Stone’s Throw

Across a small inlet to the south of Isle of Palms lies Sullivan’s Island, one of my all-time favorite spots.  Unspoiled by any beachside development, Sullivan’s remains pretty much the same as I remember it being when I was a child.  IMG_2294The island has a beautiful, wild-looking beach sprinkled with dunes and golden sea oats.  With a few jaw-dropping exceptions, the houses on  Sullivan’s are real weathered beach houses—the kind where wet bathing suits hang over porch railings, where tiny aluminum foil sculptures stand in for missing Monopoly pieces, where tomato sandwiches are served for lunch  and crab and sweet corn are on the supper table every night.
There is a tiny—and I mean less than a block long—commercial district, which includes some good restaurants,  one of which is Poe’s Tavern.  Based on Son1 and Lovely Girlfriend’s recommendation, we decided to check it out one afternoon.   Named for American author and poet, Edgar Allen Poe, the tavern features some amazing burgers and, as a bow to Poe’s notorious vice, a huge list of beers and ales.  IMG_2248Often cited as the originator of the literary genre of horror, Poe enlisted in the U.S. Army as Edgar Allen Perry in 1827.  He was 18 at the time, and was sent to his post at Fort Moultrie on the southern most tip of Sullivan’s Island.  Poe spent a little more than two years at Fort Moultrie, where he wrote “The Goldbug,” and several other lesser-known short stories.   One of the Mister’s more colorful relatives told the Mister and his cousins that they were all related to Poe.   Hmmmm.  IMG_2246Personally I see little resemblance. IMG_2244  To read more about Edgar Allen Poe’s life on Sullivan’s Island and in Charleston, take a look at the Literary Traveler.american-s-carolina-flags Fort Moultrie, where Poe served, was an active fort through the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War I, and World War II.  The National Park Service has done a wonderful job interpreting the fort’s history through on-site recreations,  a small museum and a film shot by my mother’s cousin, photographer Tom Gray.IMG_2250The original fort was built of palmetto logs, which because of their incredibly fibrous trunks turned out to be surprisingly effective in absorbing enemy ammunition.moultrie1Many who see the South Carolina flag believe that the state symbol is little more than a plug for the state’s lovely beaches with a palm tree and a crescent moon. 
In fact, the symbol is the palmetto tree, which represents Colonel Moultrie’s heroic defense of the British fleet on June 28, 1776.  DefenseofFortMoultrieWhat appears to be a jolly crescent moon is meant to recall a piece of  armor, called a gorget and worn around the neck, hanging from a chain .  Opinions vary as to whether Carolina soldiers actually wore this protection, but most scholars concur that a gorget/crescent was a decorative element on the soldiers’ caps. gorget2 The flag’s ground, which is not quite navy blue, is the color of Moultrie’s men’s uniforms.    IMG_2253
It’s also one of my favorite colors, especially when contrasted with one of the fort’s weathered interior walls. Middle took this photo, and I have to admit I kind of like it.  It’s almost enough to make me forget it was 97 degrees, and that boys (even older ones) can spend a long time exploring forts. 

One Flew Out of the Cuckoo’s Nest

So, the apple-store of my eye took aim at the

target to gather the

staples-store for campus life.  I fear we have gone

bed%20bath%20&%20beyond-1 our budget!

So college.  He’s all moved in.  I was pretty cool that day.  The next day?  Well, let’s just say that if you hold stock in Kimberly-Clark, you may see an increase in your February dividend.

What about him? 

ted's windowWell, you know.  It’s an adjustment.  I’m sure he’ll learn to like it eventually.


(Special thanks to my Facebook source, who procured this photo of Son1 and his roommate’s window for me.)

