Thursday, February 7, 2013

Road Trip #1 - Day 4 - Charleston, South Carolina to Beaufort, South Carolina

Day four and into everyone's life a little rain must fall. Today started out gray, turned wet and ended up triumphant, but WET!

So, here's the story. Got up, left the Motel 6 and headed for the nearest Subway for a low calorie (or in my buddy, Dave's case, low Weight Watcher points) breakfast. After breakfast we headed for the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, just outside Charleston.

Learning about these plantations is really interesting. The Magnolia Plantation was started in the 17th Century. Their primary crop, like the Hampton Plantation, was rice. And, like the typical southern plantation, it depended on slaves to do all the labor. Some interesting points about this plantation include that the remaining 400 acres of the original 2,000 plus acres are still owned by descendants of the original family, the mansion was destroyed once by lightning, again by the union general, General Sherman, and it was not enough that the plantation was attacked once during the Civil War, but in 1870, five years after the end of the Civil War, it was attacked again by, none other than, the British.

So, we paid our admission and took the 45-minute tram ride with Patrick, our guide. Patrick was definitely a local guy and, while he didn't impress me as an Ivy League university graduate, he was a fount of knowledge about the history of this historic property and pretty entertainment. This was especially helpful since we doing this plantation crawl in the rain.

Standing guard at the entrance to the plantation
Here are just a few of the photos I took at the Magnolia Plantation. You'll see some wildlife among other things.

A White Egret,
one of over 200 kinds of birds found on the plantation
One of Big Bubba Gator's (13'-14' long) Little Bubbas (5'-7' long) -
hoping for some sun, to no avail on this very rainy day. 

Home Sweet Home, NOT, for some of the slaves who provided
the labor during a long gone and shameful period of our history
The lap of luxury.
This is the front entrance from the Ashley River

Entering at the back door was just as regal
as entering at the front.
This would be the view from your front porch.
Not too shabby at all.

The rain continued and came down harder, so after about four hours, we departed the plantation to head on to our final destination for the day, Beaufort, South Carolina. So far we have visited a number of interesting places and learned a number of new things, but we've yet to achieve one of the primary objectives of this road trip, to locate and learn something about the Gullah culture of the low country.

So, we reached Beaufort about 4 PM, stopped at the visitor center and Eureka! We found what we were looking for, the elusive Gullah culture as you can see from the next two photos. And, as a coincidental serendipity, one of the women in the visitor center was from New Jersey, my home state, lived in the town next to where I did my student teaching AND was in the class of 1968 at Montclair State College, the same college I graduated from in 1967. We never met while we were there, but she knew of some of my accomplishments, most specifically, The Voice of Montclair State, the campus radio station I founded with a group of fellow students I persuaded to join my cause. So, that was a fun experience to nearly end the day.

After leaving the visitor's center we drove across the bridge to St. Helena Island and the Gullah community where we had an excellent Gullah dinner. Al Green, a Vietnam veteran and a member of the Gullah community served us, a delightful fellow. Al's brother, Bill Green owned the restaurant, but was off on a foxhunt. He is a renowned foxhunter (as well as other wildlife). He is one of the few African American foxhunter guides in the world. He is also noted for training hunting hounds.

Gullah food, at last. Mission accomplished!

Gullah Grub isn't much to look at, but the food was great
and worth waiting for.

After dinner we were ready for a place to settle in for the night. We went next door and got a room at the Country Hearth Inn, schlepped our stuff into our room and I sat down to write this blog post. Tomorrow we'll explore the Gullah culture, a museum on the subject, some local business establishments and hopefully be able to hear some of the Gullah language, also called Geechee, a language similar to Creole. Additionally, we're going to visit the Marine Corps Museum at the near by Parris Island Marine training base. And, we'll head out to Hunting Island, a completely uninhabited tropical island on the Atlantic (a South Carolina state park) and possibly climb to the top of the 100+ year-old lighthouse.

By the end of the day tomorrow our objectives for this trip will have been achieved along with the serendipity of a number of other unanticipated, enjoyable experiences. This road trip goes in the books as a big success.   

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