for the week. Found Cortney’s favorite grocer, Aldi!

March 26, 2017

Drove into Charleston for the day, we started by parking at the Visitors Center downtown. We had done some initial research online prior to arriving, but knew we had some questions and wanted to pickup the bus schedules and route maps. Nolan and I are suckers for maps – first order of business, had to fill that need!

Hopped on the appropriate bus that would drop us near the Palmetto Carriage Works for a historical carriage ride through the city.

The trips around town are by section of the city and several years ago the process of choosing which carriages go where was randomized. Our carriage was given the lower third tour. It was from Church Street down to Battery Park. It was fun to take in the local history by carriage ride.

After the tour, we found a local deli, grabbed sandwiches and walked south for – again – the waterfront. Visited Battery Park and enjoyed the sun and the wind and views.

(NOTE: Cortney writing here – After a nice picnic lunch in Waterfront Park watching dolphins, we walked along the seawall on East Battery down to White Point Garden, where Blake could have a vantage point of Fort Sumter. I sat along the seawall listening to him give a mini history lesson for the kids.

Out of the corner of my eye I had noticed a strange congregation of adults, crowding around each other and the seawall railing, carrying a very large framed picture of an older man and shrouding that framed picture with a Hemingwayesque tweed blazer. My mind was trying to make sense of it, without blatantly staring. Well as soon as I turned my head for a second look, it became very clear as a gust of wind hit the seawall at the exact moment they dumped an incredibly large box of human remains over the seawall – or at least was their plan until that gust of wind. Now I was covered in Uncle Whomever and the germaphobe in me entered full panic attack inside while in shock on the outside. Seriously. So. Gross. Besides that I also think very illegal. Thoughts ran through my head, do you tell the police driving by, do you ask the family, “What on earth?!”, Where is the nearest shower, freaking out I froze and did not have the words or heart to disturb them in their grief.

I learned an incredibly important lesson which I want to impart to you for future reference: When you are spreading ashes of your beloved, follow the law – it exists for a reason. Account for wind – especially near water. Be aware of your surroundings and think through worst case scenario before you unleash the ash. Maybe consider purchasing a Biodegradable Urn that floats for several minutes, before taking your loved one to their indended final resting place. Or instead, go with the Shakey Stick Urn (which I have written in my final wishes) and give *a little* shake here or there. Just saying! And no, this is not an April fools joke!

After a fine day (minus the ashes) we headed home for dinner (and a shower for Cortney).

March 27 through 31, 2017

Spent the week working and doing school. Without planning it, much of the kids curriculum has revolved around some of the history in areas where have been traveling, making for some fun hands-on learning experiences! This week Eli Whitney and the Cotton Gin came up in their studies – couldn’t have planned it so perfectly if we had even tried! When driving into the area days earlier, we had driven past a cotton field. In fact on our drive to Charleston we passed many cotton fields and all along the roadways was loose cotton. So Cortney backtracked and took the kids to the closest field where they gathered a bunch of cotton.

The kids spent the rest of the week trying to comb the seeds out manually – which if you have ever tried – is terribly time consuming and annoying. One can see after attempting it by hand how useful and revolutionary the Cotton Gin was.

One day, we got notice that we would be without electricity due to some repairs – no AC in the South, no thank you! So we packed up work and school, driving to the nearest town where we set up shop at the local Barnes and Noble (who knew that after Amazon and online shopping that B&N even existed anymore). Real civilization today, Panera Bread for lunch – yum yum! Made it back to the campground late in the afternoon for walk along the riverbed, hike through the forest, bike riding and playtime on the playground. Another full day in the books!

Honestly, an excuse to escape the park was a welcomed blessing. We would not recommend this campground, it was bizarre. Not only was it small, but it seemed that against state park policy, homelessness was tolerated in this park. It was very uncomfortable being surrounded by such poverty. Yet a complete reality check for us as we were only one step away from being considered homeless. We had left everything and taken life on the road, not much separating us other than we made an intentional choice for living differently and those who surrounded us seemed to be victims of living differently.