A Day Trip Around Town

We were staying on the Isle of Palms for our beach vacation—a mere 20 minutes from downtown Charleston.  It would’ve been impossible for the Mister and me to resist returning to this beautiful place for a look around.  I have many fond memories of visiting my cousins here when I was a child, but back then I was too young to appreciate the history, much less the amazing architecture and gardens that surround one in the Holy City.IMG_2214 As you may know, Charleston is often called the Holy City because from almost any vantage point, the city’s skyline is defined by church steeples.  These shots are of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church on King Street.  St. Matthew’s isn’t the oldest Lutheran house of worship in town, that distinction belongs to St. John’s (1742). IMG_2213Nevertheless, St. Matthew’s rich earthy color and traditional red doors and black and white entry tiles were so appealing.
We actually started our day in Charleston at the Visitor’s Center, which provided a parking garage as well as innumerable guides and maps, some paper ones for the fogeys like me and digital ones for everyone who brought their “iGizmos.”  Just down the street is Marion Park, which honors the legendary “Swamp Fox,” the Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion.  Supposedly, my family is related to FM, but since he had no sons and the documentation is rather sketchy, I am somewhat skeptical.  IMG_2215 A more believable link is that the Mister’s family always stayed at the Francis Marion Hotel when they came to Charleston to visit the Mister’s brother when he was a student at The Citadel.
Charleston is often touted as America’s most polite city, and I would have to concur, but what’s with all this gum?  Miss Janice would definitely not approve! 
IMG_2222Middle is intrigued with the colorful display; he especially liked the face in the upper right of the post.  Ewwww!IMG_2216Happily, on King Street, a diversion is always easy to find!  Everyone wanted to check out Robot Candy & Toys!
IMG_2217There were gummies for days! IMG_2218My favorites—to look at--were the blue sharks.
IMG_2219 Even Son1 and Lovely Girlfriend enjoyed this kiddie stop!
IMG_2220 Preppy wear is all the rage on King Street.  Seersucker and white bucks are the uniform for gentlemen; I even saw one charming older fellow in patchwork seersucker pants with a gorgeous needlepoint belt.  Middle decided he must have a blue and white seersucker belt, so we found one on sale!  I’m not sure what he has his eye on in this window, but if you’re wondering why the seat of his britches is so dirty, let’s just say he never met a stair rail he didn’t want to slide down!
IMG_2224 A little more shopping and some great people-watching, and the next thing we knew we were at Charleston’s new Waterfront Park, with a view of Fort Sumter.  Waterfront Park, although not as historic as The Battery, is a beautiful green space where we enjoyed a slight breeze. While everyone was still in a good mood, we decided to call it a day.  Truthfully, the Mister and I seriously wanted to keep going, but Little and her cousin Miss M were about “done in” from the heat and walking.IMG_2226A verdant spot in which to sit and contemplate, but, as you can see, it was just too hot, even in the shade.IMG_2227Quintessential Charleston colors between King and Meeting streets.  This isn’t the famed Rainbow Row, but it certainly reflects the same aesthetic.
IMG_2234Here’s a peek into the courtyard of the Peninsula Grill, one of Charleston’s most highly recommended restaurants, and one the Mister and I plan to try sans children.IMG_2238To stave off crankiness a bit longer, we enjoyed peach smoothies and a bit of air conditioning.  Middle is at an age where he likes to make goofy faces in almost every photograph, but I caught him here on the sly.IMG_2231Winding up the day in the Holy City, I took a few shots of the exterior of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church.  Founded in 1680, the congregation has met continuously since then, although the building has been destroyed and re-built several times.IMG_2230  Hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, Indian attacks, British occupation, smallpox, yellow fever, more hurricanes, slave uprisings, Union occupation, and still more hurricanes have not prevailed against this faithful congregation.IMG_2232 I’m not one hundred percent sure this is a Philip Simmons’ gate, but it certainly is a gorgeous example of wrought iron craftsmanship. 
As in most historic cities, Ghost Tours are a profitable venture for imaginative entrepreneurs.  No doubt St. Philip’s churchyard, where statesman John C. Calhoun and many other notables are buried, is a regular stop on these tours.  I absolutely love St. Philip’s response to those looking for a, shall we say, spiritual connection.IMG_2233 Can I get an amen?!

