Days 10 & 11, June 1 & 2, 2023

Charleston is a charming city. Really, it is charming. You see old-south architecture, flowers blooming out of windowsills, plus the harbor waters all around. So far this has been my favorite stop on the trip.

Charleston’s famous bridge is behind us. It is the longest suspension bridge in the US.

We arrived in Charleston at midday yesterday, giving us just enough time to start exploring the city in the late afternoon. Actually, we had just enough time to set up camp and head straight to Fort Sumter to catch a 2:30 ferry ride to the Fort. Remember, we are National Park buffs, and Fort Sumter is a National Historic Site, along with several of the smaller forts dotted along the Charleston coast that I never even knew existed. Fort Sumter is where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Union troops occupied the fort at the time while Confederate troops occupied Fort Moultrie & Fort Johnson. I have always had a fascination with history, I actually minored in it in college, but I guess I never really paid enough attention to the importance that Charleston and South Carolina as a whole played in the Civil War. We ended up with a fantastic tour guide from the National Park Service. He had great stories to tell and a lot of facts to give us about the siege on Fort Sumter and the events that occurred right after. We were also lucky to be the last boat to leave the fort so he rode along with us back to the mainland which meant he continued our tour by telling us about the Charleston Harbor and different landmarks to see once we were on dry land again.

We left the fort and were starving so we found a nice seafood restaurant downtown to refuel us for the walking we were getting ready to do. I must say, when you first arrive in a town it can be very overwhelming. I feel like you need at least half a day to get a good lay of the land and know what you want to see. That’s exactly what we did. We left the restaurant and just started walking. Charleston is a very “walkable” city. Basically, you can walk the entire downtown and find a new treasure on every block. We saw several parks, visited the famous Pineapple Fountain, Battery Park, Washington Square, Rainbow Row, and several that I do not even know the names of. We just kept walking until the sunset and we decided it was time to head back to camp.

Walking downtown gave us some ideas of what we wanted to see the next day. We knew we wanted to tour a plantation, we wanted to visit the Angel Oak, and we wanted to go to the City Market downtown. So, that’s exactly what we did.

We got up Friday morning and went straight to the Angel Oak Tree. The Angel Oak Tree is a live oak tree that is found on St. James Island in Charleston. It is over 400 years old and its huge branches reach all the way to the ground. I guess we have an obsession with seeing big trees, so far we’ve seen the largest tree in the world at Sequoia National Park (General Sherman) and now we’ve seen what is believed to be the largest tree east of the Mississippi.

We left the Angel Oak and headed straight for the McCleod Plantation. I have always wanted to tour a plantation and I think we chose a great one to see. The McCleod Plantation does not romanticize the ugly truth of what the realities of living on a plantation were. While the house and the grounds are beautiful the tour guides do a great job of telling you exactly what the roles of plantations and slave owners were, what the roles of the enslaved people were, and ultimately the ugly truth of what happened even after the Civil War that lead us to the Civil Rights movement. While I love the idea of old southern charm, basically Gone With the Wind, ladies in big hoop skirts and people living in big houses with huge oak trees outside, actual history would show there was nothing charming about it.

We finished that very somber but informative tour of McCleod Plantation and headed downtown to the City Market. I loved the City Market. The market is several blocks of local artisans & dealers selling their goods. You can buy handmade artwork, leathergoods, jewelry, food, drinks and more. Our favorite thing though was the handmade sweetgrass baskets. The Charleston City Market is the epicenter of sweetgrass basketry (at least according to their website). We visited and talked to several of the artisans as they were weaving their baskets made from a marshgrass that thrives in the South Carolina low-country. These artisans have passed down the tradition through their families and each booth was comprised of either a single person or several family members who saw the importance of passing along their heritage. We purchased several small pieces, there was no way I could afford to purchase one of the full-size baskets that are sold for several hundred dollars each (and they are well worth it based on the intricacy of the work and the hours it takes to make one).

We are now finishing our evening grilling our supper at the campground. I know some people may not understand but when you pull into a campground (as long as it’s a good one), it just feels like you have arrived home. That is the beauty of RV travel. You almost always feel like you are home but yet you have the freedom to see the whole country. I guess travel is the one place in my life where I can feel like I can do anything and go anywhere. My nature is to be responsible, be grounded, and be the person people rely on to “get the job done”. But, when I’m on the road I have a sense of freedom that I don’t have at any other time. It’s nice to let go and just let the trip happen.

“Once a year go somewhere you’ve never been before” Dalai Lama

Published by Kira Bridges

First of all I'm a believer in Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and savior. Second, I'm a wife & a mother. I am happily married to the most wonderful man in the world, Johnny Bridges. We have a 3 beautiful children, Logan, Macy & Noah. I am blessed & thankful for the blessings God has given me.