South Carolina Minication Part II

All right, I’ve got a good night’s sleep under my belt now (is 11PM to 9 AM too much?), so I feel I’ve got the appropriate amount of energy to devote to a blog post for you guys.

Although I did say in my mini/half post before bed that we really did have a good day, after reading my little update, I realized it didn’t sound very truthful.  So, I would like to stress again, it actually was a great day!  The weather was perfect, and we had no real schedule for the day so there was no rushing around.  Our day started the same way it ended:

With us hopping on a big blue trolley.  The hotel runs a trolley from Patriots Point to the Downtown area and back six times throughout the day.  We hopped the 10AM trolley.  Once we got into the historic downtown part of Charleston, we were pretty impressed with the architecture and the preservation of historic buildings.  We saw a lot of streets like this:

Since our hotel doesn’t have complimentary breakfast (who doesn’t do this??), we were on the lookout for some food.  We found a bagel shop just off of King St that really hit the spot.  The fresh-squeezed orange juice was delicious.

Jordan read a bit of the USA Today.  I read the free local newspaper searching for restaurants.  We headed out on a self-guided, (self-made too so we might have missed some things) of the city.  We saw a few beautiful churches.

Here’s just one example.  Charleston is known as “The Holy City” because of all of the churches that dot its (low) cityscape.

We stopped at the Aiken-Rhett House for a house tour.  Jordan wasn’t exactly thrilled to go in and decided to opt out of the headset for the audio tour, but came along with me snapping pics.  I didn’t get many pics on this camera, so you’ll have to wait for the post-trip wrap up to see them.  The Aiken family was one of the most prominent; Mr. Aiken was a governor.  It’s always strange to tour historic homes and be struck by their grandeur, all the while knowing that this lived in luxury because of the work of slaves.

After touring this house, we stopped by the Fort Sumter Museum, though we didn’t take the boat ride out to the Fort.  We’re planning to fit that in this afternoon.  Seems like the overcharge to me (17 dollars per person), but it is where the Civil started, so we will pay it.  We noticed at the museum that we often find ourselves on similar vacations as boy scouts and retirees.  We’re guessing all of the vacationers in their 20s and 30s must be hitting the beaches.

Jordan deciding where to go next on our walking tour

Naturally, we needed a bit of fuel after all of the walking around:

Jordan on left; Me on right

From this point on, we spent the day walking, eating, and drinking our way around Charleston.  We met a couple folks at restaurants or pubs, and no one seemed to have anything bad to say about the city.  As we continued walking, we were more and more impressed at the size of the historic district.  In Knoxville, we’ve got a few solid blocks of historic buildings, and a number of them are still sitting vacant, just waiting for a renovation.  Here, nearly every building looks to be well-preserved (even in spite of Hurricane Hugo’s effects) and in use.  I do always hate seeing an Abercrombie & Fitch in a historic building, though.  The stench of cologne is going to ruin that building somehow.

I’ll take you on a little photo tour of the rest of our day.

City Market

This market now houses vendors of trinkets, baskets, etc, but was originally used during the slave trade.

Pit stop at the Griffin for a local brew
Jordan takes the pretty pictures; I take documentary ones.
Pic of old theatre for Denise
Post Office for Dad
Tiny French restaurant for lunch
Light lunch of soup and baguette
One more pub pit stop
Wonton soup for supper at Basil’s outdoor seating (Thai)
Yum….my dish of choice.
Our only purchases at the Charleston shops (can’t wait!)

And finally…..

Waiting with full stomachs for the trolley

Okay!  Hope you enjoyed them.  I must be off to enjoy the nice weather today.  We’re off for breakfast and to find Jordan some new sunglasses before we head out to Fort Sumter.  Adios!

South Carolina Minication | Part I

Well, I know the suspense must have been killing everyone (or maybe not…no guesses on the last post).  Our final destination was/is Charleston, South Carolina.  The drive took us a little under seven hours total with one major detour.  We left Knoxville this morning around 8:30, where the weather was chilly and very windy.  The wind had me frazzled.

Our major stop (excluding a Subway lunch break) was at Congaree National Park.

Never heard of this one?  Well, it’s pretty small.  But free and definitely worth a stop if you’re driving nearby.  I wasn’t expecting much because it’s known for its trees and there are very few leaves, but we still enjoyed a short hike.  We did the Boardwalk Hike, which totals somewhere around 2.7 miles.  All of the pictures from the hike are on the Nikon, and we won’t be able to get those uploaded to the computer until we get back home.  I’ll get some up eventually.

We’re staying in USS Yorktown State Park.  No, not camping, we are going the easy route.  Hey, they offered a complimentary s’more kit.  We couldn’t say no.