April 1, 2017

April Fools Day started off with what I thought was a joke. Plans were to get up early and drive to Charleston. The kids and Cortney were dropping me for a tour of Fort Sumter. I had a reservation on the 9:00 am boat to the fort. We had plans to leave the campground at 7:30am as Charleston is an hour from the campground. First joke of the day, we failed to set the alarm correctly. We woke in a panic at 7:15am.

Amazed when we were in the car and ready to go at 7:35am – only 5 minutes later than we wanted. Second joke occurred when attempting to leave the park early. As we drove out the campground we discovered the gated entrance/exit of the park was locked with a combo lock! What?! In a panic, we drove to the ranger station – no ranger – we then drove to the rangers house on the property and knocked on his door, feeling bad to disturb him so early in the morning. Turns out there was code for the pad lock we did not get upon checking in, he gave us that number. A combination lock, seriously, what is this, middle school gym class?! We got out of the campground at about 7:45am, a little behind schedule – but still okay. Our day could only get better from this point, right?!

As we were driving the interstate we began hitting traffic, strange as it was a Saturday morning. Was this normal for Charleston? We had no idea and soon discovered the third joke of the day…The source of all the traffic on the highway were school buses, hundreds of school busses, a near endless lane of school buses and now freeway exits were closed. Where were the signs to warn us or communicate what was happening? What was going on?!

We could not take our exit because it was blocked by several large dump trucks and police cars. Huh?! Was my mother traveling with us? This is the stuff that would happen to her!

Our phone map rerouted us through some downtown streets right into the fourth joke of the morning a roadblock with police blocking off many streets of downtown. Cortney, not afraid to ask or talk to anyone rolled down her window to ask one of the officers what was going on and how in the world were we supposed to get across town with all the roads blocked?! We learned that an annual race was taking place across the Ravenel Bridge which connects downtown Charleston to Mount Pleasant. The bridge ran from the peninsula where beaches were located to downtown and very soon the runners were coming! That was the bridge that we were planning on using after my tour to visit the beach ourselves. Sounds like the run will be done later that morning and the bridge reopened midday.

Upon the officers advice on alternate directions, we made it to the Fort Sumter Visitor Center parking structure just minutes before the deadline for me to check and not forfeit my paid reservation. And wouldn’t you know the parking structure was full due to the run! Fifth joke of the morning. Seriously couldn’t make this up! To make matters worse, it was really the only parking option for the tour as most meters for street parking have a two-hour limit (the trip to and from Fort Sumter takes at least 2.5 hours) and the area has many off-street meters closed due to construction. Yep. Seriously. Some Saturday! Hopped out of the car and left Cortney and kids the task of finding parking. Ran to the visitors center and checked in one minute before the deadline. Hallelujah! What a morning!

The tour to Fort Sumter through the National Park system consists of a boat ride to the fort – since it sits at the entrance to the bay where the Cooper and Ashley Rivers meet. They give you one hour to tour the grounds of the Fort. It was neat to see the historical spot where the first shots of the Civil War began. I spent the hour walking the grounds, viewing the museum on site and listening to a short ranger talk.

After the tour and boat ride back to Charleston, I met the family at a nearby park. We saw that the bridge was reopened to vehicle traffic and that was our signal to head to the beach.

We drove across the Ravenel Bridge and made our way to Isle of Palms beach. The plan was to picnic, enjoy the sun, sand and water and rest. And so we did!

Overall we really enjoyed the Atlantic Ocean. On our trip we had technically already seen the Atlantic Ocean, when we visited the Gulf. But it was interesting to see how it changed along the Eastern Seaboard. After a nice long afternoon on the beach – we were ready to head home. Tomorrow we head toward Fort Mill, SC to visit with Cortney’s parents for three weeks!

This post is part of our Live Like No One Else series, a retelling, through journal entries kept along the way, of all the sights and memories we made during our 2017 #getlivingadventure. We were so busy living the adventure we missed sharing many of the experiences with you. Just happy to have you along as we relive many of the great memories that we hope one day our kids will have to read and remember!


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