Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Charleston Finale

I am in love with Charleston. Now, in the interest of full disclosure I have to confess that as I write this on Sunday night we have just finished one of the two best meals we have had on this trip. But that aside, I am in love with Charleston. But then so is everyone else. Apparently the average Charlestonian is, in the words of someone we met, “Old and rich and not from here.”

But, still, the character of the city is such that the folks who arrive later soon pick up the charm and elegance and beauty of the place. Everything here works in harmony is the best way to describe it. The city respects, nay reveres, its past, but it integrates with the new. Case in point—walking along King Street, which is this elegant city’s  main thoroughfare for shopping and dining, we saw a gay couple walking casually hand in hand. Not in Memphis, not in New Orleans.

We began Sunday with a self guided walk of the College of Charleston area drawn from a book we got on Saturday, A Gullah Guide to Charleston. 

These plaques are everywhere, the city's commitment to preservation

Twin houses, as they did. On the left the house has it's original stucco facing. Lacking stone, they built in brick that they covered and scored to look like stone. The house on the right has been stripped of the facing

The Marine hospital that was laterthe Jenkins Orphanage, founded by Rev. Daniel Jenkins, giving home, education and skills to orphaned African-American children.

This was the city jail and if a building can exude menace, this one does

Random street scenes

Entry to the quad of the College of Charleston

From there we went off to see the restoration site of the HL Hunley, the early Confederate submarine, which sank the USS Housatonic before sinking in Charleston Bay. Thanks to Patrick M for drawing this site to our attention. I've included a lot of images of this fascinating bit of marine archeology and restoration. See their site for the full story.

This is The Pioneer, a progenitor of the Hunley.

The Hunley itself will sit in a tank of sodium hydroxide for about five years to deconcretize and stabilize the iron. Without this, our volunteer guide informed us, it would dissolve into rust. The tank is not lighted as the alkaline solution eats lights. But look carefully and you can see details.

The cradle on which the boat rests

There was a film made about the Hunley and the producers made two replicas, approximately 10% larger than the original. This crew is happier than the three crews that manned the submarine, most of whom perished in three accidents.

A model

We ended the day a bit early to return to the hotel before dinner at the Charleston Grill. On Open Table the restaurant gets solid fives and we concur. I began with a superb crab cake, went on to a pair of massive lamb chops that were to die for and finished with carrot fritters and cream cheese ice cream. On Monday I barely ate to make up for the excesses of the previous day. It was worth it and it was a perfect end to a great visit to this charming city.

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