For supper, I flexed–as in had some seafood.  I couldn’t help it.  I love dives and was completely sucked into the atmosphere at The Wreck.

I can’t say no to seafood in a dimly lit place on the harbor that happens to have a huge anchor in the front yard.  I had the shrimp; Jordan had the flounder special.

Jordan shared a bite of the flounder with me, and I can assure that Ariel’s little friend was tasty.  A very non-fishy fish.  Our food was served with a great deal of sides (coleslaw, red rice, hush puppies, beans, and hominy), after we’d already been given boiled peanuts to snack on.

Yeah, between that meal and the s’mores, we’re full.   All right, I’m off for some more vacationing.

Congaree National Park | Boardwalk Trail

It’s been nearly nine months since we visited Congaree National Park on my “workmoon,” (What? They have babymoons now, so why can’t I have a workmoon?) and I still have not dedicated a proper blog post to it. Time to remedy that…

If you were reading the blog back in February/March when I secured my current job, then you already know that my workmoon destination was Charleston, SC. Congaree National Park falls just off the path when traveling from Knoxville to Charleston.

We’d really not heard anything about the park before. I did not know a single person who had visited, and only gathered my information from books (librarian, holla!) and the internet. For a National Park, Congaree is small, especially if comparing it to the expanses that are Yellowstone, etc.

Neither of us knew exactly what to expect or what trail options were available, so we stopped into the Visitor’s Center before doing anything else.  The park ranger told us about the types of trees in the park, which times of year were best to visit, and what trails were available for hiking.  We were shortish on time, considering we needed to make it to Charleston at a decent hour, so we opted for the Boardwalk Loop, which is about 2.5 miles long.

The hike leaves from behind the VC, and starts out on an elevated boardwalk (6 feet high).

Since we were visiting in early March, the sun was able to sneak through.  During other times of the year, the trees in Congaree form a conpy that is higher than those in the Amazon rainforest.  No lie.  The trees really are the pride and joy of Congaree, as it boasts some of our nation’s oldest trees.

After a bit, the boardwalk drops, and you find yourself surrounded by bald cypress knees coming forth from the ground.

Thanks to our time in the VC, we were easily able to spot tupelo trees along the trail.  Tupelo trees are known for their supporting buttresses at the bottom of the trunk.

And yes, I hug trees on occasion.

I really enjoyed the bald cypress knees.  To me, they added an eery feel to “The Cong,” as though it was some sort of tree graveyard.  I can only imagine how much the hanging moss would add to it.  They ought to have haunted boardwalk tours of this place in October….

For the last half of the hike/walk, we were surrounded by more standing water.  It was interesting to see the moss levels on the trees that indicated where the water line had been previously.

We also spotted some drawf palmettos, which seemed only too appropriate since we were in South Carolina.  (If you’re confused, find an image of the state flag).

I’m not sure if/when we’ll get a chance to return to Congaree, but I hope that if/when we do, the camping is still free and the trees are green!

Library Love

I fell in love again. With a library, of course.  I can’t help it.

Yesterday was pretty fabulous, yet only somewhat productive.  In the morning, I walked myself to the County Clerk to get another copy of our registration.  Then I headed over Henley St. to the UT campus again.  This time I went to the library to look at a couple specific books.   It is the most attractive university library I’ve been in.  Don’t get me wrong, I have strong feelings for Briggs Library:

Halloween at the Circ Desk.  I thought it would be funny to dress “as a librarian.”  This was before I decided to actually be one.

I also grew attached to McKeldin:

But the main library at UT is striking and bright.  From the outside, it looks like this:

Which reminds me a bit of Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde National Park:

Maybe a stretch, but that’s what my mind saw.

When I walked in, there was a beautiful atrium:

The second floor is where most of the action happens.  They’ve got a large information commons (library jargon for massive computer lab where you can be talk in groups, get help for computer and research questions, etc), a convenience store, a large Starbucks, a media center, and other things I did not explore:

I found myself a little study spot:

I lost myself in books about libraries (which are sometimes really books about books) for a good while before heading home.  Since eating and drinking are allowed in most of the library, I was even able to snack and sip from the Nalgene while reading.  I didn’t get back home too long before Jordan came through the door and then we feasted on some homemade pizza.

He told me that I’d really outdone myself, so I think I’ll be making another homemade pizza sometime soon.

Our night ended with some Jeopardy (teen style), Glee, and Skype time with Glenn, Kirsten, and of course Walter.  Walter’s pretty animated now, making for a fun Skype session.


*Lesson of the Day: I really, really do like libraries.  And pizza.*