A Day at the Beach

We arrived in Charleston late in the afternoon and crossed the Cooper River on the beautiful Arthur J. Ravenel Bridge to head out to the sea islands. The old Cooper River Bridge was steep and narrow, and quite honestly made my palms sweaty every time I had to cross it—whether I was driving or not! old cooper river bridgeAlthough I never lived in Charleston,  I remember crossing the old bridge numerous times,  but two are particularly memorable.  Once, I was coming inland, to avoid Tropical Storm (Hurricane?) Gloria, and the wind was much stiffer than usual; I could actually hear the bridge creaking!   Another terrifying crossing occurred one February in falling snow—a rarity in Charleston.  The Ravenel Bridge is a beautiful example of engineering and architecture of which Charleston and Mount Pleasant are rightfully proud.  IMG_2180 The Mister, however, seemed to think that someone really should have taken the time to paint the pockets and fly on these super long jeans!
A lot of chop on our first day out, but still so beautiful!IMG_2185IMG_2188
IMG_2198IMG_2208IMG_2199 I think he would follow her anywhere. 
(And, please God, don’t let anyone take a picture of me walking down the beach from behind!)

Are we there yet?

Our visit in Florida was a short one, and the day after our river adventure we headed north to the Charleston area.  As chief navigator, my role was to find the most direct route, using the least possible Interstate travel. IMG_2170 The Mister loves the back roads.  When our children were small, I pretty much insisted on driving the major highways, taking comfort in the familiarity of rest areas and accessibility to places where I could pick up an extra package of wet wipes or even have a prescription transferred.  If you’ve ever traveled with a toddler prone to ear infections, you know what I’m talking about.  Now that the kids are older, I’m a little more adventurous.  (Besides, when do you ever see a great antiques shop on the interstate?)IMG_2174So we said our goodbyes, scooped up our youngest niece, Miss M, and set out for the Isle of Palms, where we would be joined by Son1, who was still in Memphis.  The Mister was making good time on the old state roads, and I was needle-pointing like a maniac, when I felt the van slowing to a stop.  (Good, I could go for a Starbucks, I thought.)  When I looked up, we were stopped beside what must have been an old Stuckey’s, now hanging on as an independent roadside “attraction.”  IMG_2172
Me: What are we stopping here for?
Mister:  I think I stopped here when I helped my aunt move down here from Vermont!
Me: When was that?
Mister: Let’s see, I guess that would’ve been 1993.
Me: How can you remember that?
Mister: It was one long trip.
Me: No, I mean, how can you remember this is where you stopped?
Mister: Oh, they have an alligat0r pond around here somewhere.
Me, eyeing the drainage ditch, only yards away: I don’t see an alligator pond.  Where are we anyway?
Mister: Oh, it’s probably kind of grown over; it’s behind that big sign, I think.  We’re in Starke; you know, where the state prison is.
Me, eyeing the other cars: Oh, um, yeah, I guess I did know that.
So, in we all troop.  The kids fan out to look out all the amazing souvenir creatures that can be made from shells.  The Mister, of course, strikes up a conversation with the proprietor/clerk, who from the looks of things was probably there in 1993, and confirms that there is indeed an alligator pond round back.  I head on outside, and he follows a few minutes later with a small bag, which I realize must be what we’ve come to call a “pity purchase,” that is, some small purchase made entirely because we feel sorry for the store owner.  In this case, it turned out to be beautiful white sea star for me and a jar of coconut toast spread.IMG_2171We find the pond, complete with large gator, probably about 10 feet in length.  The pond was triple-fenced, and I took some comfort in that.  I wish I had a picture to show, but the pool was so shadowy and shady that a good shot was impossible.  Nevertheless, we succumbed to the Seminole legend, and tossed in a few coins.  My wish came true almost immediately—minutes later I was back in the air-conditioned van, and we were driving away—the Mister and I each thinking the other was completelyIMG_2173
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