Wednesday morning we left around 9 so we wouldn’t get caught in too much traffic going into Charleston. It’s actually not that big a city, with maybe 80,000 population in the city itself with some communities around on the other islands that run in the 30’s. There are lots of bridges and water and Charleston was every big as magical as I thought it would be. We went first to the Visitor Center where they even had garage parking especially for RV’s, which worked out great since the boats were too high to fit under the poles in the regular garage parking. The visitor center was another digital wonder of the state of South Carolina and helped us a lot in understanding what to see and do on foot in Charleston.
Spent half the day walking the city following a city walking map with the history and story of many of the homes and buildings. The port of Charleston was the only place that wasn’t blockaded completely during the Civil War where the southerners were able to bring in supplies. Fort Sumter is a tiny island out in the harbor, and the history of the Civil War is a big part of Charleston. What I didn’t realize, however, is that Charleston history goes back to pre-revolutionary days and that many of the homes and buildings were from the early 1700’s long before the Revolutionary War. Of course, SC was one of the original 13 states and it shows in the city of Charleston. We saw several homes of signers of the Declaration of Independence,
Thanks to a SC magazine we got at on of the centers, we knew about Justine’s Kitchen, so when we passed it on our walk we recognized the name.
Justine was the daughter of a slave who worked for a woman in Charleston and took care of her children. Justine lived to be 112 years old and her cooking was legendary. One of the daughters opened the restaurant and it has been written up in Southern Living, the New York Times, Conde Nast, and many other publications as one of the best southern restaurants that exist.
Lunch at Justine’s was a highlight. Actually sitting next to us was a reporter from some food show on Sirius radio who was recording his gastronomic experience and talking to the owner while we ate. The best part is that it was so comfortable, homey, and warm. I had an awful time choosing from a menu of southern wonders, and finally settled on a pork chop, baked macaroni and cheese, and fried okra, with pecan pie for desert, and of course a big glass of sweet tea. It was a meal made in heaven for my inner southern soul and the addition of some kind of sweetened vinegar fresh cucumbers and the hush puppies we had given to us on the street made it all the more magical.
After exploring as much as our feet would allow, we went back to our park to give Abby time to swim in the great dog park and play with all the other dogs. She is finally beginning to understand that she is a dog but still isn’t quite into all the friendly puppy play and keeps looking back at her mom for approval. But she does love to swim and loves to play ball. Lots of other dogs there playing ball and swimming, and even a dog washing area as you leave the park to get all the sand and mud off the doggie paws.
After our little respite, we drove back into Charleston to explore the Pleasure Island part of town east of the river and to drive over the Ravenel Bridge, the longest span in this part of the world, white, dramatic, and gorgeous. Checked out the beaches at Mt Pleasant, then found our way back home through the light show to settle in for the evening and rest our weary feet.